Tips for PCS-ing

Hi everyone! I loved reading your comments to this morning’s “two words” post. Some of them brought tears to my eyes! Thanks for sharing them with us <3

I took a hint from my second choice two words, and dedicated 30 minutes of Livi’s afternoon nap for my own little snooze. I feel refreshed and ready to shake my chips and salsa at Zumba tonight πŸ˜‰

In my notebook of blog post ideas, quite a few of you had asked for tips for moving to a new place. (Looking back, I realized I wrote a post about it, before we found out we’d be moving to Tucson!) I’ve kind of been blowing the topic off, even though we all know it’s on my mind, but I realized that it’s sneaking up on us. Β Maybe we should find a place to live? (The base waiting list is 23 months.)

La jolla  1 of 1 6

In one of my first steps to our new place, I had a call this morning about yoga teacher training! It’s an option that I’m interested in exploring, and the call made me SO excited to get to know the San Diego yoga community. Some of my closest friends practice yoga with me here in Tucson.


Here are some of the things I like to do when we PCS (permanent change of station):

(we’ve been to Pope AFB in Fayetteville, Moody in Valdosta, and Davis-Monthan in Tucson)

1) Start to explore your community. In the past, we’ve been fortunate to have a built-in network on friends within our squadron. We always seem to see each other again, as the A-10 community is fairly small, but that won’t be the case with our next station. The Pilot will be doing liaison work with the Navy, so no fighter squadron. Instead, I’m excited to see what events they offer on base, and also get a taste of the Navy culture. It’s going to be an entirely new experience, and I’m looking forward to it.Β 

2) Connect. I’ve reached out to a couple of friends in San Diego, and can’t wait to plan some girls’ nights and play dates with the kiddos. My main spots to meet new people are at work, and at the gyms and classes I attend. It’s an easy way to find people with similar interests πŸ™‚ We have some close friends in Tucson that we randomly met at the Children’s Museum! Striking up conversation can be awkward at first, but could end in a great friendship.Β 

3) Drive around. This is best way to discover new shopping options, restaurants and activities. I like to get lost in our new place and make mental notes of areas and spots I’d like to check out.

4) Give it time. There’s always an adjustment period, especially after the boxes are unpacked and you start to settle in. Enjoy the new surroundings and atmosphere. Get outside, and be patient as you become more comfortable.Β 


As far as moving itself goes, that’s an entirely different beast. When you do military moves, you have the option of having movers come do it all for you, or you can move it yourself. We always opt for the latter since we’ve heard of pieces being lost or broken in the moving process. Also, the military pays you back for your efforts and we don’t mind packing and moving. I wish I had some good tips, but last time, we packed everything into a POD and were literally throwing things in at the last minute.Β 


Do you have any tips for getting used to a new place? What about packing??Β 

We try to clearly label each box (office, bedroom, etc), and also the things we’ll need more immediately. I’m pretty sure in every military household there are the 2-3 boxes that NEVER get unpacked, no matter where you go. πŸ˜‰



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  1. Kelly on January 22, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I’ve been to San Diego several times and LOVE it there. The last time I was there I was sooo surprised at how cheap the wine was, but then again, it’s Cali! You are moving to the state the produces WINE! Score! Also, the land of Trader Joes! Score!
    I am no good at moving. I always just try to start early with stuff I can and get my lists going. That way, I don’t feel as crazy as I would otherwise. You seem much more organized than I am.

  2. summer on January 22, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Good luck on your big move Gina!!! We just moved back to San Diego after 12 years of the air force thing. It’s so nice to be back in this amazing city and I hope you all truly enjoy it!

  3. Jana @ Bananas for Balance on January 22, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Hi Gina! I’ve been reading for years and don’t think I’ve said hello yet so it’s about time πŸ™‚ I live in Boston and am part of November Project, a free grassroots fitness group that has chapters all over the country, including San Diego! It would be an awesome way to meet new people so I had to share. Email me if you want any more details & excited to hear about your move!

