Hawaii Military Life: How to PCS to Hawaii Like a Pro

Aloha and Welcome! You just received PCS orders to Hawaii and probably have many questions. Hawaii is considered OCONUS, but it’s not considered an overseas tour. An overseas tour refers to a country separated from the US and is not a state. When the day finally comes and all of your HHG is gone, you’ll be living out of your suitcase for the next several months. Here are some tips that I used to help you through the process:

1. Schedule an appointment with the admin center and request Dislocation Allowance (DLA) before PCSing. DLA is the allowance to cover the cost of moving you and your family to a new home. The amount is based on the rank and number of dependents. Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) allows you to stay in a hotel 5 days for CONUS to OCONUS. Most people use TLE once they’re packed out of their home.


2. Keep your valuables and jewelry with you while traveling.

3. Carry with you all important documents, such as: birth certificates, SSN cards, passports, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, custody paperwork, medical and dental records, credit cards, multiple copies of PCS and web orders, travel itinerary and tickets, hotel confirmations and phone numbers, car reservations, insurance information, mortgage information, bills, vehicle titles, copies of vehicle registrations and inspections, keys, vehicle shipping information, pet immunization records and licenses, and a place to keep all receipts.


4. Stay organized. I kept everything organized in a PCS folder that I carried with me at all times. In the PCS folder, I used a zippered pocket pouch that kept pens, credit cards, calculator, highlighters, and passports safe. I used page protectors to keep everything organized. The first documents in the PCS folders were the PCS orders since these will be used all the time. In the back of the folder, include blank pages for scratch paper.


5. Be prepared. If you’re traveling with little ones or young one’s at heart, pack plenty of snacks and activities for them to do on the plane. Have changes of clothing, baby wipes, diapers, toys, iPads, tablets, phones, laptops (carry chargers for all electronics), head phones, a good book or magazine. Enjoy your flight and settle in, you’re almost there.


6. Promptly report to your unit. When you land at the Honolulu International Airport, proceed to the baggage claim. Gather your bags and head towards the rental car area, shuttle, or taxi. All military service members should report to their unit the day they arrive in order to get their orders endorsed from the command. You will be exhausted, but there will be no reimbursement for any days of temporary lodging prior to the report date endorsed on your orders.

Bring with you: original orders and web orders, airline invoices, vehicle processing center (VPC) invoices, receipts, and marriage/birth certificates.


7. What about reimbursement? In order to receive TLA, the military member’s orders have to be endorsed with the reporting time and date of when they arrived on the island. After your orders are endorsed, this is considered a Non-TLA day for the member. The member will pay out of pocket for the lodging costs and will be reimbursed once the travel claim is settled and are in the Per Diem Status.

TLA is not paid in advance but is paid after filing a claim with required receipts. The claim is then sent to the Finance Office and TLA is reimbursed in 10 day increments and electronically deposited into your account. Allow 96 hours to see the reimbursement. Arrival TLA can be authorized for 60 days if availability of housing is not available.


8. Check in with temporary lodging. Make your temporary lodging reservations as early as you can. During the PCS season, the lodges fill up quickly. If the lodge is completely booked, don’t worry. Pick up a letter of non-availability and you’ll be able to make commercial reservations at TLA approved lodgings. You’ll need to submit the non-availability letter to TLA office when you submit your first 10 day claim.


9. The Housing Office is the next stop to visit. The service member will apply for Base housing or BEQ/BOQ. If quarters are not available, the service member must initiate an aggressive house hunting search. In order to receive or continue TLA, the service member must visit a minimum of five to ten properties per every 10 day increments. If a home becomes available, you must accept it. TLA will stop once a home becomes available.

This is where I’d love to come in and help. We can start an aggressive house hunting search when you land on the island or before you PCS. The earlier you can start searching for home, the better.


Have You Thought About Purchasing a Home in Hawaii?

BAH in Hawaii is higher than at other posts. For example, over three years as an E-5, your BAH with dependents will total $96,444. $96,444 is a lot of money to be giving away to someone else on rent.

Why not invest in yourself and build the equity? When the time comes again to PCS, you have the option to sell or rent your home. If you sell, most people use that money for a large down payment on their next home. The housing demand on the island is strong due to the shortage of land. There are not enough homes on the market for the amount of people who are looking to buy or rent.

Moani Heights 4 bedroom pool

Want to Know More?

As a military spouse, I know the challenges of PCSing and the time constraints. Put my experience to work for you. I would be honored to help you and your family find your own piece of paradise. If you have any questions about Hawaii’s real estate market or purchasing or selling on Oahu, feel free to contact me.

Until next time, live with Aloha.

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March 15, 2018

Thanks for the info. We might like to consider buying in Hawaii… not too sure how VA loan works with increase in BAH. Would like to get some info on that.

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