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Military Moving 101: A Comprehensive Guide To Understanding The Process

Military moving is an integral part of service life that often comes with its unique set of challenges and stressors. From frequent relocations to handling logistics and ensuring the safety of personal belongings, military families face a myriad of issues that can be daunting to navigate.

This guide aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the military moving services and the defense personal property system to help simplify the process, focusing on both the practicalities and the emotional aspects. We’ll delve into the specifics of military relocation, exploring the services provided by dedicated military movers to make the process less overwhelming.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be better equipped to manage your move and potentially turn what could be a stressful experience into a smoother, more manageable transition.

What to Know Before Your Military Move

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The prospect of a military move often carries a mix of anticipation and anxiety. There’s a considerable amount to arrange and coordinate, and getting your ducks in a row before the move can significantly lessen the stress.

Here’s a detailed look at what you need to know before your military move, with special focus on organizing your paperwork, planning your move effectively, and acquainting yourself with your new location.

1. Organizing Your Paperwork

Getting all your paperwork in order should be your first priority. This step is crucial as it lays the groundwork for a smooth move. You need to gather your orders and all important documents, such as birth certificates, social security cards, passports, medical records, and school records if you have children. Ensure these documents are safely stored and easily accessible during the move.

Make copies of your orders and essential documents as well. In case of overseas assignments, check if any additional documentation, like visas, is required. Organizing your paperwork ensures you have all the necessary information at hand, facilitating an efficient and less stressful move.

2. Comprehending Your Entitlements

Understand what your military move, often referred to as a Permanent Change of Station (PCS), entitles you, including aspects like the transportation command’s role and your temporary lodging expense. This might include travel allowances, transportation for your privately-owned vehicle, temporary lodging expenses, or dislocation allowance.

Check the Defense Travel Management Office’s website for a comprehensive explanation of entitlements. Understanding these aspects can help you budget and plan accordingly, saving you from unwelcome surprises later.

3. Planning Your Move

Planning is instrumental in making your military move manageable. Once you have your orders, reach out to your base transportation office or personal property shipping office to kickstart the moving process. If you have the option, decide between a personally procured move where you do all the heavy lifting or a government-contracted move facilitated by the defense department.

A DITY move allows you more control but also means more responsibility, while a government-contracted move can take some pressure off but may offer less flexibility. Create a moving timeline to keep track of tasks such as notifying your landlord, scheduling shut-off dates for utilities, and changing your address.

4. Budgeting for Your Move

While many costs associated with a military move, including temporary lodging expenses, are covered, there will be out-of-pocket expenses you should anticipate to save money. Budgeting will help you manage these without getting overwhelmed. Consider factors like travel costs, meals, temporary accommodation, and costs of setting up your new home.

Make use of the moving allowances, but be prepared for unexpected costs. Remember, planning and budgeting go hand in hand, helping you make your move as economical as possible.

5. Managing Household Goods

Decide what household goods you’re taking on the moving truck, what’s going into storage, and what you can sell or donate to save money. If you’re moving overseas, consider the size of the housing and what you may need.

If you opt for a government-contracted move, be aware of your weight allowance to avoid any excess weight charges. If you’re doing a DITY move, you might want to consider downsizing significantly to make the move more manageable.

6. Familiarizing Yourself With Your New Location

Finally, military spouses, in particular, should invest time in researching the new duty station and its surroundings as it eases the transition. Learn about the local culture, climate, housing, schools, healthcare facilities, and community support for military families. Try to locate necessities like the nearest grocery store, hospital, and other amenities.

Connect with other families already stationed there through social media groups or military spouse networks. This preparation can help you settle in quicker, making the new place feel more like home.

Understanding Different Types of Military Moves

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Just as military life is filled with various duties and obligations, military moves come in many forms. As a service member or a military family, understanding these different types of military moves can provide a sense of preparedness and ease the transition.

Here, we’re breaking down the four main types of military moves: Permanent Change of Station (PCS), Temporary Duty (TDY), Deployment, and Retirement. Each of these moves comes with its own unique challenges and opportunities, and knowing what to expect can make the journey smoother.

Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Moves

A Permanent Change of Station, or PCS, is the most common type of military move. This move takes place when a service member is issued orders to move to a new duty station. It’s a significant transition that happens every two to three years and can be either voluntary or involuntary, depending on the needs of the service.

Key aspects of PCS moves include:

  • Timing: PCS moves can happen any time of the year, and service members usually receive orders two to three months before the move date.
  • Frequency: These moves are regular, often occurring every two to three years.
  • Scope: PCS moves can be domestic or international, so they may involve significant logistics and planning.
  • Resources: The military provides substantial resources for PCS moves, including moving services, travel allowances, and housing assistance.

