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4 Tips for Managing a Winter PCS

By, Dawn M. Smith

Excitement and happiness might not be the initial reactions you feel when the news of a winter PCS is revealed. Winter is for holidays, hunkering down, and tucking into home, right? Well, yes, but a winter PCS has so much to offer. Unique travel plans, potential money savings, and an overall sense of peace during the process are all possibilities…if you plan ahead.

Logistically, the PCS odds are in your favor. Moving companies are operating on a slower schedule, allowing more flexibility for pack and unpack dates. Remember to ask for door-to-door service if that suits your travel plans. Avoiding storage is a distinct possibility this time of year because moving companies have the manpower to spare. A door-to-door pack and delivery also means less chance of loss or damage during transport.


1) Off-Season Housing Tips for Buying, Renting, and Selling

Housing is usually the number one concern for military families during a PCS. But, it’s a good bet to expect less competition for housing during a move in the colder months. Reviewing MilitaryByOwner inventory is a wise place to start your home search.

Many of the advertisers there are very aware of the moving cycles service members face and gear their home descriptions to include move-in dates available in relation to popular military installations of the area. For example, if a new session of specialty school for service members starts in January, they’ll often advertise move-in dates months ahead to alleviate a mad scramble in December.

Other pertinent points found in MilitaryByOwner ads:

  • Square footage estimates
  • Room by room descriptions
  • Pet policies
  • Average utility costs
  • Local school boundaries and ratings

For homeowners who need to sell before moving or are considering the landlord life, MilitaryByOwner has resources to ease those concerns as well. Tips for supplying the best home marketing photos and preparing the house for renters are two helpful and free resources in place for owners to read over.


2) Take Advantage of PCS Travel

An off-season PCS is an adventure that just can’t be embarked upon during the warm months. Snow sports and festive holiday and seasonal decor are only found for a few months per year, so take advantage of winter related stops along the way. Plus, off season, or “shoulder season”  travel, is often discounted by hotels and airlines.

Consider a cross country trip as part of your holiday vacation plans. There are plenty of opportunities for once in a lifetime events along the way. Ever stayed at Yosemite National Park  over Christmas? The scenery is breathtaking. If skiing is your passion, a few stops in Colorado or Utah should hold your interest for a couple of days.

Headed up north or down south along the Interstate 95 corridor? This is a popular gateway to several large military installations and it also happens to be serviced by Amtrak’s Auto Train which runs from Virginia to Florida. Load your car at one end and meet it at the other, all the while experiencing an overnight train trip your family won’t forget.

Military life often crushes plans to meet up with longtime friends who would love a visit. Take a quick inventory of where far flung friends are and ask if you borrow a bed for a few days’ visit before heading to your next new home. Catching up on a non-rushed timeline will be one of the best benefits of moving during this time of year.


3) Jump into Your New Home Town’s Traditions

If your family is just ready to be there already, jump into the new hometown scene! Many of your new neighbors and coworkers will be entertaining, and an invite will do wonders for meeting a new circle of friends quickly.

If you stay stashed away at home, you’ll miss out on the special events and local traditions that only happen once a year. Maybe the town’s Christmas tree is the biggest in state or it has the best New Year’s Eve party for miles around. If you miss the tree lighting and downtown lit by candlelight, then you’ll have to wait another whole year to see for yourself what your new hometown already knows.

If you do choose to settle in ASAP, create a new town/region bucket list to check off before your family arrives. Select a few options and start over the holidays or during vacation days. It’s always exciting to see and try new things. Once the routine of school and work sets in, days slip away and time moves quickly, leaving less opportunity to fulfill all the fun options. If you prepare in advance, the day and weekend trips won’t get away from you.


4) Embrace the School Transition

Although it was likely difficult to leave half way through your child’s school year, starting a new school in January has its own perks vs. starting in August or September. Don’t be surprised if your child isn’t the only new kid to come in the New Year, especially if moving to a predominantly military town. Immediate bonds can be formed from day one as introductions are made, which builds a foundation for the second half of the school year and beyond.

By time the end of the school year arrives, the children will have settled into new friendships and routines that carry into their vacation days. The kids who arrive during the summer months are often greeted with transitioning neighborhoods and empty playgrounds because families are on vacation or moving on a traditional schedule.

If this is your first time moving during the winter, try not to stress! Really, there are advantages that can’t be replicated during the rest of the year. Take advantage of those opportunities, and there’s a good chance you’ll want to request an off-season PCS as much as possible in the future.