You finally got your hard-copy orders, and a permanent change of station (PCS) is imminent. Constantly moving is one of the major sacrifices you make while in service to our country. While there are plenty of contractors that the government will pay to move your household goods (HHGs) safely from one duty station to the next, some folks prefer to cut out the middleman. These brave souls choose to tackle the personally procured move (PPM), otherwise referred to as the do-it-yourself (DITY) move.
Why Choose to DITY?
There are a number of reasons that families opt for a PPM. If the military pays for commercial movers to pack and load your home, you are beholden to the mover’s schedule. With a DITY move, you control when the wheels roll or can at least select a professional mover that you hand pick.
The military will pay to ship one vehicle for overseas moves, but for moves within the continental US, you will be responsible for getting your vehicle to the next station. For people who don’t have many HHGs or for those who have the ability to pull a trailer, it may make sense to haul your things yourself. Instead of having to wait for your shipment, you can move into your new home immediately.
DITY moves can also be profitable. They are less profitable than they used to be because of the new bidding system that the government adopted for commercial movers, but people still earn money for their extra work. The government will reimburse you for your moving expenses using a predefined rate based upon your rank and number of dependents. If you can hire a mover or move yourself using a UHaul for less than your moving allowance, you can keep the difference.
What do you need?
A DITY move requires organization. You may find help online at move.mil, but you must meet with your Transportation Office (TO) to go through counseling before you move. Your TO has current branch-specific information and experienced counselors. They can determine the paperwork that you will need to have to conduct a DITY move. It’s important to note that if you fail to complete this step, you could end up footing the entire bill for the move.
The DFAS website lists the paperwork required to document your PPM. The most important forms include but are not limited to:
- Official PCS orders
- DD 2278 (application for the PPM and the counseling checklist)
- DD 1351-2 (travel voucher)
You will also need the registration information for your vehicle and any large items that you are hauling, such as trailers or boats. Pay particular attention to what is considered an authorized expense by DFAS. Renting a moving truck, packing and shipping materials, gas and tolls for the vehicle are covered. Gas for a second vehicle, insurance costs, and your food and lodging are not authorized expenses.
Estimating the weight of your HHG’s will help the TO come up with an advance amount for your move. You can get up to 60% of your projected costs advanced. You may use an online weight calculator, or figure 1,000 pounds per room minus the bathroom. If you know that you don’t have many HHGs, adjust your estimate. You must repay whatever you overestimate. To be reimbursed, weigh your hauling vehicle at a weigh station before and after it is filled. Keep the official weight tickets to show that your HHGs fall within your weight allowance.
What If I Still Want to Hire a Mover?
Requesting a PPM move doesn’t mean you can’t hire a professional moving company to help with your move. In fact, it gives you the freedom to select your own moving company, which will allow you to negotiate your own price and give you more peace of mind about who is moving your things. Here are some of the recommended moving companies for the 5 biggest military bases in the U.S.:
- Fort Bragg (North Carolina): Stewart Moving and Storage
- Fort Campbell (Kentucky): Apex Moving and Storage (Clarksville, TN)
- Fort Hood (Texas): Apple Movers Killeen
- Joint Base Lewis-McChord (Washington): Tacoma Moving and Storage Co.
- Fort Benning (Georgia): Livingston Transfer & Storage Co.
To DITY or not to DITY?
The DITY move is not for everyone, but it is preferable for some service members. If you have the organizational skills to coordinate the logistics and keep track of the documentation for reimbursement, then it may be a good and profitable option.