The Permanent Change of Station (PCS) is a life-changing upheaval for anyone in the Armed Forces. Even if you’ve planned for the move or requested a new assignment, you’ve got a lot to consider before moving forward.
A PCS move guide is one of the best things you can use to get ready for the moving process and ensure that you are organized throughout. Not only should you prepare to take yourself from one place to another, but you’ll want to complete a financial checklist that helps keep your money in good shape until you arrive at your new station and settle in.
Your PCS Move Guide
Your PCS move guide should include several financial questions that will help you get from where you are now to where you are supposed to be in the future. In short, your moving checklist should include:
- Cleaning up your credit
- Budgeting for the move
- Selling your home or preparing to rent it
How you manage each of these items determines the path you will take in the future, especially if you are moving to a location where you hope to stay for some time.
Cleaning Up Your Credit
Cleaning up your credit starts with a quick check of your credit report. You want to know that it is both correct and solid. If your credit score is a bit low, ensure that erroneous items are disputed through the appropriate credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion.)
Moreover, pay down debt as much as you can, especially as your spending power relates to paying for the move.
Finally, if you plan to purchase a home when you move, you can work with your lender to repair your credit, using predictors that will help you take particular steps to increase your score. Even if you plan to rent, a good credit score ensures that you can rent with any landlord or property management agency you run across.
If you have time to plan, you can use credit builder loans to bolster your credit score prior to the move.
Budgeting for the Move
Although the military covers some of your moving costs, budgeting for the move includes extra travel expenses, furnishing your new home, putting down security deposits and other potential costs. Your moving checklist almost cannot wait for a budget. While this item cannot come first, it should occur as close to fixing up your credit as possible. You may also reach out to your service branch’s relocation office to learn which expenses are paid and which are not.
If you opt for what the military terms a personally procured move (PPM), you may spend more than if you use military moving services. Some people rent a moving truck and drive it themselves. Ensure that you have accounted for all expenses before you begin spending money or making reservations.
Small cash advances may also prove useful if you need a bit more spending money just before the move. You can access platforms that will allow you to get your military paycheck a few days early, although these are not services provided through your branch of service. You might also have some extra money coming in right before the move commences.
Selling Your Home
Reach out to a real estate agent who can list your home and market it appropriately. If your real estate agent does not believe you can sell your home for a fair price because of its condition, you may choose to sell to an investor.
There are several companies that either gather real estate agents to market the house, buy the homes outright or match you with investors. Choose the most appropriate path for your home and situation, and remember, if you are selling for less than you owe, you must reach out to your lender to obtain approval for a short sale.
Additionally, you may wish to use small cash advances or credit building loans to help with a down payment or security deposit if you are moving on short notice.
Many military members choose to rent their homes during a PCS, especially if the home is in an area that they want to return to during their military career or after retirement. A property manager can be a strong asset if you choose this route.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What should you not bring on a PCS move?
Perishable foods, old clothing, bedding or linens that are not used or salvageable and furniture you wish to replace may need to be donated away or disposed before your PCS move.
What is covered for a PCS move?
Generally, 60 days of temporary lodging, per diem expenses for travel, POC travel, dependent travel and certain moving expenses are covered during a PCS move. Review these allowances with your branch’s relocation office.