Thursday, April 25, 2013

Prepare for your PCS Move

Good Evening Followers.  It's been awhile, but I've been really busy.  I'm back now, and that's all that matters.

So, summer is among us, which also means PCS season.  For all of you civilians out there, PCS is military for Permanent Change of Station.  More PCS moves happen during the summer, basically because school is out, and because it's already vacation season.  Whether you are moving inter-state (Benning-Stewart), across country (Lewis-Bragg) or trans-Atlantic (Riley to Korea), it's a very stressful time, and can be very costly.  There are some costs that you will have to undoubtedly pay on your own, while other costs will be reimbursed.  The first thing you need to understand is what's the difference, and how you can make the most of your money, your move, and your time.

Ok, so let's start with what the military will pay for.  They will pay for your direct transportation from post A to post B.  For example, if you are PCS'ing from Ft. Drum to Ft. Lewis (either with or without dependents) the military will pay either for mileage or the plane ticket from Drum to Lewis, whichever is cheaper.  For instance, mileage is about .55 cents a mile.  If it is cheaper to fly you and your family from Drum to Lewis, then that is what you are going to get reimbursed, even if you opt to drive your own car.  

They government will pay you a number of allowances.

DLA is Dislocation Allowance, and this is a flat allowance paid while your family has moved out of housing and are living in a hotel at your departing station.

TLA is Temporary Lodging Allowance, which is reimbursed at your incoming station for hotel expenses.

If you receive BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) or OHA (Overseas Housing Allowance), this will end on the day that you sign out of your old installation, and will start again upon arrival to your new duty station.

Per Diem is paid to cover the costs accrued during the travel time.  For example, if it takes you 2 days to get from your last duty station to your new duty station, you will receive Per Diem for each actual day you are in travel status.  If you are married, then you will get a lower amount for your spouse and/or children.

That pretty much sums up the pay, and if you still have questions, you should contact your installation finance office.  Now, let's talk about leave.

If you are moving within the continental United States, you are authorized 10 days of PCS leave.  This allows you time to travel from your old installation to your new.  If you plan on traveling to see your family during this time, you must plan your time wisely, and this is done at your own expense.  

If you are moving from the continental United States to Europe, Korea, Hawaii or Alaska, you are authorized to take up to 30 days of leave.  This allows you extra time to plan and prepare for your move, and if you are moving with your family and/or pets, you'll need the extra time to plan and prepare for your move.

And, that takes care of leave.  You may be wondering: How do I get my furniture moved?  Well, the military will come and pack it up and move it for you.  However, if you are staying within the continental U.S. you have the option of moving yourself, with the Army reimbursing you for the cost of what they would pay a contractor.  If you choose this option, you should know that if an item gets broken, it is up to you to replace it.  If the military contractors break your prized 50" TV, then they are obligated to pay to replace it.  If you are moving overseas, then you have no choice but to let the movers move you.

Now, if you are moving overseas, you are authorized to ship one car at government expense, IF you are not going to Korea or Kuwait.  If you are moving stateside, and you have more than one car, then you can ship one, and drive the other if you like, but that is at your expense.  If you have a motorcycle, then you can ship that in your household goods (except Kuwait and Korea.)  Before you decide to ship a vehicle, make sure you understand the laws and driving habits of the country you are moving too.  If you are moving to Europe, you should start studying for your license as soon as you know you are going.  The driver's test for Germany is 150 questions.  Be aware though, your USAREUR driver's license does not allow you to drive in countries other than the country you are stationed (i.e. Germany, Italy, Belgium).  

There is a lot to planning your PCS move, and it will be a lot less stressful if you prepare and plan.  Research as much as possible your new duty station and the surrounding communities before your move.  Know beforehand what you can expect to pay for rent, utilities, and other expenses.  Additionally, research the laws, schools, shopping, and everything else you can think of before you move.  The more your know, the better off you'll be.  The best resource: people who have been where you are going.  More than likely, they will have the best advice to give you.  They've been where you are going, and have experiences to share.

I hope this blog helps all you PCS'ers out there.  If you have any questions, or want to share your own experiences, feel free to do so.

And as always, continue to Live Well.