PCS season is in full swing. Moving trucks are present on almost every street in military housing (and some in neighborhoods off base!). Families are either packing up their own goods, or having their goods packed up by government contracted movers to be whisked away to their next location. At this stage, it’s started to feel like everything is in hand – what could go wrong?
However, it is still important to be prepared. Just ask Katrin Johnson, one of MHN’s PCS Mentors, and a fellow military spouse. Johnson’s job is to guide those who may be either PCSing for the first time, those who have been in the military a long time but have never PCS’ed, and/or those who are looking to buy or sell a home in their area. She helps military families get connected with an experienced realtor in their area to assist them with all things buying and selling.
When Johnson is doing her job, she is speaking from experience. She and her husband, a soldier in the U.S. Army, have been through a lot when it comes to PCSing. They have learned the importance of being prepared for the unexpected. “An hour out from (PCSing from) our last duty station, our trailer that was hooked up to the UHaul slipped off – with my husband’s brand-new Harley Davidson on it,” she said. “It was bouncing down the highway with the motorcycle on it.”
The motorcycle ended up being totaled. “The insurance fully covered the bike, but did not cover the trailer,” she said.“We were able to get a new trailer – but it was a significant downgrade.”
While this situation certainly wasn’t preventable, there are ways to be prepared for similar situations – and anything else that may come up during a PCS. Here are some tips to help you be prepared for your next PCS:
Have your important paperwork at the ready. “The first thing I do is make sure I get a file folder or lockbox for all of our important paperwork,” Johnson said. “And I keep that separate from everything else. I keep that in my vehicle with me because you don’t want something like that in your uhaul,” she said.
Some examples of important paperwork to keep in your file folder include:
Plan your route ahead of time. “Researching areas that you are going to stay in throughout your move is super important,” Johnson said. “Make sure you know where you’re going, and plan your stops before your trip.”
Save your money BEFORE your move. While the government provides funds for you to be able to move from point A to point B, it is possible to incur expenses that won’t be covered. For example, Johnson’s trailer. “We were able to get a new trailer – but it was a significant downgrade.” she said. “We had to build up our income to be able to purchase one that was like the one we had down the line.” You may also incur expenses for moving your pets (especially if you have OCONUS orders). So make sure you have money saved for any “surprises” you may encounter.
Enjoy the trip. “You get a lot of time to talk, and do things together as a family,” Johnson said. “We like to sing and dance in the car, we play car games, and when we go out, we eat what we like.” Take this time to enjoy yourselves – see new sights, try new things, and make new memories along the way.