Are you about to embark on a Permanent Change of Station (PCS)?
There are more than one million soldiers who actively serve our country at 158 installations worldwide. Military members and their families know that being in the United States Armed Forces requires frequent moves from one base to another.
A PCS move, although normal part of military life, can be a stressful time. Whether you’re a longtime service member, or one who recently joined, it’s easy to get caught up with all the details and things to do.
There will be lots of boxes, packing, and moving trucks. You’ll also have to deal with several questions — Where are you going? What do you need to take? What do you need to get rid of?
Without the proper preparation, you can end up with problems that can make moving harder.
In this article, I will share with you tips and strategies that can help you as you start a new chapter in your life in San Antonio TX. The best way to ensure that your move goes well is to be involved from start to finish and play an active role throughout the process.
What is a PCS Move?
A PCS Move is an authorized relocation of a service member, along with their spouse and children. It can be a move from one duty station to another, or between your final duty station and home of record upon retirement or discharge. PCS orders are given when your new base is more than 50 miles away from your current one.
PCS orders are issued to members who are:
-New and being transferred to his/her first assignment site
-Active duty and being transferred from one station to another
-Active duty and being transferred from their final duty station to home due to retirement or discharge
There are many types of PCS orders, each with their own special rules and regulations.
If you have received orders to San Antonio, chances are you are headed to one of the major military installations housed under the name Joint Base San Antonio. The Air Force is the leading agency for Joint Base San Antonio, comprising three primary locations at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Randolph, plus eight other operating locations and 266 mission partners.
Watch the video below and discover what awaits you and your family in San Antonio TX:
After obtaining your permanent change of station orders, you have to meet with your base’s Travel Management Office, the military support element that organizes your move. The TMO will deal with everything related to relocating your household and yourself.
During the relocation briefing, you can discuss how much your allowance will be based on rank and dependent status, as well as which moving option is best for your situation.
After that, you can start preparing for your military move!
TIP #1: Start Planning Early
Proper planning can help ensure that your move to San Antonio will be a positive journey for you and your family. Don't wait until the last minute to plan your PCS.
Sometimes, you will have plenty of notice before your military relocation. However, there are also situations when you will be given little time to prepare. The usual time frame for service members to receive orders can vary from 5 months to 2 weeks prior to their report date to the new command.
The key is to get moving as soon as you receive your PCS orders. There are actually many things you can do in advance, which can lighten the burden of moving. There are also many resources provided by the military to help you keep things moving smoothly.
Here are some suggestions for planning ahead:
Create a few lists. Take note of what needs to be done. Making a tangible list will help you handle your move more efficiently and effectively.
Plan to use all your groceries. Be aware of the food you buy because a lot of food tends to go to waste during a PCS move.
Keep a separate place for things you need during the move. Clothing, toiletries, important documents, and cleaning supplies should have their own designated place so that they won’t accidentally be packed first.
TIP #2: Use a PCS Checklist
Organization before a PCS is absolutely necessary!
An excellent way to keep track of everything you have to do is to use a PCS Checklist.
The checklist is an effective way to get things accomplished. It will make your move less of a chore by breaking down the tasks into weekly to-do lists. It will help you see the beginning, middle and end of what needs to be done. It also ensures that nothing is forgotten.
Here is a detailed military PCS checklist to help you get started from 3 months prior to your move to after you arrive at your new destination.
TIP #3: Decide What kind of Move You’re Going to Have
When moving with the military, you have three basic options.
1. Government Contract Move
Your Local TMO will verify your orders and hire a commercial moving company to pack, ship, and unpack your stuff. With this option, all you have to do is make an inventory of your items, supervise the movers, and sign some paperwork. However, you will need to be thorough in your inventory in case your belongings sustain any damage in transit.
2. Personally Procured Move (PPM)
The do-it-yourself move (DITY) allows you to pack, ship, and unpack your own stuff - all for which the government pays you 95% of what it would have cost them to hire a commercial mover. Some service members see this type of move as an opportunity to actually make money off of their PCS. That is, if you’re savvy and don’t end up using your entire budget.
3. Combination Move
This option is also known as partial DITY. You are reimbursed for moving some of your own items while allowing military-hired movers to do the rest. This can be a good option if you want to make sure your things are packed carefully. It also gives you the opportunity to take a road trip and see a few sights on the way to your new duty station in San Antonio TX.
