You did it. You finally completed your PCS move.
As a military spouse, a PCS move can be mentally and physically exhausting. But once you’ve settled in and rested for a few days, it’s time to get situated in your new hometown.
Since you’ve likely never been to the area before, it’s best to get acquainted with where you’ll be living for the next few years. Once you’ve secured the basics like housing, you’ll want to get comfortable in your new living environment relatively quickly.
Here’s our list of 7 things every military spouse should do after a PCS move:
As soon as you’ve rested up from your big trip, start unpacking. It will help you feel settled sooner, and it will make your new place feel more like “home” to you. If you didn’t get a chance to go through your junk drawers prior to moving, now is the time to toss unwanted items and get your life organized.
2. Update DEERS + Tricare Information
As a military spouse, you will update your Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) information a lot. In order to qualify for military healthcare and other benefits, you have to be enrolled in this system. At any time there’s a change in your sponsor’s status, a divorce or marriage, a baby on the way, a scheduled move, etc., you’ll need to update your information.
To update your DEERS information:
- Log into MilConnect
- Call 1-800-538-9522 (TTY/TDD: 1-866-363-2883)
- Fax updates to 1-800-336-4416 (Primary) or 1-502-335-9980 (Alternate)
- Mail updates to:
Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office
400 Gigling Road
Seaside, CA 93955-6771
When you move, you’ll want to request a copy of your medical records from your previous doctors to take with you. Do this at least one month before the PCS date, because otherwise you’ll get busy and forget!
3. Make Friends
Creating a supportive network in your new military town is so important as a military spouse. It can be easy to let overwhelm and homesickness take over if you’re alone all the time. As soon as you land in your new area, get out of the house and meet people.
Ways to meet people at your new duty station:
- Introduce yourself to neighbors
- Go to base functions
- Ask your spouse to introduce you to friends
- Start your own military spouse group
- Shop on base and talk to new people
- Join a local Facebook spouse group
Even if your spouse isn’t expected to deploy at this duty station, know that sometimes work hours will be longer than intended. Plus, it’s healthy to have relationships outside of your marriage. Your spouse will likely work long hours — even on weekends — and having friends to call on and hang out with keeps you social and active.
4. Locate Base Services & Local Resources
When you relocate to a new area, you have to reinvent your life a bit. As soon as you can, connect with the Household Goods and Transportation Offices to get information about the local area.
Here’s a short checklist of services to connect with:
- Base transportation office
- Household Goods Office
- Cable/internet provider
- Local schools
- Utilities provider
- Medical services
You’ll need to figure out which neighborhoods to avoid, the best places to eat, and who the best area doctors are. Not to mention the daily stuff like grocery shopping, spouse support groups, area schools, and more. Long before you move, do yourself a favor and join the base’s social media pages, along with local area pages like the local chamber of commerce. This will help you feel connected to the area before you even arrive.
5. Explore Your Local Gems
Even if your new duty station wasn’t number one on your list, try to make the best of it. Each area has its own unique attractions, historic sites, and area culture to explore. Pull out a map and draw a circle that extends out 100 miles from your new base. Plan to visit every city in that radius.
A few ways to start exploring:
- Book a local Airbnb
- Stroll around your downtown area
- Ask a local for a list of the best places
- Take a historic tour
When you consider all the day trips and exploring you can do, it will make the time fly. You may even find you fall in love with the place you never thought you’d live in.
6. Reconnect With Your Spouse
Moving creates a huge amount of stress, even for the calmest of people. Once the movers have left, and you’ve unpacked the important essentials you need right away, take time to reconnect with your spouse.
A few options to consider:
- Go through old photo albums together
- Set up a date night
- Go into the city for a day
- Plan an upcoming weekend retreat
- Turn on your wedding song and dance
- Set up reservations at a fancy restaurant
This may be on of the most important priorities as you get settled. Set aside some days to do nothing but enjoy the last bit of leave time together before duty calls.
7. Create Your Home Sweet Home
You’ll likely be at your new duty station for at least a few years. Settle in. Unless you plan to go house hunting relatively soon, unpack every single box you own.
To develop that homey feeling:
- Host a dinner to meet neighbors
- Create a personalized wreath for your new front door
- Buy a new bedding set
- Add a fresh coat of paint to the walls
It will feel temporary if you don’t make your place your own soon after arrival. Embrace your new environment and have fun decorating your new home!
Give Yourself Time to Settle
As a military spouse, not everyone can relate to your feelings of being uprooted. That’s why it’s important to connect with fellow military families —— even if it’s only temporary. It’s also okay to take your time in getting settled, meeting new people, and exploring the area.
If you worry about not putting yourself out there, set a date on the calendar. By that date, promise yourself you’ll make an effort to schedule a coffee date, attend a base event, or host a spouse meet-and-greet at your place.
And, of course, enjoy the experience.
Not many people get to travel on the government’s dime. As a military spouse, now you can explore parts of the world you never might have considered visiting otherwise!
What do you plan to do once you’ve settled into your new duty station? Share in the comments below!