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5 Tips to Make Your PCS Move Smoother

About USAA Real Estate Rewards Network:  For over 25 years, the USAA Real Estate Rewards Network offers support in helping USAA Members buy and/or sell a home — and Members can earn cash reward in the process.

Periodic moves are a defining part of the active duty military lifestyle. However, no matter how enticing your next location may be, the process of getting there can be stressful for even the most seasoned service members and their loved ones.

These tips can help make for a smooth transition and an arrival with plenty of relieved smiles.

1. Get a jump on things. Even before you have orders, you can take the first step by visiting and updating your profile.

When you find out your destination, do some Internet reconnaissance by visiting the Department of Defense’s military installations website. There, you’ll find a page for each installation that provides information on the cost of living, child development centers, schools, housing, employment and more.

You can also get ahead of the curve by promptly attending a move briefing at your local personal property processing office, scheduling a move date and getting on wait lists for military housing and child care at your next station. Visit Military OneSource for lots of information about moving and securing housing.

 2. Get organized. You’re going to accumulate a lot move-related material in the run-up to your transition to your next military home. Save time and avoid frustration by using a tablet, three-ring binder, folders or an accordion file to organize and keep track of all those documents, information flyers and personal notes.

3. Check your weight. You’re entitled to a free move of your possessions, provided you stay within your allowance, which varies depending on your rank, if you have dependents, and whether your move is inside or outside the continental United States.

If you go over, you’ll have to pay for the difference. To avoid that outcome, first figure out your weight allowance at, and then use this weight estimator to see if you’re in danger of exceeding it. If so, starting shedding and selling right away. You can also access your weight data from previous moves at

4. Get ready for the big day. You don’t want to be scrambling to get ready while the packers are pulling up outside your house, so start organizing yourself well ahead of the move.

      • Take a photo or video inventory of all your possessions, making sure to capture all sides of things like furniture that could be scratched in the move.
      • While your camera’s out, take a good shot of how all the gizmos in your entertainment center are connected to each other.
      • Have lots of ziplock snack and sandwich bags handy to bundle small, loose items like silverware, curtain rings, toys, and hardware from bedframes and other furniture that’s disassembled for the move. Be sure to label the bags.
      • It’s a bad feeling to realize your car keys and wallet were thrown into a box and taken away with the moving truck, so set aside things you don’t want packed for you, including valuable possessions, medications, and important documents you’ll carry with you. Make sure they’re clearly separated from the rest of your stuff with a prominent “do not pack” sign.
      • You should also separately stage items you’ll want immediately accessible when your stuff arrives at your next home. When packed, label these boxes as “Day One” box and load them with the essentials you’ll need to immediately function at your next home. If you’re traveling by your personally owned vehicle, you may want to take charge of these boxes rather than having them moved for you. Don’t forget about traveling with children and/or pets – have familiar items ready for them too.

5. Learn your rights. There’s a lot at stake in your move. If anything happens along the way that doesn’t meet your expectations, be ready to speak up and get the quality moving experience you deserve as a military service member. The Department of Defense Personal Property Program’s “bill of rights” spells out everything you should expect, like receiving a phone call from the mover at least three days before the move and having packing materials and other debris removed on delivery day.


DID 252869-0618

USAA® Real Estate Rewards Network is offered by USAA Residential Real Estate Services, Inc., a licensed real estate broker and subsidiary of USAA Federal Savings Bank. Program may be unavailable for employer-sponsored relocations. Not available for transactions in Iowa or outside the United States. This is not a solicitation if you are already represented by a real estate broker. Reward offer limited in some states. Reward amount is based on sale price of home sold or purchased and cannot exceed $24,000 per transaction. To receive the maximum amount offered of $24,000, the sale price of the home sold or purchased must be $4 million or more. In 2017, the average member closing in the program received $1,230. Real estate agent fees still apply. The reward is not available in Alaska, Oklahoma or Louisiana. In Kansas and Tennessee, a loyalty card will be issued that is accepted at specific retailers. In Oregon and Mississippi a credit or commission reduction may be available. In New Jersey, a commission reduction or rebate may be available at closing. Please check with the program coordinator for details. You must be enrolled in the program and be represented at closing by an approved agent with a participating real estate firm in order to qualify for the reward. Reward not available to sellers in a short sale transaction. In certain states, buyers may need seller cooperation in order to participate in the reward program. Availability restrictions apply.

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