PCSing can be a fun, exciting time or it can be a truly stressful time, but either way, it’s an expensive time. Moving is always expensive, even though the military is helping out and reimbursing a lot of the cost. The cost of the trip to the new location, plus the cost of setting up a new household, whether on or off base, is usually more costly than most of us anticipate. Be prepared for anything and plan ahead. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
Before The Move
Before the movers come, go through everything and determine what isn’t wanted or needed anymore. If it’s enough items, have a garage sale. For bigger items like furniture, try selling it on Craigslist or similar sites. I do this every time we move and end up with extra cash, as well as less crap to sort through at the new location.
Start shopping your pantry and freezer for meal ideas. We all have lots of stuff that somehow never manages to get eaten, so make the most of what you have and save some on your grocery bill before you end up either throwing it away or giving it to your friends and neighbors.
Make a budget. Even if it’s a rough one on a napkin, having an outline of costs and what you expect to pay and what you can afford, is helpful. Make sure to also figure out what the military will reimburse and what they won’t.
If you are driving, have your vehicle checked out. Get an oil change, have the belts, tires, etc. checked, just to ensure all is good. The last thing you want is something to break on a cross country drive.
Also, make sure you are up to date on your car insurance and registration and a copy of each is in the glovebox. The last thing you want is a ticket, or worse, in some random state.
If you plan to live off base, start researching housing options. Talk to people you know at the new duty station or find a Facebook group for the area to get recommendations. This will help you save time once you get there, as well as give you an idea of housing costs and what’s available.
Make sure to weigh you vehicles empty and loaded down with all your belongings and keep the weight receipts! TMO can reimburse you by the pound. Most of us end up with way more than we thought in our vehicles during moves.
During The Move
Pack snacks and drinks for the drive. It’s so much easier to buy a 12 pack of soda and put it in a cooler than to buy one each time you stop. This works great for the kids too. Pack them juice boxes and snacks and you won’t need to stop for gas station snacks or french fries. If you are really feeling up to it, pack sandwich fixings for lunch. It’s a lot cheaper than stopping for fast food.
If possible, stay with someone you know along the way. If you’ve been in the service a while, odds are you have friends scattered all over the country that would be glad to see you and put you up for the night. If not, find a reasonably priced hotel like TownePlace Suites.
Once You Arrive
If you are staying in temporary lodging, take advantage of the kitchen. Buy basic food, even cereal, and eat as much as you can in the room. Sure, it’s not as fun, but eating out all the time adds up quick. If lodging is full and you are in a hotel, find one with a kitchen. TownePlace Suites are located near a lot of bases and come with fully equipped kitchens.
Shop around for utilities for things like TV, phone, and internet. Ask about any deals going on or check online for discounts. Most places offer introductory deals and you may end up paying less than what you were before the move.
There are always expenses we don’t think about when moving into a new place. I like to buy new shower curtain liners, trash cans, and things like toilet brushes. Don’t go crazy and buy a lot of new things because you are sitting in an empty house waiting on your things. Hold off and wait until everything arrives, then shop if need be. Check online sites for used things first though. Someone else may be getting rid of nice stuff because they are PCSing too! We’ve bought a lot of nice furniture this way.