Things to Consider when PCSing Overseas


1. Save, save, save

Moving anywhere–especially overseas–requires a lot of upfront money (the military will reimburse you a couple months after you move though). You have to put a deposit on a house, buy a car, pay taxes for things like your TV (yes that is a thing, I will write about it later) and pay for many other little things that come with moving. Talk to your sponsor, someone at Airman and Family Readiness Center (AFRC), or a financial advisor to help you figure out how much you might need for your family. After you figure that out, there are some ways to save a little extra during moving time.

  • Sell Things-This is especially true if you’re moving to an overseas location which has less storage space than an American house. You can have a traditional yard sale or you can take pictures and post them on community selling groups such a Craigslist or a local Facebook group. There may also be a consignment shop that will sell the items for you and give you a portion of the money. Note that you will want to do this at least a couple months before you leave so you can ship your possessions ahead of you. Shipping time can take up to 3 months to get to you.
  • Cut Grocery Spending-You will want to try to use up as much of the food you have so you don’t have to throw it away. At this time you be spending less because you’re going to try to stretch out that ketchup bottle until you leave. Of course, you will still buy milk and bread until the week before you leave but with these types of items you can try to catch them on sale. Grab the weekly store ad from your grocery store or look it up online. You can build your weekly menus around that. If you want to take it a step further, use coupons for the items you’re going to buy. Notice I said if you’re planning on buying it. If you use a coupon on something you know you’ll probably never use, you’re spending money you wouldn’t have otherwise. I will post some tools I’ve used in the past to help you get started with couponing.
  • Save Automatically-Look at your budget(or have one of the several resources available to you help create a budget) and see how much you can truly save. Whatever that amount is, start a direct depot to some kind of savings account for that amount either monthly or bi-monthly. This allows your money to grow in a place you don’t look at all the time.
  • Cash in your loose change-You can either roll the coins up and take it to the bank for paper currency or use a coin machine like Coinstar for a fee. This will give you extra cash for your move and reduce your weight your carrying to the new country.

2. You will have to throw away a lot!

This is kind of the opposite of saving money but you will probably have to give/throw away a lot of food and cleaning supplies at your old base. You cannot and don’t want to pack liquids or opened food. For the exhaustive list check my Preparing for the Movers (Please Don’t Break my Stuff) With that you’ll have to spend a couple hundred dollars to set up your new home.

3. Not everything will fit in your new house

Curtains and storage containers will probably not fit. I remember when we were in Japan none of our American sized plates fit in our cabinets. This is when you find a local place where you can get things to fit your house at affordable prices. Usually, every country has some kind of dollar store. In Japan, it’s the 100 Yen Store and for the UK it’s Poundland. There also other affordable places to get items like microwaves and adaptors such as Wilko or B & M in the UK. There is also the BX, PX or NEX but the prices may not be comparable even with the exchange rate. Also, you may not find the item you need or want. You can, however, request the item. They usually ship from the states and try to anticipate customer needs for all of Europe or Asia. So if I buy an appliance from my BX, I have to get an adapter because everything is coming from Germany.

4. Voltage vs Hertz

Power in the rest of the world is different than in America. America has 110 volts and 60-hertz. This is something you need to be aware of before coming overseas. American appliances and devices require a 60-hertz power cycle to work properly. This includes alarm clocks, vacuums, anything with an electric motor running on 60 Hz, and other sensitive electronic devices. A voltage converter will not change the hertz cycle to make them work. It’s always best to look at the power requirements for each device either through the owners manual or Underwriters Laboratories (UL) information on the device.

Below are a few examples:

This is an example of an appliance that would be fine if you hooked it up to a converter box because it can run at 50 or 60 Hz.

This appliance won’t run at it’s best if you run it through the converter. It wouldn’t last very long, and sometimes it won’t work at all.

This device doesn’t need to be plugged into a converter box because it’s dual voltage. As you can see it can go from 100 volts to 240 volts.

5. Babies and Fur Babies

Hype up where you’re going even if you don’t want to go. There are some assignments that are looked down upon that people don’t want to go. Mountain Home is one of these places for the Air Force. However, you still have to go and the way I look at it anything can be fun for a few years. This is how I took our orders to Mountain Home. My husband told me where we were going and I paused for a second to think of something positive that could come out of the assignment. I said “That means we can get chickens! “And I did end up getting chickens.

