PCS (Permanent Change of Station) Packing Tips

PCS (Permanent Change of Station) can be overwhelming, especially when it involves children, pets, or traveling a long distance. Getting the earliest start possible in the planning process allows for preparedness (and sanity) for your family when it comes to the actual day of the move.

Make a plan.

  • Decide whether you want to make a do-it-yourself-move (DITY move), or have the military handle everything for you. If you are DITY, arrange a reservation with a reputable rental or full-service company.

    Don't let moving get you down. Photo by Pfc. Justin M. Boling
    Don’t let moving get you down.
    Photo by Pfc. Justin M. Boling
  • Start organizing personal records like birth certificates, insurance papers and warranties.
  • Consider tax-deductible moving expenses (i.e., the cost of pre-move house-hunting).
  • Search for a new house. If you plan to buy, contact a real estate agent as soon as possible to get the ball rolling on a home search, escrow, and all funding processes. If you will be renting, contact landlords in your new area as soon as you know where it is.
  • Take care of necessary medical, appointments. Obtain all medical records or find out how to forward them to a new provider.
  • Talk with your children to give them plenty of time to absorb the reality of the move, overcome the fear of relocation, and ask questions.
  • If the military spouse has a civilian job, give adequate notice and update resumes to begin a job search in the new city or town.
  • Look in to daycare or education options in your new location.  For school-aged children, acquire all current records and once you choose a school in your new location, arrange to have their records forwarded to the new institution.
  • Get a copy of your pet’s medical records and be sure that all vaccinations and inoculations are up to date.
  • If you will be changing banks, open up a new account and/or safe deposit box in your new location.
  • Verify move in dates with new landlord or real estate agent. If housing won’t be ready by the day of your move, arrange for temporary housing.
  • Obtain change of address forms from the Post Office. If you do not yet know your new address, consider setting up a P.O. box in your new area and forward all mail to this address.
  • Visit your local military financial center to assess your entitlement to advanced pay and any other benefits regarding the cost of your move.
  • Plan set-up of utility services at your new address. Inform current electric, gas, trash, water, phone and cable companies of your move. Cancel any local subscriptions or services (for example, newspaper, gardening and pool services) if necessary.
  • Take a preliminary inventory of your belongings. Decide what you need to take with you and what you can get rid of by the time of the move.


Let the packing begin.

  • Schedule pickup and delivery dates with movers as soon as possible. This will give you a definitive date around which to plan all further specifics of your move.
  • Begin sorting and disposing or donating/selling items that you don’t need.
  • Renew and pick up any necessary prescriptions. If you will need refills on the road, obtain prescription slips from your doctor.
  • Have plenty of ziplock bags on hand. These will come in handy when packing a variety of household and personal essentials.
  • Make copies of important documents and pack in a safe place away from the originals that will be carried with you.
  • Remove wall accessories such as artwork, shelves, and drapes. Patch any holes as necessary.
  • Drain oil and gas from gas-operated tools such as lawn mowers, chainsaws, and leaf blowers.
  • Dispose of any hazardous materials such as aerosol cans and paint thinners. These can be extremely hazardous to your belongings in a move and should not be taken with you.
  • Separate items that will not be packed away such as suitcases, toiletries, medications, food and cleaning materials.
  • Take inventory and color code all boxes of your belongings by room. This will help make sure you have everything in the right place on the other side of the move.
  • Note the condition of your belongings, such as furniture and appliances. If it has noticeable wear or damage, take note of it so you are able to assess any new damage incurred along the way.
  • If you will be taking appliances with you, disconnect them prior to the arrival of the moving company.


Moving Day

  • Have meals and snacks planned for the entire family. Don’t forget to eat!
  • Make sure everything is packed and in order before movers arrive.
  • Movers will pack anything they see, including trash. Make sure everything is clean and organized to encourage efficiency on both sides of a move.
  • Plan to carry with you any cash, jewelry, important documents, checkbooks, credit cards. and other valuable items.

For more moving information visiting the official DPS portal.

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