Active Duty

8 Tips for Your PCS Move Without Your Spouse

Article by: Jenah Wieczorek, Base Advocate

PCS-Solo-PicIt’s the night before a PCS and all through the house not a creature is stirring, except you because you are one giant ball of nervous energy. Did I forget anything? (Of course you did.) Will the mover’s arrive on time tomorrow? (Laugh hysterically because you know the answer.) Should I have made more lists? (Roll over, get out of bed, and start making more lists.)

PCSing always brings about anxiety, but what happens when you add in the extra worry and stress that comes with making the move WITHOUT your spouse? Reducing the stress of this seemingly monumental task, however, is possible if you plan ahead!  Follow these 8 easy (okay, helpful… we hope) tips to help you prepare for your solo-PCS move. Hold on tight… you can do this!

  1. Enlist Help- Now is not the time to put that super-hero cape to work. We all need help at some point, and PCSing without your spouse absolutely qualifies. Whether it be a friend or family member, ask for help. There should be at least two sets of eyes on the movers when they are in your home. A good approach would be to park that friend in a chair with the clip board and let them check off all the numbers on the boxes, so you can focus on the progress of the pack-out and placement of items in your new home.You may also need help with the kids or your pets during a part of the move, someone to help you get all the stuff you are donating out the door, or simply a friend to help you organize your thoughts and prioritize. Reach out and ask, and then vow to pay it forward in the future the next time a friend needs the same.
  2. Copies of POA & Orders- First of all, double check to make sure you have the appropriate Power of Attorney documents for your move. Not all companies will accept a general POA and require a special POA  for specific services.Then, make sure you have copies and they are kept safe. While you might feel the need to print multiple copies of each, three sets should be more than enough. One copy on your mobile device, one set printed and with you while you travel, and then a back up set because, well, you never know.
  3. Do You Have Access To All Accounts? Don’t wait until the week of the move to try and turn off or transfer your utilities and bills. Call ahead to see what they need from you; this is where that POA and copy of orders will come into play. Make sure you can access everything from the cable, internet, power, to water, sanitation services, etc. Do you have access to all of the credit cards and bank accounts you might need when traveling or setting up new services? Store all of the passwords in a secure location and make sure that your spouse has added you as an authorized user to all accounts well in advance of your move.
  4. Label Your Rooms This is one of the easiest and most recommended moving strategies. In theory, it can give the packers and movers a sense of respect for your family. “I’m not just packing a kid’s room. These are little Ruby’s toys.” The labels will also help the unpackers with placement of items at your new home. Labels or not, make sure to download our “Movers Notice”, print it out and give it to all the members of your packing and moving team so they know you are looking forward to a positive experience with their company… but you do intend to hold them accountable for how they treat your belongings.
  5. Food For Thought Making healthy choices during a PCS move can be challenging. You and your family need to take breaks for lunch and snacks throughout the day, and it can be tempting to utilize take-out or fast food frequently, leaving you sluggish. Preparing meals and snacks in advance is key. Some suggestions would be frozen lasagna and bagged salad, pre-made sandwiches and chips, fruit, waters, etc. You can also keep your crockpot in your things to carry with you in the car, giving you some no-fuss, healthy dinner options during packing and after you arrive at the new location. These meal options also make great lunches for the packers and movers if you choose to feed them.
  6. Outsource Outsource as many services as your family can afford. If you can drop Scout at doggie day care, do it! If you have the means to hire a babysitter or use the CDC hourly care for your kids, do it! You will be under enough stress without having to run around all day saying “Where is the dog? Kids don’t touch that!” Hire someone to take care of the lawn and to do the final cleaning of your home. It will greatly reduce your stress during a solo-move.You can even outsource some of the research involved with your PCS move by visiting PCSgrades and registering for your FREE account! You can read and submit reviews on real estate agents, lenders, neighborhoods and more… and they are reviews you can trust. We have a community of active duty, veterans, and military spouses sharing their honest opinion of so many of the services you need when you are relocating. Take the guesswork (the Google work) out of getting the real scoop about your new home, register today.
  7. Entertainment Keeping small children from getting bored during the move process is important, not only for your sanity, but to keep their minds off of what is going on and reduce their anxiety about the process. Have the kids decorate the moving boxes in their rooms with crayons or washable markers. It can provide hours of fun and psychologically speaking the movers might be more careful with boxes covered in hearts and stick figures, so win-win! Kick everyone out into the back yard to play if the weather permits. (This might be a great time to hire a neighborhood teenager to come play with the kids!) Charge up the laptop or DVD player and have a special movie night on the air mattresses that are now your beds. Wherever the kids go make sure the animals are there too, so you don’t have to keep tabs on both.
  8. Make Lists You can never have too many lists, and during a move they can be a lifeline. In addition to helping you remember the many small details that must be taken care of, they can ease your stress and make you feel accomplished when you can check items off that list. Sometimes I even write things on a list that are already finished just so I can cross them off! It’s a great way to stay organized and your brain will be going a thousand miles a minute as it is, so write down those “to-do’s” as soon as you think of them and sleep a little bit better tonight.

