Wednesday, September 18, 2013

PCS Expenses

A few months ago I started listing things that we would need to start saving up for when it came time to PCS, so here I am sharing the list as it has developed to help others start their own savings plan.  Keep in mind you can apply for DLA and TLA to offset the costs but it is likely that either your allowances will be delayed (especially if PCSing during peak season) so you'll have to pay upfront and then be reimbursed or if you are shipping pets or an additional vehicle, the costs may surpass what you will receive from the government.  Start saving as early as you can to prevent any surprises, also you should always save more than the "minimum" just in case something comes up that isn't accounted for!

Below is a detailed description of some expenses you may expect to see during your move and some links that may assist in the planning process.  If you scroll further, you will find an excel worksheet that you can download and customize.  It is formatted to add together your expenses and give you an estimated total, no calculator needed.  All euro amounts have been converted to dollar amount on the spreadsheet and all amounts are estimates that can vary based off location and several other factors.

Environmental Clean on POV - 160 euro + tax (VAT forms accepted)

PCS Home Clean - Most people choose to clean on their own, but if you are looking to pay someone else expect about $200 depending on the size and condition of your home.

Pet shipment - Varies based on airline - Patriot Express (you'll pay twice for shipment as you re-check your pets into another carrier after arriving in the states) ; United ; Lufthansa ; American ; Delta ; US Airways .  Please be aware that some airline carriers have a better track record than others when it comes to caring for pets, do your homework if you're given a chance to choose between airlines.- average: 300 euro per medium to large pet.

Hotel - TLA covers up to 3 days on the Germany side (if you're currently residing in military housing, 10 days if you've been living on the economy) and 10 days on the US side.  Have additional cash if you end up staying in a hotel longer while you wait for housing.  avg. $70/day x 1 week - $490

Rental Deposit - Even if you plan on getting on-post housing, you may be expected to put down a deposit or if you will be moving in half-way through the first month, look forward to paying half that month's rent even if you didn't get BAH for that month - Save an amount equal to the rent that you expect to pay at your new duty station - ex.  Our rent is expected to be around $1200, therefore, we will save $1200.

Rental Car - If you shipped your car late, chances are, you wont have a vehicle for 1-2 months.  Look into local rental companies for long-term rental deals and don't forget your military and USAA discounts. - avg. $15/day

Additional Baggage - On my husband's orders it states: "In addition to any free baggage allowance provided to you by the airline you are authorized reimbursement for two pieces of excess accompanied baggage... You must be financially prepared to pay for the baggage charges and provide the receipts..."  Costs vary based on airline - Patriot Express ; United ; Lufthansa ; American ; Delta ; US Airways

Restock of Home Goods (Groceries, cleaning supplies, etc.) - we spend about $300 for each move

Cell Phone Provider - If you're like my husband and me, you've been functioning in Europe with just a simple prepaid phone for the past few years.  Right now we spend about 25 euro every 2 months to load up our phones and that's it.  That will all change when we move.  We need to plan to not only pay about a $200 upfront charge to set up a contract and buy new phones but also plan for an additional phone bill of $160 per month.

Utilities Set-up - Many utility companies charge a "set-up fee" which means that you have to pay for them to come turn on your water and whatnot.  Think about all the bills you will have to pay and any possible fees they might tack on upon set-up including but not limited to: Electricity, gas, water, sewage, trash, cable, internet/phone, etc.  Plan for around $200 for all utilities.

Don't freak out yet about how much it's going to cost.  These are just estimates and you can save some money by doing the following:
  • Don't bring more on the plane than you absolutely need
  • Pack all of the home goods that you possibly can, and ship them early so that they are waiting for you when you get there
  • Don't bring more than one car to Europe or sell it before you move back
  • Do your POV and Home PCS clean yourself (just a warning, the POV inspection is tough!  Might want to think about biting the bullet and spending the money for that expense)
  • Find a rental home that has a low deposit amount or that gives a discount to military
  • Ship your car early to limit time with a rental car.
  • Start looking at rental homes (if living off post) prior to arrival to limit time in the hotel.

    Avoid taking out a loan as much as  possible.  The last thing you want to do when you start off in your new home is have a debt.

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