5 Tips for a smooth PCS move

military family sit in a room filled with boxes while preparing for a PCS move.

Preparing for a PCS move can be both exciting and daunting for military service members and their families. Whether it’s a move to a different state or even another country, relocation is a reality that more than 400,000 service members face every year. Known as Permanent Change of Station (PCS), this assignment could occur every 2-3 years or more, depending on special assignments and other factors.

No matter how many times a military family relocates, each move presents unique challenges, as each family member reacts differently to the change. These major life events often trigger significant stress, introducing numerous changes that can be overwhelming to navigate. 

If you are gearing up for the big move or already in the middle of one, rest assured – we’ve got your back. In this blog, we are sharing practical tips to ease your transition and make your PCS move less stressful.

1. Get organized!

Get ahead of the PCS game with a personalized checklist for each family member. That way, you’ll stay organized and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Also, we recommend that you centralize all your move-related paperwork in one location. This may include receipts, change of address paperwork, and records of all communications and discussions related to the relocation.

During the move, remember to carry all essential documents and personal records with you instead of shipping them. Think birth certificates, car titles, insurance info, bank records, medical files, and don’t forget your pet’s records!

Doing these smart tips can help you handle the PCS move like a champ.

2. All hands on deck

Make the most of your PCS move by playing to everyone's strengths. Your spouse could handle paperwork and logistics, such as coordinating movers, travel plans, and making sure everything is squared away. Meanwhile, you could focus getting the kids, pets, and packing organized. This way, you're all pitching in where you excel, making the move smoother and less stressful.

Let the kids play a role, too! Keep them engaged researching exciting places to visit and family activities for the trip. They can also focus on the fun opportunities that await at your new home. This ultimately fosters a united approach for the move.

3. Make the most of your entitlements and resources

By utilizing of your entitlements and resources, you can alleviate stress during your move. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the military’s reimbursement policies and benefits for PCS moves.

You are entitled to travel and housing allowances, Per Diem for daily living expenses during the move, a DLA (dislocation allowance), household goods (HHG) moving and storage, and more. Don’t forget to keep the receipts for all eligible expenses to ensure you receive the full reimbursement you're entitled to.

There are also helpful resources available to you. Take advantage of financial counseling services offered by your installation’s Personal Financial Management Program. They can provide guidance on budgeting, savings, and navigating the financial aspects of your move. Also, browse sites like Military OneSource, which provides a wide range of support services, including relocation assistance, financial counseling, and access to professional consultants for various needs.

4. Chart your budget course

Don't let the money challenges of your PCS move catch you off guard. If you haven’t already, start by assessing your current finances and creating a budget if you haven’t already. Make sure to identify your consistent bills, which may include credit card payments, student loans, car payments, and child support.

During the move, be on the lookout for deals. Take advantage of “kids eat free” nights at restaurants, and don’t forget to use your military discount (more places offer it than you’d expect). These strategies will help you stay within budget and cut down everyday expenses.

TIP: While planning your finances for the PCS move, it is also the perfect time to tackle existing debts (prioritizing high-interest ones). This step will enhance your financial flexibility during the transition.

5. Lighten your load

Each life event brings its own mix of emotions, and let's face it, they often come with a price tag too. PCS moves fall under this category. As you navigate the move, you will encounter upfront costs before your DLA (Dislocation Allowance) kicks in. Even with careful planning, there might be expenses that your entitlements and allowances just won't cover. This can put a strain on your budget for a while, impacting your family's finances. It's a tough reality, but there’s a way to tackle it.

To help lighten the load, consider a military Access Loan* from Armed Forces Bank. Whether you need $750 or $15,000, this personal loan is designed to provide our military community with quick and easy access to funds. We recognize that unexpected costs can pop up during PCS moves, and an Access Loan offers a practical solution to ease that financial burden.

Access Loan Features

  • Expanded credit options available for Armed Forces Bank clients
  • Credit solutions tailored for borrowers with limited or no credit history
  • Automated payment setup to ensure you stay on track without missing a payment
  • Fixed terms and monthly payments, providing a streamlined budgeting experience

Now let’s cross money off your worry list!
*Subject to credit approval. Origination fee applies. Restrictions apply.

Let Armed Forces Bank be your trusted ally for PCS moves

At Armed Forces Bank, we understand just how complex PCS moves can be. No matter where you are stationed in the world, our goal is to offer banking solutions and financial advice that are quick, easy, and tailored to you. We are prepared to handle complicated situations, especially for active-duty folks dealing with moves across the country. Your journey matters to us, and we're here to back you up every step of the way.


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