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Dealing With PCS Moves: Helpful Strategies For Military Spouses

Moving is a challenging process for anyone, but for military families, it can be even more daunting. With frequent relocations, often on short notice, military spouses have to deal with the stress of packing up their lives and starting anew in a different place.

Dealing with PCS (Permanent Change of Station) moves can be overwhelming, but with the right strategies, it can become a more manageable and even a positive experience. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide military spouses with helpful strategies to cope with PCS moves.

From understanding the emotional impact of moving to organizing your belongings and finding support in your new community, we will cover everything you need to know to make your PCS move as smooth as possible. Whether you’re a seasoned military spouse or facing your first PCS move, these tips will help you navigate the challenges and embrace the opportunities that come with military life.

What is a PCS Move?

save money, moving overseas, dealing with pcs moves

A PCS move, or Permanent Change of Station, is a military order for a service member to move to a new duty station. This often involves relocating the entire family and household belongings to a new area, sometimes even overseas. The process can be complex, with many logistical considerations to manage.

The military provides support for these moves, covering expenses and offering resources to help families adjust. However, the process can still be overwhelming, especially for those new to military life. Being prepared and understanding what a PCS move entails can make the experience more manageable.

How Often Do Military Families Move?

Military families move more frequently than civilian families, often every two to three years. This can be due to promotions, new assignments, or other military needs. While the frequency of moves can be challenging, it also offers opportunities for new experiences and growth.

The constant change can be both exciting and stressful. Adapting to new environments, making new friends, and adjusting to different schools or jobs can be demanding. However, with the right mindset and support, military families can thrive in their ever-changing circumstances.

Pre-move Strategies for Military Spouses

marriage certificates, movers refuse

Preparing for a PCS move involves more than just packing boxes. It’s essential to have a comprehensive pre-move strategy to ensure a smooth transition for the entire family.

1. Getting Organized: The Importance of Checklists

The organization is key to a successful PCS move. Creating detailed checklists can help you stay on track and ensure nothing is overlooked. Break down tasks into manageable steps, and assign deadlines to stay on schedule.

Checklists can cover everything from packing and utilities to address changes and school registrations. Having a visual representation of your progress can help reduce stress and give you a sense of accomplishment as you check off tasks.

2. Researching Your New Location: What to Look For

Researching your new location is crucial for a smoother transition. Gather information about the area, schools, amenities, and local military support resources. This will help you make informed decisions and ease the adjustment for the entire family.

Look for online resources, local community groups, or military spouse networks to get insights from those who have lived in the area. Knowing what to expect and having a plan in place can make the move less overwhelming and more exciting.

3. Communicating With Your Service Member: Balancing Responsibilities

Communication is essential during a PCS move. Both the service member and the spouse have responsibilities to manage, and it’s crucial to work together as a team. Discuss your expectations, share your feelings, and support each other throughout the process.

Balancing responsibilities can be challenging, especially when the service member has work-related tasks to complete. Open and honest communication can help you understand each other’s needs and find ways to share the load.

4. The Value of a Family Binder: Keeping Essential Documents Handy

A family binder is a valuable tool for keeping essential documents organized and accessible during a PCS move. Birth certificates, social security cards, passports, orders, and other important records should be kept in a safe and easily accessible place.

Having a family binder can save time and reduce stress during the move. It ensures that you have all the necessary documents at your fingertips, making it easier to complete paperwork, register for services, or handle any unexpected issues.

5. Engaging With Your Current Community: Saying Goodbyes

Saying goodbye to friends, neighbors, and familiar surroundings can be one of the most challenging parts of a PCS move. It’s essential to take the time to engage with your current community, express your gratitude, and say your farewells.

Host a farewell gathering, write thank-you notes, or simply spend time with those you’ll miss. These gestures can help you find closure and make the transition to your new location a little easier.

6. Financial Preparations: Budgeting for the Move

A PCS move can have financial implications, from travel expenses to setting up a new home. It’s essential to plan and budget for these costs to avoid financial stress during the move.

Consider creating a moving budget, factoring in expenses such as transportation, temporary lodging, and initial setup costs in your new home. Being prepared financially can help you focus on the move itself and reduce stress.

7. Children and Moves: Preparing the Young Ones

Moving can be especially challenging for children, who may struggle with leaving behind friends and familiar surroundings. It’s essential to involve them in the process, listen to their concerns, and help them adjust to the changes.

Talk to your children about the move, explain the reasons, and highlight the exciting aspects of the new location. Encourage them to express their feelings and reassure them that their emotions are valid. Help them stay connected with old friends and support them in making new ones.

8. Pets and Relocation: Ensuring Their Comfort

Relocating with pets adds another layer of complexity to a PCS move. It’s essential to plan for their needs and ensure their comfort during the transition.

