By: Rebecca Alwine, Army Spouse

Just like the real estate cycle ebbs and flows, the military PCS cycle does as well. The height of the moving occurs in the summer, affectionately known as “PCS Season.” For many of the same reasons that everyone else likes to move in the summer, military families like their moves to disrupt their lives the least amount possible.

The Military PCS 

But as you can imagine, the military throws curve balls much of the time, forcing military families to move at a moment’s notice. It’s important to know and recognize the patterns of the military PCS move cycle.

“Honey, I’ve Got News”

Military spouses around the world know that the above saying only goes one of two ways: Deployment or PCS. Both require planning and sometimes both involve a move. Most military families who are lucky enough to be on the summer PCS cycle start hearing about a move early in the calendar year. Orders start coming in the early months, and research begins now.

The most popular questions at this time revolve around:

  • Schools
  • Commute Times
  • Housings Costs
  • Realtors
  • Where to Live

What does PCS mean in the military?

For mil-families it means starting over. It means packing up life as you know and venturing out into the unknown. It is as scary as it is exciting. And depending on where you are currently living, it can be a good thing or a not so welcome interruption.

Military families have only 3 to 6 months to make decisions that will greatly impact their safety and security, children’s education, spouse’s livelihood, and potentially their financial well-being.

Off We Go!

Summer is considered the main PCS season with nearly a million service members and family members on the move. Military communities are full of moving trucks in May, as families start packing up. Then the moving trucks return throughout June, July and August bringing new families into the neighborhood.

While not all moves happen in the summer, hardly a summer vacation day passes without a moving truck making its way through the neighborhood. This is the time of year when military families really need quick help.

Sometimes we move, and we don’t know where we’re going to live until we arrive. This can be due to a last minute PCS, are coming from overseas, or were planning to live on the military installation. This is when the exhausting period of looking for houses is made even more stressful due to a quick timeline.

We want everything settled as quickly as possible so we can have our household goods delivered, get our children registered for school, and get our life out of boxes. Realtors that work with us to look at houses on weekends, evenings, and all day long are the ones we remember to share with our friends.

To check out Realtors reviewed by the military and veteran community, click here.

Move. Unpack. Repeat.

The military PCS cycle never really stops. While the most significant chunk of families relocate in the summer, the winter PCS cycle in December and January is decent sized as well with nearly 400,000 service members and their family members on the move. In the Spring, 15% of all military movers will relocate to a new duty station.

Then you have the post-deployment moves which can be at any time, the moves for schools, and the last-minute we’re moving the second week of April moves.

Military families and the Realtors that work with them must always be ready for a change to the timeline, or location. There are some great benefits to moving in the “offseason” for military families, and some for the realtors that work with them as well.

Realtors interested in helping military families should make sure to register on PCSgrades so mil-families can find you at any time during the year. is a community of military and veteran families helping each other with our most significant relocation needs through trusted reviews. Together, we can truly make a difference!

Rebecca Alwine is an Army spouse, freelance writer and mother of three. She’s a regular contributor to PCSgrades, ARMY Magazine, Homefront United Network, ESME, and has also been published in Ms. Magazine and The Atlantic. You can read her blog at
Rebecca Alwine