The PCS Expenses You Can't Escape

It’s the PCS tax, and it’s the hidden expense that comes with military moves that no one talks about.

If you have to move every few years for your job, it only makes sense that your employer will compensate you to do so. The military pays service members and their families to move. It pays them per diem rates and gives them money to pay for places to stay while they travel. 

But what about the little things that come up? Here are some examples of things military families have to buy during PCS season for which no one reimburses them that could be called “the PCS tax,” or the sunk cost that comes with military moves.

Cleaning Supplies

The packers won’t pack them. You can’t bring them with you on a plane, or you don’t have room for them on your cross-country road trip to your new duty station. So, you give them to friends or throw them away after you’ve cleaned your quarters for the dreaded housing inspection.

On the other end, what is one of the first things you have to buy at your new house? The cleaning supplies you just left at your last assignment! Even though you recently parted with a nearly-full bottle of Windex, you’re now buying a brand new one just a couple of weeks later.

Sadly, no one at the Pentagon is going to repay you for your redundant window cleaner purchases.


Sometimes, you’re looking at days or even weeks on the road, away from the comforts of home. Especially for families with small children, military families are eager to find things to do to stay entertained on the road (or in the air) during PCS season.

From the streaming movies you rent, the games you buy in the app store, the books you buy, and the workbooks to keep your kids from forgetting everything they learned over the last school year, it all costs, and those costs add up!

Curtains, Rugs, and Furniture

Those lace curtains you got during your time in Europe? Yeah, those don’t fit in the new house. Neither do the couches. You can’t have people looking in the windows at you and your family, so you’ve got to go out and buy new curtains so you’re not living your life for the entertainment of the whole neighborhood.

What about that gorgeous Persian rug? It fit so well in the dining room at the old house and  – wait a minute – there’s no dining room in this house. You can’t use it in the living room, so it’s going to go in the garage for the next few years. In the meantime, you still need a new rug. 

It’s time to go buy a  rug, even though you have a perfectly good one that just doesn’t fit anywhere.

Alternatively, if your new house is a lot bigger than your old house, you may find yourself buying additional rugs and furniture to help fill the space.


It never fails, no sooner have you stocked up on hot weather and beach gear during your assignment in Georgia, but you find out you’re headed to somewhere in the frozen North. 

As you find out about the temperature and climate where you’re headed, you’re stocking up on the things you’ll need for snow and ice. After all, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing!

Even If You Can’t Escape the PCS Tax, You Can Still Save

Sadly, there’s no silver bullet to avoid paying out for the inevitable extra expenses that come with PCS season.

However, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to protect your home, vehicles, property, and even pets, AFI insurance products have you covered. Even as you’re downloading the 18 millionth Disney movie to keep your kids entertained on a Transatlantic flight or digging into the road trip snacks a mile after you drove away from your previous duty station, you can have peace of mind.