  4. Brittany @ Barr & Table on January 22, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    I just did a cross-country move and one big thing I highly suggest for packing is to number every box and keep track in a notebook of everything in each box. When the movers brought all of the boxes in, I was able to cross off each box that I had and as I was unpacking, I could see what was where.. like my bed sheets that I wanted right away!

    • Lindsey on January 22, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      This is perhaps the simplest, but most brilliant moving idea I’ve ever heard of. Totally having one of those “why didn’t I think of that!” moments.

    • mountain girl heidi on January 22, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      I second this. My mom did it when we moved around several times when I was a kid, and she helped my husband and I moved down the road. It’s super helpful, because I can kind of sort through the boxes, and pick and choose which ones I want first.

    • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      this is GENIUS πŸ™‚

  5. Alexis Caldwell on January 22, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Our experience with TMO was great. They packed everything with an insane amount of packing paper and nothing got broken. We had a nine month old when we used TMO and it was great. We did a dity move with a 1.5 year old and it was a nightmare! You still get paid for moving expenses and hardship pay when you use TMO as well. We came out making $2500 to move from Lejeune, NC to Parris Island, SC.

    • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      good to know!! yeah i’m wondering how all of the packing will go with a 2 year old πŸ˜‰

  6. Amber Schumann on January 22, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    You are going to LOVE San Diego! I am so jealous.

    I grew up in the Bay Area (the peninsula of San Francisco, specifically), and San Diego was always on my bucket list of places to live. Mainly, I wanted to go to college there. Didn’t happen, and I always look back on it still wishing I had given it a try. I spent most of my life on a beach just south of SF (Half Moon Bay), and always wished for just a smidge more sun–Rainbow flip flops, jeans and a tank EVERYDAY PLEASE!

    • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      that will be the uniform πŸ™‚

  7. Johanna on January 22, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Hope you have a great move we are military and always have movers pack shop and unpack having 3 kids it’s a lifesaver. They have never broken or list anything and we have moved 5+ times. We normally buy the movers lunch and supply drinks and snacks for a happy atmosphere. A tip I always do it list everything we pack and have one box the kids pack each and have them decorate the outside.
    Happy moving!

    • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      ohhh i love that idea! thank you!

    • Jessica A on January 23, 2014 at 9:44 am

      This is such a great idea!!

  8. Emily on January 22, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    We had the movers do all the work when we moved and thankfully the only damage was a broken picture frame. The main reason we let them do it all was because we were moving from SC to NYC and the last thing we wanted was to try and drive a U-haul in Manhattan! I do wish we could have packed everything ourselves because it weirds me out to have other people do it. One thing we did do ourselves though was a “first night” tote. We got one of the big Rubbermaid totes in red and put things we would need the first night or two: sheets, bath towels, cleaning products, toilet paper, etc. It was fabulous because it stood out from the rest of the boxes and if we were too tired to unpack anything or dig through boxes, we didn’t have to the first night. My husband lived in San Diego early in his USMC career and loved it! I’m sure you will settle in quickly!

    • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      brilliant idea!! we will definitely do that

  9. Crystal on January 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    I’ve moved a lot as a kid and on my own. I always try to get involved with some type of volunteer work or club that interests me–this way I meet people who I will likely get along with!

    My dad was in the USAF, and we moved a lot, of course (Oklahoma, South Korea, North Carolina, Germany, Illinois). I think once kids get older it helps to spend a little extra time with them after the move. Things were usually so hectic, and as a former AF brat, sometimes my sister and I felt lost in the shuffle. My mom and dad would always take us to special places, like the zoo, in our new location. It made it feel more exciting instead of scary and sad (to leave friends behind).

    And YES, move yourself…I’ll never forget the move where my parents had movers and somehow they lost my favorite Little Mermaid backpack. :'(

  10. Julie on January 22, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I recently completed yoga TT. Do it!! Such a great way to meet amazing people and feel a sense of community whether you have been practicing at the studio for weeks or years.

    • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 11:07 pm

      i think i’ll love it! i’m not sure if i have any intention to teach, but it will help to depend my practice and immerse myself if the community

      • Julie on January 23, 2014 at 1:48 am

        Many of us (myself included) had no plans to teach, but I am now assisting classes for fun and I love it. Knowing the proper alignment and cues has improved my home and studio practice immensely.

        Love your blog, excited to follow along for this next chapter!

  11. Sara @ LovingOnTheRun on January 22, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Love this post as we will be moving later this year! It’s an exciting move because hopefully it will be closer to home but still slightly nerve racking!

  12. Megan on January 22, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Just out of curiosity – do you purchase properties or rent? We just refinanced our mortgage and were trying to base our decision on how long we think we will stay in our house. I can imagine that it is so challenging to try to buy and worry about selling. How does that work for military families?

    • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      you can do it either way. usually if a military family buys a house, they plan on coming back eventually or selling it in the future and will rent it out. our friends own 1-5 houses, depending on how many places they’ve been stationed. the house we currently live is in the only one we’ve purchased

      • megan on January 23, 2014 at 1:27 pm

        You did so much work to your house and it looks so beautiful! I hope you will get to go back to Tucson some day!

  13. Alicia @ Treble Tart on January 22, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    My husband and I (and our two dogs) just moved from South Carolina to Alaska a few months ago. In the past, we’ve always moved ourselves, which was not easy or fun at all, but we opted to have the Army move us this time — mostly because we had to go almost 4,000 miles! Honestly, it was so much easier to have them do all the work, because they use a RIDICULOUS amount of packing paper to make sure nothing gets broken (we did have a floor lamp crumble, but it was old and cracked anyway), and they reimburse you if they do break something. Plus, they’re very efficient and thorough — every single item gets a numbered sticker and they have a full checklist with contents of every box.

    You also get paid a substantial amount whether you decide to do a dity move or to let the military move you. They give you travel pay for one vehicle, based on how far you’re going, how many people are traveling, how much food you’ll need, what kind of gas mileage your car gets, and so on. It took us 13 days to get to our new duty station, and we still ended up pocketing about $2000 in the end.

    The one thing we did make sure to do before we left (and that I would highly recommend to anyone who is moving, military or not) was to document every valuable item in its current state before the movers even got there. We went around the house with a newspaper from that day and took pictures of everything (TVs, computers, game consoles, musical instruments, etc). We made sure the date was visible, so we could prove the condition it was in prior to the move, just in case anything got broken. And if there are any truly irreplaceable items that you don’t feel comfortable sending with them, just take them with you in your car instead.

    I would also suggest making sure you get all paperwork done as soon as possible, and if you plan on living on post, get your name on the waiting list as soon as you find out you’re headed there. We were lucky in that we had a house waiting for us when we got to Alaska, but only because we were on the list for about 9 months already.

    Good luck with your upcoming move!! I’ve never been to San Diego, but have heard it’s gorgeous! πŸ™‚

    • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      those are all amazing tips. thank you!!!

    • Jessica A on January 23, 2014 at 9:46 am

      What base are you at in Alaska? That is one of the options for our next duty station that my husband and I are considering, and I would love to hear what your experience has been so far!

  14. Evonne on January 22, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    I absolutely love your PCS tips! We’re a military family and always opt for the movers to pack things up, but I totally see the blessings in the DITY moves.

    As for your move to SD, I have a yoga studio suggestion for you based out of La Jolla called YOGA LUNA. The girl who started it is my sorority sister from college and she helps train paddle board yoga as well – A MUST try! Check out her website and blog and see if it’s a fit!

    • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      whoo hoo! i can’t wait to check it out πŸ™‚ thank you.
      many thanks to you and your family for serving our country <3 xo

  15. Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie on January 22, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Josh and I moved from Pennsylvania to Omaha this summer. We were lucky that a. We just got out if college so we didn’t have much stuff. Also b. We had awesome movers that were great to work with. That said, unpacking was still not fun. It’s the best feeling when you can throw out all those boxes and feel like you’re finally moved in.

    • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      this doesn’t have anything to do with moving, but i’ve been wanting to tell you that you are josh are such a cute couple πŸ™‚

  16. Meagan on January 22, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Good tips Gina! I REALLY like your POD idea… are they 1) easy, 2) expensive? How do you get them transported? Does a POD truck come pick them up? Why a POD vs a moving truck? Options options!! πŸ™‚

    • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 11:00 pm

      they’re SUPER easy, kind of pricey, but i thought it was worth it. we chose the pod route because we wouldn’t have to transport all of our stuff while the pilot was deployed, and we didn’t know where we’d be stationed.

      • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 11:00 pm

        the pod people drop it off at your house, you fill it, and they pick it up! you can either store it for a while or have it sent straight to your destination

        • Meagan on January 22, 2014 at 11:08 pm

          Good to know Gina, thank you! I have a move in my future πŸ˜‰ definitely doesn’t hurt to gather ideas now!

  17. Lizz on January 22, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    I’m in the midst of an overseas PCS right now and my biggest suggestion is to use this opportunity to get rid of old stuff, I donated 5 HUGE bags of clothes and a ton of books. I also went through old paperwork and got around to shredding stuff that I’ve been holding onto for years. These frequent moves are a good way to avoid hoarder tendencies. I would feel terrible spending tax payer money to move clothes that no longer fit or old books that I’ve read and don’t know what to do with.

    • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 10:59 pm

      i love that idea! i always get rid of things throughout the year, but will definitely start streamlining even more to get ready

  18. Livi on January 22, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    I grew up in a military family and it is never easy. this is a great post to help people integrate and make moving less scary!

  19. Dominique @ Eat, Pray, Lift on January 22, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    No big packing/moving/adjusting secrets here. But I do know where to find some of the best fish tacos around San Diego! πŸ˜‰

    • Fitnessista on January 22, 2014 at 11:35 pm

      where is this?!

      • Adrienne on January 23, 2014 at 10:08 pm

        South Beach Bar and Grille in Ocean Beach! πŸ˜‰

        Or Blue Water Seafood Market and Grill!

        (Past San Diego resident here that had to butt in!)

        • Fitnessista on January 24, 2014 at 10:57 am

          awesome- thank you!!

  20. Dominique @ Eat, Pray, Lift on January 22, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Kotija Jr. in Leucadia! It’s a hole in the wall…so fun. Hit up Shake Shack too, I bet the pilot would love it!

  21. Shaina Anderson on January 23, 2014 at 12:23 am

    OMG….get the movers haha. I can’t imagine packing a whole house with Tripp running around. I grew up with my Dad in the Navy, and then did my own Navy moves, followed by a couple with Patrick. Movers. Every. Time. I never had anything broken and it alleviates so much stress. We packed up all our immediate necessities and whatever else fit in our 4runner and you get paid based on the weight that you’re moving yourself (in addition to gas, tolls, per diem, etc). The movers literally come in one day, pack your ENTIRE house and then its gone, just like that. You can use everything right up until the second they get there. I hate that whole trying to figure out what you’ll need at the last minute game and packing around that.

    Good luck with the house hunting! πŸ™‚

  22. Lucy on January 23, 2014 at 1:35 am

    I’m not a military wife, but we have moved around a lot and it can be tough. Four years ago we had to pack up our lives in Europe to move to CA in as few boxes as possible. With a cat in tow also.
    In hindsight though – it’s a great way to declutter πŸ™‚ we got down to 7 boxes and 2 cases πŸ™‚

    San Diego is beautiful, you guys will love it there! And if you ever wander up to Orange County, there are some beautiful places to visit here too!

