You hear its rumble before you see its nose taking the corner. The trembling truck awkwardly pulls to the curb, and your heart instantaneously drops to your coffee coated stomach. You look around, memorizing as much as you can before they pack your last three or so years into boxes. You tell the movers about the snacks and drinks on the island; when they’re done, you’ll probably have a bagged dinner from your seat on a sliver of floor that’s not overtaken by towering boxes. In a few days, they’ll haul your goods to the next duty station as you prepare for your new home and community.
As I’m writing this, we’re almost exactly one month from packing out.
I’m anticipating the sea of packing paper that will flow from room to room and the “red carpet” they’ll roll out to collect everyone’s footprints. But the biggest part of this PCS that I’m anticipating is the helplessness we’ll experience before settling down again.
For the first time in our PCS history, the moving truck will pull away without us having a forwarding address.
I recently wrote a story about PCS’ing during a nationwide housing shortage. We were under the assumption that we’d quickly find a home to purchase a couple towns over from the base. Our knees buckled when we learned how much the housing market had changed since the last time we were there. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement.
So what did we do?
We put ourselves on the base housing inactive wait list.
That sentence needs to stand alone because I’m still slightly surprised we’re traveling that route. We’ve never considered base housing, and I see how it seems an unlikely option for a family with a service member nearing the end of his career.
But we’re done with competing in a seller’s market with homes that are selling significantly over their listing prices.
We’re tired of competing in a market where homes are quickly purchased by vacation rental companies.
We’re tired of refreshing the search bar for rental homes that just aren’t there.
We don’t want to refinance our other property or get preapproved for a different loan when this is realistically the last duty station before retirement. Sure, it absolutely could be done, but we don’t feel led to do so.
For the first time in my PCS history, I do not know what to expect after the moving truck pulls away.
This will be our first time staying in both a hotel and furnished apartment of sorts while we wait for a home to become vacant. As much as I long for a homestead of my own- a place where my kids can freely parade through the backyard and my coffee bar finding a new wall – I want to look ahead at the possibilities at this next duty station.
People grimace and tell us they’re sorry when we tell them where we’re going, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t worry about how we’ll occupy our days when we’re not engaged in schoolwork in our temporary lodgings. But I’m so excited to be going back.
I really believe it’s okay to feel a number of things when you’re approaching a move. It’s never really just one or the other. For us, even though it’s not precisely the area we expected to be, I’m looking forward to replanting our roots in that sweet desert dirt.
With this housing market I think a lot of us may end up somewhere we didn’t exactly hope or expect to be. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from previous PCS’s, it’s this: it will eventually be fine. Things might sting for a little, but we’ll exit the spin cycle of everything that is a PCS with our heads mostly on straight.