A military relocation — also known as a Permanent Change of Station, or PCS — can be a major milestone in your life and career. It’s easy to get overwhelmed during this chaotic time, from packing and saying goodbye to friends and family, to house hunting and finally setting up in a new location.

There are a lot of details to think about and tasks to take care of. But with a little bit of planning and organization, it can be a smooth and stress-free process. Here are some strategic steps to take as you start preparing your military PCS move.

One month before…

1. Schedule pickup and delivery dates with a reliable moving company, and arrange for storage if you need it. Survey your belongings to figure out what will be left behind, sold, or discarded. Plan on selling or donating items you no longer need. Moving presents a great time to declutter and start fresh.

2. Start researching your new location. Look up information on the climate, schools, and housing. Make travel arrangements and confirm the date of your move-in with real estate agents and landlords, and arrange for temporary housing if you need it. If you don’t have a permanent new address yet, arrange for mail forwarding or a post office box so you don’t miss any of your mail.

3. If you are on active duty, check which allowances or advanced pay you might be eligible for.

4. Compile a list of your important records, such as birth certificates, insurance policies, Social Security cards, deeds, titles, and so on, and place the list in your survival kit. Make copies of any important documents while you’re at it.

5. Schedule to have your utilities disconnected at your current home and connected at your new one. If you’re moving out of state, you’ll need to set up new accounts; if you’re moving within the same state, you may be able to transfer your service.

One week before…

1. Make sure that your vehicle is in good running condition and that all required maintenance has been completed. If it won’t be making the trip, make arrangements to store it. Update your driver’s license and vehicle registration with your new address.

2. Pack a suitcase or box with everything you’ll need for the first few days in your new home: toiletries, changes of clothes, prescriptions, snacks, games for the kids, etc. This will be your “survival kit” for the first few days until you can unpack and get settled.

3. If you are an active service member using military weight allowances, separate your professional books, papers, and equipment, which will be listed and weighed separately from your other weight allowance.

4. Notify your financial institutions, such as your bank, credit card companies and investment firms, of your upcoming move and provide them with your new address and phone number.

One day before…

1. Jot down a comprehensive list of all the crates, boxes, and bags you want moved to your new location so nothing gets lost or misplaced.

2. If space in the moving truck is at a premium, consider mailing yourself items that could be immediately useful at your new address, such as towels, dishes, sheets, etc.

Relocating for the military can be a stressful time for anyone, but good planning is instrumental to smoothing every step of the process. So take a deep breath, stay organized, and get ready to embark on an exciting new chapter of your life!


About the Guest Post Author:

Tonya Towles is Expansion Network Owner at PCS Pro. PCS Pro is comprised of military spouses and veterans who are passionate about helping fellow military families and service members find their next home.