For many families, PCS season has come and gone, but for those preparing for a winter change of station, PCS season hasn’t even begun.
With the potential for snow, ice, and frigid temperatures, a winter PCS can seem more daunting than mere mention of the words “polar vortex”. Don’t panic—while there are disadvantages to moving long distance during the winter months, there are also some advantages you can look forward to:
● The real estate market is slower—houses are typically priced lower during the winter, and you might be able to get into your house quicker
● Unless there are weather complications, your stuff might get delivered sooner
● If you’re doing a PPM, your movers might be cheaper in the off-season, and there will be less competition for moving dates
● Hotels and accommodations along the way will be less crowded (unless you’re moving around the holiday season)
● Weather delays and road closures are more likely
● If you are doing a PPM, winter weather can complicate loading and unloading your stuff
● If you have kids, they’ll have to transfer schools mid-year
● The holiday season can cause delays thanks to shorter office hours, accommodations along the way may cost more, and your holiday celebrations may be put on hold while you pack up and settle in
A winter PCS may not be ideal, but there are many things you can do to make the process easier for you and your family. Here are 12 ways to make your winter PCS as stress-free as possible:
- Prepare for winter weather
There’s nothing you can do to stop an oncoming blizzard, but there are steps you can take to prepare yourself for inclement winter weather:
- Keep an eye on the forecast in the days leading up to your move so you can make alternative plans if necessary.
- Make sure sidewalks and loading areas are safe and free of ice.
- If you’re driving to your next duty station, plan for your trip to take longer than you expect in case you need to wait for roads to be cleared, and to account for potential road closures.
You should also pack an emergency kit in case you get stuck in the snow or break down along the way. Your emergency kit should contain:
- Ice scraper
- Jumper cable
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Road salt
- Sand or kitty litter for traction
- First aid kit
- Pack with winter in mind
If you’re moving from somewhere warm to somewhere cold (or vice versa), keep the change in temperature in mind while you pack. Make sure your seasonally appropriate clothing is easily accessible (especially if you’re moving from warm to cold) so you can layer up as the mercury drops.
|PACKING TIP: Pack your bulky winter gear in space saving bags, especially if they aren’t needed at your departing duty station and you’ll need them along the way.|
Some of your belongings may also be impacted by adverse weather. Most moving trucks are not climate controlled, and some of your items might require special packing considerations to keep them safe in cold temperatures, such as:
- Fine china
- Glass frames and mirrors
- TVs and other electronics
Consider double-wrapping these items in blankets and moving them out of your house last to minimize their exposure to the cold. Especially fragile items should be moved in your personal vehicle.
- Keep your home clean and safe
Shovel and salt your driveway and all walkways before your movers arrive. You may also want to keep back and side doors clear, in case a piece of furniture can’t fit through your front door. If you can, try to clear the driveway and walkways at your new home before your movers arrive as well.
You should also lay down protective mats or plastic on your floor so wet boots don’t drag in snow and leave stains you can’t remove, and to minimize your clean up later.
- Winterize your vehicle
Before you depart, have your car serviced by a mechanic you trust to make sure everything is running properly and confirm whether your car can handle winter weather. Your mechanic should:
- Change your oil
- Test your battery
- Check your wiper blades and fluid
- Take a look at your tires and tire pressure. Will you need winter tires?
- Check and refill anti-freeze
- Create a cold survival kit
Changing climates, cramming everyone into a packed car, and staying in hotels can all increase the risk of a winter cold. Prepare a cold survival kit, including tissues, cough drops, Tylenol, and any other medications your family prefers, and keep it handy in your vehicle in case someone gets the sniffles on your trip.
- Consider shipping some items in advance
If your move is hindered by a winter storm, your Household Goods may take longer to arrive than you expect. Shipping some of your essentials in advance ensures that your most-needed items will be there waiting for you when you arrive, which will make it much easier to settle in.
- Cancel utilities
If you are responsible for canceling your utilities, cancel them for the day after you move out to make sure you don’t lose heat or light while you’re packing up. Likewise, set up your new utilities for a day or two before you intend to arrive at your new place.
- Don’t be afraid to take breaks
Making some time for the activities you enjoy will help manage your stress, leaving you better able to be productive when you do get back to work. If you’re feeling especially anxious, tired, or overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to take a break.
- Make a backup plan
Creating a contingency plan for common winter moving problems, such as inclement weather, can help manage your moving stress. At the very least, account for a longer-than-anticipated hotel stay in your moving budget, and assume your household goods will arrive late. When you’re packing everything up, keep essentials handy and transport these items in your personal vehicle.
- Don’t forget about the holidays
If you’re moving around the holiday season, try to keep some decorations handy so you can decorate when you arrive at your new home. Adding a little festive cheer to your new digs can help you settle in, especially if you have kids. It can also add a little fun back into a stressful time and help you remember what’s important in your life.
|HOLIDAY HACK: Visit Santa before you depart—that way, your kids can tell Santa where to deliver their presents.|
- Settle in to your new neighborhood
When you find out where your next duty station is, start doing some research into your new community and try to connect with milspouses who have lived there, or who currently live there.
|MAKING CONNECTIONS: Winter weather may keep potential connections indoors. Meeting people online is a great way to make new friends without having to brave the snow.|
Getting to know your new locale can help you feel more excited about the move, and it can also give you an idea of what activities are available for your kids.
- Get your kids back to normal
Getting your kids back into their normal routine as quickly as possible can go a long way to helping them settle in and make new friends. If they play sports, take music lessons, or participate in any other activities, sign them up for something similar in your new town so they can jump right back into the things they love. They may not like it, but you may also want to put your kids in school as soon as you can, even if it’s just for a few days or a week before the holiday break.
If your PCS orders fall in the winter, don’t panic! There are a number of things you can do to make your PCS less stressful, including:
- Planning for winter weather
- Packing your stuff with colder temperatures in mind
- Taking steps to keep your house as clean as possible throughout your move
- Winterizing your vehicle
- Decorating for the holidays
- Getting to know your new neighborhood
Shipping some of your stuff ahead of your Household Goods or PPM move so you know your essentials will be there when you arrive can also help keep your stress low. With our extensive network of long distance movers and shippers, TSI can help you get your belongings to your new duty station, no matter what you want to ship.
About the author
Rachel Hazzard is the Content Solutions Manager for TSI, a seven-time honoree on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. After years in the industry, she’s an expert on packing, organizing, and downsizing. When she’s not working, you’ll likely find her eating out or hanging with her cat Nilla.