Tips for Tackling a Short-Notice PCS Move

by Evelyn Guzman 09/06/2020

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

In the military, sometimes a Permanent Change of Station or PCS move happens quickly and orders to move to a new location can leave you scrambling.

When you have to make a fast move, the whirlwind of activity can leave you feeling a little dazed and wondering if you’re forgetting anything. So, here are some tips for a short-notice PCS move.

Prioritize Your To-Do List

From contacting schools to changing addresses with the Post Office or collecting medical records, there is a lot to do when moving. Find out if there are specific dates or requirements for turning in gear or check out procedures with the unit. Create a prioritized list of most urgent and time-sensitive to things that could wait until after the move. Changing a driver’s license isn’t urgent because most states give at least 30 days post-move. But, changing your address with the Post Office and anywhere you get deliveries from (like an Amazon or a magazine subscription) is important to do before moving.

Speed Declutter

You don’t have time to sort through small boxes of trinkets, so be really careful not to get caught in the little things. Start by immediately throwing out any trash. Move on to large items you can donate or get rid of (furniture, small appliances or large toys). As you declutter, you can also box up the items you know you are keeping. When sorting through books or movies, for example, make quick decisions and have a box to donate and a box to pack so you are getting both jobs done at the same time.

Work in Bursts

It is important to take mental breaks so you don’t burn out. Work for a few hours and then take a complete break to get lunch or do something different for an hour. When you have days or weeks of a fast-paced move, you want to stay focused. Your brain can only focus for so long before it gets tired. By taking those breaks,  your work time is more efficient.

Expect a PPM Move

When you do it yourself, moving is called a PPM (personally procured move) by the military. With a short notice of days or just a few weeks, you likely won’t have a chance to get moving support for companies working with the military. You can certainly check the options, but be prepared for a DIY (do it yourself) move. But this can be a great money saver, because the military will pay you 95% of what they would typically pay a moving company. You can get an estimate for your PPM here. You also get a lot more control when you are packing your own items.

Mark Your Boxes

One of the most overwhelming parts of a move is unpacking what you need when you need it. Grab a sharpie and label your boxes either: IMMEDIATE, SECONDARY or STORAGE. Add the room the box will go in when you arrive to make it easy to take everything to the right rooms and prioritize what gets unpacked first.

Whatever you do, don’t get lost in the details, keep your labeling fast and easy to understand. All important documents, like the marriage certificate, passports or birth certificates, should be kept in one box and personally carried by you (not packed in the truck).

Plan for Time with the Truck

Of course, you need to plan for time to rent and pack the truck, but don’t forget about weighing the truck in order to get reimbursement for a DIY move. If you are moving on your own (PPM), you will have to go to a local weighing station before and after the truck is loaded to record how much you are moving.

Pay Attention to Final Details

If you are selling a home you own off-base, your realtor will be able to tell you what cleaning and staging will increase the likelihood of a sale. If you live on-base, you will want to patch up and repaint spots, like nail holes, to avoid any final charges. Cleaning and sweeping the floors will likely be one of the last things you do to make sure the space looks as good as possible for inspection (on-base) or showings (off-base).

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Evelyn Guzman

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