The PCS AAR

Now that we’ve started really getting settled in, here is a list of things I’d do a little differently.  As I mentioned before, it’s been a long time since I was involved with an overseas PCS, and the last time was going from Germany to Washington.  I was 15 at the time, so I knew what was going on, but I seem to remember my mom buying a lot of stuff right when we got to Washington, too.  Anyway, on we go!

Unaccompanied Baggage:
I previously posted a list of what I packed in our unaccompanied baggage (UAB).  Here are some things I will add to that list for when we move back to the mainland:

  • Knives.  Oh, my God, knives.  I realized really soon after we moved in that I would need knives if I was planning on cooking anything at all, so we bought a set of super cheap knives from the PX.  You get what you pay for because these have a problem cutting through simple vegetables.  They’ll work for now, but I can’t wait until my knives are back on my counter again!
  • Cheap dinnerware and flatware.  I really didn’t want to ship my nice dinnerware and flatware with UAB, so we bought a cheap service for 4, and that will get shipped back to the mainland with our UAB the next time we move.
  • Microwave.  It turns out we got lucky, and the hood above our stove is a microwave, but if we head back to Washington after this, we’ll need one, so that’s going with UAB next time.
  • Vacuum.  I really wanted to hold on to my vaccum as long as I possibly could, and now I’m wishing I hadn’t.  We bought a cheap Dirt Devil, but, again, you get what you pay for, and this is one of the worst vacuums I think I’ve ever used.  Also, since I’m a little OCD with cleaning, and this house was so dirty when we first moved in, having my vacuum would have made cleaning a million times easier.  As it stands right now, I really need to get on my hands and knees and scrub the floor in here.  It’s obvious the previous tenants wore shoes in the house, and I can smell that they had a dog, too.  It’s not overpowering, so it seems like they at least took care of their pet, and it was trained well, but the natural smell just lingers.  Also, the pantry in the hallway smells like dog food, so there’s that.  Anyway, I can’t wait to get my vacuum back!
  • Diaper pail…if I have a baby in diapers when we move again.  Also, I’m one of those who tried both the Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail and the Diaper Genie.  We originally bought the Diaper Genie 2-pack with the Elite (big one), and the Essential (small one).  And Diaper Genie wins.  I hate the Arm & Hammer pail.  With the Diaper Genie, I never smell the diapers, but with the Arm & Hammer one, every time I open it, I get a huge whiff of Jonathan’s stinky diapers, and that’s not fun at all. I also like that the Diaper Genie has a foot pedal.  You can buy the Diaper Genie here: Diaper Genie Elite Diaper Disposal Pail with 270 Count Refill.  No amount of baking powder dispensed by the Arm & Hammer pail has worked for us, so I think that’s the way to go.

I think that’s it for what I would put in unaccompanied baggage.  Other things that I think will be important before we move again:

  • Organization.  Remember how I said I’d get together a PCS binder?  Paul had one that he put together before heading down to Goodfellow, so we just used that on the way up here, too.  That thing is so disorganized.  Over the next 3 years, I’ll just slowly work on one, and that way it’ll be ready when it’s time to move again.  I really underestimated the importance of having a well-organized PCS binder!
  • Money.  The Army reimburses for some expenses, like the hotel on the losing end, and the hotel on the receiving end.  However, when my husband filed his travel voucher, they are now saying that he was not authorized a layover in Seattle even though his orders to Goodfellow specifically stated that Jonathan and me were going to stay in place, so now he has to try to convince DFAS that they need to pay out almost $600 more than what they did.  In addition to the fact that our house is probably going to need new carpet and whatnot because it seems like it’s going to be impossible for us to hope for a renter that does not have pets, we are going to have to save up a lot of money.  My goal at the end of this tour is to have around $10,000 saved up specifically for moving and to fix things in the house once we get back.  P.S., we are also still waiting on tenants, so cross your fingers that we find some soon because paying a mortgage AND rent is the opposite of fun.
  • Shipping our car earlier.  Granted, we will probably buy Paul a new car once we get back to the mainland, but I hate being homebound, so I’m hoping we’ll be able to ship our car 3 weeks before we leave if we’re going back to Washington, earlier than that if we’re going elsewhere.  At least with a lease, we won’t have to worry about needed to sell a car before we leave since Paul can just hand over the keys.

So overall, this PCS went pretty well, but there are definitely things we could have done better.  The absolute worst thing right now is money.  I was not prepared to have to pay rent up front for our first month in this house at all.  I don’t know if it’s done like this at every post because I haven’t lived on post since the Army was running things (now everything is run by DoD contractors), but that was a huge blow.  And on top of that, Paul still has to set up the allotment for us to pay housing each month.  At least we’re not making money on renting out our house because that will translate into really good tax returns each year we are gone.  Lessons learned!  And if you’re reading this while you’re getting ready to move, I hope it helped!

I promise a better post is coming up next, this one was pretty boring!

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