3 Important PCS Tips When You Don’t Have Official Orders

by Heather on May 5, 2016

"3 Important PCS Tips When You Don't Have Official Orders" by Heather of Happyfitnavywife.com | SO helpful! It's hard to wait until official military orders come through...

I was still laying in bed when hubby called. He was already at work and had just checked his email. Excitedly, he announced, “Guess who just got verbal orders to our #1 choice duty station???”

My eyes popped open. “Seriously???”


We were SO excited (and still are)! Verbal orders to the exact duty station we both wanted, and the job hubby wanted.

But then a new problem arose: How do we move forward with planning, while not overcommitting emotionally (and financially)… so that if it doesn’t work out, we’re not crushed?

It has been a challenge, I’m not going to lie. We have been looking at schools, houses, discussing renting or buying, and getting excited about all our favorite restaurants that will be within driving OR WALKING distance!

If our hearts weren’t set on it before, they certainly are now. But in some ways, we are also being more cautious. It’s almost surreal, too good to be true.

Is the Navy going to pull the rug out from under us? 

3 Important PCS Tips When You Don’t Have Official Orders

It has been a roller coaster of emotions for us, but I’ve come up with some ways that can help you stay sane and still enjoy the “tweener” period between waiting for orders and actually moving.

#1- NEVER, NEVER NEVER Lease Or Buy A Home/Apt/Condo Based On Verbal Orders Alone

This may seem like a no-brainer, but verbal orders are just that– words. The written orders could come through, or they could just as easily not. I’ve even heard of people whose written orders changed at the last minute.

Luckily we have never learned this the hard way, but a lot of people are going through this right now.

The Navy has budget constraints now:

“In some cases this summer, [advance notice/lead time for issued orders] has been shortened to one month due to budgetary pressure.” (See this Navy Times article)

I know several who have bought houses or signed leases but haven’t received orders. Now they’re stuck moving themselves, getting apartments, and having to make major changes in their plans. Not fun!

It’s hard for us to wait on housing plans because we are obsessively Zillowing all the cool homes. I can’t pull myself away! But I know that in reality, we can’t move forward on anything until written orders come through.

That said, we have started the “research phase.”

#2 Research is fun until you realize you’ve become a zombie

Research is good right? It will help you be prepared once you do have the green light to move. If you don’t end up moving there, it might have been a slight waste of time, but not if you do it while getting your nightly Netflix fix.

I have a tendency to obsess about research and stay up late on my laptop searching for info. But the next afternoon I end up nose to nose with my daughter, her grimy hands on my face, the words “WAKE UP MOMMY” pinging around in my ears because I drifted off to sleep while reading Frozen to her.

So I’m trying to curb my excitement and not become Zombie Mom.

A photo posted by @becsbattle on

That said, my areas of research focus on two areas:

Researching Schools

This is a first for us! We’ve been using greatschools.com, as well as a few other sites I’ve found that rate schools. I’m focusing on elementary schools because the pre-schools I found are extremely expensive.

I’m not sure whether I’m going to enroll her in pre-school or just do local classes around town. Thoughts?

Researching Ideal Neighborhoods

Though closely tied with evaluating schools, this one has been interesting. When we lived there before, we spent a lot of time eating out at our fav restaurants and wandering wherever, whenever.

But life has changed. By the time we move, we’ll have an almost-4- year old and a 6-month old. Dropping everything to head to happy hour is not in the cards during this phase of life.

Of course, with some advanced planning and a babysitter, happy hour will be part of our lives for sure! Just maybe not at the drop of a hat. So needing to live down the street from our favorite places may not be a requirement.

verbal orders#3 All The Feels

I’m super excited, so I’m allowing myself to enjoy the excitement. (If you have verbal orders to a duty station you are NOT happy about, I encourage you to process those feelings and not stuff them away.)

For me, I know that the orders may not pan out, but I decided that I’ll deal with that disappointment when/if it comes.

I’m not going to shield myself too much from the “what if’s” because it takes away enjoyment of today. The same could be said about not worrying too much about disappointing verbal orders because you still have the chance to live today to its fullest.

(Tomorrow has enough worries of its own!)

I used to hold back and not let myself get excited about things, but that was completely fear-based.

The fear of things not working out steals your joy in the moment. We need to leave that thinking behind and just enjoy and process the emotions that come our way.


ps> By the way– our verbal orders are to San Diego, California! We are so excited and hopeful to move back to the west coast. We would be within driving distance to, and in the same time zone as our families! We shall see how it all pans out.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michiko May 5, 2016 at 3:47 pm

I’m from San Diego! Wish I was going with you. Enjoy!!!


2 Heather May 5, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Thank you! We are excited! Hopefully you’ll be back someday =)


3 Liz August 24, 2016 at 9:09 pm

I’m born and raised in San Diego (right by beach in PB), and preparing for my first move to Pensacola in January…awaiting written orders that is ;). Been married almost two years but reading through a lot of your articles and really getting a lot of good advice and information. Thank you! And I hope you get written orders for SD!! I may be biased but I still hold my grounds its the best city ever.


4 Heather August 29, 2016 at 9:37 am

Thanks Liz! Hope you get your orders soon too. I’m so glad my articles have helped. Thanks for sharing and good luck with the move! We are definitely hoping for SD =)


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