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Welcome to PCS Limbo: When You Are Waiting for PCS Orders

by Rebecca Alwine - July 12th, 2022

Welcome to PCS Limbo: When You Are Waiting for PCS Orders

I keep repeating to myself, “It’s the year of the PCS.” It brings all sorts of emotions. But the one at the front is comprised of frustration and anxiety. Because in true military fashion, we don’t know where or when we’re making this military move.

I know y’all understand that. During any given year, about 1/3 of you are experiencing similar pre-PCS emotions. Maybe you know when you’re moving but not where. That happened to us when we were leaving Germany. I mean the SOFA rules said it was time to go but where were we going? We didn’t know until a few months out.

Or maybe you know where you’re going but not when? That one is different hard. You are ready to get there, making plans, looking for housing, but you can’t tell anyone when you’d need a house. You can research and research and make timelines and plans, but you’re still in that horrible holding pattern.

Waiting is always difficult before a PCS. So if you're waiting now, here are the things you can do to make the most of your current duty station and prepare your family for the upcoming move.

Military moves and spring cleaning

It doesn’t really matter where you are going next if those boxes haven’t been unpacked since the last time, they probably don’t need to go with you. It’s time to decide if the things you’ve been packing up and moving really need to stay with you. Yes, you may need it later, but someone else is probably giving it away after that.

Organize for your PCS move

We all know that no matter how much effort we put into the organization of our things, chances are the packers will mess it up. But, it will make you feel better to know that all of the bathing suits and beach towels are together and the Christmas decorations are labeled in their bins.

Research your next duty station

Maybe I’m unique, but I love looking at things in other places. If you can narrow down the places, you may be going (if you know where but not when) you can start looking at things you’ll want to do. Look at schools, neighborhoods, what the installation has to offer, how far away you’ll be from your bestie who is also PCSing this year. Those sorts of things will give you something to make a plan out of, even if the plan changes. PCSgrades will save you hours of time spent on Facebook perusing military help feeds. All the primary information you need can be found on one website! On-Base Housing! Local Neighborhoods! Realtors! Even Moving Companies!

And what is really unique are the reviews left by our fellow military and veteran families! Who better to talk about the issues important to us when we are looking at a possible new duty station? It’s a great way to get answers to questions like, “Is it a military friendly neighborhood or school?” or “What is the commute like?” And if you really want to get a feel for the local area, PCSgrades features Area Guides for over 100 military installations.

Make a bucket list before a PCS move

Make a list of the things you want to accomplish before you leave your current place. How many times did we put off that trip to the local museum? Make a list, play tourist, and enjoy the last few months at your current location. Bring along a new family, someone who wants to explore with you. Encourage family and friends to come visit to explore; you never know if you’ll be stationed here again. (Unless it’s Fort Huachuca and you’re MI, then you can count on it.)

Make memories before you move

Stop and enjoy life. Seriously. This could be the worst duty station ever, but it has still been an experience. I’m sure you made friends and found at least one restaurant you like. Continue to do those things, don’t check out yet. Yes, it will hurt to say goodbye to friends, but it’s going to hurt whether it’s as you pull out of town or if you do it prematurely. Trust me; you’ll want your friends around when it’s time to pack out.

And, don’t dismiss the new friendships that may come along. It’s a small military, and you never know who will be your neighbor down the road. Keep your chin up, military spouse. It may be the year of the PCS, but it may be a long process. The military is going to tell you when and where, and though it may not feel like it, you’ll have enough time. Everything will work out, despite the anxiety. So, relax and enjoy the last few months before your military move.

Love your neighborhood or base housing? Leave a review here.

Rebecca Alwine

Rebecca Alwine is an Army wife, mother of three and lover of her adorable pirate dog. Over the past 15 years, she’s discovered she enjoys coffee, lifting weights and most of the menial tasks of motherhood. Her days consist of working out in her garage gym, audiobooks and pretending to cook while her Instant Pot and Air Fryer do all the work. Her motto: work smarter, not harder.