Having to navigate a PCS move without your spouse presents some challenges, yes. But by asking for help, outsourcing some of the busy work, making lists and doing some much needed prep work before-hand… you can have a successful solo-move that doesn’t leave you stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated.

What tips would you add? How have you successfully navigated a PCS move without your spouse?

Read Next: Put Your Movers on Notice the Next Time You PCS

569aa6d8-a66c-4162-94bd-1a460aab9a94Author Bio: Jenah Weiczorek is a military spouse and an active volunteer in the military community. She recently joined the PCSgrades team as a base advocate and as a social media manager.

 

 

 

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Senate Armed Services Subcommittee Hearing on Personnel March 26 #KeepYourPromise

NMFA

When you break a promise you’re tampering with the delicate formula upon which the strength and vitality of all – volunteer force is based.

The National Military Family Associations continues to fight for Military Families in this budget  battle. Members of NMFA team will be joining other organizations to testify before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel next week March 26, telling Congress to KeepYourPromise Tell National Military Family Association, what do you want Congress to know? The National Military Family Association is counting down the days until they testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. Tell them what you want Congress to know about how the proposed budget that will  affect Military Families at Info@MilitaryFamily.org.  For a listing of the members of the committee http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/active-guard-reserve-and-civilian-personnel-programs_03/26/14

Military PCS …Renting a home and how to start my search?

homeflagYour orders are in hand and you are deciding do I live on Base/Post or the economy?  Where do I start my search ? There is  also a valuable  resources for renting at a new duty station by using Military by Owner.   These homes are listed by current home owners and some Property Managers in Duty Station Areas. Also check out the AF Housing page for your specific area.  Remember to check on your new BAH rates for 2014 for many have changed.

Many of us are used to looking up homes to rent on ARHN which was sponsored by DOD. Effective 1 January 2014, the Department of Defense sponsorship of AHRN will expire.

The website will remain active as a commercial site. The housing offices continue to provide support services to members and their families; military housing encourages service members to visit the AF housing public website at www.housing.af.mil.

Look the properties   over carefully and be sure to ask questions about any apartment or house you are   considering renting. Consider the following:
Some quick questions to consider when living off base or post:

Does the rent cover all   utilities, or will you be responsible for paying for them yourself? If you will   be paying for heat, water, or other utilities ask whether the landlord can   provide an estimated monthly or annual cost for the rental   property.

What kind of security does the building have? Are the doors,   windows and entrances secured? Are the stairs safe and well lighted? Are the   fire escapes easily accessible?

What sort of commute will you have to   school or work and what is nearby in terms of restaurants, shopping,   entertainment and other places you frequently visit? Also, what are the   neighbors like (students, families, retirees) and is this the right setting for   you?

Who is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of common areas   (stairwells, hallways, etc.) and appliances, furnace filters and other items   within the property which may need to be serviced?

Is the landlord or   property management readily available during nights and weekends and what are   the procedures for emergency services, repairs or lock-outs?

What kind   of parking is available? Is there an extra charge for a parking   spot?

Are storms windows, screens and shades   provided?

2014 Basic Allowance for Housing rates will increase an average of 5 percent for 2014.

AR-130119943[1]2014 Basic Allowance for Housing rates will increase an average of 5 percent when they take effect on January 1, 2014. An estimated $20 billion will be paid to approximately one million service members during the year.

Ever wonder how they get the BAH Rate? Three components are included in the BAH computation:  median current market rent; average utilities (including electricity, heat, and water/sewer) and average renter’s insurance.

