September 10, 2010

Things to Keep in Mind When Facing Your First Military Moving Experience

Moving is part of military life.  Most military families move (called a "PCS" or "permanent change of station") every 2 to 3 years, which adds up to a lot throughout a career.  Dependents and members of the military get so good at moving that they could write a handbook on military moving.  But when you are facing a PCS for the first time, it can seem overwhelming.  There are so many horror stories of what can go wrong, that it is no wonder first timers get nervous.  The first thing to note is that most moves happen without any major issues.  Yes, there is a risk that something could get damages or broken, but that risk is there with any move.  Take a deep breath and start drafting a to do list.  Being prepared will greatly reduce your anxiety and increase the likelihood of a smooth military moving experience. 

For most PCS locations, you have three methods you can choose for military moving.  The first option is to have the government handle everything.  That means that they will find, hire and pay for a professional moving company to pack, transport and unload everything for you.  The second option is a do it yourself (DITY) or personally procured move.  This method of military moving means that you handle everything yourself.  You can pack and transport everything yourself via your personal vehicle, portable storage containers or rental truck.  Or you can find and hire a professional moving company of your choosing.  For DITY military moving, the government will reimburse you for roughly 95% of what it would have cost them to handle the move.  The third option is a partial DITY move, which is a combination of the first and second options. 

Before you decide which option you would prefer for your first military moving experience, make an appointment to see a counselor at your transportation or personal property office and take your orders with you.  Without the proper authorization and paperwork, you may not get reimbursed for a DITY or partial DITY move.  And there are some locations where DITY moves are not an option.  The last important piece of information that will be covered during your counseling session is your maximum allowable weight limit.  That weight limit is based on rank, number of dependents and location of your PCS.  It is vital that you always keep your weight limit in mind, regardless of how you choose to move.  The government will not cover any military moving expenses beyond that maximum allowable weight limit. 

Once you have had your military moving counseling session, the task ahead will seem a lot less daunting.  Your counselor will have covered what military moving options are available to you, your maximum allowable weight limit and how much you can be expected to be reimbursed if you handle all or part of the mover yourself.  Weigh all your military moving options with what you and your family can handle, regardless of how enticing the reimbursement amount looks to you.