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Top 5 Tips for a Smooth Permanent Change of Station Transition

Molly Hassenfratz, military wife, full-time professional and expecting mother Summertime – it’s one of the …

Marine Infantry Unit Leader MOS

Molly Hassenfratz, military wife, full-time professional and expecting mother


Summertime – it’s one of the busiest
Permanent Change of Station (PCS)
times of the year. There are plenty of stories and tips to go around on how to
survive, and if your military family has experienced even one PCS I’m sure you’ve experienced some form of the good, the bad and the ugly that it

I’m currently in the midst of my
5th PCS in nine years, but this one is a bit different as I’m
pregnant, my husband is out to sea and I’m still working full-time.  Based on this extra chaotic PCS experience, I
would like to share with you five priorities that I have identified in order to
keep my head above water, my hair attached to my head and my wine fridge from
depleting (ok, well this isn’t too hard since I’m pregnant, but if I wasn’t
this might be different):

1)     Embrace
Organized Chaos:
matter how organized one can be (and many know just how organized I am) when it
comes to PCS-ing, there is always some form of chaos. My advice? Just embrace
it because it’s not going away.  The best thing I’ve learned to do is make
. As you keep crossing to-dos off, more will be added but having a
list will keep it manageable. In fact, make 2 lists – to-dos for your current
location and to-dos for your new location.

Wait, What? You’re Having a Baby
While Moving?!?! Que Sera, Sera
– I’ll be 36 weeks pregnant when we officially make the move from
Connecticut to Virginia.  Not the best
timing especially as I don’t want to deliver a baby on I-95 in the midst of
summer beach traffic. Despite the headaches I’ve been dealing with in switching
medical coverage, I’ve come to the realization that what will be will be. It’ll
work out some way some how. This surely isn’t the first time a military spouse
has moved while pregnant. What I have decided as we get closer to both moving
day and my due date simultaneously, is that I won’t be taking NO for an answer
from my new health providers. I’m not going to settle for, “you need to have an
intake appointment” or “it’ll be three week before we can’t get you in for an
appointment”. “YES, you will,” will be my response because surely no one is
really going to want to deal with a 9-month pregnant lady and her raging
hormones – are they?!

Hello…..Husband?: Have you ever PCS’d or planned one
when your husband is deployed or underway? I’ve done both, and this, of course,
adds additional stress. One key tip for getting through this while on your own
is to have multiple Powers of Attorneys (POA). It’s helpful to have special POA
if you are handling the household goods (HHGs), securing a rental property or
renting your own property for specific financial matters and more. Another tip,
figure out your game plan before your
spouse leaves
. This way, if you aren’t able to be in communication you have
already made key decisions.  Of course,
road bumps may pop up along the way, but if you have an initial plan this will
help guide you. While I have mainly made all the important decisions with this
PCS, Sandboxx has allowed me to share each big step with my husband as easily
as a text message, especially since carving out time to bring a letter to the
post office is just not fathomable at this point!

a Rental 101 – Prioritize:
If you don’t choose to live on base, finding a
rental property that meets all of your needs can be quite challenging. Some of
my favorite sites to search for rentals are and My best advice here is to
PRIORITIZE. Figure out what is the most important and what you can potentially
live without. Remember, it’s a rental, not your life-long dream house. For us,
the biggest priority is location. We don’t want to be too far out, yet not so
close that it doesn’t feel like an escape when my husband comes home. The
second priority is a rental that accepts our pet pony 1-year-old 90 lb.
Bernese Mountain Dog. Having a garage and/or fenced-in backyard rounds out our
top priorities. But beware, rentals can go quickly (as I
have learned in just the past three weeks), so try not to set your heart on any
one in particular. Instead, have a solid list of choices that are all at least
acceptable. Remember to do your research and try to see it in person, as we all
know pictures and descriptions can be deceiving. Finally, be flexible and
prepared to pounce on a property when the opportunity presents itself.

“Dog-Gone” It! When it comes to moving with a pet, DO YOUR RESEARCH.  If you need to fly your animal, check with
the airline to see what the restrictions
and policies are
The size of the animal makes a huge difference when it comes to flying, as some
plane cargo doors aren’t large enough for a dog crate to get through (i.e.: we
had a German Shepherd whose crate was the size of a NYC apartment – he had to
fly out of a major city due to his crate size.) If you anticipate you may be
heading overseas, check out quarantine
advance. Even if you don’t have orders yet but there is a possibility, get the
process started. This will save you time and save you from having to arrange a
place for your pet to stay until they’re able to travel without being
quarantined. Just remember, as hard as a move is on you, it can be just as hard
on your pet who is used to a certain routine.

PCS can be emotionally and
physically draining for any military family, especially with a loved one away
on duty. Sandboxx can keep you connected to your loved ones in times when
family support is most important. Click
here to
learn how to use Sandboxx to send a physical letter with the click of a button
on your iPhone.

Hassenfratz is busy preparing for her upcoming move to Virginia, with her
husband of nine years, Karl, and their Bernese Mountain Dog, Bogart. She also
works remotely in the hospitality industry for a Resort Casino out of Reno, NV.
They have previously been stationed in Annapolis, MD; Charleston, SC; Pearl
Harbor, HI; Monterey, CA; and Groton, CT. They are expecting their first child
this July and excited for all the new adventures that await.  

The editorial team at Sandboxx.