Collaborative Post

The Hidden Costs of PCS moves

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By Sanjay Kumar


When preparing for a PCS move, a lot of things should be taken into consideration. It can make anyone frantic when the bills have started to pile up. Unfortunately, even if you will be reimbursed, later on, some expenses are not tax-deductible and won’t be covered by the military.

During PCS moves, transporting your belongings from one place to another like shipping car to Hawaii can have hidden costs. Here are some ways to track your budget. 

To manage your finances, make a checklist when you’re preparing for the move. Here are some of the things you should keep track of.

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(Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash)
  • Housing prices

You might spend some time in temporary housing when you reach your new duty station. Although the costs are reimbursed by the military, you will still need cash at hand to cover the upfront costs. 

If you’re planning to buy or rent a house, expect the prices to be higher than in other states, especially in Hawaii. The prices may also vary depending on which island you’re on. 

  • Insurance Fees

Another thing you should take into account is your insurance fees. Since you’ll be having a new ZIP code, the costs for car insurance will vary. Make sure to keep in touch with your insurance company for quotes and clarifications. 

For other types of insurance, you will need to undergo a waiting period if you’re planning to apply for a new one. Some companies may require you to be a resident for 6 to 12 months before becoming eligible. 

  • Vehicular rates

We’ve mentioned that car insurance may vary per region. Another aspect you should look into is whether you should rent a car in your new moving station or bring it with you. 

If you’re planning to sell your current vehicle and buy a new one from the local area, you might end up making more expenses. While you’re looking for a new car, you may need to rent one to help you get around the area. Selling and buying can take up a lot of your budget and time. You’ll need to handle some paperwork, taxes, and even other fees. 

If you would like to keep using your current vehicle, shipping it to your new duty area might be cheaper. Whether it’s shipping car from Hawaii to the mainland or vice-versa, not much paperwork is needed compared to buying a new one but you will need to register it to your new location. Depending on your car’s condition, it may need some upkeep and repairs so there’s less risk of being damaged during the trip. 

  • Replacement costs

Some items from your old house should either be donated or thrown. Things like used sponges, old shower curtains, and even bath mats should just be thrown out. As for appliances, it’s on a case-to-case basis. If you’re on a tight budget and there’s room for shipping, maybe it’s best to hold on to those items.

  • Billing and utilities expenses

Since you’re new to the area, you’ll be needing to set up a new account for utilities and other services like cable and internet subscriptions. 

Some services require a deposit fee or an installation fee. Others call it their ‘activation’ fee. 

These additional expenses can take a toll on your budget. If you can, always opt to transfer accounts rather than canceling and setting up a new one. 

  • Food and Clothing costs

Expect to eat out a lot the month during and after your move. Relying on convenience food is more expensive but more accessible and easier during these times. Make sure to prepare extra money for this expense and try to eat homemade meals as much as you can because it’s healthier and cheaper. 

If you’re from a colder area and moving to Hawaii, either donate or sell clothing items such as winter clothing to save up money to buy clothes that work well with the climate. To save up on money, buy used clothes or during sales. 

  • Pet care costs 

If you have a pet, you’ll be spending a lot of money on vet visits and transportation costs. Veterinarian visits are important to strengthen your pet’s immunity so they can thrive in their new environment. 

During the move, you may need to find a kennel or pet daycare for your pet. Some movers can take up to 3 days just to pack and load your things. Since there will be a lot of movement around the house, making sure your pet is safe is a top priority. 

Relocating your pet can be expensive too. If it’s too much for your budget, you can ask someone to take care of them until you can have it fixed.

  • Child care costs

There are added challenges and expenses when moving with children. Apart from food, you will need to buy anything that will help to keep them entertained and comfortable during the move. It’s best to buy these things at least two weeks before the big day. 

You can also opt to hire a babysitter when your things are being packed and loaded. This helps you focus on what the movers are doing and it can help you gauge if they need some directions.

PCS moves can be expensive especially if you take into consideration the hidden costs from things like housing, insurance, and even vehicular costs. 

Before the move, make sure to make an itinerary so you can oversee the budget and manage your expenses. The bigger the item, the bigger the cost which is true when you’re moving your car. Make sure to ask for the requirements first so you won’t have any problems.