  23. Sam on January 23, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Ahh, SD is not a bad place to be stationed! I went to college there and really miss living minutes from the beach! Now I live minutes from the beautiful Rockies so I guess life isn’t so bad. πŸ˜‰ you’ll have to check out Zanzibar for the best acai bowls!

    When we PCS’d a few years back we did it all ourselves. Holy moly, that was a lot of work! We already own a small trailer and it worked out a family member had a full size trailer that he would be taking to AZ a week later (we were moving to az) so we borrowed it and we were able to move all our belongings without any rentals . We ended up making $8,000 from the move along with $3,000ish for the travel pay but it definitely wasn’t easy and the 10,000 pound trailer my husband hauled just about ruined his truck. We just moved again in June and did a partial dity this time which was so much better! The movers took all the kitchen stuff (except we took our fine china) and they took all our furniture. They sent a 65 yr old woman and a young man to move everything. So the young man did all the moving(obviously) while she did the inventory work. Fast forward to moving into our house and the moving company tried delivering our furniture the day before we signed the papers to our house. Then when we asked them to deliver on the date they were supposed to they said they couldn’t deliver for 3 weeks!!! Insane. After numerous phone calls we got nowhere with this company and 3 weeks later they delivered our stuff. Thank god we had packed a blow up bed but I was kicking myself for letting them take the kitchen boxes. And unfortunately, a lot of our furniture was damaged. Our marble wine bar was damaged on three corners, all of our office furniture was damaged, a couple dressers and the movers even damaged our hardwood floors while moving everything in. πŸ™ it was pretty bad. They paid us almost $4,000 for the damaged furniture/floors but what a pain. The wine bar was my favorite piece of furniture that we have. We’re pretty sure this all happened because the one guy had to move everything by himself so he was probably sloppy about it Sorry for the novel but just wanted to share our last few moving experiences . Never a dull moment when you PCS, huh? πŸ™‚ good luck and enjoy SD! I’ll be interested to see where y’all choose to live. La Jolla would be a great spot because you are far enough from the college crowd in PB/MB but near the beach/restaurants/UTC mall, etc. There is definitely a lot more to offer on that side of the city than the inland areas. Best of luck!! πŸ™‚

  24. Jessica A on January 23, 2014 at 9:53 am

    We just got word that we will be PCSing for the first time in May, all the way to Oahu!! This was so helpful, because we really don’t know what to expect at all!! Thanks for the great topic!!

  25. Ali on January 23, 2014 at 10:03 am

    I just found out that I’ll be moving in August I was accepted into a doctoral program about 800 miles away. I am scrambling to sell my beloved home! πŸ™ I want to use a POD but I’m moving to a mountainous area and I know it has to be placed on a flat surface so I’m not sure if that’ll work out – every apartment complex there has a hill! Moving is so stressful, hopefully it will go well for everyone who’s on the move!

  26. the delicate place (@misathemeb) on January 23, 2014 at 10:36 am

    i just moved again in 2013 and my biggest tip is if you don’t use something for 6 months or it’s still in the box, consider donating. the only exception is if it is a sentimental item πŸ™‚ i am kind of a minimalist and don’t have very much stuff so moving is pretty easy for us. we lived without a couch for the first 4 months in our new place in pgh! needless to say, i was pretty happy when we finally bought one and it came just before xmas!

  27. Odette on January 23, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Hi Gina!

    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now and I have tried to reach out to you in the past about San Diego. I know you get so many comments and I totally understand but I wanted to give it a shot once again.

    I am from Guadalajara Mexico and have been living in San Diego with my husband and pup for about 4 years.

    I manage a restaurant in North Park called Waypoint Public and I am a yogi as well. North Park is a neighborhood with both and amazing restaurant scene and yoga scene. It’s amazing.

