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Top 10 Things Not Reimbursed After a PCS Move

by PCSgrades Staff - July 14th, 2022

Top 10 Things Not Reimbursed After a PCS Move

There’s nothing better than the collective wisdom of the internet. Recently, we published a meme that went viral about the things families don’t get reimbursed for when we PCS. We asked our audience for their input and with well over 400 comments, you didn’t disappoint. From curtains to plants to gas money, and everything in between, military families have a lot of out-of-pocket costs when they PCS.

Meme of guy holding sign that reads "PCSing costs families money out of pocket"

Top 10 things you don’t get reimbursed for after a PCS move: 

1. Condiments

From Jenah Wieczorek: Condiments get us every time.

PREACH, girl! Those bottles of mayo, mustard, soy, ranch, ketchup, Italian dressing, and the random $16 jar of hard-to-find curry paste for that one dish we make semi-annually, all add up. And trying to find the most affordable grocery chain when you're new to the area isn't easy either.

2. Shipping a vehicle

From Laura Cancel: Shipping a second vehicle. We're currently renting two cars while waiting for ours to arrive. 

At least gas is cheap? (She writes with sarcasm while bursting into tears.) The military only reimburses gas and mileage for moving one vehicle, so if you own more than one, you're responsible for that cost. The only consolation: vehicle shipping costs are tax-deductible.

Read this article for cost-saving solutions to get that second vehicle to your next duty station.

3. Car detailing

From Jami White Malcolm: Car detailing for OCONUS POV shipping. Required to ship, but not reimbursable? 

So true, Jami! “You must do this, but we shall not pay you for this!” Same goes for cleaning fees to check out of base housing, and cleaning all outdoor equipment so it will be accepted by the moving company. *Sigh*

4. Replacing uninsured items

From Amber Alexis: Having to replace all your furniture due to mold - but it’s not covered under insurance - because the storage facility said it was your fault for not checking your stuff while in storage. 

Oh Amber, we feel this! Because it’s so feasible for you to make frequent trips from Japan to Texas to check on your stuff, especially when your parents live in Ohio. Totally reasonable. 

It's important to check on your insurance policy before and after a move, to make sure you cover your items with a comfortable deductible. This is true whether you use long-term storage, move your own items in a PPM, or use military moving companies.

5. Appliances

From Christy Carroll: Washers and dryers. Never fails if I have an electric washer and dryer the next house is gas hook up! 

It’s like changing traffic lanes - the one you go into will inevitably be slower. Same goes for things like microwaves (not included in most base housing, but often built in to off-base rental properties) outdoor lawn equipment, and large items like grills or trampolines that may not work at every property.

6. Liquids

From Laura Cortez: We also have to replace our alcohol that wouldn’t fit in our car. 

After a PCS, you absolutely deserve a stiff drink! Other expensive liquids to replace include cleaning supplies, auto maintenance items, and craft supplies like paint or glue. Some hobbies aren't very PCS-friendly!

You can read more about the hidden costs of PCS moves here.

7. Milspouse job loss

From Liz Leflore: How about some kind of spousal displacement allowance? I had to quit a fantastic job, paying me very well, just to move out of state. Now I am struggling to find a job, especially one that paid me what I was making! 

Ah, the true plight of the military spouse. It is so discouraging. Keep the faith, Liz! We hope you find a new, great job soon. This article has great tips on handling the job search after a PCS.

8. Legal fees

From Lynn Tison: For families with custody arrangements, the military does nothing to help with legal fees … Well over 100k down the drain so far. 

We can’t even imagine how frustrating this must be! Fighting custody battles when the service member moves out of state is an extra level of PCS stress.

9. Interest fees

From Shannon Leigh: Years of interest on the debt accrued from all of the above and then some. 

Ugh. So much truth. Even when your PCS expenses are reimbursed, they only cover the itemized receipts. Reimbursement does not include the interest fees on credit cards.

10. The costs of making a house a home

From Claire Roberson Wood: Not something we expect to be reimbursed for, but don’t forget all of the MURPHY expenses of a PCS. The inevitable car repair, windshield replacement, tire blowout, pet emergency, kid sickness, injury, or dental emergency, requiring care and meds.

Also the HERE—BUT NOT THERE or THERE BUT NOT HERE— expenses. Here: they mow your yard, but not your *back* yard there, so buy a mower. Here: you have a garage— but not there, so you buy an outdoor storage shed. Here: you have a great porch so you buy outdoor furniture and a nice grill; There: you don’t have a covered back porch so every outdoor item you own gets molded and mildewed.

Not life or death expenses, but things like area rugs to fit spaces, bedding for kids’ rooms that are constantly being shuffled to use beds that fit in each house, and management of household items you feel the need to hang on to but don’t have room to store— all costs that continue to add up. I have found that having your home reflect who you are and at a minimum, *feel* like home is both essential to my morale AND costly over the long term.

We may not have our resumes looking like we want after supporting a spouse’s career in service, but you can bet most of us have the equivalent of a Ph.D. in personal finance and household management.

<exits soapbox>

Honorable mention: Pets

The cost of shipping your furry family member overseas to an OCONUS assignment is not reimbursed when PCSing, and it can be very expensive--especially for large dogs during the summer months! So many of you mentioned this in comments, but it didn't make the Top 10 because not everyone has a family pet and an overseas move.

But if you do, you find help with the cost of shipping pets here.

PCSgrades Staff