Total housing costs are calculated for six housing profiles (based on dwelling type and number of bedrooms) in each military housing area.  BAH rates are then calculated for each pay grade, both with and without dependents.  An estimated $20 billion will be paid to approximately one million service members in 2014.

Get more details about the rate changes and how they will affect you, http://go.usa.gov/ZgHw.

Why Travel to a National Park this Summer? The Annual Pass for US Military a Great Opportunity!

DSC_0610Our National Park System is a true treasure. First it creates a fantastic backdrop for the type of iPhone-less family vacations, the real reasons to hop in the car and visit are easier to see in photo form. National Parks our most protected lands—and the dramatic drives that give access to them—are  all too often conga lines of taillights and tourists, an experience you would not want to miss.

DSC_0536 Last week we visited Mesa Verde National Park, which on  June 29, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt established this park to “preserve the works of man”. Remains the 1st and only U.S National Park of its kind. At first I thought with a 19 and 11 yr. old they would be board.   There first thought was WOW…you can actually walk through the ancient ruins. Awesome adventure, I was surprised to see the questions they had about how past generations lived over a thousand years ago.  They enjoyed crawling through Balcony Palace up a 35 foot latter, that was on the side of the cliff.  I was one with the wall, but the girls shot right up, and never looked back.

DSC_0561

The best part of a National Park Adventure is the Military Pass:

  • Free
  • Available to US military members and their dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, as well as most members of the US Reserves and National Guard. Proper military ID is required (CAC Card or DoD Form 1173).
  • Obtained in person at Federal recreation sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees.
  • Covers entrance to Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service sites that charge Entrance Fees, and Standard Amenity Fees at Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation sites.
  • Admits the pass owners and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas, or the pass owner and up to additional 3 adults at sites that charge per person.
  • Non-transferable

Make sure and get a National Park Passport Book if you have not already.  My girls have enjoyed traveling the United States and Collecting Passport Stamps in their books.  Enjoy the rest of summer with all the National Parks in the US.

Baggie Bonanza… and the PCS Military Move

neighborsBy: Williamsburg Military Insider

With many Military Families PCS season is coming up. I have moved 14 times in the past twenty years, and can relate with everything in the article at Call Dibs  “How to MOVE IT without LOSING IT!: Helpful Tips for your PCS Move” I got the biggest chuckle out of the Baggie Bonanza paragraph. In my twenty years I thought I was the only one who did this, as I am the same and do not want movers all up in my space. 🙂 I recommend reading her tips on your next PCS move; they are some of the same I have done for the past twenty years. Take to heart the refrigerator stocked full with drinks, I can tell you from experience moving in this past July, and it was 110 F, my movers were the best! They were just so thankful for the endless supply of Gatorade. They even assembled everything without being asked. We all know sometimes that can be a challenge. Happy PCS season…wishing everyone very smooth moves!

Where are the Facts?….Defense Budget Faces Cuts To Personnel After Decade of War

Shape Our Lives 4 by 6 copyBy: Williamsburg Military Insider

I rarely ever put a opinion out there on articles I read.  But as I came across this story written by Mr. David Wood, Defense Budget Faces Cuts To Personnel After Decade of War…I had to say something.

What does Mr. Wood  honestly expect to add to the national discussion with a story that has more errors than facts? . As a military wife, I’m terrified that readers might actually think this story features facts. Mr. Wood has  a responsibility to inform the public, inherent in that responsibility is that your information be TRUE. Mr. Wood, Military Members are all – VOLUNTEERS. They chose to stand up, put the best interests and security of the country first, even at the risk of their own lives. They aren’t in it for glory, or fame, or getting their names in the papers. They do it because it’s the right thing to do. They do it to protect your right to malign and degrade them, to say they don’t deserve a good paycheck for the price of their lives. A paycheck, I might add, that is paid for by the government, and your taxes, which they also pay. In effect, they pay themselves to safeguard our way of life.

You should personally thank each and every one of these military members for their service and their courage to protect your rights and your freedoms.

All Things Great….Thought of Moving or Relocating to Williamsburg, VA?

