Getting ready to PCS can be intimidating, especially when you start thinking about all of the things you need to do. You’ve just received orders for your new duty station. Take a couple of days to figure things out. Now what?
There’s a lot to know about your up-and-coming location and even more things to figure out before you get there. Things may move fast so having a plan and being intentional with your time can make all the difference. So, where do you begin?
Take the weekend and look at the new duty station and what it has to offer. You can start by making connections and growing your network with others already at the duty station. Review social media pages, groups, and posts for spouses and families designated for that military base and start asking about the area.
Prioritizing what you need to focus on can decrease the overwhelm. Focus on your biggest priorities first. You can reduce some of this overwhelm by making a list. Think about all the things you do in your day-to-day now and what you will need there.
You’ll need to search for new housing, schools, work, shopping, etc. Start with this and don’t be afraid to add as you go, but keep it clear. Adding extra less important things can just increase stress. What do you need most?
Begin by researching where you are going. Are you CONUS or OCONUS? Meaning, is this a new city, state, or country? Things are different everywhere you go, but leaving the country will look a lot different for you and your family. This will take extra research as well.
Housing is the first thing you need to focus on so you know where you’re going when you get there. There are several factors to consider. What are your options?
On-Base vs Off Base
Is on-base housing an option or would you rather have off-base housing? Some installations have on-base housing but it may not be available at the time you need it. It’s important to get on the waiting list right away, but know whether it is even something you can access.
If you are looking at off-base housing, consider the areas you might want to move to:
What will new housing cost and do you want to rent or own? This is a great time to call and speak with a lender.
A trusted lender like Veterans First Mortgage who specialize in VA loans can help you determine wether home buying is within your budget. They will guide you through each step. From getting prequalified to signing closing papers, they have experts to help you meet your home buying goals. Helping our Veterans understand the home loan options available to them and what might work best in their unique situations is Veterans First priority.
In addition, how much money will you have to work with? Each area is likely to be different, as is the amount of BAH or OAH you receive. Remember to consider this in your search. Also, research the cost of living in the area around the new duty station. Prices may vary.
Research the schools, preschools, or daycares around the base, if that applies. You may want to determine your housing choice based on which school is best for your family. There may be multiple to choose from or there may not be, but this is a priority.
Also factor in whether or not the school has accommodations your child may need if any, or whether or not they can get them. Call the school or district and discuss options. You are your child’s advocate. Reach out and speak to someone to discuss your concerns and find out what needs to be done before you get there.
Now, think about the work and other things that you and your family do or what is significant to you. If working off-base, it will be necessary to start the job search and see what options are available. Again, look at commute time, daycare needs, scheduling, and accessibility. It’s not too early to start sending résumés and start the employment process.
What other activities does your family do regularly that you’ll want to continue when you get there? Sports, church, exercise, outdoor activities, etc. may all be things that your family feels passionate about. Making sure these things are available to you at the new location may be high on your list of priorities. You can research options online and ask in the social media groups to find out what is available.
If time permits, take a trip. Heading over to your new duty station and actually seeing what’s there would be ideal. While this isn’t always practical or optional, if it is, it’s very beneficial. You can get the lay of the land and find out what you’re going to be seeing before you actually arrive. If you can’t go, check out Military.com’s Base Guides where you can find resources for bases worldwide.
Finding out your family is going to PCS can be stressful. Relocating is stressful, but you can take some of the worries away by spending some time getting intentional and researching your new duty station. You can do most of your research over a weekend, while you start getting things in order.
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