When it’s time to PCS (Permanent Change of Station), there is always an overwhelming list of things that must be accomplished in order to complete the move. One of the biggest tasks that typically falls on the shoulders of the spouse is coordinating the move.
If you decide to let the military move you to your next duty station, they will contract with a moving company. The movers will come to your home, pack your belongings for you, load them onto a moving truck and unload them at your final destination. In some cases, your belongings may go to a storage location first depending on when your permanent housing at the next duty station will be available.
When you are dealing with military movers, there are many tips that can help to make the process move smoother and quicker.
- Always keep important paperwork separate so that it doesn’t get packed away in a box. This includes orders and any other military paperwork you may need during the process of your move.
- Pack bags for your family and pets that you will need for traveling and get them out of the house. Be sure to include extra medications needed, etc. It is a good idea to store these belongings in your car to ensure they aren’t packed with your other household goods.
- Empty your trash cans inside. The movers will pack everything in your home (minus a few cleaning supplies and other combustibles). If the trash can is full, they will pack it WITH the trash in it. If you don’t want it to be packed, be sure it isn’t in your home.
- If you have items that can’t be replaced if they are broken or lost, it is important that you pack these items yourself and transport them to your new location. While the military does offer insurance protection for items that are lost or damaged, the money won’t help you much if the item is irreplaceable.
- Offer the movers lunch while they are packing. This can be something as simple as ordering pizza. It can a great gesture that is appreciated by the movers and it keeps them at your home packing up your belongings.
- Keep an eye on your weight limits. For each move, there is a total weight limit based on rank and if the move is with dependents. If you go over this weight limit, you will pay dearly for it. Make sure that any professional documents, books and gear are documented on the packing sheets as this doesn’t count against the limit.
- All items packed should be documented on the packing sheet. While it doesn’t have to be very specific on smaller items, it should still document what is in the box. Instead of saying “DVDs”, it should say “58 DVDs”. Instead of saying “television”, it should say “Sony 55” flat screen #XYZ”. All electronics and appliances should include an identification number on the packing sheet.
- When packing furniture, the movers will document if the item is scratched, dented or otherwise damaged. Make sure you agree with this and make them be specific on the damages. If there’s a small scratch on the leg of the coffee table, it should say that rather than just “scratched”. Otherwise, you could get a coffee table at your final destination with surface scratches and you won’t be able to prove this wasn’t what they documented.
- When you sign the packing sheet, review it first. Once you sign, you are agreeing that this is all you own and everything has been documented correctly. You do not have recourse for something that is missing if it is not on the packing sheet that you have signed.
- Some people will take pictures or their belongings or go through their home with a video camera to document their belongings and their condition. While this can be helpful, it isn’t necessary or required to do this.
- If you see the movers being careless with your belongings, speak up. If it continues, contact your transportation office while the movers are still there so they can intervene.
- If you have boxes that are already packed, make sure that these boxes are not sealed. In most cases, the movers will ensure the boxes are packed well, seal them and add them to the packing list. If they do not do this, they are not responsible for the contents of the box even if they move them. Make sure boxes you packed are also on the packing list.
On our last move, we had several items damaged beyond repair. We filed the proper forms with the moving company and they sent out a repairman who determined the items could not be fixed. At that point, we were asked to find similar items with a documented price and we were reimbursed the amount it would take to replace the items. It was a fairly simple process.
Just remember that documentation is your friend when it comes to handling a military move. As with all other things military, there will be reams of paperwork concerning the move and, on top of that, you will also have the paperwork from the moving company. Keep this paperwork in a safe place even long after your move has been completed. On one move, we received a bill almost nine months later for an overage on weight. Because I had the packing documents, I was able to show where professional documents and books put us over the allowed weight and the charges were waived.
As a final aside, be sure that you also have the appropriate permissions to be able to handle the move if your military member will not be present. At the transportation office, there are several documents filled out by the military member that states who is authorized to make decisions regarding the move and sign any documentation needed. If your name is not on that list, the moving company will not be able to deal with you. Ensure your name is listed as an authorized person. In addition to that, it is also wise to have a power of attorney in place as well in case issues arise that need to be handled.