CWBy: Williamsburg Military Insider

Few places combine the cultural and historical aspects of Williamsburg, Virginia. U.S. Airways Magazine February 2013 has highlighted how wonderful Williamsburg, VA is!  The past meets the present in a place where America travelled from the frontier days of Jamestown in 1607, through the American Revolution and on to the Civil War. Restored Colonial Williamsburg recreates town life and, together with nearby Yorktown and Jamestown, help visitors and residents revisit and remember our national roots. Virginia’s colonial capital still thumps to the beat of the fifes and drums and the hammering of metal at the blacksmith shop.  You can still take a carriage ride down Duke of Gloucester Street, tour the Governors Palace, and walk in the footsteps of George Washington.  But you can also go to the spa, shop in Merchants Square, and play 18 holes at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club.  That’s right: John D. Rockerfeller Jr.s dream in now studded with world class amenities.  The presence of one of the top small colleges in the country in William and Mary brings the vibrancy of young ideas and contemporary cultural life to blend with the old. Families flourish in the mild Virginia climate and enjoy the proximity to Virginia and North Carolina beaches, Blue Ridge Mountains and urban attractions of Norfolk, Richmond and Washington, D.C. all within 1-3 hours driving time. The commute to Langley AFB 20-30 min, there is nothing better than living in Williamsburg, VA.

PCS Move soon? Have you thought about a Virtual Yard Sale?

VyardsaleThis week my experience with a Virtual Yard Sale was simply amazing. A few tips and pointers I thought I would share.

Local Military spouses looking to empty their closets and garages are taking the “yard” out of yard sale, forming groups to buy and sell from each other online.

Dozens of Facebook groups have opened in the past year for Military Members who want to sell outgrown baby clothes and toys, unused household goods or other items that in the past would have ended up in yard sales or in the trash.

Military members  say they feel safer dealing with people they know —at least in the Facebook sense of the word — and who are close to their homes on base.  There’s also less hassle involved than hauling your unwanted items to the front yard in hopes that buyers drive by.

Being a Military Member find a Closed Group Virtual Yard Sale Group associated with the area of your base or post.  One that requires you to have base access to meet and pick up the items, I don’t like Craigslist, It’s too risky. You don’t know who you’re meeting. I like this; you can at least see who you’re meeting.

The virtual yard sale sites leave pricing and pickup arrangements to the sellers and buyers. They ask members to be courteous. Some ask participants not to compete against each other by pitting multiple sellers against each other for higher prices, or posting cheaper items to undercut another buyer.

I found pricing quite easy and I used these guidelines to sell my items this week. To price your items, start with a bit of research. Check online auction sites like eBay or virtual sale sales like Craigslist for starters. If you can’t find items like yours, use these general rules of thumb. Items in new or like new condition should be priced at 30% of what you paid when new. Items that are showing wear or that are obsolete should be priced at about 10% of the original price. If possible, include a brief description of each item. Include details such as size, age and condition.

Using a virtual yard  sale will require you to break out your digital camera. Take a photo of each item you are selling with the price card prominently displayed. If possible, include a brief description of each item. Include details such as size, age and condition.

When hosting a virtual yard sale, keep safety and common sense in mind. Never allow strangers into your house. Always insist on cash transactions with exact change only. If possible, arrange to have items picked up at a safe, neutral location such as the food court at the Exchange. Don’t give out personal information other than an e-mail address or cell phone number where you can be reached for questions.

Unlike a traditional yard sale, you don’t have to pack up your stuff at the end of the day. Because your sale is virtual, you it can extend over several days, weeks or months. Just store everything in your basement, closet or other storage area until you deplete your inventory.

So next time you get the itch to host a yard sale, don’t worry about the weather. Set out to  put your items on a virtual yard sale instead.

Newsmeum | Front Page | Map View … Great source for your PCS Move.

worldandnewspaperThis is a brilliant way to keep up with home-town news when you PCS check current events in places you are PCSing to, check on your favorite sports team, just about anything that is specific to a discrete area.  WARNING: This is addictive and you can be reading news from all over the country or the world for HOURS every day if you are not careful!  It is one site that is truly educational!

Just put your mouse on a city anywhere in the world and the newspaper headlines pop up…

 Double click and the page gets larger….you can read the entire paper
 on some if you click on the right place. You can spend forever here.

  http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/flash/

 Also, if you look at the European papers, the far left side of Germany will
 pop up as The Stars & Stripes (European edition, of course). AND, this site
 changes every day with the publication of new editions of the paper.