Over the years and the moves, we have documented our PCS journeys in different formats. In the past, we have shared through social media posts, video diaries, emails to friends and family, blog articles, and more. This time around, our 3rd PCS move as a married couple, Anna’s 6th international move, and Dwight’s (too many to count) move, we decided to create a single narrative blog article to trace our experience moving from Ramstein, Germany to Washington, DC.
Some things to note about this PCS Diary
- This is not our first move, not even our first international move.
- We use checklists upon checklists. If you are interested in seeing our checklists, please indicate this in the comments – if there is sufficient interest, we will find a way to make some (or all) of these available.
- We are a USAF family – therefore our timelines and the regulations we reference may not apply to your situation.
We know how much we appreciate a good timeline.
|Notification of Forthcoming Orders (often referred to as RFO or a rip).||28 Feb 2022|
|Clear EFMP||14 Mar 2022|
|Publication of Orders||7 April 2022|
|Notification of Orders (the date we received these)||8 April 2022|
|Created HHG, UAB, and POV shipments (in DPS and PCSmyPOV)||16 April 2022|
Divide and Conquer
It is not easy to get through an international PCS with your sanity and relationship intact. However, there are still benefits to having two adults divide the work of the PCS. There are certain administrative tasks (clearing specific offices for example) that Dwight must undertake, and there as aspects of the move that Anna can undertake with the right paperwork (Powers of Attorney are key).
We try to divide up parts of the process that reflect our strengths and the parts of the process that we each find less stressful.
We utilise tools to help us stay on the same page and share information.
One of our favourite tools is an encrypted password and document repository. There are a few to choose from, including Last Pass and 1Password. We also use a budgeting application to keep on track. There are a few of these to choose from too: YNAB and Mint are two of the best.
A PCS costs money – this might come as a shock to some people. Yes, the US government pays for a Permanent Change of Station move, but there are still expenses that are not covered (or reimbursed). We are going to be transparent with this PCS about how much this move from an overseas (OCONUS – outside the contiguous United States) location back to the USA (CONUS – contiguous United States).
Some of the information we seek out early on includes BAH (at the new location) or OHA (if overseas), Dislocation Allowance (DLA), and allowances for TLA and/or TLE (Temporary lodging allowance and/or Temporary Lodging entitlement), HHG weight allowance.
|Expense Category.||Reimbursed PCS Expense||Unreimbursable/Non-Reimbursable |
|Housing Security Deposit||$3000|
|Flights – R||$3000|
|Rental Car – NR||$1000|
|Accommodation – R||$1500|
|Food – NR||$1500|
- *While Packing materials can be a reimbursable expense when purchased in conjunction with a Personally Procured move and purchased following approval of such a shipment, these materials were purchased to help pack HHG items that will be shipped as part of a government procured move. Unreimbursable expenses may be deductible as part of our tax return – this is something about which we consult our accountant.
- **Amounts may have originally been in Euros, however, all amounts above have been converted into US dollars.
- NR = Non-reimbursable.
- Yes, we really did save $10000 in preparation for this PCS. We were warned by many friends that this was an expensive exercise.
Kate Horrell’s Ultimate PCS Guide to Packing Out (with printables)
Megan Harless’ PCS Like a Pro (FB group is particularly good)
PCS Diary Entries
We started talking about this PCS back in October 2021 when Dwight was notified of an assignment (he didn’t receive formal notification of orders until February 2022). I am starting this diary from our first meeting after we received “hard” orders. This “diary” is also not a blow-by-blow of all PCS prep activities. I find that my mindset shifts as we move into the “active PCS preparation” phase and I look progressively for more items to donate or discard. Moving every few years is a cycle (and in effect a lifestyle) for us which means we take the opportunity to declutter and organize. I use a template/checklist to help with the preparation as well as the administration of the moving process.
8 April 2022
We shared that we are moving back to the US via our social media channels.
10 April 2022
(Anna) We sat down for our third “PCS Sync” – this is a meeting between Dwight and I to talk about where things with the PCS are up to. We find setting aside time for this prevents the PCS from taking over every conversation.
- We looked over our checklist and crossed over some completed items.
- We discussed which items we are going to donate/sell and which we are going to move back with us to the US. We decided where in our home we are going to put out UAB (Unaccompanied Baggage shipment) items.
- We took about an hour to make sure we could access the DPS (Move.mil) system – waiting for computer systems to work properly is frustrating. When we entered DPS we noticed that our NTS (non-temporary storage) shipment from our last move was missing. This was concerning (but apparently “normal”).
- Dwight sent a copy of his orders off to a few different offices to try to clear some items on his checklist.
12 April 2022
I confirmed with a German friend that they will adopt some of our items (a beloved plant in particular).
16 April 2022
The hardest part of this productive day was dealing with accessing these websites/systems. They only like certain computers/browsers and the DPS system wouldn’t work for us on a non-government computer. We had to recreate and reset the password on the PCS my POV website twice. In short, once you get beyond the access issues it is a matter of reading the instructions carefully.
- Created shipments within DPS for HHG and UAB – requesting the dates that make sense for us. By keeping our UAB under 800 pounds we are hoping (and it looks like it) that it will travel by Air. as of 2021, UAB shipments above about 800 pounds seem to be travelling via sea rather than Air which rather defeats the point of a UAB shipment.
- Also created a shipment within PCS my POV for our larger vehicle. We don’t need this vehicle on arrival in the US so we are shipping it about a week before we leave, so that we will have less time when we will need a rental car overseas. Our smaller vehicle was purchased during our German assignment and came with free shipping back to the US, so we also sent an email to the dealership asking for their assistance in making those arrangements.
- We are still looking for additional paperwork to help us locate the NTS (non-temporary storage) shipment that is (we think) being stored in Texas.
- Scheduled HHG pack out
- Scheduled UAB Packout
- Scheduled POV shipment
- Scheduled Departure from Germany
- Scheduled UAB delivery date
- Expected HHG Delivery Date
- Scheduled (larger) POV delivery