By Michael Madrid
Is it that time again?? PCS season is usually highest during the summer months, or from May 15th to August 31st. Get ahead of the move by understanding a typical PCS cycle so that you can transition as smoothly as possible.

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An Overview of the PCS Cycle

For some of you, this may be your first time receiving a PCS order, or permanent change of station order. Don’t stress out! As long as you follow a few preliminary steps, you’ll be set up in no time. The first part of the PCS cycle is receiving your orders. PCS orders are typically distributed every 2-4 years for military personnel. If you’re expecting one but are waiting to receive it, do your best to get ahead of the move by lessening your load. This can be done by giving away unwanted items or donating things you don’t need anymore.

PCS Steps

First things first, make sure to visit Move.mil and create an account to upload your orders and applications regarding your move. Next, go to your transportation office to schedule a move that works for you and your unique needs. Now let’s get into the specifics regarding your PCS move. We’ll discuss different types of PCS moves, necessary checklists to keep in mind, budgeting tips, and additional expenses to watch for during each stage of the PCS cycle.

Step 1: Determine the Type of Move

Understanding where and what type of move you’ll be required to undergo is essential. You’ll either be going CONUS (inside the continental United States) or OCONUS (outside the continental United States). Types of military moves include a Government PCS move, DITY move, and Partial-DITY move. First, let’s discuss a Government PCS move. A

Government PCS move

is the most common type of move military personnel receive. For this move, your move-out and move-in dates will be set for you, and a transportation service provider (TSP) will be given to you. The nice part about it is that the TSP will handle all of the packing and shipping for you. If you’re worried that your valuables may get damaged, the TSP is liable for any damages during the loading, shipping, and unloading phases. Otherwise, pack and ship these separately, or carry them with you when you drive or fly to your next posting. Next, we have the

DITY move

, or Do-It-Yourself move. These may be a little bit more challenging because a TSP will not be assigned to you. Packing, shipping, and unloading will all be 100% on you to put together, which means you will need to find a transportation method. Another tedious aspect of the process is gathering necessary information for reimbursement. Understanding what is covered and what isn’t covered is vital, so make sure to visit the Defense Finance and Accounting Service website for specific information. Reimbursement will be based on factors such as the total weight of your items and how far they will be traveling, so you’ll have to weigh your vehicle. More information on where and how to properly weigh your items can be found here. Lastly, we have the

Partial-DITY move

, which is a mixture of government assistance and doing it yourself. For this process, a TSP will be provided to you, but the bulk of your items will travel with you. For this process, you’ll want to weigh your personal vehicle before and after you load your items so that you get properly reimbursed. This type of move is usually done if you have very important items you don’t want to lose or risk damaging during shipping.

Step 2: Checklists & Documents to Keep in Mind

pcs checklist Now that you understand the types of moves you can embark on, let’s discuss some good checklists and documents to keep in mind. First, you’re gonna want to create an inventory checklist of all of your items. You can manually make your own or use tools like Plan My Move, which will help you get together a checklist that fits your needs. Next, according to Life Storage, you’re gonna want to create a PCS binder to keep all of your important documents. This binder will include passports, medical records, insurance, car titles, marriage license, etc. These documents are a hassle to retrieve once lost, so make sure to check these items off diligently.

Step 3: Move-In Budget & Additional Expenses

pcs budget AHRN has put together a great list of some characteristics to watch for while creating a PCS budget. There are many different expenses that come up, such as costs associated with selling your house, preparing your vehicles for transportation, and immediate arrival expenses. If you plan on selling your house once you get your PCS orders, you’ll want to track any expenses regarding maintenance, as you may have to fix up some things before selling. Furthermore, you’ll want to find an agent to sell your house. Make sure to add this in your PCS budget. Before your move, you should take your vehicle in for general maintenance. This can be in the form of a tune-up or oil change. These expenses can be pretty high, especially when covering all the additional expenses of moving out, so add these to your PCS budget. Another cost to look out for is immediate arrival expenses. These can be in the form of stocking your new place with groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc. Although these supplies are cheaper than other expenses, they can quickly add up and disrupt your budget.

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Labor & Supply Chain Shortages

PCS season is now! Don’t wait to get ahead of your move. When we’re in the peak of peak season, when everyone is trying to PCS all at once, there are massive labor and supply chain shortages that interfere with PCS orders. According to Military Times, “Because of the shortage of quality movers, capacity has long been a problem, with shortages of truck drivers and labor for packing, loading and unloading. Service members have had trouble getting moves scheduled and having their household goods delivered on time. Damaged and lost belongings have also been a problem.” Make sure that you keep a detailed inventory list and budget to account for any complications so that they don’t end up costing you. This PCS cycle rundown should give you enough information to put you on the right track. Make sure to follow our steps and watch for any supply chain shortages that could affect you and your budget.

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