Moving is difficult, especially when it involves starting a new job, uprooting family, and going to a new location. The stress and difficulty increase when required to move to another country. According to the Base Structure Report of 2019, this is a common occurrence for over 200,000 military families who must experience a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) overseas. Even with mandatory briefings, it is possible to miss valuable information prior to the move. Yet, with some preplanning, the move can be made just a tad easier. Here are 3 things to know before PCSing to Japan.

1. Get copies of ALL personal documents.

It is a complete shock to many, as they learn the lack of communication between the different military branches. As a result, several essential records can get lost in the transition. Social security cards, passports, copies of orders, and school transcripts are necessary forms that must be safeguarded and brought along with you. Once you receive your order, make multiple copies, and request duplicates of your family’s important paperwork to hand carry to the new duty location.

2. Plan moving pets at least 6 months in advance, if possible.

Many overseas locations require a number of testing for a pet, and it can be frustrating to discover that the cost to move the family pet comes directly out of the pocket of the military member. Families report spending thousands of dollars. Being aware of the requirements in advance can cut those costs drastically. MCCS Okinawa provides a handy brochure with numerous hints and tips to safely get your furry family member to your new home. There is no guarantee that you will receive notification six months or more in advance. Nevertheless, it is prudent to keep your animal up-to-date on all vaccinations and microchip it as a safety precaution.

3. The experience is what a person makes of it.

Just like in life, the situation of being stationed overseas is whatever anyone makes of it. Some have expressed contempt, citing memories of missing events in the states. Nevertheless, people can enjoy their duty station if they shift their focus. Take the time to explore the island and learn little cultural facts. Being here is all that people make of it.

Being stationed overseas is a unique opportunity, potentially filled with unique experiences not offered to everyone. A tremendous amount of preparation is required, but there will be many rewards over the next few years.

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