Eventually, it happens to everyone. Occasionally it may come as a complete surprise, but usually it comes after months of anticipation. One day he shoots you a text or walks in the door and says, “We got orders“.
Hopefully the orders are sending you to your dream location, exactly what you were hoping for. More often though, it’s a place you didn’t even realize was an option. Wherever you’re going next, you’d better get ready.
Maybe you’ve done this a dozen time before or maybe you’re a rookie. Either way, you’ve probably heard the horror stories. Lost items, damaged and broken furniture, waiting for months before your stuff arrives. PCSing (or moving) can be a very stressful time and there are plenty of things that can go wrong. But there are steps you can take to help the process go smoothly. Here are fifteen simple things you can do to avoid having a horrible PCS!
Before the Movers Arrive
1. Get rid of anything you don’t want to move with you. Sell it, donate it, or trash it. Just trust me and do it now. I promise you’ll thank me later when you aren’t unpacking a bunch of stuff thinking “why did we even bring this?”
2. Make sure all pictures, decor, and curtains are off the walls/widows.
3. Ziploc bag everything you can! Small toys, desk supplies, junk drawer items, silverware, under garments, etc. This takes a little bit of time up front, but saves so much time on the other end! If you only do one thing on this entire list…do this!!!
4. Have all trash cans empty. Yes, as ridiculous as it seems, trash has been moved on more than one occasion.
5. Pack a “PCS Survival Kit”. This includes any must- have items that your families need to function until your entire shipment of household goods arrive.
(CLICK HERE to join my email list and receive access to my list of what to pack in your PCS Survival Kit + more PCS related printables!)
At All Times- For both Movers and Packers
6. Be nice to your movers! Just treat them kindly and with respect. They are professional and deserve to be treated as such. We have always had great movers and I am always amazed at how hard they work.
7. Let your movers know which bathroom they can use (especially if you have already cleaned one).
8. Have one empty closet to put all the things that you are taking with you (suitcases, purses, diaper bags, valuables, important documents, etc.). Put a sign on this that says “Off Limits- Do Not Pack” and point it out to packers upon their arrival. You can also go ahead and stash these items in your personal vehicle if you prefer.
9. Have a “Parts box”. This is the last box on the truck and the first one off. It contains all of your hardware for any furniture that was disassembled as well as remote controls for devices. It’s a great way to make sure no little pieces get lost.
10. Write an inventory of items in the box on the outside of each box so you know what is inside OR create your own master list with each box number and its contents. That way later if you are looking for something specific, it is easier to find.
This means that even if someone else is doing the packing for you, you still have to be somewhat involved. I ask them ahead of time not to tape shut a box until I have documented it. They are usually happy to oblige!
11. Write either “Unpack” or “Don’t unpack” (or use a strip of red or green tape). Unpack items are the things that you want opened as soon as possible to get your house up and running- kitchen items, towels, bed linens, clothes, shoes, and kids toys. These are all things that I can put away quickly and generally go in about the same place in each house.
Our “Don’t unpack/red tape” items are those that I am either unsure of where they will go, won’t need right away, or are a finishing touch item like pictures and decorative items. It’s usually is a couple of weeks before I feel ready for those and I would rather they stay safe inside a box.
On Loading Day
12. Keep your kids out of the mover’s way. I feel like most people probably do this, but I have been thanked for how well-behaved my kids are so I’m gonna put it out there just in case.
For our last move, I had some new stickers, stamp markers, and special snacks to keep my daughter entertained. This is a perfectly acceptable time to let your kid play on the iPad! If you have a friend’s house where they can go to spend the day, even better!
At Your New Home
13. Let the movers unpack you! It took me a couple of moves to figure this one out, but it was a game changer!
Every mover I have ever had has tried to get out of doing this, BUT IT IS PART OF THEIR JOB! Be upfront about it and let them know that you will expect a partial unpack at the end.
I didn’t do this on our first couple of moves because I was afraid it would be too overwhelming. And it can be. They will unpack everything and just dump it wherever- your bed, dressers, and tables will be covered in stuff. However, this is motivation to get everything put away and makes the process so much faster because you don’t have to open and unwrap all of that stuff.
Plus they can take the empty boxes with them when they leave.
With our previous move, we were able to have my daughters entire room finished in less than 2 hours and even though the rest of the house was crazy, she had her space to play and rest and bring some normalcy to her life.
The Great Debates
14. This one is a matter of opinion- do you need to feed your movers? I will say that yes, I always have. However, I have also wasted quite a bit of money on food that they didn’t eat. For our next move, I don’t think that I will be providing a meal, just snacks. They do always appreciate having drinks on hand so make sure to at least have that!
15. Lots of debate on this one too- to tip or not to tip? I have done both. It is a matter of personal opinion and something you and your spouse should discuss ahead of time.
We seem to have settled that for the average job (they came and did exactly what they were supposed to do) we do not tip. However, if we feel that an individual has worked extra hard or gone above and beyond in some way, then we will compensate them for that.
For example, on our last move, we were only moving 4 hours away and had been told to expect our door-to-door shipment to arrive 2-3 days after the pack out.
When the time came, though, our household goods were going to be immediately delivered the next morning. If we weren’t there to receive them, they were going to be put into a storage unit and then we would be responsible for moving them to our home ourselves!
We had to do a crazy mad dash (all while having a puking kid, no less!) to get the cleaning done for our final inspection in order to get to the new house before all our stuff arrived so it wouldn’t be put in storage.
Thankfully, our driver was able to push back the arrival time for us to give us a few more hours to get there. He had also been extremely professional throughout the entire ordeal and managed his team very well. He was tipped generously because without him all my stuff would have been sitting in a storage unit instead of in my new house.
Whew! I get stressed just remembering that day!
You’ve Got This!
I can’t guarantee that these will make for a perfect PCS, but I hope that these tips help you feel a little more prepared! AND, to make it even easier, I’m sharing with you four helpful printables that I like to use. Just enter your email and you will automatically receive access to all of these:
1. To-Do List– your master list for keeping track of all your PCS related tasks
2. Donate/Sell/Trash Sheet– an easy system for getting rid of the stuff that’s not coming with you
3. PCS Survival Kit– a super helpful checklist with the most essential items to keep with you during the move
4. Box Inventory– record the contents of each box here so you know exactly where to find everything (print as many as you need!)
CLICK HERE to get your PCS printables now!
Now, I want to hear from you. Share your best PCS tips with us in the comment section below!
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