When It’s (Not) PCS Time

houses in neighborhood

It’s PCS season!! I am SO excited!

I’ve looked at different school districts and eyed rentals that are just hitting the market. I checked out what unique things a future base has to offer to our family. I’ve done the pre-move purge; it’s so satisfying to toss the stuff that is still sitting in boxes from our last move and we probably (definitely) could have thrown away five years ago. Emotionally, I’ve started detaching from the friendships that I won’t keep up once we leave while thinking of ways to stay in touch with the friends I will miss the most. So now I’m just looking down our street for the moving truck. I’ve seen three on our street in the last two weeks!

The only problem?

We. Aren’t. Moving. Not for at least another two years.

houses in neighborhood and PCS

It’s been five years since we moved to our current base, and the length of this seven-year assignment is weighing heavily on my nomadic heart. “Can you believe we have actually lived in this home long enough that we have to replace the carpet? There’s something wrong with this picture!” we joked as we shelled out big money to re-carpet our home last month.

There’s nothing wrong with where my husband is stationed. He loves his job, we built a house in a neighborhood where my kids have lots of playmates, and the city has lots to offer for young families like us. My older kids really like their schools, and I love the close friendships that we’ve formed. Friends really have become like family.

For many military families, this would be an ideal opportunity to really put down roots and get cozy. In fact, my husband has the option of extending two years once his current assignment is up to put him here for retirement. He keeps subtly tossing the idea out to see if I’ve warmed to it- this could be it for us, this could be home! 

And every time I get a little sick to my stomach as I tell him NO! Not yet, this isn’t it for us yet.

Not only do I not want to retire here, but I also want to move at least twice more if possible. There’s no way I’m ready to put down roots yet, and the fact that we’re closing in on four years until retirement just blows my mind.

When I see friends posting on social media that their family has orders to another new location, I’m absolutely green with envy. How do they keep moving while we stay are still sitting in the same place? The grass is always greener as the saying goes, and maybe if we were moving every 2-3 years I wouldn’t be so excited. I doubt it though. 

I lived in the same city from early childhood until I was 27 years old, and it’s a beautiful place that I wouldn’t mind retiring to someday. I always wanted to know what it would be like to live somewhere else. When we were newlyweds and still living in my hometown, my husband came home from work and told me that his assignment had been cut a year short, we were moving in just over a month for his graduate program for 18 months, and then we were moving again. I think he thought I’d be slightly stressed by the news; I was absolutely elated. It was hard to say goodbye to my parents, but I knew they would visit often and I couldn’t wait to show them around our new home. Almost eleven years since that day, it still thrills me when he tells me he has orders to somewhere new.

woman unpacking from move
Photo by HiveBoxx on Unsplash

I love the opportunity to start fresh. Getting to know a new location is invigorating to me and reminds me just how big this world is, and how lucky we are to get to experience different parts of it.

I never would have guessed that Ohio has some of the dreamiest autumns until we moved here. Germany wasn’t immediately appealing to me, but it snuck in and took a huge chunk of my heart with its village festivals and impeccably kept flower boxes in every window.

The places we’ve lived have given our family some of our unexpected favorite traditions. When I married my husband, I never thought that he would become a skilled pretzel baker so we could continue to enjoy one of our favorite foods from our time in Germany. My kids definitely would have not learned the OH-IO cheer if they weren’t surrounded by it every fall.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard those words, the news of an impending PCS.

The last time we moved we moved back to the place we had left one assignment earlier, already knowing it would be where we would stay for seven years. I hardly think that counts as experiencing a new part of the country, but I’ll take what I can get.

I know not every town where the military has an installation is scenic. If the government can afford to purchase a large area of land to build a base on, then it’s often because it’s somewhere land prices aren’t exactly skyrocketing.

When I start whining about being in Dayton again, my spouse points out that we could be at one of the other less desirable Air Force bases that involve multiple feet of snow every winter or triple-digit temperatures for half of the year. I admit those aren’t my ideal locations, but I’m also certain that the Air Force has quite a bit of land on the water in Florida, California, and Hawaii, not to mention international locations like Guam or the Azores.

His career field narrows the location possibilities by a considerable margin, and what’s left is not all beachfront property. They are places that I would have never written down on my top 10 list of cities I’d like to live in my life.  But then again, they would be new, and there are always possibilities with somewhere new. 

For now, I’ll stop packing boxes (I kid. I’ve never packed a box in my life, no DITY moves for this girl). Wishing to move is certainly not going to get orders any sooner. I can and will cheer on my fellow spouses and families as they go through their PCS.

But when our time finally comes, I can promise you that I will be so ready!


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Katie Nunnally
Katie has been an Air Force spouse for over 12 years, leaving her home town of Colorado Springs to explore exotic locations like Dayton, Ohio, then on to Ramstein, Germany, and then back to Dayton because her husband is a glutton for punishment and decided to get his PhD from the Air Force Institute of Technology. She's mom to four kids including one year old twins who are currently deconstructing everything she thought she knew about life, brick by brick. Her current life doesn't have room for hobbies, but she thinks she used to like meeting friends for dinner, running holiday 5K races, and going to the beach. You can find her at pearls.points.and.parenting on IG talking about mom life, trying to get back into a shape other than round, and laughing at memes.