The Final PCS Checklist

We’ve made our to-do list, and we’re checking it twice, but I’m sure there’s something we’re missing. Here’s a look at our final PCS checklist before the movers arrive.

Making a PCS checklist can help so much with your final days before a move. There's a lot on your mind, so make a giant a to-do list to keep it all in order

This is the most exhilarating and frustrating time, because you can finally start doing things.

You’re literally hurrying up to get everything done, and waiting, because some things you just can’t do until that last second (or day) before the movers arrive.

Military moves are also a whole different beast when it comes to moving for one simple reason: you aren’t supposed to pack anything.

It’s such a hard concept to grasp, but with the exception of taking things off the walls and unplugging things, your house will essentially look absolutely the same until the day the movers arrive.

Then, they’re like busy little worker ants: they come in, start magically and methodically packing up all of your possessions, and then on packing day they play the coolest game of tetris by getting everything to fit in the truck.

Our final PCS checklist

There’s so much more that goes into a PCS, so make sure you grab my ultimate PCS checklist binder below:

What to do first:

Here are some things to do first once you get your assignment notification. Of course, keep in mind, your duty station can always change…

  • Join facebook groups and research your new location
  • Create a PCS binder and start getting organized
  • See what moving classes your base/post offer
  • Announce your new assignment and ask for advice/recommendations
  • Start thinking about what you want to take with you and what needs to be sold/donated
  • look into housing options (on base, on the economy, school districts, etc.)
  • find books and blog posts about new destination
  • renew drivers license
  • notify current landlord or get in touch with a realtor
  • get current on immunizations; schedule doctor, dentist, eye appointments
  • decide a plan for your pet
  • start going through every room in your home
  • start the passport process or renew expired passports (OCONUS PCS)
  • decide what to do with your vehicle (OCONUS PCS)
  • Get in touch with your local EFMP representative (OCONUS PCS)

Two Weeks Before Movers Arrive:

  • Cancel things (security systems, gym membership, pest control, internet, cable; call about utilities)*
  • Take dog to the vet for updated shots and car sick medicine
  • Finish up projects
  • Get updated vaccine records for kids
  • Make sure hotel reservations are all set
  • Purge the house one more time (throw more things away, give away more stuff; go through the pantry, freezer, fridge and toss/giveaway anything you’re not going to use—make a 2 week meal plan)
  • Get in touch with realtor/landlord and make sure everything is set and in place for when you leave
  • Make arrangements for the kids and pets so they’re out of the mover’s (and your) hair
  • Make arrangements for your last night(s) in town (ask to borrow air mattress/pack ‘n play/sleeping bag, or get a hotel room)
  • Go shopping for paper goods (plates, bowls, forks and spoons, cups)
  • Organize small things in drawers (wrap in press and seal or place in ziploc bags)
  • zip-tie extra hangers together
  • Make a hard copy of important documents

*If you’re cancelling early, make sure you have orders ready to prove you’re military and moving on orders.
**If you can, try to keep your internet hooked up through your move. The days when the movers are there can be extremely boring, so having wifi may be your best friend

One Week Before Movers Arrive:

  • Clean out the car (vacuum, car wash, oil change)
  • Take everything off the walls
  • Patch holes in the walls
  • Pack for EVERYONE
  • Make a “Do Not Pack” section and put everything you want to take with you in that area
  • Make a 1,000 lb/unaccompanied baggage area (if OCONUS PCS)
  • Empty out gas from lawn mower
  • Return propane from grill to Home Depot
  • Clean off patio furniture (there can’t be any soil on your outdoor stuff)
  • Start thawing out the deep freezer
  • Download movies/music to devices for the road trip
  • Get a few new toys/surprises/snacks for road trip
  • Take pictures of EVERYTHING in the house
  • Clean couch cushions
  • Clean knives, pots, pans, and lids
  • Get colored tape for boxes once they’re packed
  • go through all medicines

Day Before Movers Arrive:

  • Do one more load of laundry
  • Throw out any leftover food in the fridge
  • Empty and clean trash cans
  • Pick up air mattress, etc., from friends
  • Make sure your “Do Not Pack” pile has everything in it!
  • Empty out dishwasher
  • Put utensils in ziploc bags
  • take lightbulbs out of lamps

During the Packing/Moving Days

  • Sit awkwardly in the corner with nothing to do
  • Label/color-code the boxes after they leave
  • Relax….you already did the hard part!

I totally understand that my list won’t be what you need for your list, but if my list can help jog your memory for what you need on your list, then I’m happy to share what we had on our lists. (How many times can I say “list” in that paragraph?!)

