Tips for Preparing for a Military PCS
Whether you’re going across state lines, across the country, or to another country, the prospect of moving can be daunting. Fortunately, military families have access to unique resources. For starters, there are official departments at both their current and future stations dedicated to providing support and information. Plus, there’s an unofficial network of coworkers and peers who are often willing to share what they’ve learned from their own experiences in preparing for a military PCS. What tips can help you prep for PCSing? What if you’re a homeowner?
Useful Tips for PCSing
Military Families Magazine offers plenty of advice to help you ace the moving process:
- Have a PCS binder and checklist. Put together a binder to store your orders and other important paperwork. All vital documents, needed info, travel and hotel itineraries, vehicle shipment papers, and budget paperwork should be included.
- Keep the irreplaceable items with you. Your orders and your PCS binder don’t get packed. They stay with you. Other irreplaceable items deserve the same treatment. Passports, medical records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, sentimental jewelry, your most cherished photos, and other treasures should travel with you throughout the move.
- Record an inventory video. Before the movers arrive, take a video of your items. It offers proof of their condition and a reminder of how things go back together when you reach your destination.
- Pack wisely. Include a copy of your orders in every box. That way, if any box goes astray, it can be forwarded to you. Also, use color-coding to label your boxes for each room. Don’t hesitate to ask the movers to repack something if you notice that it’s being packed ineffectively.
- Store things that you don’t want packed in your vehicle. The push to get an entire house packed up makes it easy to overlook a sign asking that a particular room or space be left unpacked. Too often, families only discover the problem when their items are loaded on the truck. Moving items that you don’t want the movers to pack out to your car will help you avoid this issue.
- Put together a survival kit. Assembling a survival kit with essential items for the kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms removes the pressure to find and unpack a dozen boxes immediately when you arrive at your destination. This gives you much-needed time to decompress and breathe.
What If You Own a Home?
Servicemembers who live on base or rent have a fair amount of flexibility when vacating their living arrangements. Homeowners face greater challenges when it comes to dealing with a change in their housing. What do you do if you own a home? You could sell it. Or, you could keep it and rent it out. That’s an option, even if the home was purchased with a VA loan. You cannot use a VA loan to buy a rental property, but once you’ve lived in a home, you’re allowed to move out and rent it out. PCSing is an excellent reason to do so. In fact, if you have sufficient entitlement, credit, and income, you may be able to qualify for a second VA loan to fund the purchase of a new home at your new station. Did you use a VA loan to fund your initial home purchase? Are you ready to rent it out and get a second VA loan? According to Military.com, you’ll need to meet certain conditions to have two VA loans:
- For purposes of the new loan analysis, the rental income on your original property must offset the existing mortgage debt.
- The monthly rental income should be more than the home loan payment.
- A copy of the lease agreement must be provided.