The Complete Guide To Moving While in the Military

The Complete Guide To Moving While in the Military

It’s just part of military life. If you’re in the military, you can expect to move much more frequently than the average family. As a result, you must know everything about military moving to make the process as easy as possible. 

On top of standard steps, like finding a moving service and packing your belongings, you’ll also need to deal with a lot of bureaucracy. The good news is that you may be able to save a lot of money since you’re moving as a member of the military. 

Keep reading for our complete guide to moving while in the military and everything you should know to make your move to your new home smoother. 

Before Your Move

Identify the Type of Move

Before making moving plans, you’ll need to identify the following components of your move: 

Permanent Change of Station (PCS) or Temporary Duty (TDY):

  • A permanent change of station occurs when you’ll be spending over 20 weeks at your new duty station. This will make you eligible for a full household move. 
  • A temporary duty move occurs when you’ll be at your station and a new location for more than a month but fewer than 20 weeks. This makes you eligible for a partial household move. 

Are you staying within the United States or internationally?

If you’re moving internationally or outside the contiguous United States (Alaska or Hawaii), you’ll need sea transportation for your move. This is nicknamed an OCONUS move.

If you’re staying within the 48 contiguous states, otherwise known as a CONUS move, you will need to make arrangements to move via vehicle. 

Next, you’ll need to determine what kind of move you want. The following are the three most common types of military moves: 

  • A Do It Yourself Move (DITY or PPM for personally procured move) gives you the most control over the move. You’re in charge of coordinating the move on your own. 
  • A Household Goods Move (HHG) is the most hands-off military move and reduces a lot of the stress of normal moves because it often handles packing, moving, and unpacking your household items. 
  • A Partial PPM is a move that combines the previous two options. You’ll be in charge of some parts of the move to your new house or station, but the government will handle the rest. 

A Do It Yourself Move

Many military members opt for a DITY or PPM move because they can save money and often make money from entitlements. 

Service members who choose this option receive 95% of the cost of an HHG or complete household goods move, and the usual travel allowance provided for your family. If you’re able to save money by DIYing parts of the move or negotiating a good deal with a moving company, you can keep the extra money. You may also end up with additional time left over at the end of the move, which doesn’t frequently happen with HHG moves. 

Other benefits of choosing a PPM move include: 

  • Not worrying about your belongings getting lost in an HHG move which often groups several service members’ belongings together at once. 
  • Peace of mind because you can handle all aspects of your move yourself. 
  • Choosing your own highly rated moving company and getting to vet the company for yourself. 

If you choose a PPM move, we recommend taking the following steps: 

  • Take time to schedule the move date with your current base’s Personal Property Transportation Office. Once you’re approved for the move, it can answer your questions about planning your move. 
  • Start calling around for quotes from multiple moving companies. Gather estimates from several companies and use this to negotiate for a better rate with your preferred company. Ask if the company has experience doing military moves in the past, as this can make a huge difference in the quality of your move. 
  • Purchase packing materials and work on packing your belongings daily. 
  • Get your operating allowance from your payroll office. 
  • Look into childcare and dependents care while you’re moving. 
  • If you choose to drive, schedule your rental truck and double-check that your car insurance is up-to-date for the move in case of an accident. 
  • Pick up shipping weight slips. You’ll need this information to be paid at the end of your move. 
  • Have the rental truck or moving truck weighed both loaded and unloaded. This information is crucial to being reimbursed properly. If you hire a moving company, ask for weigh tickets. A company with experience in military moves will know exactly what to do for this and how to help you with your weight allowance. 

An HHG Move

Consider an HHG move if you need to move quickly because the extra relocation assistance from the agency will help immensely. 

This is a great choice if you don’t have time or availability to schedule the move to your next duty station. If you’re at the duty station before your belongings arrive, you’ll be offered temporary lodging, so don’t worry about that. 

A Partial PPM Move

If you have some time to plan your move but want some help moving, a partial PPM move is a great option. The government can handle moving most of your belongings, while you handle specific or essential belongings that you don’t want others to manage. 

The government will still reimburse you for items that you move yourself with this option. However, you’ll want to look into the restrictions that a partial PPM has to ensure this is the right choice for you and your family. 

Other Resources for Your Move

Need additional help? Consider these agencies for help: 

  • The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA): The DLA is an agency you’ll need to contact for your PCS orders, which will help you process your move. Contact the DLA as quickly as possible to start the moving process. 
  • The Military and Family Support Center: As soon as you hear about your move, contact your local Military and Family Support Center to schedule a meeting with the relocation specialist. 
  • Housing Office: The Housing Office at your new station will be a crucial help in setting up your new move. Contact it to be put on the housing waiting list. If you’re living off-base, contact it for information about local neighborhoods and its recommendations for real estate agents and landlords in the area. 
  • Defense Military Pay Office (DMPO): The DMPO handles travel reimbursements. Reach out to it for help with requisite forms and reimbursement payments. It should be able to reimburse you within four weeks or less. 
  • Travel Management Office (TMO): The TMO can help you with relocation, official paperwork, and housing allowances. It can also expedite important documents related to your move. If you’re struggling with delays during your move, especially during the summer when moves are common, the TMO can help you be pushed to the front of the list if you have an impending move. 

Closing Thoughts

A military move requires more steps than many moves. However, you also have more resources available and financial aid than the average family moving. We hope this piece on the complete guide to moving while in the military helps your move go as seamlessly as possible. Don’t forget to check out our moving checklist for help packing and other helpful moving tips.

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