Are you one of the thousands of military families that are stuck in PCS limbo? The recent DoD stop order on military travel has affected many military families waiting to move or preparing for an upcoming PCS. Now that the stop order has been extended indefinitely, with constant reevaluation every 15 days, families may not know more than two weeks in advance when they will finally be allowed to move. If you have ever PCS’d before, you know that 15 days is not enough time to prepare for and execute a PCS move.
It’s the classic example of hurry up and wait. Or in this case, it’s more like wait… then hurry up. You’ll spend weeks stuck at home feeling like your hands are tied, and then you’ll be expected to jump through hoops all at once as soon as the stop order is lifted. It’s stressful for any military family, and even more so for those who are facing deployments, a new baby, or the possibility of moving alone.
Want to make the most of this down time while you’re waiting for permission to move? Here are five things you can do right now to prepare for your upcoming PCS.
Clean out the closets: Even if you don’t know when you will move, it’s never too early to start cleaning out your home to lighten the load for your next PCS. Thrift stores may not be open or accepting donations right now, but the garbage pick-up is still going on schedule. You can clear out old and broken items from the garage, get rid of toys that are missing parts, and set aside any liquids like paint, oil, or batteries that can’t be packed during the move. If your family members have outgrown clothes, gather them to be given to friends or sold in a garage sale when social distancing has been lifted.
Research your next duty station: If you know where you are moving next, there’s a lot you can learn from afar. You want to learn as much as you can about housing and school options, commute distances to the base, and activities in the local area. At PCSgrades, you can read reviews of base housing and off-base neighborhoods, all written by military families to help fellow veterans and family members. You can see ratings of local school districts and moving companies to help plan your move. And you can connect with a top-rated real estate agent to discuss home and rental prices in your future town.
Start saving money: No matter when you move, it always costs more than you expect. Even though the government reimburses some moving costs, there will still be out of pocket payments for your utilities, a security deposit or down payment on your next place, new furniture, and possibly a vehicle. Take advantage of this delay to save up for those expenses. Set aside the money from your stimulus check to cover moving costs. Calculate the reduced costs from gas, childcare, entertainment, or other expenses since you have been staying home. You may want to transfer that money into a savings account so you won’t be tempted to spend it.
Connect with a real estate agent: In these uncertain times, it may not feel like the right time to buy a home and commit to a mortgage. But the good news for service members is that your steady income and job security make you favorable to lenders! In some areas, home prices are dropping since there is less interest. Those conditions can make this the ideal time to purchase a home at your next duty station. To connect with a real estate expert who understands the complications of military PCS moves, check out the A+ rated agents at PCSgrades.com. Even with an uncertain moving date, they can discuss your options and let you know how to proceed.
Get the kids’ school records: Your kids’ schools are probably closed now, so it may be difficult to get things in order and prepare for a move. But even if the schools don’t re-open before the end of the year, you can still take steps now to help them enroll smoothly at their future school. On your own, you can gather report cards, test results, immunization records, and screen shots of their current learning platforms. Contact your school and district offices letting them know you will move this summer and need your student’s records. Email your child’s primary teachers and coaches asking for a teacher-to-teacher letter or a letter of recommendation. This will help them make a smooth transition for next school year.
If you’re in PCS limbo, don’t waste your time waiting for orders. Instead, get the most out of this “extra time” to prepare for your PCS. Visit PCSgrades.com for PCS resources that can help you prepare for your move!
This article is sponsored by PCSgrades.