Surviving 2 PCS moves in one year

Well last year was…fun. And again, sorry for the lack of posts, again life got crazy. Or maybe I love Netflix too much. I was doing some freelance work too though! And we moved…again. Yes, we moved twice in one year. I learned so much on these two moves that I really want to share with you some tips for success – and dealing with not-so-great outcomes (let’s just say move #2 did not go smoothly).

Us embarking on PCS #1 in 2015 with a packed car. Photo by J. Hall.

Us embarking on PCS #1 in 2015 with a packed car. Photo by J. Hall.

Take time to do a stuff purge. I will admit that on move #1 I was a bit more organized than move #2 (I was under the weather the weeks leading up to move #2, so prep was neglected until the last minute). What that meant for my husband and I was that we went through the house looking for clothes and other items that we just don’t need anymore. And same thing on the other end – when we were unpacking we found more items that I honestly don’t remember why we have them or when we last used them. We made a box to go to Goodwill (or choose your other favorite local donation center) and another for trash (looking at you broken suitcases) and took it away. It freed up clutter and helps a good cause!

Have a Do Not Pack room or area. There are plenty of things that you will want to take with you on your move – clothes, towels, sheets, an air mattress, a pot and pan, and snacks, just to name a few. So for those items – pack them up before the movers come or toss them into a spare empty room, close the door, and put a sign up saying “Do Not Pack.” On move #1 we packed all of those items in our car before the movers came to 1) make sure it fit in the car and 2) have it out of the way. On move #2 I had piles that I told the packers not to pack and then by the time the final phase of the move happened aka putting on the truck everything was in the car. The movers will pack things that you wouldn’t think they would – like a slightly wet towel (true story) – so be sure to make sure it’s not in their line of sight.

Know what you absolutely need. On move #2 we didn’t have a “permanent” home yet so we moved into a small apartment and put everything else in a garage on-site while we house hunted. It made the move-in interesting aka telling the movers what went upstairs and what went into the garage. Some items were easy – like everything labeled master bedroom went upstairs, guest bedroom to storage – but others, like lots of my kitchen tools, I sometimes opened boxes to get a gist of what was inside before deciding where it went. Yes, some things are still missing aka in boxes that I missed – like where is my sugar canister? – but I bought a new bag of sugar, and for others (like dish towels) we rummaged for what we needed in easily accessible boxes. In the future I think I’d try to organize things a bit better if I knew we’d be in this situation, but alas, we found what we needed for now and that’s what matters.

Have all phone numbers on hand. On move #2 things went sour fast and we had to make some calls to every person that we could to make sure that our move contractor knew that we had the worst driver in the history of drivers. Okay, maybe not THE worst, but REALLY CLOSE. We called our move coordinator, travel offices, and probably some others – partly because our move ended on a Saturday (part of the long story I won’t bore you with) – which resulted in a lot of voicemails. But come Monday morning we talked to everyone and started to get things figured out for next steps – mainly the claim process and eventual review. It took a lot of searching through my phone and Googling of numbers, so next time I’ll be saving numbers and/or writing them down so they are easy to find.

Designate who is doing what in the move. On both moves we tended to tag team – sometimes I was home to watch the movers pack, other times he was, we both took turns on marking off the boxes as they came off the truck, and we both took photos of damaged goods. This tends to work for us most of the time but when we got to the claim process on the broken furniture from our move we realized that I had some photos and my husband had some and some things we weren’t sure who had taken a photo. Yes, everything is on site so we can go down and take more photos, but in the future I’ll be designating one phone and one person out of the two of us to document everything.

Go with the flow. This one is hard, especially if you watch your movers break things (true story), but you have to roll with the punches. And take photos of things that are damaged. But it will all work out in the end, somehow and at some point. In the moment it is crazy and chaotic and you probably want to rip your hair out (just me?) but there are processes in place that will mostly correct the issues at hand. For our damaged goods, we will get paid back – do I want all of my stuff in tact? Yes, of course, but knowing that we will get compensated makes me feel better.

Become well-versed in USPS.com. When you move be sure to set up a mail forwarding address. Normally when we are between places aka on the road/haven’t signed a lease yet, I do a temporary forward to my parents’ house. My parents are great at holding onto our mail and sending it on when we’re settled; so find a person in your life that can do the same for you for a few weeks. Then, as soon as we’ve signed on the dotted line, I set up a permanent forward to our new home. Fun fact: if you do have multiple permanent address changes while the first forward is still in effect (one year) the mail from location 1 will go to location 3, which happened in our case. You do want to make sure you update your address with all banks, credit cards, magazines, etc. ASAP as well, which you’ll have to do manually with each of those providers, but with an update at USPS.com you’ll still get your mail even if you forgot to update one or two. If you’re ordering any packages be sure to use the right address – I’ve screwed that one up and it took FOREVER for things to arrive. So be warned, the mail forward doesn’t work on everything, but it does on most things.

Those are the main pieces of advice that I took away from the moves of 2015 – what tips and tricks do you have for a PCS? Anything I missed?

One response to “Surviving 2 PCS moves in one year

  1. My husband and I found that todo lists on our apps helped soooo much. We used the “Priorities” app: https://appsto.re/us/Tvb5y.i
    Both had it on our iPhones and iPads and synchronized each other’s so we could add, delete, share and edit each other’s lists and notes. It helped us be on the same page and not forget stuff. I’m curious, what have you been doing for work? I just found your blog.

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