I made it to where I talk up the good points about the place we were going because there are always good points. I mentioned we would see snow, there were more places to dirt bike and my daughter could paint mountain scenery. This made it to where everyone was excited to go. Going overseas is usually exciting enough on its own so the good points are usually clear to see. The biggest point being the ability to travel easier and have new experiences. Involve your child by asking them where they want to go or what they want to experience. For us, this was hitting all the European zoos with pandas and all the places in Harry Potter.

Also, look up what could be challenges for your child and have an idea of what your workaround will be for that. My son is very much into American football but they only have flag football here so I suggested rugby. Also, I made sure they took vitamin D because England can be dark most of the winter.

As far as the fur babies go consider if your pets come with you? Some assignments are limited weight so they may not want you to bring a large dog. Also, some breeds are restricted if you end up having to live on base. Know the procedure for bringing them into the country your PCSing to. They may have to be quarantined for some time especially if the immunizations are not up to date. You may also want to consider getting <a href="http://Embrace Pet Insurance“>pet insurance that can cover part of any medical expenses you might have to get your pet to the new country.

A few last points are:

  • Let them say goodbye to friends and go to their favorite places one last time.
  • Hand carry school records
  • Make sure immunizations are up to date including the flu shot. Same with the fur babies.

6. Packing

Think about what you’ll really need to bring in your luggage, Household Goods (HHG), and what you can wait on. Consider what season are you in and what season will you go into. Sometimes it is unavoidable and you will have to purchase more clothes for that climate. When we were driving from Florida to Idaho in late April it was STILL cold and snowy. I had no jacket from Florida that would suffice for that weather. It was really difficult but I did find a winter jacket on clearance because the wintery people were buying swimsuits for the summer that wasn’t really in sight. Also, consider if there will be a change of season so you can pack for both. You can use some of your summer tank tops under long sleeves shirts to layer and keep you warmer. Cardigans and leggings can transition summer shirts, dresses and skirts to fall weather.

Photo by Matan Segev on Pexels.com

Going overseas means you will usually be supplied with most large appliances such as a washer,dryer,fridge and stove. You can sell these and get new ones when you get back or have the government store them. Find out more by reading Preparing for the Movers (Please Don’t Break my Stuff)

7. Cars

Do you really want to bring your brand new Ford F-150 truck to a country that has smaller roads? Most countries you go to will have narrow roads and small parking spots. Sometimes it’s hard to park my Ford Fiesta in UK and it’s considered a small car in the US. If you’re coming to the UK, many roads have potholes and are very bumpy, so there is that to consider. It is true you won’t have to buy a car while you’re at your overseas location but your bigger vehicle will most likely have to be taxed and insured in the host country and you’ll have to pay a premium because it is larger.

If it is a smaller vehicle you might consider bringing it. You’ll have to get used to driving on the other side of the road possibly but you’ll get used to it. I actually prefer my left hand drive car because I know exactly how close I am to the edge of the road since I can see it from my side. If you decide on not bring your vehicle you can buy a fairly cheap and reliable car for about $1,000. It is only for a couple years that you’ll need it.

Also, consider selling your car rather than storing it. Letting a car sit for years without driving it regularly can damage parts of the car. So when you get back it may not drive the same and you may have to replace different items on the car.

8. Career/Education

Always bring an outfit you can wear to an interview. The first night we got to our new base I met a person by chance who told me about an opening at her company while we were at dinner. I interviewed a few days later but I had to search around for a suit since I didn’t pack one. So you never know when you could have a job opportunity. If you want to know the job opportunities available please read Types of Jobs Available to Military Spouses (On and Off Base).

Bring any resume and other career/education paperwork. I usually carry a binder with all of my degrees, certifications, letters of recommendation, and my most up to date resume.

Will your certifications transfer over? Maybe you can further your education or volunteer to gain more experience? You can also try a new field you’ve always wondered about. This time is your oyster, find the pearl.

9. Contacting Family

Setup Skype/FaceTime, etc. with family before you leave. Especially those who are less tech savvy such as grandparents. It is so much easier now to stay connected with family and friends stateside than ever. You will most likely have an international number making it hard for people to reach you without selling their first born.

10. Culture Shock

Things will be different. Accept it and know you’ll find something to love about that culture even if you miss the states. Do something authentic to that culture. Have tea in London or do the ceremonial tea in Japan. Just kidding, there is more to do than tea. Find out what is unique to your area and go explore it. You can also learn Tips on Living in the UK here. You may not agree with how things are done but always be respectful. Many Americans never leave the states so savor the opportunity even if it shows you how great we have it in America.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s