    I have explored restaurants all around the city as I had to do my driving around and “checking off my list” when I first arrived and I would love for us to connect so I can give you tips (after looking and looking I’ve found the best Mexican food in town since there are so many Mexican restaurants). I also know a good amount of yoga instructors and would love to introduce you to them!!

    You guys will love it here!!

  28. Angela on January 23, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Fellow San Diegan here. My husband is stationed at 32nd st (close to Coronado) and we chose to live in Mission Hills. I highly recommend our hood of course πŸ™‚ His commute is great, we are central to all and there are tons of young families here with a strong sense of community. I would also recommend any neighborhood in the uptown area and along balboa park: Hillcrest , University Heights, North Park, Normal Heights, Kensington or South Park.
    Good luck!

  29. april on January 23, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    best of luck with the upcoming move! i was born and raised in southern california, so i might be biased, but it really is the best place to live. πŸ™‚

  30. mary on January 23, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    My sister’s car was lost on a military move from Spain. The ship hit a bad storm and whole containers tumbled into the sea.

    I’m jealous of your destination! I would move there in a minute. Though you’ll miss the cost of living here, or maybe not if the AF takes care of that differential for ya!

  31. Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries on January 23, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Thanks so much! I appreciate this post. We may be in for a big move here in the next few months, and I’m feeling a little anxious about it all. Just like everything else in life, it’ll all be fine, I’m sure, but it’s nice to have this advice in the back of my head. πŸ™‚

  32. Lauren J @ The Barn on January 23, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Good luck with your PCS! We are headed to Incirlik, Turkey this July and are super excited. But the move itself is very daunting at the moment. Hopefully we will all have a smooth transition.

  33. Ali on January 24, 2014 at 2:24 am

    I’m so jealous you’re moving to San Diego! My husband is in the Coast Guard and we just moved from SD to Northern California in November and we miss it dearly. We’re originally from Texas but it’s our goal to someday get back to San Diego. We will be PCS-ing again this summer (to who knows where!) except with a 5 month-old so I think we’ll rely on movers to take care of everything. I love your tip about driving around and getting lost in your new city…my husband was deployed 3 weeks after we moved to San Diego and I spent so much of that time driving to all of the awesome beaches and just exploring our new home while he was gone. Good luck with everything, you will love living there!

    • Fitnessista on January 24, 2014 at 10:57 am

      thank you- i’m excited about the new adventure!!
      thank you to you and your family for serving our country <3

  34. Jenny on January 24, 2014 at 10:02 am

    I was at Moody AFB in Valdosta! (back in 2003) Actually my daughter was born there. Talk about if there wasn’t a base there would be no town!! πŸ™‚ with 80 degree weather in MARCH– I couldn’t wait to get back to Central PA for some good old fashion winter!

    Good luck in your latest adventure. And thank YOU for serving right along side your husband.

    • Fitnessista on January 24, 2014 at 10:54 am

      i think it’s a huge reason why valdosta peeps are SO kind to military families. definitely don’t miss that humidity!

  35. Simi on January 25, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Awww when do you move… Have you found a neighborhood yet?? I hope you teach yoga somewhere, I really want to get into it but don’t feel comfortable.

  36. Alissa on January 27, 2014 at 12:23 am

    I did my first PCS move with my new husband in 2012. He had the movers come a month early (San Antonio Texas) and once we got to Norfolk we rented a furnished apartment for 4 months until we could figure out where we should live. We got to our base (Little Creek), but his job was moving to another part of town within a couple months.

    Being without our belongs for 5 months wasn’t as hard as I thought. My biggest time is watching how to pack suitcases like flight attendants do! We needed every season of clothing during that time, and we mostly had to buy warm clothes, because we didn’t own any. I also went through tons of paper work, and clothes which got shredded & donated.

    The best thing to happen was that we donated to our friends ALL of our food, so once we got to VA it was a clean slate of eating healthy and from scratch almost every night! That is what I am looking forward to most for the next month in 2016!

    Good luck, glad you are still close to your family!

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