Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders can be fraught with both stress and excitement. You’re excited because of the chance to see new places, meet new people, and learn new things. By the same token, there is the fear factor. You are moving to a new place where you don’t know anyone, don’t know your way around, and you’re starting over from ground zero. It’s like having to prove yourself all over again. One thing you can do to make this transition a little easier is make a checklist, so that you don’t have to worry about missing any important tasks you need to take care of before that final trek out of town.
Most commands will assign you a sponsor once orders have been set in stone. If you find that this is not the case, request one. A sponsor can be a wealth of information about the local area as well as what to expect when you arrive at your new duty station. Some of the things they may be able to help you with are discussed in more detail below.
Every state has licensing regulations. These regulations range from deadlines for registering your vehicle within the state to obtaining the state license. For instance, Georgia gives a member a six month grace period for driving on an expired out-of-state license. North Carolina requires the member to register within 60 days. This is why it is important to verify what the state’s requirements are.
You will definitely want to make arrangements for temporary housing before starting out for you next duty station. There is nothing worse than getting to the end of your journey and having to search for a place to stay. You are exhausted and tired from all the driving (or flying) and you just want to rest for a little bit before checking in with your new command. Not to mention that your family wants to start feeling somewhat settled. Take the time to make those reservations; get the temporary housing info from your sponsor. Find out what your need to make the reservations and get it done. That will be one more item ticked off of your to-do list.
You don’t want to get to your new command and start off on the wrong foot by messing up your check-in. Your sponsor should be able to give you the proper procedures, such as where to go, who to see first, etc. If they don’t offer it up to you, make sure you ask for the info. This way, you’re starting off on the right foot.
Ask your sponsor if there is any other info about your command that you should know that would make your transition a little easier. Info such as special uniform, special footwear and other such requirements are things you should ask your sponsor about.
Personal belongings such as household goods and vehicles can sometimes be put off until the last minute in the stress of getting everything together for your transfer. Housing is another thing that you need to add to your checklist. We will discuss them in a little more detail below.
Most bases offer some sort of housing info, whether it is about on-base or off-base offerings. If it is for on-base, you will need to find out about how long the waiting list is. If you are coming from overseas, you may be put on the list as soon as you check out of the command you are leaving. Always check with your new command housing office to see what the regulations are for this option. If you are transferring from within the continental US, you won’t be able to get on the waiting list until you actually check in to your command.
The housing office will also have information on housing areas to avoid, such as apartment complexes that have been blacklisted for causing problems for military members. It is also a good idea to take house hunting leave before you transfer if your command will allow you to do so. It is so much easier to already have an address to put down for personal property paperwork.
Your household goods will need to be packed out, whether you do it yourself or have the government do it for you. If you have the government do it for you, there are specific time limits for setting up the different appointments. Personal Property has finally moved into the 21st Century, so you can do your self-counseling online at their website (www.move.mil).
You will have a walk-through appointment, which is when they determine the size and approximate number of boxes that will be needed to pack your belongings out. You will need to know before this point if you are having them take your expensive items, such as artwork, antiques, and heirlooms) or if you will be moving them yourself. Either way, it would be a good idea to have them appraised, so that if there is any damage, you will know the value for claim purposes.
On pack out day, make sure that you clearly mark items that you don’t want packed. The best idea would be to pick a room to put those items in, and put a sign on the door saying “DO NOT PACK THIS ROOM,” or something to that effect. If you don’t want it packed keep it out of packing range. If you have pets, take them to a neighbor’s for the day so they don’t inadvertently get packed. Our cat loved boxes, playing in the paper, and explored at every possible opportunity. We learned with the first pack out. Check the boxes!
There are items that you can add to personalize your list. These are just a few suggestions to get you started.