Also, keep in mind that we’re doing an overseas move to Germany, so some things (like setting aside lamps and selling a washer and dryer) may be a little extreme for a CONUS PCS!

Unaccompanied Baggage (aka 1,000 pounds)

  • pillows
  • towels
  • sheets
  • shower curtain (and rod)
  • favorite toys for kids
  • laundry basket
  • bathmats
  • hand soap
  • toilet paper
  • paper towels
  • tupperware
  • clorox wipes
  • kleenex
  • ziploc bags
  • umbrellas
  • extra shoes (closed-toed)
  • diapers for kids (need them at night time)
  • stroller
  • cooking stuff
    • mixing bowl
    • measuring cups
    • can opener
    • scrapers
    • prep bowl
    • oven mits
    • thermometer
  • picnic blanket
  • bikes and helmets
  • cooler
  • potty seat for traveling
  • step stool for kids
  • step stool for us
  • camping chair (x2)
  • little tool chest
  • first aid kit
  • coffee pot/filters/coffee
  • plates, bowls, cups for kids
  • press & seal/foil

Storage List

Keep in mind that we really wanted to downsize and not take everything with us to Germany. So there’s a decent amount on here.

  • heirloom chest
  • heirloom coat tree
  • lamps
  • decor
  • vacuum
  • file cabinet (we scanned everything)
  • cooking stuff (larger things that won’t fit in a European oven)
  • wedding dress
  • old mementos from our childhood
  • books. allllllll of our books
  • wine barrel (from when we lived in Italy)
  • champagne holder (from when we lived in Italy)
  • extension cords
  • kitchen floor mats (that we forgot to put in our HHG—household goods—shipment)

To Sell Before We Move

  • Upright freezer
  • washer and dryer
  • bookcases (that are on their last leg)
  • extra tool chest
  • extra lamps

To Do Before We Move

  • Go through kitchen one more time
  • go through all the toys one more time
  • scan stuff in file cabinet
  • deep clean vacuum
  • clean knives and knife holder
  • deep clean the couch cushions
  • clean pots, pans, and lids
  • empty and clean containers in pantry
  • cancel all utilities
  • cancel all the kids’ classes

In our Suitcases

  • enough clothes/underwear for 7-10 days
  • sunscreen and dry shampoo (movers don’t move these things)
  • travel mugs
  • 2 pairs of shoes per person
  • socks
  • swimsuit
  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • hairbrush/shampoo/conditioner
  • dry shampoo
  • sunscreen
  • sweater
  • light jacket
  • headphones
  • stuffed animals
  • cords for electronics
  • USB night light

Do Not Pack (during move)

Make sure everything is in a separate room or area and it’s clearly marked as a DO NOT PACK area. Use masking tape to mark a giant on specific items you don’t want movers to pack.

  • suitcases
  • pet stuff
  • purse
  • backpacks
  • PCS binder(s)
  • paper plates/utensils
  • car seats
  • electronics to return
  • coffee maker
  • kid toys

What did I miss?

Whew. And that’s everything. What do you think? Am I missing anything?

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Making a PCS checklist can help so much with your final days before a move. There's a lot on your mind, so make a giant a to-do list to keep it all in order

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  1. Lol “sit awkwardly in the corner with nothing to do.” My favorite part of any move. So many people want to pack for the movers and I’m like “no, chill and sip a soda”

    1. Hahaha right? I’m making sure the WIFI isn’t disconnected until AFTER we leave. Made that mistake last time…never again. Plus, the girls will hopefully be at a friend’s house during the move, so…gosh…maybe I’ll have time to do something crazy, like read a book?! :p

  2. My fiance and I plan to do partial DITY moves with our next PCS…. We’d be packing stuff anyway that the movers won’t take like our valuables, so we might as well get the per diem pay!

  3. Yes to the sitting awkwardly in the corner part! It’s really hard for me to not help.I usually manage to stay busy all day going back and forth. I’ve never had a problem, but I still don’t want things to ‘disappear’ and I like keeping an eye on the process.

  4. Make sure you pack your prescriptions, ours “disappeared” during our pack out. I didn’t realize what happened because they opened the bottle and took the majority of the medication so I didn’t notice right away. We were scrambling days before an overseas move when he had already out-processed. I’m not sure how the paperwork happened for me to get the prescriptions refilled but it was such a hassle.

  5. This may be a stupid question but it’ll be our first move..my husband will be graduating ait. Don’t know where to yet..but As for food..do you just pack up some and take with you? We’re planning on doing a partial move if it’s in the 48. We’ll be taking a uhaul. So maybe a cooler with meat packed in ice, a cooler for fresh stuff and boxes of canned food? Or would it be better to leave the coolers and buy when we get there?

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