Tips for Tackling a Short-Notice PCS Move
Published | Written by Darin & Yvonne Burton
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. 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 things. Then create one of 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.
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. However, your brain can only focus for so long before it gets tired. By taking those breaks, your work time is more efficient by giving your brain a moment to rest.
Expect a PPM Move
When you do it yourself, moving is called a PPM, or personally procured move, by the military. With a short notice of days or just a few weeks, you likely won’t 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. Often, the military will provide you with a high percentage of the moving stipend they would have given a company. So you make a little extra money while having more control when packing your 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 quick and easy to understand. All important documents, like the marriage certificate, passports or birth certificates, should be kept in one box and 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), 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 real estate agent will 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 probably 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).