Military Moves, for the First Timer

A friend of mine is preparing to have the military move her for the first time ever and sent me a message as she was beginning to freak out about the situation. I am not a professional like some of my military wife friends who have been through five or more moves. (And yes... there are some pros out there!) I'm sharing what I shared with her. This is NOT a PCS checklist, or "everything you need to know about PCSing", or anything like that. This is advice. Advice I wish I'd had when we first packed up and moved to San Diego a month into our marriage. I'm just tellin' y'all what I told her (more or less)! I may add some additional resources to this post at a later date.

That being said, here it is: 

1. Don't freak out. You're just nervous because you haven't done it yet. We have been moved twice by the military and I think it went pretty well. 

2. I recommend a mini pre-packing. Anything you want to keep with you, pack and set aside (we just packed it in our car). Don't forget everything you need for your pets. Try to keep vital documents and things that will be hard to replace with you. And anything you really would be devastated to lose. (You probably won't lose anything, but anything smaller than furniture always has potential. They DO reimburse damage and losses, but somethings can't be replaced-- you know what I mean). 

If it may be a while before you have an address and plan on storing your goods, they will empty all your drawers and pack them up. We found that out last time. If you're moving directly to an address or don't anticipate much of a wait, they will just pack the whole dresser, drawers and all. Some people like to pack their scivvies (undies) because they're weirded out by someone touching/seeing/handling them.. I don't really care. These guys are professionals. Last time I packed up my little junk/supply drawers. I actually bought the small strange containers -- like the small rectangle ones from Target or Walmart and put all the "junk" drawer items in there myself. They will pack them fine if you just leave it as is, but it's the unpacking them is usually not fun. They use a LOT of paper, they will wrap up two pens in three sheets of paper (lol!). They will also pack your trash if you don't watch them. But every company is different.

3. The guys will walk you through it, so don't stress but don't be afraid to ask questions. Generally they are super sweet because they are interested in keeping their government contracts! You will have a consultant or counselor or at the very least a contact at the company who will be available from before the packing to after the delivery. They do their job well.

4. One of you should be present at all times. It's weird and awkward, especially the second day when they are loading up the truck. Where do I sit? Why are they loading the couch FIRST?! What do I do? Stare at them? Ignore them? That was always my dilemma. But, be there. Sometimes they'll ask you about something they're packing. And, while you don't want to be a hawk, you want them to know you're there. Not because they'll act up if you're gone.. it's just good practice to make yourself available. I would say avoid being that person who follows them around with a notepad, making your own list of what they're packing in which box. (Except maybe if there is a high value item you need to point out.) But to each his own.

5. Don't freak out! Some people say that they've had awful experiences and I do not doubt that. I'm sure it varies because they use all different companies. I talked to our last crew and they were telling me that sometimes military families are really rude because they have the government standing behind them. (You know, that military entitlement thing?) A lot of the bad stories I hear, I wonder if people aren't complaining about something the right attitude couldn't have fixed! But yes, sometimes I'll bet there are bad crews. Like the trash-packing experience! In fact, we lost a few boxes my first move. But that is part of it. You have to relax -- this life is about rolling with the punches. You begin to realize what is important in your life when they pack it all away in 6 hours!

Finally, I would like to comment on the nature of the move. Military moves are filled with unknowns and often anxiety. Some people will give you a hard time about doing a move yourself and some will give you a hard time about letting the military move you. YOU know what is good for you. Moving yourself is, for our family, not worth the extra money. We are stressed out enough, often not knowing where we're headed (the town or the address, for that matter), and doing it in regular increments. Adding packing, weighing, and arranging move details is too much for us. But WE are not YOU! The military tries to make it as painless as possible, but nothing is perfect. Do. Not. Freak. Out!

Enjoy the ride!

Further Reading:
10 PCS Lessons I Never Learn

love, me


  1. I was in the Navy and got moved several times. I was more concerned to see the guys packing all my crappy household goods into a trailer around 3 ~very~ fancy sports cars!

    And I ended up with a random giant stuffed angel fish. No idea where that came from!

  2. I LOVE the random accumulations. We haven't got anything noteworthy yet.. but I'm thinkin' we've got at least three more moves... !!