19 tips pcs move

19 Must Know Tips for an Army PCS Move

If you’re going to be an Army wife, you are going to be very good at packing your things and being able to set up a new house to feel like a home in a matter of days.

Here are some tips to help you along on your next move.


If the movers are doing everything…

1. Take pictures and document.

The day before the movers arrived, I went around the house and took pictures of everything. I also made sure to write down the serial numbers of all of our electronics and the computer.

You cannot document your belongings enough. As an Army wife, you’ll get very good at this.

2. Protect your valuables.

If you have valuables or collectibles that you would be heartbroken about if something happened to them, pack them yourself. Be sure to leave room in the car for a few of these items.

I’ve heard horror stories of things going missing. And our friend recently had their moving truck go up in flames. It was a total loss.

My husband’s wedding band disappeared on one of our moves. He had taken it off for training, and we didn’t think about it when we were packing.

If you can’t easily replace it, take it with you.

3. Shift responsibility for contents.

If you’re like me and already have a lot of things packed when the movers arrive, make them responsible for the contents. To do this, don’t seal the boxes or if they are already sealed, break the seal on the boxes.

When they seal the box, they become responsible for its contents.

4. Stay with them while they pack!

Watch them as they pack your things, especially when it comes to the breakables. If they seem to be clumsy with your items, then speak up but do it nicely.

They are being paid to do a good job and get all your household items to your new Army home in one piece.

5. Offer to buy them lunch.

This will go a long way with them if you make small requests along the way or ask for favors. My husband was still in training when the movers came, so they unhooked my washer and dryer for me.

That’s something they are normally not allowed to do. I went out of my way to be sure they had plenty to eat and drink while they were packing.

6. Be sure they list your items in detail.

There will be a packing list that you must sign off on before they leave. Be sure your items are listed in DETAIL.

Don’t let them write television. It should say 60” Sony with the serial number. Otherwise, you could end up with a 12” television, and you won’t be able to prove they packed a 60” TV.

7. Check everything before you sign.

Once you have signed, you have agreed to the inventory list. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t exist.

Be sure to check the list before you sign it thoroughly.

8. Be sure the boxes are labeled.

The movers should number the boxes, and the numbers should correspond to the inventory sheet.

Also, be sure they mark each box with your last name. Some people even attach a custom label with names and the new address in case someone else ends up with their box.

All of your items will be numbered with stickers. You will be finding these stickers until the end of time. Years after our last move, we have continued to find these stickers.

9. Layout your new Army home for move-in day.

When it’s time for them to move your stuff in, make sure it is easy on them to know where to go.

Some people color code their boxes; others mark the door for each room in the new place.

Any way you want is fine, but it’s a lot easier when the boxes are divided up in the rooms they are supposed to be in. This is particularly true if you’ll be unpacking by yourself.

10. Check off the inventory list as they bring items in.

Do NOT sign the final inventory until everything has been accounted for. If you sign for them, there is no way to prove you didn’t receive all of the boxes.

11. Put it back together.

If the movers took it apart, then they should put it back together for you.

If you know you want the TV cabinet against the wall by the fireplace, don’t let them leave it in the middle of the room. Make them put it where it is supposed to go.

12. Assess any damage quickly.

Try to go through all of your items as soon as possible so you can note anything that is broken. The movers should give you instructions on what to do if this happens. These instructions should be followed to a “t” to be sure you’re reimbursed.

This is where your pictures can come in handy as well. Now you have proof of what the item looked like before the move.

What to take with you:

13. Important papers

His official orders, birth certificates, marriage license, social security cards, etc., should all go with you in your vehicle.

Do not pack these items or let the movers pack them. In all likelihood, you’ll need them before you find the box they are in.

These papers should be with you at all times during your move.

14. Pictures

If you have pictures that cannot be replaced, take them with you. The last thing you need in the stress of moving is to find out your wedding or baby pictures have been ruined.

15. Medications

Sometimes the movers are delayed for a variety of reasons. Take all of your medications with you, and be sure you have more of a supply than you think you will ever need. Better safe than sorry!

16. Your phone

It could be days before your things arrive, and you need to have communication. Don’t forget your chargers!

17. Toiletry items 

Most importantly – toilet paper!

It’s also not a bad idea to take the shower liner with you (with hooks) and a few towels with you.

Make sure you also have pillows and blankets if you have to camp out on the floor for a few days.

18. Everything for pets

You will need their food, bowls, litter, and any medications. Also, try to bring a favorite toy so they have something familiar.

