Preparation for an OCONUS Move

OCONUS Move: Some Helpful Tips

Some of the moves that families experience are within the same state or just a few hundred miles away. For other service members, the move could be across the United States or outside the continental U.S. (OCONUS). Knowing what to expect and how to prepare is a game changer in the short time you typically have in order to prepare for the move.

You Are Not Alone: Over 400,000 Military Families PCS Each Year

For most military families, moving becomes second nature. From the pack-outs to the paperwork, it can be a very stressful time for everyone involved. A Permanent Change of Station (PCS) is a good way to get organized quickly and force yourself to get rid of that old lawn mower that has been collecting dust in the garage.

Military members and their families should understand that they are not alone in this process. With over 400,000 families PCSing every year, there are hundreds of different online groups that make it easier to map out the unknown and answer any questions you may have.

OCONUS: Opportunity and Challenge

Electing to move OCONUS, represents a great opportunity to experience new cultures and adapt to a new environment.  However, moving to a different country is a daunting challenge in itself. Different time zones make it hard to keep in contact with loved ones at home or friends at your last duty station. Foreign languages can pose the challenge of difficulty in communicating with locals out in town or contractors that work on the base.

As with many other challenges, it is important to get a head start on the moving process as soon as you know where you are PCSing.

Find Out When And How Much You Can Pack-out

Knowing how early and how much you can ship is crucial in determining what you plan on taking versus what you plan on leaving behind.

With different family sizes, the amount of weight you are allowed to ship out can vary heavily. Knowing how early and how much you can ship is crucial in determining what you plan on taking versus what you plan on leaving behind.

Finding out the difference between the Household Goods and the Unaccompanied Baggage shipment, helps you to understand how fast your items will arrive and how long you may be waiting for them.

Save Money

Plan ahead for pets and associated fees, and make sure you have money set aside for unexpected costs, such as deposits.

The expenses like travel and lodging will be reimbursed, but most of the time you will need to pay out of pocket. If you plan on moving your pets, plan ahead. On short notice your pets could cost upwards of $2,000 per pet, not including vet fees and updating vaccinations.

If it is your dream to live off post, putting money aside for the initial deposits is critical. In Japan, renters will typically charge an agent’s fee (1 months rent) and a deposit (1-3 months rent) in addition to setting up utilities and internet services.

Speaking of Pets…

It is important to speak with your veterinarian at the future base, as well as your current veterinarian, as soon as possible to avoid any quarantine challenges or vaccine mishaps.

Moving pets can be just as difficult as having another human in the mix.  They may not understand why the whole family is acting weird and will suspect something is up.

With additional vet visits, vaccinations, and travel health certificates, their PCS folder will be just as full as the service member’s.

Have Hard Copies of Everything

With your family’s medical documents, school and dental records, it is important to have hard copies for a smooth transition.

Being able to hand your child’s new school their old records will ease the check-in process and save having to write time-consuming emails. With a little advanced notice, the hospital, dental, and school offices will have them ready to go for you.

Take Pictures of Everything

Having physical evidence will help you file your reimbursement claim.

And I mean everything. From your 65 inch TV to your china hutch that has been in the family for generations, take pictures of every angle.

Being able to identify dings and scratches that were done by the shipping company will save the money of having to buy new furniture in a brand new country. Having physical evidence will help you file your reimbursement claim.

Packing items that are especially valuable to you like your fine china, musical instruments and family heirlooms yourself, will ensure that everything will make the trip across the pond.

Be One Step Ahead; Prepare in Advance

Being one step ahead, and ensuring that all paperwork is done and handed in on time will make a smoother transition. Making sure every family member is ready to go weeks in advance will help avoid mishaps that may pop up during the physical move.

Additionally, having extra copies of important documents and favorite snacks will always come in handy to ensure peace of mind.

 

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About the author

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Kellie is a military spouse currently residing in Japan. She acquired her bachelors degree in Communications from the oldest private military college in the United States, Norwich University.