Things to Know When PCSing to Okinawa


My move to Okinawa? Well, I was not mentally prepared… at all.

I like to consider myself a fairly organized person. That being said, there are many steps involved in this military moving process, loads of pitstops along the way, and a tons of people you’ll have to meet with. At times it can be a bit overwhelming.

But never fear, that’s why I’m here. My hope is by the time you’re done reading, you’ll have some basic information from a Marine Wife standpoint (it may be a little different from branch to branch).  Along the way, I’ll let you know my mistakes, hopefully preventing you from making the same. Overall, my goal is to put you in a better state of mind then I was before, during and after my move.

Things to know when preparing for the move:

  • IPAC (Installation Personnel Administration Center) is your friend. Call them often, ask them many questions, and double check everything.
  • If you have a pet, get your stuff get done early so if there’s an issue you have time to deal with it and not worry about running out of time. This process can take 6-9 months.
    • MCCS Welcome Aboard Package, click on “Resources” and then “Pets” and the link will take you to a booklet called “Importing Pets into Japan”.
  • Do everything you can with your spouse. This way everything is heard by both and it’s less likely information will be missed, or misunderstood.
  • If you don’t live on base and go to a doctor out in town, it’s a little different. Make sure you make an appointment or call the person who is in charge of clearing your medical paperwork. They can answer any questions and make sure the proper paperwork is given. They will also let you know exactly what needs to be filled out and if there is anything specific to your case.
***I tried to go online and print the paperwork myself without checking with them first and ended up missing some things.
  • Find your shot records. This will stop you from having to get shots you don’t need.
    • *** This took some time for me. I had to contact my childhood doctor, and the only copies they had were in a warehouse and it would take over a week to get them.
  • Passports take sometime, It’s one of the 1st things we got done, but we weren’t bring pets. “wink, wink”
  • Stay in contact with your sponsor and make sure they’re looking out for you. They should be email a welcome packet with all the need to knows, which is helpful. Know that they’re your eyes and ear in Okinawa. They should answer all your questions, set you up with a P.O. Box and book your hotel.  They will also be taking care of all your needs when you arrive on island.What to bring:

1st shipment Suggestions:

1.Crib, swing, diapers, wipes, all the essentials
2. Microwave
3. Needed Kitchen items/pots and pans
4. Some Clothes
5. Mattreses
6. Small t.v.
7. Pet essentials
8. Some toys
9. Some Uniforms and gear that may be needed

2nd shipment suggestions:

1. Dehumidifier
2. Fans
3. Water dispenser if you have one, with jugs
4. Other Kitchen Items/ blender, toaster, crockpot heavy cookware etc.
5. Clothes/shoes/jackets/rain boots, umbrellas- it does get windy and rainy here which can make it pretty chilly.
6. Desk/chair/printer
7. T.V./ Computer
8. Pictures lamps
9. Holiday stuff
10. Toys/ rest of baby items
11. Beach stuff and camping gear, anything out doorsy, bring it all, you will use it – you can by it all here but its limited and pricey- beach toys you could buy here
12. Bathroom items Shower curtains, rugs, decretive items- I don’t have anything on my walls because they’re tile
13. Storage containers- on base housing is small origination is key to storing everything you want in these houses
14. I would buy a cheaper/lightweight bed frames for the rooms
15. If your couch is not too big I would bring it.
16. Decor, rugs and pictures- this will really help the place you live in not look so plain. These homes are pretty basic. Also most of the flooring is tile or hard wood, rugs are helpful. If you have them I would bring them, but you can always buy here.This weight doesn’t count:
His gear: again store/organize it as best as you can.
Your gear: Example: All my teaching stuff. I just filled out some paperwork and gave them a copy of my teaching license and All my books and the kids books went. You have up to 500 pounds.

Some Helpful Hints:

  • Make Copies of everything. Do it!
  • Get a Power of Attorney (POA). Most often even though you’re in the process of moving your spouse may be TAD. This will help for some of the paper work that may need his signature.
    • ***There are some things you have to do together and face to face and there’s not way around it. Planning for this as much as you can will be helpful.
  • If you’re going to put your car in storage please, please, please make sure the Emergency break works. You also should make your appointment at least a week early (get a rental car or borrow someones, it’s worth it), along with having all the paperwork filled out correctly.
    • ***Long story short, our paper work was a mess. Got it fixed 30 minutes later, only to have them tell us they couldn’t take our car until the E-brake was fixed. Oh, and we were leaving the next morning. We ended up having to sell the car to CarMax. It still makes me sad thinking about it.
  • I suggest your spouse travel with the uniforms needed for arrival. Just incase shipments don’t get there when needed.
  • Something we did, which was super helpful, was bought a cheap/lightweight bed frame and mattress for our room and our daughters room and sent it in the box. Once it got here is was undamaged, but we did have to put it together.
  • We sent both our shipments early and stayed with family for a month. This way, some, if not all of your things may be there before you arrive.Things to know when arriving:
  • When arriving in Okinawa have an open mind and no expectations about housing. You’ll have 2 choices and there are very few cases where this has changed.
    • ***It takes some getting use to, but only you can make a house a home. Okinawa Home Inspiration is a helpful group to get ideas.
  • Government Furniture can be musty.
    • ***I was not a fan. We did keep the dinning room table and the hunch. The living room coffee tables aren’t too bad though. It’s all about personal preference.
  • You can only have them take back the government furniture once. If you decide to keep something and you change your mind or buy something new you have to return it yourself (there are not a lot of trucks here… lol) or pay for them to pick up.
  • Buying a car will be the best feeling you’ll have when first arriving here. Yes, driving is cray cray and the signs are a little different. But when you get your car, it’s a little piece of freedom and relives some stress.
    • ***That being said I wouldn’t spend too much money on a car. They’re all mostly beaters, but they run really well. Over all buy what you like and take your time when choosing. You’ll get to know the lemon lot evert quickly.

That is all I have for now but I’m sure there will be more. This place is amazingly different and may take some time to get use to. Living on base was the toughest thing for me. We’ve always lived out in town. Here you’re always surrounded by Military Life. Take the positive and leave the rest. After a year, I can honesty say I’m really enjoying living here. 🙂 The island is a beautiful and sometimes magical place. Embrace the adventure, have safe trip, and don’t forget to breathe. 😉

Any Questions or something to add please post a comment below. For more helpful information visit MCCS Okinawa “Must knows When Moving to Japan.” For questions about the Island some helpful Facebook groups are Okinawa Hai and Okinawa Questions.

One thought on “Things to Know When PCSing to Okinawa

  1. Did you have to pay for government furniture? How were the dressers? We may not bring our bed frame but wondered how their government supplied ones are. Are floor rugs expensive there? How many dehumidifiers do you recommend and is one built into the building?


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