If you’ve followed this blog for some time, you know that this past move from South Korea to Alaska wasn’t our first PCS (military move) by a long shot. Since Ryan and I were married in 2014, we’ve lived in Arizona, New York, Washington, South Korea and, now, Alaska together. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been a great adventure – for the most part. Inevitably, PCSing comes with unique challenges each time, and we’ve found that facing those challenges head-on is what usually helps us through. We’re sharing the best and worst parts of PCSing and how we deal with those challenges as a family.
What PCSing is Like with Kids
When we moved from Fort Huachuca, Arizona to Fort Drum, New York, Spencer was an infant. Sure, moving with a baby that young came with challenges, but when I tell you that moving with older kiddos is harder, I wholeheartedly mean it. In fact, this past PCS was probably our most challenging move yet. The kids are finally at an age where they’ve made friends whom they remember and they actually miss. They miss those friends and that consistency and, though military kids are resilient, that doesn’t take away from the hardship of closing the page on a chapter.
Spencer has really struggled missing his friends in Korea, and I think that that blow is only softened lightly knowing that those same friends move fairly soon, too. They’re not just missing out…because everyone is sort of missing out. Mieke loves being home all day with us, but I think that she, too, misses her South Korean preschool. Porter has rolled with it for the most part, but he misses his friends, as well, and seeing that definitely hurts my heart.
The Best Parts of PCSing with the Army
If you ask Ryan, you’ll be hard-pressed to get him to say anything good about PCSing with the Army and, to be fair, perhaps we need to be further removed from this past PCS for him to share his real thoughts. There are cool parts of PCSing with the Army though, and I asked each of the kids to share their favorite of moving with the military. Here’s what they said:
- Spencer: “We get to see cool new places and meet new friends every time.”
- Porter: “We get to explore new things that a lot of people don’t get to see.”
- Mieke: “I like the new playgrounds.”
Yes, their responses are just about exactly what I expected from them. But they’re right. We do get to see new places and explore new things. Here are some of the best parts of PCSing with the Army according to us:
- We get to move around the country – and the world – on the government’s dime, but don’t confuse this with “the Army pays for everything.” (I’ll explain more later.)
- We meet new people and see new places
- If you hated your last house, here’s a chance to start fresh!
- You literally get to purge your home every few years, which usually prevents the extra clutter so many families are faced with.
- Your new area often has new amenities, some of which you may have missed for years prior.
The Worst Parts of PCSing with the Army
If you’re new here, you likely know that this last PCS was a massive headache. When we moved to South Korea, we were still in the latter days of the pandemic, and we had some unique challenges then, too. Remember the two-week quarantine in the barracks? This was massively different, but we had new challenges we’ve never faced before, too. Here are some of the worst parts of PCSing with the Army:
- The Army pays for you to move, but they don’t care much beyond that. Is your flight inconvenient? Too bad. You need to pay exorbitant fees to ship your pets? That sucks. They literally contract with some of the worst movers, and your stuff often arrives irreparably damaged or destroyed. We just got our Peloton fixed.
- If you’re not doing a full DITY (do it yourself move) stateside, you’re on their time. We lived without our stuff for four months when we moved to Korea. This time, they quoted us another four months, but our HHG arrived sooner. Our UAB – you know, the stuff you need first? Nope…it arrived the same day as our HHG, which defeats the purpose of unaccompanied baggage.
- You leave your comfort zone.
- Friends are inevitably in a different PCS cycle, which means you leave them behind as they wait or head off to their next station.
- You have to learn directions to all the new amenities at your new station. Oh, and road names. You have to learn road names…or not, if you’re in a foreign country.
- Starting over costs money. It’s never as simple simply moving into a new home. There are costs far above and beyond the Army moving your stuff. For example, we couldn’t take any of our foods, spices, oils, and cleaning supplies back overseas. Starting over means starting anew…financially, too.
Ultimately, every move comes with its unique challenges. We’re absolutely loving Alaska, but we’d be lying if we didn’t say we missed South Korea. Each duty station offers us an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and our family though. We learn to thrive with unique stressors and pressures. And, in the end, I think it makes us all stronger for it.
Have you ever moved? What were the hardest parts for you?