Research pet-friendly accommodations, check for any quarantine or vaccination requirements in your new location, and make sure your pets have updated identification tags. Keep their favorite toys and comfort items handy during the move to help them adjust to their new surroundings.

Read More: PCS Entitlements: A Detailed Overview of What to Expect

Making the Most of Moving Day

movers arrive, positive attitude

Moving day can be hectic and emotional. Having a plan in place and staying organized can help you make the most of the day and ensure a smoother transition.

1. Packing Tips: What to Pack and What to Leave Behind

Packing efficiently is crucial for a successful move. Sort through your belongings, decide what to take with you, and what to leave behind. Consider donating or selling items you no longer need.

Label boxes clearly, indicating the contents and the room they belong to. Keep essential items, such as documents, medications, and valuables, separate and easily accessible. Being organized and having a packing plan can make the process more manageable and less stressful.

2. Working With Movers: Ensuring a Smooth Process

Working with professional movers can make the moving process more efficient and less stressful. Choose a reputable moving company, communicate your needs, and ensure they understand the unique challenges of a PCS move.

Be present during the packing and loading process, answer any questions the movers may have, and ensure that your belongings are handled with care. Having a positive working relationship with your movers can make the moving day more manageable and efficient.

3. The Emotional Rollercoaster of Moving Day

Moving day can be an emotional rollercoaster, with a mix of excitement, sadness, and stress. It’s essential to acknowledge your emotions and find healthy ways to cope.

Take breaks, stay hydrated, and don’t hesitate to ask for help if needed. Remember that it’s okay to feel a mix of emotions, and it’s essential to take care of yourself during this challenging time.

4. Last-minute Checks: Ensuring Nothing is Left Behind

Before leaving your old home, do a final walkthrough to ensure nothing is left behind. Check closets, cabinets, and other storage areas for any forgotten items.

Turn off lights, lock doors and windows, and leave any necessary information for the new occupants. Doing a thorough last-minute check can give you peace of mind and ensure a smooth transition to your new home.

5. Transportation: Getting Your Family and Belongings Safely to the New Location

Choosing the right transportation service provider is a crucial aspect of a PCS move. Whether you’re driving, flying, or using other means of transportation, it’s essential to plan and ensure the safety of your family and belongings.

Check your vehicles for any maintenance needs, plan your route, and make any necessary reservations. Keep essential items, such as documents, medications, and valuables, with you during the journey. Being prepared and organized can make the transportation process more manageable and less stressful.

Settling Into Your New Home and Community

move checklist, air mattresses

Settling into your new home and community is an essential part of a PCS move. It’s an opportunity to create a comfortable and welcoming space for your family and start building connections in your new community.

1. Unpacking Strategies: Setting Up Your New Home Efficiently

Unpacking and setting up your new home can be a daunting task, especially when waiting for your household goods shipment to arrive. Having a strategy in place can make the process more efficient and less overwhelming.

Start by unpacking essential items, such as bedding, toiletries, and kitchen supplies, as soon as your household goods arrive. Then, move on to other rooms, setting up one area at a time. Break down the process into manageable steps and involve the whole family in the unpacking process.

2. Introducing Yourself: Making Connections in Your New Community

Making connections in your new community, including at your next duty station, is essential for a smoother transition. Introduce yourself to neighbors, join local groups or organizations, and attend community events.

Building relationships and getting involved in your new community can help you feel more at home and provide valuable support during the adjustment period. Remember that making connections takes time, so be patient and open to new experiences.

3. Finding Resources: Schools, Healthcare, and More

Finding resources, including cleaning supplies and electronic devices, in your new community is essential for a smoother transition. Research schools, healthcare providers, and other essential services, including personal property offices, in your new area.

Visit local schools at your new installation, meet with teachers and administrators, and choose the best fit for your children. Find healthcare providers that accept your insurance and schedule any necessary appointments. Being proactive and finding resources in your new community can help you feel more settled and comfortable.

4. Embracing New Experiences: Making the Most of Your New Location

Embracing new experiences, including exploring your new installation, is essential for a successful PCS move. Explore your new area, try new activities, and make the most of your new location, saving money by taking advantage of local discounts for service members.

Visit local attractions, try new restaurants, and participate in community events. Embracing new experiences can help you feel more connected to your new community and make the transition more enjoyable.

5. Staying Connected With Old Friends: Nurturing Long-distance Relationships

Staying connected with old friends, even as you move to a new Marine Corps base or other service members’ location, is essential during a PCS move. Long-distance relationships can be challenging, but with effort and communication, they can be maintained and even strengthened.

Schedule regular phone calls, video chats, or even plan visits in the few weeks after your move to stay connected with old friends. Share updates, photos, and news with your old friends. Staying connected with those you care about can provide valuable support during the transition and help you feel less isolated in your new community.

Read More: Military Move Packing and Unpacking Services: What You Need to Know

Why Choose Military Movers: Your Trusted Partner in PCS Moves?

