New Spouse

PCS Spouse Confessions

I have been so lucky to experience two PCS (permanent change of station) moves in the last six months. Through these moves, I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do. Unfortunately, there are some things you can only learn through experience and by figuring out what works for you and your family. Some tips, however, you can learn from others. Last month I put a request through social media for military spouses to take a quick survey on their experiences with PCS moves and here is what those spouses had to say:PCS Spouse Confessions

  • Choosing a moving company vs. Do-it-Yourself:
    • Professional movers:
      • “Husband was headed to instructor school, family needed to get settled for school, and it’s easier to take some stuff with you instead of relying on the airman’s closet (borrowing household goods until yours arrive), particularly for this PCS as we’re at a remote location/guard base with zero base amenities available.”
      • “We had a 3 month infant to move and a lot of stuff.”
    • Do-it-Yourself:
      • “We own a trailer and gave away many possessions that we wouldn’t want damaged or stolen by the moving company.”
      • “We had less than 2 rooms of things to move, which were stored in multiple locations.”

 

  • The best things about our move:
    • Professional movers:
      • Not having to drive the stuff ourselves, so was able to fly to Florida”
      • “We didn’t have to pack boxes or do the heavy lifting.”
    • Do-it-yourself:
      • “We knew everything was packed right and our stuff was with us when we arrived at our new house!”
      • “Having our stuff instantly!”
    • PCS overall:
      • “Visiting other states, national monuments, historical places and making extra stops to see friends that we have met while my husband has been in the military”
      • “New adventures”
      • “Leaving [current duty station]”

 

  • The worst things about our move:
    • Professional movers:
      • “The moving companies! Our last move was the worst. The moving company that dealt with our move did not communicate with us very well. They left half our shipment at our previous duty station without our authorization. They did not tell us that they were leaving it, we thought it was going to be at our next duty station by the time we got there and that was a huge misunderstanding. It was the worst move we’ve had in my husband’s 10 years in the military. There will probably be more to come. Better companies and that does not mean the lowest bidder. That means a company that will take care of our stuff!”
      • “The packers from the moving company. They packed my handbag. They packed trash. They had no organization and left at the end of the first day completely unfinished. They had packed one of some pairs of shoes but not the other, refused to take the swing set even though it was on our inventory, brought a “how pleased are you with our service” form for me to sign that already had all the “very pleased” boxes ticked.”
    • Do-it-yourself:
      • There’s a lot of paperwork involved. You have to weigh the truck 3 times, save receipts, send in everything, etc. oh and having to pack and move everything ourselves”
      • “It’s a lot of work… exhausting.”
    • PCS overall:
      • “Saying goodbyes, leaving comfort zones, leaving any support we gained”
      • “Starting all over with work, kids schools and activities, friends and home.”

 

  • If I had to do it all over again I would:
      • “Purge more things no longer needed before moving it across country.”
      • “Remind myself that we chose this, over and over and over again”
      • “Mentally prepare… know that things never really follow a schedule or plan. Treat the move more as an unexpected adventure instead of trying to coordinate everything perfectly. It didn’t work and all the stressing could have been eliminated.”
      • “DITY move for sure. The work makes up for the stress and headache of using government movers.”

 

  • Any other tips or advice:
      • “Take pictures of everything and document their condition and replacement cost. Purge unneeded items beforehand so you have more space and less random stuff to find homes for.”
      • “Supervise packing, provide movers access to water/Gatorade (get in their good graces you are at their mercy), if in US pack up valuables, important papers, etc. never trust them to be shipped. Drive weapons, valuables, etc yourself.”
      • “Stop making it the worst thing to ever happen. Your attitude will dictate a lot of how your move goes. Document document document everything. DO NOT allow the movers to pack/move your valuable paperwork and/or valuable items. Buy some small fireproof safes and move them yourselves. Movers are human, things get broke when we move stuff, they aren’t super humans who can prevent stuff from breaking. Feed them lunch, offer them waters, be polite, they are employees, not your personal servants, you aren’t entitled to make them feel like crap just because the gov’t hired them to pack your house. Have a friend come over to help, send the kids to a sitter (yes pay for one if necessary, it’s worth it, you’ll make the money back in your dislocation allowance and per diem) File the claim if something is broken/lost, know you will not get the true value. Oh and you don’t have to bloom where you are planted. Some duty stations/locations really do suck and it’s totally okay to hate where you are. It’s temporary. Find a few people who love you and you them, and try to survive those few years the best you can.”
      • “Give it plenty of time. Don’t try to rush or squeeze it into a weekend. We had a full day to load the truck (most boxes were already packed), 2 full days to drive, and 2 full days to unload before we had to return the truck. Gave us plenty of time to think through problems and move efficiently.”
      • “Sense of humor, vodka, a therapist. More vodka. Maybe a local bakery that delivers and doesn’t judge.”

Moving is one of the great challenges of living the military lifestyle. But it’s also a blessing in that it requires us to be flexible, resilient, motivated, and strong! Look your next set of PCS orders in the face fearlessly. This life is not for everyone and we GET to live it!

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