If your pet is used to sleeping in a crate, make sure you bring it with you to avoid more upsets to their schedule and life.

19. Kitchen essentials

Be sure to leave out paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils, etc., so you can still eat while they are packing your things.

This will also make it much easier and cheaper when you get to your new place until you find all your dishes.

Try to pack a cooler with sandwich meat, condiments and drinks. Have snacks and bread ready, so you don’t spend much money eating out.

The most important thing to take with you…

Your sense of humor

In fact, as an Army wife, this needs to be a permanent package that goes with you everywhere!

In all likelihood, something is going to go wrong. Try to take it in stride and just smile and move on. Getting angry and upset will only make the move harder. Try to laugh and make the best of it.

It will make for great stories later down the road. “This one time, in the Army….”

What would you add to this list? Do you have a crazy moving story to share? Let us know in the comments!

When you’re done with the move, review this checklist to see what you should do AFTER the PCS.

author avatar
Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

Similar Posts


  1. My Fiance and I are getting married while we’re both in AIT (we knew one another well before we enlisted, so no worries) and we’re both VERY green around the gills about what all needs to be done for out first PCS. I have no idea what all I need to have done in order for all of her things to be moved as well as mine. I am in serious need for tips…???
    I’m active duty and she’s National Guard, if that matters..

  2. So, you can pre-pack boxes? On our DPS sheet it says to leave everything as is and if you have boxes you would like to use then place them by the items so the movers can do it. Honestly, I don’t want a stranger packing my underwear. And does this mean I have to unpack all my Christmas decorations I jam in a box every year? I’m a little confused about the process. This is our first PCS and we are going from Alaska to Florida. I’m just want all our stuff to get there. And thank you for all the good tips!

  3. My fiance is currently in the National Guard and next month we are getting married. He is going Active Duty in September and I am just a little confused about the moving stuff. I already have more than half of our stuff packed because it was never unpacked when we moved into a new home. So do I have to unpack all of that for the movers to handle or can I just leave it alone and worry about packing up the rest of our stuff? Also, do we even get movers? Obviously this will be our first time having to move somewhere so I have no idea what to expect, or even where we are going.

    1. The Army will pay for movers or you can move yourself. If you choose to let the Army do it, don’t worry about the boxes you already packed. The movers should inspect them and either repack or deem they are ready to go.

  4. Hello! We are moving to ft. Gordon Georgia. This is our first move and I have no idea how to go about housing and all that from here in Cali. Here are my questions if anyone can help.
    1. How long is it before you get a house on base?
    2. I’ve heard many things along the lines that On base housing is horrible bc if you have problems with matinance there is little to no help and the conditions of the house itself is bad. Is this true or it just depends on your base?
    3. Do u get to choose which community you live in? Or is it wherever there’s one available?
    4. Do they give priority to those with kids? Or rank? Or is it first come first serve? (He is an e-5)
    5. Is it better to live on or off post money wise? I want to live on post bc id feel safer there if that makes sense?
    6. If u do get on base housing do u get to see the house before? How do u do that if u live in another state? I heard you are entitled to see at least 3 houses?
    7. I like being prepared so aside from all the research I’ll be doing any other info or paperwork I need completed or on hand before I talk to the housing people?

    Thanks so much!

  5. The packers are coming Monday and I can’t find a list to go by what they won’t ship and store. I was told to go to move.mil and I can’t find any list there. Will they pack candles? We are moving to Miami, Fl and our stuff will be stored for about a month so I didn’t know if it was going to be temperature controlled or what? Does anybody out there know anything about this?

    1. I seriously doubt it’s temperature controlled as that would be an additional expense for the storage unit. If you have anything that could melt or otherwise be ruined in heat, I’d take it with me.

  6. Although I have an experience, I forgot to label the boxes last time, as we were in a hurry and it made a real problem for me. I work in the sphere of moving and I still made this crucial mistake, so in case it does not go well don’t be too hard on yourself! Being too concerned about everything makes things only worse!

  7. My husband recently joined the army and we’re moving next month. Currently we own a home two hours from base but just sold it to move closer. We have a place to move to and are getting movers. Since we’re going into a smaller place and it’s rental with appliances we’re not taking all of the items with us (fridge, washer, dryer, stove, ect). Any advice on marking/letting the movers know what not to take? Thanks.

    1. I’d put a huge piece of bright paper on it that says DO NOT PACK. They will pack everything – including the trash – if you don’t tell them. Best bet would be for you to be there supervising.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.