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There is nothing like a PCS move to make you suddenly aware of how much stuff you have in your house. Some of it is necessary and needs to go with you to the next house, but often, a lot of it is not essential. The task of cleaning out your home can be daunting, but if you start far in advance of a PCS move and do a little bit at a time, then you will be able to get rid of many unwanted items during your PCS purge.
The more you purge, the lower your moving weight will be. This is important, especially if you are allowing the military movers to pack and move you. Each military family is given a PCS weight limit. This is determined by rank and whether the service member is married. The allowance does not increase for additional children. The more you clean out; you will be less likely to go over your limit.
11 Things to Include in Your PCS Purge
1. Outdoor Children’s Items
It’s time to purge play structures, trampolines, kiddie pools, sandboxes, water tables, large riding toys, bikes, scooters, and anything that they no longer play with. If these items are worn, rusted, or can’t be cleaned out fully, then they will not hold up well in a move. Since most are not designed to be disassembled, it is best to try to sell them to someone local. Save the money to invest in age-appropriate items for your next house.
2. Plants and Garden Items
You can’t transport living plants during a PCS move unless you drive them in your personal vehicle. You can keep flower pots or planters if they are emptied and rinsed of dirt and insect egg sacks. You can try to sell or rehome your potted plants before you move.
3. Grill, Firepit, or Smoker
This depends on the size of the item and its current condition. If you invested a lot of money into a large backyard cooker, then try to take it with you. However, if it is old, rusted, or a basic cheap model, then it is easy to replace or buy used at the next duty station. Sometimes the time you spend cleaning up after moving these items is more costly than replacing them.
Also, be aware of moving restrictions for propane tanks or other hazardous items. You many find it cheaper and easier to simply replace your grill at your next location.
4. Hazardous Materials
Moving companies will not transport anything liquid or flammable, so you have to clean out your garage and research the safe way to dispose of these items locally. Look for paint cans, spray paint, fuel, propane, cleaning supplies, car maintenance fluids, and motor oil. Some military installations have an area to “donate” these leftovers for incoming families so check in with your local installation.
5. Damaged Furniture
We have lots of furniture that we got from thrift stores or local yard sales. It has been used and worn for years. Some pieces will survive a PCS move. Other things already have a weak leg, a cracked drawer, or a broken slat. These pieces are best disposed of before your move so they aren’t taking up space and weight in your shipment. You may find it is easy to replace these items at your next duty station.
6. Baby Items
Even if you’re planning to have more children, it’s ok to let go of baby items during your PCS purge if your child no longer needs them. Bulky items like a bouncer, high chair, Pack and Play, or stroller can be easily replaced by searching the next base yard sale pages. Of course, it’s OK to keep sentimental items. But try to keep those to a minimum.
7. Toys, Games, and Books
If you have kids, you can use the PCS purge to get rid of some of their toys! Throw away anything broken or with missing pieces. Give away or donate anything they no longer play with or that takes up too much space. Use the same process when going through bookshelves and closets. Not only will you lighten your load you can usually sell or donate to other families who would happily accept your used items.
8. Clothes and Shoes
Almost everyone has extra clothes they no longer wear that are just taking up space in a closet or garage. Get rid of anything your children have outgrown or haven’t worn in the last year or so. You can always find second-hand clothing at the base Thrift Store. In your own closet, take everything out and think about the last time you wore it. Do you even like it anymore? Will it be functional at your next duty station? Donate seasonal clothing that won’t be needed in your future climate. But don’t forget that military uniforms do not count towards your weight allowance so keep those items separate!
9. Dishes and Kitchen Items
You probably have some mismatched dishes, souvenir cups, and extra kitchen items that you rarely use. If you haven’t used it in the past year, you probably don’t need to own it. Sell or donate any items that are still in good condition. Although you are entitled to submit a claim if these items are damaged you don’t usually get the full replacement value, so selling the set could be a better plan.
Depending on where you will live next, you may not need to take a washer, dryer, or microwave. Research your future housing so you only pack the large appliances you will need. Otherwise, sell them. Storing these types of items is not recommended by many manufacturers.
11. Old Electronics
Are you still holding onto an old broken laptop? Or an extra printer? Maybe you kept your PS3 after upgrading to a PS4. If you have electronics that are no longer usable, destroy the hard drive and then recycle them. If they still work but you don’t need them, then sell or donate.
Preparing for a PCS move can be a long and frustrating process. The sooner you begin your PCS purge, the less you will pay the movers to pack. And, with all the money you make from a yard sale, you can buy new things for your next home!