Military Moving Tips

In military life, regular relocations are as common as standardized clothing and acronyms. Every household move (or PCS—permanent change of station) carries its share of uncertainty and stress, but you can make your change a more positive experience with these military moving tips.

Learn from others. Of course you know you’re far from the first family to face a disruptive move, but it’s easy to forget that and think you have to solve every mystery on your own. You can eliminate a lot of the unknowns by attending a premove briefing offered at most military installations. You’ll also find a great collection of moving information and resources at the Department of Defense site Military OneSource.

Organize your financial paperwork for a move. Be sure to pack sensitive financial information in a place where you can keep an eye on it. Don’t forget things like:

  • Credit union account info
  • Tax paperwork
  • Medical information such as outstanding bills
  • Insurance paperwork
  • Account information for loans
  • Legal paperwork

If you’re moving away from your financial institution’s home base, make sure you know how to access your account information online. It’s also a good idea to enter your institution’s contact info in your phone so you’ll have it on hand.

Start an essentials box. In addition to your financial paperwork, keep key travel documents (passports, IDs, etc.) and important personal items such as jewelry and photos in a box that’s always close by and readily accessible. Many parents also pack one box with the things that keep kids happy in transit, such as favorite books or toys.

Eliminate clutter. Moves present the perfect motivation to cut back on the clutter. Military families probably accumulate less junk than many people due to their regular moves, but a new address is still a great time to eliminate things you haven’t even thought about for months. It makes life less cluttered and has the benefit of cutting down the weight of your household goods, which is often a limiting factor in military moves.

If you have time, get a financial boost from the downsize by selling good-quality items in a garage sale or an online buy-sell-trade group. Alternately, you can donate your usable items to charity. Remember to keep track of the receipt for tax time.

(Note: If you downsize your paperwork, be sure to shred any sensitive documents to protect against identity theft.)

Take a household inventory. Make note of all your possessions (taking photos makes it easier) to assist with claims on damage or loss during the move. While you’re snapping photos, shoot one of the back of your TV and computer to help reconnect all the wires at the new location.

Make lists and track receipts. The dozens of details involved in a move add up to the kind of overwhelming to-do list that leaves you staring at the ceiling at night. Compartmentalize it into doable chunks by creating categorical lists of things you need to accomplish and then keeping it all in a neat, easy-to-reference notebook or digital list. Keep copies of expense receipts, communication with utility companies, and other important documents. (For more on reimbursable expenses, see this guide from military.com.)

Ultimately, keep your final goal in mind and try not to worry too much. It’s easy to stress out about things like potential damage to your furniture or the endless list of moving tasks. Keep your focus on family and the new adventure you’re undertaking together, and a scratched table won’t seem like such a disaster.

What military moving tips can you add? Share your sage advice in the comments below.

Is homebuying part of your moving plan? See our homebuyer checklist for help with the process.