Author: Jessica Manfre
You finally know your way around; the whole family is settled into your awesome community
and then it happens. Orders come; it’s time to PCS. Spring doesn’t just bring the flowers and
sunshine, it brings the paperwork that tells you where your new life will be. Take a deep breath,
put on your favorite music, and pour yourself a cup of strong coffee – you’ve got this.
A PCS, or permanent change of station, is the military’s way of saying that it’s time to pack up
and move somewhere else on the globe. Typical orders come in the late winter or early spring,
leaving families around three to four months to research their new duty station, figure out
housing, schools, employment, and start a new life. This time of year can either make you want
to crawl into the fetal position and stay there – or it fuels your gypsy spirit with the fire and
excitement at the prospect of a new adventure. Choose the joy of adventure, you won’t regret
it! Here are my steps to an epic-amazing-awesome PCS season:
Research all the things
The internet is going to be your new best friend. Armed with your new zip code, hit the
computer. Start by reaching out on social media, see if there is a group for your new base,
station, or boat. Talk to your new friends and get all the details on your new home, their insight
will give you the best idea of where you want settle. Once in a blue moon you may be able to
travel to your new home before moving but that isn’t the typical experience. I once purchased a
home after a Coast Guard spouse friend did the walk through and FaceTimed us through it –
Once you’ve settled on the area, research the schools and employment options – narrowing
your search even more. Once you’ve drawn your circle on the map, it’s time to get to work.
There’s no place like home
You’ve done all the research, now it’s time to decide on where you are going to live. This means
you are considering living on base in housing, renting, or purchasing a home. Weigh all of the
options and choose that one that is the best fit for you and your family. You should know that
in some areas base housing is mandatory – look into this. If it is a requirement you can
sometimes get a waiver to live off base.
- Base housing comes with pros and cons. You’ll have (hopefully) the easiest PCS ever.
Your house is set, school district for the kiddos determined, and the bills mostly set up
and handled easily with a deduction of your service member’s BAH (basic allowance for
housing). You’ll also have a community of amazingness wrapping their arms around you
and becoming your new family. But – full disclosure? You’ll also be limited in what you
can do to your new home in terms of painting and arranging. There are also times you
may feel like you are in a fish bowl. Weigh it all and decide what works for you and your
- Renting on the economy is a choice that many military families sign up for. In my eight
PCS moves, we’ve rented a home four times. This gives the military family a bigger sense
of control. The challenge comes when you are trying to find rentals within your BAH in
high cost areas – this is where base housing is always our number one choice. It can also
be difficult to find homes willing to rent to you if you have animals, reducing the options
– in some cases, a lot. Check out options that allow you to rent from another military
family. It makes the whole experience so much smoother and they are typically the best
landlords ever, because they know exactly how it is. Check out AHRN, these are vetted
and trusted housing options. It allows you to search easily around your new duty station
for something within your price range. Military By Owner is another great resource.
- Purchasing your very own home is an amazing choice too, if you are financially able to
carry a mortgage and the responsibilities that come along with owning a home. This
option gives you full control where you want to live, decorating, and bringing along your
zoo. Caliber Home Loans has an incredible military lending department. Many of them
are veterans, reservists, or military spouses themselves – they know how to read the LES
and completely get our life.
Plant your roots
It may be a cliché saying but when we plant ourselves, we really do bloom. Do the year of the
“yes”. Every time someone invites you to do something, say yes. See a new tourist thing
happening in your new hometown? Say yes to all of the things! The best piece of advice that I
was ever given is to get involved. When I advise new spouses, I always say this and there’s a
reason for it. If you are putting yourself out there for friendships, fun, and adventure – the PCS
season won’t bring you the blues, but the butterflies of knowing your new adventure is just
waiting for you.
Ask for help when you need it
If you are having a hard time adjusting – reach out! Contact your Ombudsman, Key Spouse,
AFRC, or FRG. There are people literally waiting to be there for you. Military One Source also
has counselors 24/7 just waiting to work through anything weighing on your mind. It’s free,
confidential, and one of the best things you can do for yourself. They’ll even do video
appointments, making it super convenient. I highly encourage this even before you PCS if you
find yourself on edge! You’ll be working through goodbyes, starting all the new things, and it is
overwhelming. Help is waiting for you.I myself have utilized counselor’s multiple times. Yeah,
you read that right! There is absolutely zero shame in saying you are struggling, we’ve all been
Don’t let social media fool you. Behind every cute PCS announcement on social media is a
military spouse with a messy house, piled up paperwork, and a little dread. This life is beautiful
– but it’s also hard. But by utilizing all of the resources available to you, your move can be
amazing. Happy PCS season, y’all!
As a military family, you need home loans specific to your needs. You deserve a trusted home loan company that is committed to serving you. MilHousing Network is proud to partner with Caliber Home Loans, Inc. to bring military families mortgage options when buying a home. Contact them today at 855-202-1124 or visit www.calibermilitarylending.com to learn how they can support your unique military lifestyle.