We are preparing to move very soon, and already, I see the dollar signs adding up daily. Buying stuff to get us better organized, buying more cleaning products to do a ‘move out’ clean, buying more luggage, buying more fast food because we are too lazy to cook…the list is starting to get pretty long.
There are so many hidden costs associated with PCS moves, and unfortunately, you may never see reimbursement from the military.
Sometimes that is just the name of the game, but as a military families we all work really hard to make smart financial decisions, like saving money on base. There are some great ways you can prepare to avoid costly financial pitfalls of a PCS as well. Starting a pre-PCS savings account can help immensely. Here are a few more financial pitfalls to be weary of…
Fees associated with buying and selling a house add up quickly. If you own your home, military markets may not be profitable and may even involve a substantial loss to the seller. Set additional money aside to aid you in the sale of your home.
If you are renting, there are often expenses to have your apartment professionally cleaned, if stipulated by your landlord. Cleaning your apartment yourself upon move out can save a substantial amount of money. Do the best cleaning job possible, as anything knocked off your security deposit is also money lost.
When you arrive at your new duty station you may be in temporary housing for quite some time. While the military should reimburse you for this, the cost up front is out of your pocket. Be prepared with plenty of money available in cash savings to cover this cost until reimbursement occurs.
2. Replacement of household items.
Almost all moving companies (like 99%) will not move liquids or food to your next duty location. This means all your cleaning supplies, toiletries, and food will need to be given away or tossed in the garbage.
Try to minimize unnecessary purchases of these items in the months leading up to your move. Immediately following a move, buying an adequate stock of basic household essentials over again gets very expensive, very quickly. Try to budget and plan for this added expense.
3. Billed accounts.
When you set up new utility accounts there may be a deposit associated with it. Be prepared for an additional expense when setting up your electric, water, sewer, etc.
Also, any time you start new services such as cable, internet and cell phones there is an activation fee that you have to pay all over again. Do you best to transfer accounts rather than stop and re-start accounts in order to avoid activation fees.
4. Vehicles with OCONUS PCS.
Selling your vehicle? The cost of selling your vehicle in the states and buying a new one overseas costs money in the form of taxes, registration and other fees. Sometimes this simply cannot be avoided. Try to save as much money as possible to prepare for this.
Storing your vehicle? Evaluate if storing your vehicle is worth it. Several years later, when you return to the states, it will be worth less and will likely require some maintenance to get it back and running. After looking at the numbers, think about which would be the best choice: selling or storing. Sometimes storing is better if your vehicle is relatively new. Sometimes selling is better if your vehicle is slightly older and will need a generous amount of maintenance upon return to the states.
Shipping your vehicle? If you are allowed to ship a vehicle and decide to go this route, budget for additional money to cover registration, taxes and fees in your new country.
5. Vehicles with CONUS PCS.
Selling your vehicle? You may need to rent a car while shopping for a new car. The cost of selling your vehicle and then buying a new one costs money in the form of taxes, registration and other fees.
Keeping your vehicle? If you do keep you vehicle, you may incur expenses if you need to register your vehicle in your new location. If you decide to drive your vehicle yourself to your next duty station, it may need repairs or maintenance to sustain a long trip. If you ship your vehicle, you may need to rent a car while waiting for it to arrive.
Prepare to pay for any veterinarian visits your pet may require in order to be suitable for the next duty location. With overseas moves this can add up very quickly. Also be prepared to pay for the transportation of your pets and possible boarding.
If your pet is unable to be scheduled on the same flight as you during the PCS move, you may be expected pay out of pocket to relocate your pet. This can involve a substantial amount of money (thousands for OCONUS).
Consider asking someone to foster your pets while you are living overseas, if the cost of moving your pets is too expensive. If you do not have any pets, consider waiting to become a pet owner until later on.
Different duty stations often involve different climates. You may need to invest a substantial amount of money changing your clothing from winter-type clothing to summer-type clothing or vice versa.
When purchasing these items for an entire family, your expenses will surely add up quickly. Try to purchase used clothes (especially for kids) to help minimize costs.
We all eat out a TON during the month before and after the move. Convenience food is much more expensive and adds up quickly. Also while you are traveling you will be consuming convenience food by default. Prepare to have extra money set aside to cover this expense, while trying to eat home cooked meals as much as possible.
9. Moving products.
Do you need new or additional luggage to help you through this move? Perhaps your luggage is becoming too worn or you are leaving your current duty station with children born during your stay. New luggage will need to be purchase for the children.
You may also end up purchasing other moving products such as totes, bags, or other storage/organizational containers. Plan in advance buy shopping for these items gently used in the months before your PCS move.
If you are moving with children there is a whole additional category of expenses associated with moving. Will your children need any new games or activities to help keep them occupied during long bouts of travel?
You may need to purchase a variety or travel ready food that your child can eat on the go. Is there a different type of stroller or car seat you now need to purchase because the one you have is not conducive to traveling long distances?
Theses are great questions to ask and think about when you are initially buying items for a new baby. It’s also a great idea to shop for these items used in the months leading up to your PCS.
Want more on military life?
- 20 Must-Have Documents for Your Next PCS
- Best Moving Overseas Checklist for Military Families
- Preparing Emotionally for a PCS
- Are DITY Moves Worth It for Military Families?
What’s your best tip for avoiding hidden expenses during a military PCS move? Let’s chat in the comments?
What a helpful comprehensive list of ideas and resources you’ve put together here! As someone who has moved ALOT in life, I think this post is awesome! Tweeting now 🙂
Thanks for sharing Sybil! You are awesome. Have a great day 🙂
This is a great list! We’ve moved often too, and all of these hit us during different moves. I cannot wait to share this with my military friends. 🙂
Oh wow, Carrie. You are too kind for sharing. Thank you! PCSing definitely isn’t free, ha. Have a great weekend.
Help… I’m about to lose it all.. my fiance are getting married & his orders have already came thru that we will be moving to Japan… I have a daughter outside of us… any help would be amazing…
We REALLY get hit hard in the wallet with our moves! Our son has such extreme food allergies that we have to rent hotel rooms with kitchenettes and do our own cooking!
Eating salads on the way and camping instead of hotels. My sailor is a big fisherman, so that takes care of our protein needs along the way:) the rest I can chop and flavor with a couple small bottles of dressing. Warranty checks on the car take care of pre- travel maintenance, and don’t be shy asking for help.