By Julie Provost, National Guard Spouse

If you are looking ahead to a PCS in the next few months, you might be getting a bit nervous. There is always so much to do to prepare, even when it’s the military moving you. The good news is there are things you can do ahead of time, even before official orders have been cut. If you can get ahead of a military move, everything goes a lot more smoothly for you and your family.

Pre-Pack

Unless you’re going to do a DITY move, the military will come and pack up everything you own for your new home. Because of this, you might be worried about your most cherished items. Stories of personal belongings being broken because they were not packed correctly are rampant in the active duty community. To avoid this, you can choose to pack your valuables yourself. You pack the way you want, in the box or packaging you choose. The movers can then pack your packed boxes. Some moving companies will ask to see how you packed your items since they are ultimately responsible.

For seasonal items, it’s recommended you personally pack as you finish using them throughout the year. So after the holidays, take all of your cherished ornaments and pack them yourself. 

Declutter

If you know a military move is around the corner, start decluttering now. Get rid of what you no longer use. Go through clothing and get rid of anything your family has outgrown. You will have weight limits when you move which are even more restrictive if you are headed overseas. Decluttering before your PCS will give you time to look through everything and decide what you really need and what you can get rid of.

Create a PCS Binder

You want to be organized during your transition. The best way to do this is to make a PCS Binder. In this binder, you can keep all of your to-do lists, checklists and paperwork you will need during the move. Sections to include: orders, contacts, POV shipping documents, travel documents, medical and dental records, veterinarian records, school information, and anything else you might need to have on-hand as you move. Having all this information in one place really makes things easy as issues or questions come up.

Take Photos

You want to make sure you have a photo record of your belongings. That way if something does get broken or stolen you have picture proof of what it looked like before the movers came. Spend some time taking photos and have them printed to have on hand ahead of time.

Research

Once you know your next duty station, get going on the research! One of your first stops should be PCSgrades.com where you can look into on and off post housing options, schools, moving companies and realtors. Area Guides are a wealth of information about what people do for fun at your new assignment, groups to join and anything else you might need to know to be prepared. PCSgrades has a great review section with information submitted by our fellow military families. This website can help you learn more about your new duty station as well as assist you in finding a realtor to get you into a nice home. And in states where allowed, there is a terrific cash rebate for those purchasing a home found through PCSgrades!

As you prepare for your PCS, try not to stress. Make your to-do list and use these tips and resources. The more you can do ahead of time, the better. Let PCSgrades help you get started.

Julie Provost is a popular freelance blogger with over 8500 page views a month on her blog Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life. She enjoys life in Tennessee with her husband, a National Guard soldier and their three boys. Julie enjoys blogging, reading, photography and a good cup of coffee. You can follow her on Twitter @bloggingJulie.

Julie Provost