Top 10 lessons I’ve learned about PCSing.
Moving with the military is all I’ve ever known. And if you read my Letter from the Founder at the front of this magazine, you know it’s something I truly love. In fact, I almost love it too much.
But if my 29 military moves have taught me anything over the course of my lifetime, it’s that moving with the military IS NOT EASY. You need expert planning skills and one heck of a strong sense of humor to survive it, especially when you’re not exactly in love with your new destination.
So with good planning (and good humor) in mind, here are a few nuggets of wisdom culled from my lifetime of moving (written, appropriately enough, while I was in the middle of my most recent PCS).
1. Things to put in a box in your car to have at your new place: paper towels, trash bags, something to write with, scissors, cleaning supplies, zip-top plastic bags of different sizes, a few hand towels, soap, laundry detergent.
2. Things to buy before going to your new place: broom and mop (it’s bad luck to bring the old ones!) and a trashcan.
3. Beyond the three things mentioned above, don’t buy anything you think you might need until after you’ve opened all of your boxes. THEN go get what you still need. This includes organizer things, new furniture, curtains, etc.-just wait until you have access to everything and see what might work in a new spot before investing in new things.
4. Things to keep with you at all times during your move: phone chargers, important paperwork, any home paperwork (rental agreements, etc.), important phone numbers at both ends and documents for new schools.
5. Which reminds me: If you are enrolling kids into new schools, bring with you: birth certificates, Social Security cards, proof of where you NOW live (water bill, electricity bill) and the phone and fax numbers for your OLD school. Remember, you will have to buy new school supplies at the new school, so if you know you are moving during the school year, double your supplies while they are on sale and set them aside to bring to the new location.
6. Do ALL of your laundry before you start packing up. ‘Cuz here’s the thing: If you wait until you’ve already started sorting stuff (stuff we can pack, stuff we need to put in the car, etc.) to start your laundry, you’re gonna wind up with stacks of stuff that are in the wrong stack. Then, you’ll wind up bringing it all with you anyway.
7. Wash your sheets the day they are PACKING. That way, you can throw them in the leftover box the packers leave to load the next day and they are relatively clean when you get to your new place. Unless you are traveling OCONUS. Then, just wash them and go to a hotel.
8. Give your trash men a few extra bucks for hauling away all your unwanted stuff. It’s just the right thing to do and makes them feel better about helping you. Seriously. Don’t give me crap about not having extra money. A $20 won’t kill you and you’ll be doing the nice thing. Same goes for your packers: Pick up their lunch tab. And, if you’re able, offer to go somewhere other than a pizza or chicken place.
9. Buy new shower curtains when you get to the new place. The old ones you’ve got are probably nasty by now, even though you’ve been too busy to notice. I guarantee, they’ll look even more gross when you try hanging them up in a new place.
10. Bring in family or even friends to help you out. There is a lot to haul, especially if you do a DITY (I mean PPM!) move. Even if you’re experienced, it helps to have extra hands when you need things done.
And remember: You can only plan so much. No matter how many bins and boxes of “items the movers can’t pack” or “stuff I need to have with me” you create, there are just going to be times when even the best planners fall short. The sooner we all accept this, the sooner we can all move on.