An open cardboard box while unpacking after a PCS move.

Guide to Unpacking After a PCS Move

Often, a military move can be more stressful than regular relocation. Most of the time, military personnel will receive an order that they are moving without specific details on how long for. Sometimes, that move can be for a duration of months, and sometimes it could be years before they are relocated once again. If you happen to be unfamiliar with the term, a PCS move stands for Permanent Change of Station move, and it is a big part of life in the military. How do you prepare for one? How do you organize packing and unpacking after a PCS move? There are so many questions moving related, and throughout the rest of the text, we’ll share our guide from packing to unpacking after a PCS move

PCS Move

A permanent change of station or PCS move is something everyone in the military should expect and be prepared for. In some ways, when military staff gets an order to relocate as such, the details of this move are often vague. No specific return date, or the duration of the stay at the new station. If not ready for this, the thought of relocating under orders like that can seem overwhelming. In addition, not knowing for how long and how temporary or permanent the PCS move is, it’s important to take the process step by step and not stress too much. One thing you should consider right away is a reliable moving service specially designed for military families. A team of professionals can definitely help make this process much simpler. 

A man on a ship looking at a sunset and thinking about unpacking after a PCS move.
Military orders and changes can occur suddenly, therefore it’s important to be prepared for situations as such.

Moving Plan

As with any successful relocation, even a PCS move can benefit from a moving plan. A good and solid plan will consist of a timeline, tasks to be completed, and an overall vision of the entire process. All of these, along with some efficiency, will maintain the organization of your move altogether

One of the first things to consider would be packing for this move. Even though you might not be given a time period of this move and how permanent or temporary it is, it would be helpful to know the size of the space moving to. This way you can organize your packing accordingly. In addition, due to the fact that the duration of stay at the new location is unknown, it could help to have a storage unit just in case. For example, consider finding a clean unit where you can store extra stuff for later use. This way you can also have a lighter move with fewer items. In this case, less is more, hence making your move much simpler and way less complicated. 

A helicopter.
Decluttering is the key to making your relocation lighter and easier.

How to Unpack?

Like we mentioned above, packing is an important step during relocation. Whether it’s a small move or a larger one, and whether it’s temporary or permanent, the key is to be organized and efficient. One of the biggest tips we could share is to label everything properly. When it comes time to unpack, you know where to start. Also, have an inventory list! With a list, you can use it as a guide and a visual as to what you’ve unpacked and how much is left to tackle still. 

One of the biggest elements that will help unpacking after a PCS move is a good system. First and foremost, as you go room by room, start with necessities. This way you can take them off of your inventory list, and have those daily necessary items within reach right away. This would include basics such as toiletries, medication, essential documents, etc. 

The first two rooms you should start unpacking first are the kitchen and the bathroom. You will need both of those rooms on the first day of settling in, therefore ensure that you tackle that first. 

Settling In

As you try to settle in after your PCS move, the next task on your unpacking list is assembling the furniture. It’s good to once again have a system here as well. If you are lucky to see the new floor-plan ahead of time, you can somewhat plan out how you will arrange everything.

Moreover, any larger items that need to be assembled should be put together exactly where you want them to stay. This way you will avoid moving large pieces of furniture. This is where a moving company and a team of professionals come in handy. Hiring someone like will ease your move as you don’t have to worry about transferring your belongings. In addition, you can always advise and direct the movers to place your furniture exactly where you want it. 

A living room.
Have an idea of the interior arrangements you want prior to assembling your furniture.

Be Organized

Relocating becomes easier once everything is in order. No matter the circumstances around your move, whether it’s a regular one or a PCS move, the key to success is being efficient and organized. As we mentioned previously, we can’t emphasize the importance of a moving plan more. It’s super important, as is beneficial too, to have things planned out ahead of time. It not only guides you through a timeline, but it keeps your tasks and affairs in a systematic and strategic manner. 

Being in the military keeps you on your toes and you always have to be prepared for orders and sudden changes. Although you can’t necessarily control the details of your PCS move, you can at least control the efficiency of it. The better prepared you are at the very beginning, the easier the tasks that follow. If you manage to organize the prep before moving, unpacking, later on, should be fairly simple. At the end of the day, learn from the experience and enjoy the move. 

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