4 Ways to Learn About Your New Duty Station Before You Move

The first time we moved to a new duty station with my husband’s military orders, it was six hours away to a state neither one of us had visited before. We had one weekend to visit and go house-hunting. We bought the second house we saw.

Since then, the military has moved us even farther–across the United States, and even overseas! Each time, we moved to a new duty station we knew nothing about, with no friends or family nearby. Each time, we had to start over again, searching for housing, schools, services, and friends in a town that was completely foreign.

Sound familiar? Maybe you have been through a PCS move before…or you could be here because you have PCS orders for the first time and don’t know where to begin. As soon as you or your spouse gets military orders to a new duty station, the race is on to learn as much as you can about your future home.

Military families often have only a few weeks or months to plan their move. During that time, they need to find housing and schools and get settled at a new base. Want to get a jump start on learning about your next duty station? Here are some handy tools that will help you feel right at home, faster.

Here's how to shop for houses and learn about your new duty station when you first get PCS orders.

How to learn about your new duty station before you move

Use these tricks to learn about your new duty station BEFORE you move! #milspouse #PCS Share on X

Learn about neighborhoods near your new duty station

It’s hard to decide where to live when you move to a new duty station. If you want to live off base, you need to get to know the town. You can do this from a distance, thanks to the internet. Real estate sites and apps will show you home values, local schools, crime rates, traffic patterns, and mortgage calculators. Some even sync with Yelp to display nearby restaurants and businesses. Zillow has the largest quantity of listings, and their app will send you alerts if a price drops or a new property is added in a preferred neighborhood. The Area Guides on PCSgrades have local info about on-base and off-base housing neighborhoods, with reviews written by and for military families! And the Base Guides on Military.com have essential phone numbers for installation contacts. Finally, don’t forget to use Google maps to look at the base and plan out the service member’s commute.

Find a home with a military-friendly real estate agent

House hunting is a challenge when you are living in another state. Especially when you are so busy cleaning out your current house. Ideally, you would search for and decide on a home before you arrive in town. But how can you buy a house if you don’t have the time and money to visit?

That’s why it’s important to find a real estate agent who understands military life. They can anticipate your family’s situation and help you ask the right questions about homes at your new duty station. They can walk you through the entire process remotely, saving you thousands in travel fees. There are several websites built by veterans and military spouses to help you find your next home, where you can connect with military-friendly agents. Check out sites like Millie, PCSgrades, or GoVA. You can also ask fellow military families for referrals to local real estate agents who helped them when they were moving to the area. The local military spouse Facebook pages and groups are a great way to get this information!

new duty station

Research schools near your new duty station

Local schools are an important part of any military town. Even if you don’t have children, the quality of the public schools in the area will influence property values. So you have to pay attention. But it’s challenging to evaluate schools when standards are different in every state.

Don’t rely on rumors. Do your own research to determine what schools are best for your family. Not sure whether your military kids should go to school on base or off base? Public or private? Use sites like GreatSchools or Schoolgrades.com to compare schools in your new town, before you move. You can see how they measure up against others in the area, and also how they compare to state and national averages.

Find services and base resources

Another challenge of moving your family is re-establishing household routines. Who will be your new utility company? Internet provider? Babysitter? Hairdresser? Where can you get affordable groceries? Are there local charities who giveaway food, furniture, or other items to military families?

To save yourself tons of time and money, use Facebook pages for your new duty station. You can join these pages before you move and learn from other people’s questions and answers. If you need a quick answer or want to poll the audience (a.k.a. your future neighbors), then base Facebook pages for military spouses are a great resource. Ask for any help you need, because the military community is generally supportive and willing to lend a hand. Just be polite and remember to thank anyone who gives you information.

What do you like to know about a new duty station before you move?




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