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Your Permanent Change of Station Checklist

Permanently changing your duty station, or PCS, is not a small change and can be extremely complicated and stressful if you do not plan ahead and use the resources available to you. 

Planning ahead is the key to a successful PCS, and you should especially consider starting as soon as possible, finding a representative to help you with the move, and reviewing different housing options. If you do these successfully, the move should be relatively easy.

In this article, we will break down the U.S. Military’s recommendations regarding the process of PCS, from receiving your orders to opening the door to your new home, whether that be on-base, in an apartment, or in a newly purchased home. We have everything you need, just below. 

 

Permanent Change of Station Checklist


Irrespective of what branch you find yourself serving in, the U.S. Military has indexed a comprehensive list of items to check off your list when going through the process of PCS. Each item involves a few key points of interest that we will go over in-depth:

  • Get Started As Soon As Possible
  • Find a Representative at The Transportation Office
  • Plan to Do-It-Yourself, or Not
  • Review On-Base Housing Options
  • Organize
  • Do Your Research
  • Familiarize Yourself With Family Services

All of these are key to making a successful PCS. If you follow these steps carefully, your move should be straightforward, and there should be no problems along the way.

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Getting Started


You need to start planning, making arrangements, talking to people in your installation, and the military
recommends you start this process even before you have received your orders. Waiting can cost you time and resources in the long run, so start the moment you can.

You will generally have some inkling of where you will be going and how long you are due to spend there before the formal orders are issued to you, and you will need to proceed to one of the following corresponding offices.

If you procrastinate, this process can quickly become a headache for you, and few people will have sympathy for you. That does not mean you will not make it through, but it will be much more difficult for a longer period than would have been necessary. 

Transportation Offices


Making an appointment with a representative at the agency which corresponds to your branch of service is the next step. Getting familiar with these representatives and the process they will be helping you with is absolutely essential. Below is the name of the office that corresponds to your branch. 

  • , DOD: Joint Personal Property Shipping Office
  • Army: Installation Transportation Office
  • Air Force: Traffic Management Office
  • Navy and Marine Corps: Personal Property Shipping Office
  • Coast Guard: Household Good Shipping Office.

Proceed to the office of an agency that corresponds to your branch, or call, and make an appointment. This is their job, and they will be able to help you even if you are completely lost in the process. 

These ganets will give you essential briefings on your new assignment and new location, both of which you will be happy you received before getting thrown in to figure it out once you arrive on-base at the new location.

 

DIY


Instead of having the military do all the work for you, depending on how far you are moving and if you are moving a car or other large goods, you may want to plan and move everything yourself, with PPM (Personally Procured Move).

You can get reimbursed for your expenses at least partially, and, in some rare instances, you can turn a profit. Accepted expenses are listed on your branch website but typically include shipping costs for household accoutrements and other personal items, even your vehicle. 

Note: The military won’t cover things that are considered “valuable items,” such as artwork, jewelry, and liquid assets. Consider taking out an insurance plan for these things before you leave.  

On-Base Living


If you have not already decided if you will be living on-base once you get to your new duty station, ask your Transportation Office representative for more information. This is one of, if not
the most important decision you will make in this process. 

Things to Consider


Whether you are single or have a family, there are several things you should consider before planning your move. The following are amongst the key considerations to think about before you plan your PCS.

  • Are you bringing your family?
  • If you are a homeowner, are you selling or leasing?
  • Is this location CONUS or OCONUS?

Depending on the size of your family, you will need to inquire about accommodations for them and yourself together. Also, consider the options for your home if you own one. Will you be selling it? Lastly, if you are moving to a place outside the CONUS, you may want to consider learning local customs and languages. 

If you won’t be buying a new home once you arrive, at least not right away, on-base is the next best option unless you have a good lead on a rental property. On-base living provides you and your family with many advantages, including shopping and security. 

Checking with the resources offices of your branch will help you make a decision concerning your rental property and future living accommodations. 

 

Keeping Things Organized

 

Throughout this process, no matter how well-in-hand things seem to be, you should consider keeping your paperwork, orders, records, and any and all other necessary pieces of information in a secure, consolidated location. 

There is nothing more frustrating than losing or misplacing a key piece of information related to your move and not being able to find it when you need it. The military suggests you keep an easy-to-carry binder with everything you are likely to need in transition; such as Orders, contacts, and rep details.

Note: Get a hard copy of your medical records from the medical staff to keep in your binder as well. This is one thing that many veterans have noted in retrospect was essential. 

Military

Research the Job and Location Characteristics

 

Doing your research well in advance and throughout the process will not only make you feel more secure about the move, but you will also have information necessary to every step, and the prep work you do now will pay off. 

Independent of the help you get from Transportation Services, you will want to do some independent research about the region you are moving to, the installation itself, and the job you have been assigned. 

In the event that you are moving to train for a new assignment and are relatively unprepared for the job itself, do some research on the chain of command and the reputation of those involved with your installation and your job, specifically. 

 

Know the State or the Country

 

If you’re from the United States, you may think that traveling to another state will not be as intimidating as moving outside the country, and that is certainly true in some cases. But it will nevertheless be important to research the state and city; being prepared is always important. 

If you’re moving outside the contiguous states, you will want to be even more prepared to encounter the people and culture of the surrounding area, if for no other reason than to keep yourself and your family safe and informed. 

 

Family Services

 

Something not often overlooked, but underappreciated, is the need for financial planning and short-term plan making. Family Services will provide you with resources and information that will help you with your budget and overall finances. 

Family Services representatives can be contacted before you leave to help establish a relationship with them at your new installation. One of things that will be most helpful is the information they provide on getting used to a budget. 

They have many other helpful resources for you and your family should you require a helping hand. Hotlines and professional staff are on call to assist you throughout this process. 

If you follow these steps and start early with your research and briefing, you can rest assured that this process will go much more smoothly for you and your family. Follow the advice of those in the various departments provided to help you as well; it is what they do!

Conclusion

 

The PCS can be a stressful move if you are not prepared for it and if you do not do enough research ahead of time. The most important thing is to start preparing early and do enough research on different bases and city or country that you are moving to.

Depending on your individual family status, you may be traveling with a spouse and dependents. It is important that you contact the relevant authorities, especially the transportation office and family planning services, as they can help you greatly with the move.

Overall, start planning early and make sure you do enough research to prepare for any contingencies.

 

Kelly Madden

Kelly Madden

Kelly is a 14-year Air Force spouse, real estate agent, real estate investor, and virtual assistant. After starting out as an intern with ADPI in 2019 and later acting as ADPI’s blog coordinator in Jan 2020, Kelly is thrilled and honored to take on the role of ADPI’s new Community Manager as of November 2020. She looks forward to building our community and supporting our members throughout their real estate investing journey.
Kelly Madden

Kelly Madden

Kelly is a 14-year Air Force spouse, real estate agent, real estate investor, and virtual assistant. After starting out as an intern with ADPI in 2019 and later acting as ADPI’s blog coordinator in Jan 2020, Kelly is thrilled and honored to take on the role of ADPI’s new Community Manager as of November 2020. She looks forward to building our community and supporting our members throughout their real estate investing journey.
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Our team strives to educate, mentor and empower active duty service members, veterans, spouses and military families to reach financial freedom through creating passive income through real estate investing. Our goal is for Active Duty Passive Income (ADPI) members to own as much of America as possible.