11 Military Moving Tips From a PCS Pro

Want to PCS like an old pro? Pay attention to these 11 tips, especially tip 9. http://wp.me/p1d7d0-8EO

Practice doesn’t make perfect when it comes to military moves, because the rules are always changing. But here are a few things I’ve learned over the past twenty years of moves.

 Want to PCS like an old pro? Pay attention to these 11 tips, especially tip 9. http://wp.me/p1d7d0-8EO

11 Military Moving Tips From a PCS Pro

1. Avoid storage whenever possible

Of course, sometimes it’s absolutely unavoidable, but a door-to-door move gives you the best chance of your household goods (HHG) arriving undamaged. It’s simply because items put into storage are handled more and that increases the possibility that they’ll be damaged, lost, or stolen.

2. Keep track of your last move

If you move frequently, keep your records so that you can tell the moving company how many packers, loaders, etc. that it takes to get your entire home in boxes and on the truck. I track that information, as well as the weights from our previous moves, in my phone and on my computer.

3. Ask for a full unpack ahead of time if you want one

Many military spouses have no idea that a full unpack is included in the contract price paid to the carrier by the government. As the years go on, you’ll find that your spouse may not have any time off in between jobs to help you unpack…this is when having the movers do it can save your sanity (and your marriage!).

You can also request a partial unpack; just tell them which rooms or types of boxes they should unpack.

4. Keep your original boxes

My husband has kept the original boxes for our flat screen TVs, computer, gaming systems, etc., including the Styrofoam…and we’ve never had any damage to our electronics when packed in their original boxes. Just be sure that your packers label them “CP” for carrier packed so you’re covered in case of damage.

5. Claim your “pro gear” for a military move

Pro gear is professional gear, and the weight of those items isn’t counted against your total. Since the definition of “pro gear” seems to be constantly changing, you should look it up. Apparently the 700 plaques that they’re given when leaving various jobs don’t count as pro gear. Seriously.

Spouses can claim up to 500 pounds of pro gear for their profession, too, as of this writing. Remember that if you’re worried that you’re not going to make weight, they should also subtract 10% for packing materials.

6. Be a prepper

Prepare by purging like crazy and putting things in their proper places. I used to throw all of our hardware in a “parts box” but what works best for me is to tape a plastic bag containing the screws, nails, etc. to the back of the item.

 Want to PCS like an old pro? Pay attention to these 11 tips, especially tip 9. http://wp.me/p1d7d0-8EO


7. Put signs on everything

I’ve started labeling everything for the packers…signs like “don’t pack the hamster,” or “please label all of these items Pro Gear.”

I put signs up at the new house, too, labeling each room. Before they unload, I give them a tour so they know where all the rooms are. So when I tell them to please take that giant, thousand pound armoire to the bonus room, they know where to go.

 Want to PCS like an old pro? Pay attention to these 11 tips, especially tip 9. http://wp.me/p1d7d0-8EO

8. Keep essentials out and move them yourselves

This is a no-brainer for things like medications, pet supplies, baby items, clothing, and the like. A few other things that I always seem to need include office supplies, Ziploc bags, cleaning supplies, yard equipment, trashbags, kitchen items, cooler, Sharpie, boxcutters, and whatever else you need to get from Point A to Point B.

I always move our silver, my jewelry, and our tax forms and other financial records. And all of Sunny’s tennis balls. If we lost the Penn 4, I’m not sure what he’d do!

 Want to PCS like an old pro? Pay attention to these 11 tips, especially tip 9. http://wp.me/p1d7d0-8EO

9. Ask the movers to leave you extra boxes, paper, and tape

It’s simply a fact that you are going to find additional items to pack after you think you’re done (because it never ends!). Keep a few boxes to pack the “hazmat” items that you’ll have to transport yourselves: candles, batteries, cleaning supplies, etc.

10. Hide essentials in your refrigerator

I realized long ago that the reason I own five corkscrews is because we move so frequently. Every time we move, the corkscrew gets packed, and I have to buy another one. By the way, moving time is not the time to become a teetotaller if you’re not one already!! I solved the problem this time by putting the corkscrew in my refrigerator–the packers never pack things that are in the fridge.

11. Realize that all the planning in the world can’t guarantee a smooth move.

Sadly, this was our worst move ever–we’re still finding damage almost a month later. Read all the ugly details {here}, plus a few more tips on how I might have avoided some of it.

 Want to PCS like an old pro? Pay attention to these 11 tips, especially tip 9. http://wp.me/p1d7d0-8EO

Here are a few related posts you might like: my tips for decorating a rental (or military quarters), Amy’s moving tips, and how I find a great rental house when we move to a new location.

Happy moving, and please share your best tips below!

Final-New-Christy-headshot-2015Christy Black is a semi-professional mover after twenty years of wedded bliss to an Army pilot, although everyone’s pretty thankful that they didn’t kill each other after this last PCS. She’s also the proud mom of two awesome kids and spends her days vacuuming thanks to their two rescued golden retrievers. The Blacks currently live in Southern Pines, North Carolina, and Christy blogs about life, DIY, and home decor with her friend and college roommate, Amy, at www.11magnolialane.com.

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  • retiredusnnavywife

    Funny story. We bought a 4′ stuffed Orca in the gift shop at Sea World, San Diego. Moved from CA to VA and then stored it along with most of our HHG when we went overseas. At our second overseas tour in UK, we could finally get most of our HHG. After a few months, when our shipment was not yet delivered, I found it was held in Customs because the box with the Orca said stuffed fish on the outside. The British Customs Officer thought it was indeed a “stuffed” fish. They refer to child’s animals as plush toys. With our permission he opened the box, approved and our HHG were delivered.

  • retiredusnnavywife

    Christy, your post is filled with useful facts – I thought more people might comment. I too have moved many times, including two cross country, three from the U.S. to overseas, one from overseas to overseas, three from overseas to the U.S., one from off base to on. We shipped a motorcycle from UAE to UK and it arrived in perfect condition. Our worst move was from San Diego to VA. One company packed; one company moved. The movers started off mad at us because they said we overestimated our weight and they would be paid less than they thought; in S.D., they had to move our furniture through a long hallway then down an elevator to the waiting truck; even though this was clearly written in our instructions, they weren’t prepared. My husband spent the day on a lawn chair on the city sidewalk by the truck guarding our stuff. They forgot our bed, which was a solid queen frame. We chased them three blocks through downtown S.D., but couldn’t catch up and the moving company sent a Toyota pickup. They straddled the bed over the sides! Of course it arrived in pieces. Turned out the movers were a couple who used to haul potatoes and thought they might venture into long distance furniture hauling.

  • I particularly like the 7th point:”Put signs on everything”. For me this is an excellent way of freeing up my mind when i have so many thought running through my mind in all direction.

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