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Preparing for Your Next PCS Move

how to prepare for a PCS (Permanent change of station) move when you are in the military

Whether you’re a military service member or a military spouse, new Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders mean moving. While moving can be stressful, it certainly doesn’t need to be! We’re offering tips to make your next PCS move go smoothly.

Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Moves: The Basics

Did you know that every year over 400,000 military service members receive Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders as a part of military life?

These orders involve a long-term station assignment that usually lasts from two to four years and can be inside the continental United States (CONUS) or outside the continental United States (OCONUS). Either way, it’s bound to be a new adventure!

A PCS can be exciting, and the one thing you need to get started is a copy of your orders to start getting everything coordinated.

Getting Ready to Move

We all know that moving can be stressful, but it certainly doesn’t have to be! A little planning and coordination can make things much easier on you and your family when you have to move quickly. The best first step is to start the process as soon as you have your orders.

Organization is key, of course, and there are several resources to help you get – and stay – organized for your big move:

There may be times when relocation assistance is needed, and there are resources available for that as well. You can learn more at the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS website. The military typically will move you, and that move is coordinated through the website. Ensuring you have your relocation briefing will be helpful as well.

You’ll always have the option of moving yourself, which is known as a Personally Procured Move (PPM). Choosing this option means that you’ll pay all moving costs, but then be reimbursed by the government. More information on PPM options can be found at your station’s transportation office.

Choosing whether you want to live on-base or off-base at your new station is an important part of your moving plan. Living on base can be as simple as contacting the housing office at your new station and getting places on the waiting list (if there is one). It’s always a good idea to find alternative arrangements in the event that there is a waiting list and it’s quite long. If buying a home or rent is more your style, there are some great resources for that as well:

Lastly, it’s never a bad idea to do some research on your new station. Take a road trip or search online for all the details you can find. A good online resource for this is the Base Guides section found on It’s regularly updated and very informational.

You may or may not have a sponsor at your new station. If you do, you’ll have someone with knowledge of the area and can get questions answered. You can even request a sponsor from your new station if you aren’t assigned one! Simply call your new station to do so.

Good luck with your next move!