Preparing for a PCS Move

PCS season comes with signs it is fast approaching: the snow starts melting, the temperatures rise, and the thrift store gets more donations. If you have a PCS season coming up and feel the mounting pressure, here are five ways to prepare.


Start taking stock now

Make your list, and check it twice. Perhaps you’ve made Stateside moves, but it can be another beast entirely if you are moving to a different country. Each move requires something unique and can bring a twist to the everyday PCS rigmarole, like pet paperwork, and SOFA stamps. If you can take stock of what this specific PCS needs, you can start figuring out your next steps. 


Layout expectations

What do you expect yourself to accomplish or do in the next six months? If you’re moving six months from now, laying out realistic expectations can be helpful and can ease the stress when you know what you are focusing on versus what you are letting go of in this season. Similarly to letting your feet off the gas, this is also communicating clearly, so you’re not putting extra pressure on yourself to show up in a way that will drain you immensely. Being honest about what’s realistic will help set up your timeline so you know what to prioritize first.


Map it out on paper.

Time moves in strange ways when you’re in the military world. Three years may feel far off when you first move to a place, but it’ll go by faster than you think. Maybe you think, “Oh, I still have six more months left,” but the last three months are PCS prep, and do you want to squeeze in last-minute travel when you’re trying to get things signed and get your unaccompanied baggage picked up? 

Putting it on paper to map out how much time you have left, what is needed, and when will help you prepare a better timeline so you don’t feel as stressed near the end. If this is your first time, and you don’t know that soft copy orders are different than hard copy orders and that even hard copies can change, you might be in for a rude awakening if you decide to wing it instead of planning it out.


Take your feet off the gas.

Military families are great at diving in immediately at a new base to discover, explore, and meet new friends. If a PCS season is around the corner, this may be the time to step back from things you are committed to and decide where to put your time and attention in the final few months. You can PCS and be stressed and overwhelmed, or you can be PCS and try to feel good by prioritizing rest. Having the capacity and time to deal with curve balls as you move to your new home will help everything move more smoothly.


Start researching

Do you want to buy a home in your new place? Do you want to live on base, do you want to live off base? What is the weather like there? Join the spouse’s groups on Facebook for the base you are going to. Even if you are on active military duty, you can also join those Facebook groups. They are filled with information on what to expect and tips on settling in.


It’s the military, so things happen. PCS season comes, and you move again. It’s part of the ebb and flow of life. There are ways to prepare so it doesn’t sweep you out to sea, and the more you do this, the more you’ll get your sea legs. Even those who have been in a while can still make some easy mistakes of overcommitting and assuming this PCS will be the same as ones before. Stay informed, take care of yourself, and keep doing the next right thing; you’ll make it there sooner or later.


About the Author

Aj Smit is the author of the book Red Thread: Weaving an Embodied Life of Joy, speaker, glitter enthusiast, and professional weaver of Joy. She is a military spouse in S. Korea with a pup and houseplants galore. Aj has led various Red Tents, retreats, and workshops internationally over the last ten years to help others discover how to weave creativity and curiosity into their lives. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram at @TheJoyWeaver and