Military families are all too familiar with the term PCS – “permanent change of station”, the permanent relocation of an active duty military service member and his or her family to a new location or base. Though “permanent” is the important word to consider in the definition, rarely does it apply for an extended period of time; it simply contrasts the Temporary Duty assignment, which is a shorter term change usually reflecting a move for six months or less. If your family is currently facing PCS, there are ways you can prepare and plan for the move.

Do Your Town Research

If you have the privilege of knowing where you’re going months in advance, go ahead and begin some research on the location. Culture shock happens all too often when people aren’t prepared for major changes, so understanding the lay of the land and other details will help you and your family adapt quickly. What’s the weather like year round? What’s the economic situation like in the town – is it booming? Is it struggling? What’s it like geographically? All of these things may seem small, but they’ll help you to prepare physically and mentally for what’s ahead.


If you’ve moved more than a few times in your life, you understand the benefit of de-cluttering before you go. Nobody wants to drag a u-haul full of easily losable or breakable and completely useless knick knacks all over the country. It takes up space, time and effort when you consider the amount of “stuff” you’re actually hauling around. While there are always items you should keep that will help you call your new location “home”, old clothes, useless trinkets, frivolous décor… you’ll find that those things are more of a pain than anything else.

Schools, Jobs and Community

Since you’re bringing your family, you’ll want to really dig into what the move will be like for them. What kind of schools are there? Will you be homeschooling mid-school year? Will your spouse need to find a job? If so, will it be on or off the base? What’s there to do for fun year round? Is there a community to get involved in, whether it be volunteer work, recreational sports, or other events? Community is something you need wherever you go, so figure out what you’ll need to do to dive right into fellowship to foster friendships, relationships and grow new roots in a new place.

Change of station moves can be hard, especially when they’re considered “permanent” or indefinite and are far away from friends and family. Doing the research to become accustomed to the new place and de-cluttering to make life easier for the move is key to making it as smooth as possible.