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American Homefront

Off the Base: 7 Tips To Easier Military Moves

U.S. Department of Defense

We are smack dab in the middle of the peak moving season for military families. Traditionally, it’s May through August. And it happens every two to three years --- to most all military families.

It’s called “Permanent Change of Station” or PCS.

It can be a stressful time, but one of the bright spots is that the military community has a strong network with plenty of moving experience to share.

Maggie Hahn is a retired Marine Corps spouse who has moved children, household goods and pets across the country six different times during her husband’s military career and nine deployments.

And she kept a journal through it all. Hahn shares some of those ideas she jotted down to make each move a little bit smoother than the last.

  1. Create a “No Move Zone” in your home to get your children involved. It’s a place where they can place their special items they want to personally carry and not have packed in the moving truck.
  2.  Be proactive and start planning immediately as soon as you learn you have a Permanent Change of Station.
  3. Start putting money aside - a PCS fund if you will – for unexpected travel costs and things like rent and utility deposits at your next duty station.
  4. Carry your important documents with you in a fire-proof box -- school and medical records, IDs and passports.
  5. Families should compare their current cost of living rate (BAH) with the rate for their new base because it will be different and affect their budgets.
  6. Take photographs of your belongings in case something is lost or damaged and of things like stereo and TV connections so it’s easier to reconnect your electronics in your new home.
  7. Use the military’s Permissive Temporary Duty leave to go house hunting at your new station. 

Hahn said it’s important to get “boots on the ground” and “eyes in the field” when deciding where to live in your new duty station.
“I was looking for the little tykes’ play sets,” Hahn said. “I was looking for the big wheels, the bicycles, the parks. Did I feel comfortable in that neighborhood? Did I feel safe knowing that my loved one was going to be gone a lot of the time on deployment?”

Hahn works as an advocate with USAA, an insurance, banking and real estate company that caters to the military and veterans. So it’s not surprising that she recommends making sure you have renters or homeowners insurance that covers moving household goods and storage.

Her company’s website also offers a free, downloadable, 20-page PCS Guide. And USAA members can connect via social media for immediate feedback about their new duty station. And there's a 16 point list of things to do for your next move.

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