Top 10 Uncovered Expenses in a PCS

It is PCS (Permanent Change of Station) season! Did you know that there is an average of $1725 in non-reimbursable costs that our service members are spending? According to this is what they are estimating. You either believe it or you are wondering how that can be when the military “takes care” of the move. Let’s take a look at what military families are doing in “taking care” of the move, but themselves. It is very important to know what the benefits are so you can plan wisely before the PCS, definitely do your due diligence on that!

So Where Does Our Money Go?

1. House & School Hunting Trip(s). With moving comes finding the right home for your family and school(s) for your children. You may not be there forever, but you will be calling it home so you want to be comfortable in your new home and confident with the schools you are sending your children to. This may call for making a trip out to there specifically for this. This is definitely one of those non-reimbursable expenses and a significant one at that!

2. Move Out Expenses. This can include cleaning, repairing a home, even selling or renting your home.

3. Pets. The military doesn’t cover the transportation of your pet. If you PCS over seas, this can be a big expense.

4. Eating Out & Entertainment for Your Children. While in transition you can definitely be eating out more than usual, which costs more money. If you have kids, entertainment is definitely important while in transition. Even though our children are resilient, they all react to each transition differently. Paying to go to a park, more movies than normal, etc. helps keep their minds busy (and us as parents sane)!

5. Cost of Living Change at the New Duty Station. While our BAH (Basic Housing Allowance) considers the increase or decrease for the cost of housing in the area other things aren’t considered. These include the gas prices for your vehicle, the cost per unit of utilities, groceries, the airport nearby may not be necessarily a big hub so flying out can be more expensive. Plus the distance of your home to your job(s) will also affect your monthly gas consumption, which may be more or less from your last duty station.

6. Housing Deposit (at new duty station). If you live on base/post and the housing is privatized you will have to pay out of pocket the pro-rated rent until your BAH kicks in. If you are renting you will have to plan ahead in paying a deposit along with your first month’s rent. Don’t dismiss the possibility that the house you find may not be covered fully by your BAH so you have to plan accordingly. Tip: If looking to rent, start searching for houses several hundred dollars below your BAH and see if you can find what you like so it can help cover the cost of your utilities. If you are considering purchasing a house, there are definitely more costs involved.

7. Services. Depending on the area and if you have been out of the country for a while you may be asked to pay a deposit for the utility company because you have no bills in the U.S. that shows them your pay history. Each time we move to get cable and internet installed a fee is charged (unless the company has a mover’s program such as Direct TV).

8. Spouse’s Income and Licensing Fees. As military spouses we follow our airman, soldier, marine, sailor. This means if we want to work we are going to have to look for a new job. This may not be easy and sometimes there may not be a job for us, so we have to think of living without that income. Not to mention if we are nurses, teachers, PTs/SLPs/OTs or any other career that needs you to maintain a license, we have to apply and pay for a new license if we want to practice. Fortunately there are people advocating for us in this area.

9. Vehicle Expenses. You have to change your insurance to the state you are living or get an international insurance policy. This change may work in our favor when moving to a state where the insurance is less expensive! There may also be vehicle registration fees and a car inspection if required in your new state.

10. New Items for Home & Wardrobe. Naturally being in a new place we tend to buy new things we need to make it our home. There will be items that you will have to replace such as new shower curtains, cleaning supplies, etc. Also, depending on where you PCS to this may require some new purchases to your wardrobe if you are going to a place that has extreme weather (hot or cold).

Can you see where we can do some planning ahead and where a separate fund specifically for when you PCS can be useful? I hope you found this helpful. It is not an all-inclusive list, just my top 10. If there are some points that you think would be helpful to others, please definitely comment!

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Written by Jennifer Hemphill, of GotHarmony.

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7 Replies to “Top 10 Uncovered Expenses in a PCS”

  1. Good stuff! It sure adds up, nice to think this kind of thing through ahead of time.

    1. Thanks Shannon! Thanks for reading :-). It definitely does add up quickly, sometimes it is the little things that add up the most, just because we think they are “little”.

  2. Elizabeth Biddle says:

    I save all my receipts. My top items are cleaning supplies, deposits, meals for movers, light bulbs, batteries, etc. The list goes on and on. When we move, our lives start over. My last PCS required trash cans, front door mat, multi-plug surge protectors and Italian light bulbs and adapters. It is the little things that add up.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth for commenting. Yes our lives completely start over and I agree it is all about the little things. We just had to buy various items as well and replace items that were broken :(.

  3. Great article – I will share it with my buyers and sellers – many of whom will be PCSing soon. We get alot of Marine and Navy families moving in and out of the Jacksonville NC, home to Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River. I have a page on my website to help with PCS moves and includes a free PCS Guide.

    1. Thank you Walter! Would you like me to post your article on our site with all information linking back to you? It is perfect for our PCS theme this month.

  4. Hi, we live on post for the first time. We wrote down everything we could that could be broken or not working. We are now PCSing to a new location. They came to inspect the house and was told the scratches on the glass on the patio door should’ve been written down? Really? The scratches were already there and I see no way of that being fixed? They were made by a large dog or something. We don’t even have children? This doesn’t seem fair at all. Is there an legal help we can get for this? How do we know if they already changed the previous person and trying to get more money out of every tenant after that? Please help.

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