At Military Movers, we understand the unique challenges that come with a PCS move. Our team is dedicated to providing exceptional service tailored to the needs of military families. With over two decades of experience, we have the expertise and resources to make your move as smooth and stress-free as possible.

1. Comprehensive Moving Services

  • Packing and Unpacking: Our professional team will carefully pack your belongings, ensuring they are protected during transit. We also offer unpacking services, helping you settle into your new home quickly.
  • Transportation: We provide reliable transportation for your household goods, ensuring they arrive safely at your new location. Our fleet of modern trucks is equipped with the latest technology for real-time tracking and secure transport.
  • Storage Solutions: If you need temporary storage for your belongings, we offer secure and climate-controlled storage facilities. Our flexible storage options are designed to fit your needs and budget.

2. Specialized Support for Military Families

  • Understanding Military Move Policies: Our team is well-versed in military move policies and regulations. We can help you navigate the process, ensuring you receive the benefits and support you’re entitled to.
  • Flexible Scheduling: We understand that military life can be unpredictable. Our team is ready to accommodate last-minute changes and work around your schedule.
  • Customized Services: Every PCS move is unique. We offer customized services tailored to your specific needs, ensuring a seamless and efficient moving experience.

3. Expertise in Handling Valuables and Fragile Items

  • Specialized Packing Materials: We use high-quality packing materials to protect your valuables and fragile items during transit. Our team is trained in packing techniques that ensure the safety of your belongings.
  • Custom Crating: For oversized or unusually shaped items, we offer custom crating solutions. Our team will design and build crates that provide maximum protection for your valuable possessions.
  • Insurance Options: We offer various insurance options to give you peace of mind. In the unlikely event of damage or loss, you can rest assured that your belongings are covered.

4. Commitment to Customer Satisfaction

  • Personalized Attention: Our team is dedicated to providing personalized attention to every customer. We take the time to understand your needs and work closely with you to ensure a successful move.
  • Transparent Communication: We believe in transparent communication. Our team will keep you informed throughout the moving process, addressing any questions or concerns you may have.
  • Positive Reviews: We are proud of our reputation for providing exceptional service. Our satisfied customers have left positive reviews, highlighting our commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction.

5. Affordable and Competitive Pricing

  • Free Estimates: We offer free, no-obligation estimates for our services. Our team will assess your needs and provide a detailed quote, ensuring there are no surprises on a moving day.
  • Competitive Pricing: We offer competitive pricing for our services, ensuring you receive high-quality service at an affordable rate.
  • Flexible Payment Options: We understand that PCS moves can be financially challenging. We offer flexible payment options to accommodate your budget and make the moving process more manageable.


Moving is a significant life event, and for military families, it’s a frequent occurrence. The challenges of PCS moves can be overwhelming, but with the right strategies and support, you can navigate this process with ease. Remember to engage in self-care, process your feelings, lean on your support network, and embrace your new community.

By following the best practices outlined in this article, you can make your next PCS move a positive and successful experience. At Military Movers, we are here to support you every step of the way. Our team is dedicated to providing exceptional service tailored to the unique needs of military families.

Ready to make your next PCS move a breeze? Military Movers is here to help. Get a free, no-obligation quote today, and let us take the stress out of your move. Contact us at our toll-free number 866-226-1441 or fill out the quote form on our website. We’re here for you every step of the way.


What is a PCS move?

PCS stands for Permanent Change of Station. It refers to the official relocation of an active-duty military service member, along with any family members living with them, to a different duty location. This can be a move across the country or even overseas.

How often do military families move?

On average, a military family moves every three years. However, the frequency of moves can vary depending on the service member’s career path, rank, and the needs of the military.

What should I do to prepare for a PCS move?

Start by discussing the move with your family and setting expectations. Research your new location, including housing options, schools, and job opportunities. Create a moving checklist and start organizing your belongings. Reach out to your support network, including military spouse groups and resources like Military OneSource. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider seeking help from a professional moving company like Military Movers.

How can I cope with the emotional stress of a PCS move?

Engaging in self-care, processing your feelings, and leaning on your support network is essential. Be open and honest about your emotions; don’t be afraid to ask for help. Focus on the move’s positive aspects, such as new opportunities and experiences. Remember that you’re not alone, and there are resources available to support you during this challenging time.

Can I get assistance with my PCS move?

Yes, there are many resources available to help military families with PCS moves. The military offers relocation assistance programs, and there are organizations like Military OneSource that provide support and information. Additionally, professional moving companies like Military Movers specialize in assisting military families with their relocation needs.

Mia Miller

Mia Miller, a true wordsmith, documents the journey of Military Movers through her engaging blog posts. She ensures that our stories, mirroring our commitment and dedication to facilitating military moves, reach a broad audience.

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