There are benefits and drawbacks to each. You have to base your decision on your finances, the amount of time you have to plan your move, and how well you want your items packed, inventoried, and labeled.
TIP #4: Sort Through Your Things
Lighten the load.
It’s natural for us to accumulate lots of stuff. However, you need to simplify your move by sorting your belongings and decluttering your home. This is especially important if you are concerned that you may have exceeded your weight entitlement.
You don’t want to end up bringing stuff that you don’t need and have never really used. Remember that the more stuff you have to move, the more expensive it will be.
Sort through each room of your home and remove any items that you no longer need or want. Make a thoughtful decision about what items need to go with you. Prepare a trash bag, a recycling bag, and a box for items to donate. Sell or donate all the items you no longer need.
TIP #5: Make An Inventory Of Possessions And Valuable Items
Before your move, create a detailed inventory of all your belongings. This will be useful when organizing your stuff. In addition, the inventory will serve as a proof of the contents of your household shipment should something go missing or get damaged.
Most of the time, your insurance and movers will require a moving inventory to replace lost or damaged goods. With an inventory, the hassle of filing a claim will be so much easier and you will improve the likelihood of having a claim approved. Don’t forget to check with your insurance company and movers to see what information they require in your inventory list.
Be sure to allow enough time for creating the inventory. For each item, you should include a short description, quantity, value, condition, location in the house, and if possible, attach a purchase receipt.
Here are three great ways to do inventory:
The inventory spreadsheet is a checklist of the things you own. Use a new row for each item on the list. Then, group the items by general categories such as jewelry and toys.
Another option is to take a picture of your belongings and label what’s in the photo.
Create a video home inventory of your possessions. Make sure to record close-up shots of your furniture, the condition of your electronics and gadgets, and the actual appearance of your valuable items.
TIP #6: Discuss The Moving Process With Your Children
Children need some time and special attention during this transition in your family. While they may understand that you’re moving, your children’s reaction may vary depending on their personality and developmental age.
Here are some suggestions to make the process less stressful for everyone.
Give your children enough time to say goodbye to family and friends they are leaving behind. You don’t want to wait until too close to the time you are leaving to tell them what is going on.
Make sure your children are involved in your move. Let them help with sorting and packing. Your goal is to make sure they feel that they are part of the moving process.
Have a “moving conversation” with your children. Explain the process of how the move will work and where you’re going. Be willing to answer their questions.
Take time to explore your new neighborhood together. Look for fun and exciting things to do in San Antonio. Gather photos and information that you think might interest your children.
Always reassure your children. Let them know that family will experience adjusting to the new home and location TOGETHER.
TIP #7: Enlist the help of a San Antonio TX real estate agent
San Antonio is home to one of the largest concentrations of military bases in the United States and has become known as Military City.
If you’ve decided you want to put down roots and buy a home in San Antonio, you will need the help of an experienced real estate agent.
This is the perfect time for you to enlist my help, as I have been through what you are going through. I understand the stress and all that is involved. In addition, I’ve lived in Fort Sam Houston since the day my father retired from the military.
Watch the video below and find out why you should work with the experienced team of the Real Estate Muses:
As one of the largest military cities, San Antonio offers a number of housing options for military personnel and their families relocating to the area. The homes for sale here are affordable and plentiful. It’s relatively easy to buy in most areas and there are definitely San Antonio neighborhoods to fit every budget.
Are you on the hunt for the right military family housing? As a relocation expert, I can help you find the right property that fits your needs, desires, and budget. I truly enjoy helping military families as they move to San Antonio. I can assist you with any of your real estate concerns. You can depend on me to handle certain aspects of your PCS move so that you don't have to worry about it.
With me as your real estate agent, you’ll be sure to get ample assistance along the way. You can relax and enjoy the process. Remember that this move represents another step forward in your successful military career.
Whether you are moving to Fort Sam Houston, Lackland AFB, Randolf AFB or San Antonio Military Medical Center, let me help make your move easier!
Call me, Melissa Wiggans at (210)332-0310. As one of the best REALTORS® in San Antonio, I can help you find the perfect home for you and your loved ones.