This post is primarily aimed at a military audience, but it clearly applies to anybody who hires a moving company to help you move.
Some quick vocabulary, for the uninitiated
- HHG = Household Goods
- TMO = Transportation Management Office
- PCS = Permanent Change of Station (which ironically is not permanent at all)
by unload day, you should have an unpack plan ready
Hopefully you are reading this before your HHGs arrive…because by unload day, you should have an unpack plan ready. And I wanted to share how we did it last to help guide you.
The PCS sequence of events should look like this
- Start talking to TMO (the service member gets this ball rolling)
- Decide if the unpack crew will do a full unpack or just reassemble furniture
- Schedule packing company evaluation
- Walk evaluator through home & garage
- Movers pack your home (this takes a few days)
- Movers load boxes onto moving truck
- You make a full unpack plan
- Unload crew arrives at your new home
- You get to set up your home
Mr. Jupiter and I PCS’d to Leavenworth, Kansas in June 2017 and my plan was simple: clearly label rooms for the packing crew, be available for questions, and stay out of their way. Mister and I declined the full unpack; we just wanted boxes in appropriate rooms, furniture resembled, and any empty boxes removed.
- Related: Non-Chain Restaurants around Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
- Also related: Five Favorites in Kansas City
We made decisions early so that everything was smooth. When we were working with the packing crew in our old house -early. We made sure that box locations were clearly marked. Example, instead of “Closet” we has distinct “Master Closet” versus “Guest Closet.” This early specificity made it easy to locate the same boxes in new house.
Here’s what we do when HHGs arrive:
- Meet the unpacking crew, shake hands and be nice.
- Show them the house, take time with the signage (be clear that it’s there for them).
- If you have more than one bathroom, be clear about which one is available for their use (with toilet paper, soap, paper towels, and trashcan ready), unless all are available.
- Buy them water or Gatorade, show them where it will be (hydration matters, especially for summer moves).
- Make room in the fridge for them (if you have one. They may need it).
- Buy lunch for everybody.
- Above all, work WITH your crew.
There is no wrong way
Some families provide lunch and tip, some choose one (like us), and others do neither. There is no wrong way, but I am always willing to provide meals.
Besides, the crew is working hard and being clear about providing lunch often results in more care taken when the fragile boxes are coming into the house – that matters.
With this particular HHG arrival, Mister went out to Sonic for everybody and we all had burgers, fries, and sodas. This was important for a few reasons.
#1 the crew was only in the moving truck (there was no secondary vehicle for them to take out for lunch)
#2 only the supervisor brought a lunch box; the other two men weren’t going to eat otherwise
#3 we all like Sonic.
We didn’t eat together if you’re curious. The guys were content on the big shaded porch, and I liked having a private meal in the bedroom. Mister and I used their one-hour lunch break to empty as many boxes as we could. We watched the clock, but only so we could be out of the unpackers’ way when they clocked back in.
By 6pm, the last furniture legs were being applied. I already had the kitchen unpacked (but not organized – that took another day), and the master bedroom closet was mostly unpacked. Husband had the office and TV room set up. We still had boxes in other rooms, but our practical day-to-day goods were ready by bedtime.
being a good human in general
A little planning and kindness goes a long way! If I didn’t make signs and was exasperated each time someone asked where a box went it would have been a miserable day for all of us. Besides being a good human in general, keep in mind that these guys and gals are busy during PCS season. They move a lot of military families, and it’s easy to support them too.
- Settling in? Let’s talk about mail: How to Stop Receiving Other’s Mail at Your New Home
Do you do other things for your unpack crew?
I am writing a PCS series and if this article was meaningful for you, take a moment to see the other posts in the series:
- PCS “Spring” Cleaning
- The Good in Goodbye
- Planning a Smooth HHG Pack Out
- Planning Your HHG Arrival
- How to Navigate a New Duty Station
- New Duty Station Resources You Need
If you’re interested in more in-depth information on a PCS topic, please email me. I have several posts drafted and if you need one that I am working on I will happily bring it forward. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.