Temporary Duty (TDY) Moves

Less frequent but still significant are Temporary Duty (TDY) moves. These moves occur when service members are assigned to a location away from their permanent duty station for a limited period, usually six months or less.

Key points to consider with TDY moves are:

  • Duration: TDY assignments are typically short-term, often lasting six months or less.
  • Purpose: These moves are often for specific tasks or missions, such as specialized training or temporary project work.
  • Support: The military covers travel, lodging, and per diem costs for service members on TDY assignments.
  • Impact: While less disruptive than PCS moves, TDY moves still require careful planning, especially for military families managing the home front during the service member’s absence.

Deployment Moves

Deployments are a crucial part of military life, though perhaps the least favored type of move. Deployments often involve assignments to combat zones or areas of strategic importance and typically last six to twelve months.

Crucial aspects of deployment moves include:

  • Nature: Deployments often involve active duty service in challenging environments.
  • Timing: The timing of deployments can be unpredictable and may require quick adjustments.
  • Length: These assignments usually last between six and twelve months but can be extended.
  • Support: The military provides various forms of support for deployed service members and their families, from logistical and financial assistance to emotional support resources.

Retirement Moves

Retirement moves mark a significant milestone in a military career. When service members retire, they have the option to move to any location they desire, making this move typically voluntary and highly personal.

Essential elements of retirement moves are:

  • Choice: Unlike other types of moves, retirement moves offer complete choices regarding the destination.
  • Timing: Retirement moves can occur after a service member completes their term of service, which can vary from 20 years or more.
  • Benefits: The military offers retirement move benefits, including moving services and travel allowances.
  • Planning: Retirement moves require thoughtful planning, as they often coincide with a major lifestyle change.

Read More: The Responsibilities of a Military Moving Company and How to Find the Right One

A Comprehensive Moving Checklist for All Types of Military Moves

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Understanding the different types of military moves is just the first step. Proper preparation and organization can make a world of difference in making your move as smooth as possible, regardless of the type of move you’re embarking on.

Here’s a comprehensive checklist based on the defense personal property system to help you stay on top of things during this significant transition.

1. Organize Important Documents

Whether it’s a PCS, TDY, Deployment, or Retirement move, having your paperwork in order is crucial.

  • Military Orders: Keep multiple copies of your orders. Make sure one copy is always readily available during your move.
  • Identification Documents: These include military IDs, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, passports, and birth certificates.
  • Financial and Legal Documents: These may include your lease or mortgage documents, car registration and insurance, medical records, school records, and power of attorney.
  • Inventory: Make a detailed list of all your household items before the movers arrive. Photograph or video valuable items as a record.

2. Plan Your Move

Planning your move can significantly reduce stress and help prevent last-minute problems.

  • Moving Company: If you’re not doing a Do-It-Yourself (DITY) move, you’ll need to book a reputable military moving company.
  • Accommodation: Arrange temporary accommodation if there’s a gap between your move-out and move-in dates.
  • Utilities: Schedule utility disconnections at your old residence and connections at your new one.
  • Mail: Update your address with USPS and inform relevant people and institutions about your move.
  • Packing: Start packing non-essential items a few weeks before your move. Label all boxes clearly.

3. Familiarize Yourself With Your New Location

Research your new location to make the transition smoother.

  • Housing: Learn about housing options, whether on-base or in the local community.
  • Schools: Research local schools if you have children. Arrange for school records to be transferred.
  • Healthcare: Understand the healthcare options available, and transfer medical records.
  • Local Services: Identify essential services and amenities like grocery stores, banks, and recreation facilities.
  • Community: Connect with local community groups or online forums to make settling in easier.

4. Handle Finances

Financial planning is essential to avoid unexpected expenses.

  • Budget: Plan your move budget carefully, accounting for costs like travel, meals, and temporary accommodation.
  • Expenses: Keep all receipts. Many moving expenses are reimbursable.
  • Pay and Allowances: Understand your pay, allowances, and benefits related to the move. Contact your finance office if you have questions.
  • Insurance: Check your household goods insurance coverage. Consider additional coverage if necessary.

5. Take Care of Dependents

If you have family members or pets, there are additional considerations.

  • Family: Keep communication open. Prepare your family for the move, especially your children.
  • School: Notify your children’s current school of the move and arrange for record transfers.
  • Pets: Check pet travel regulations, especially for overseas moves. Update pet ID tags and consider a pet relocation service if needed.
  • Elderly Relatives: If you have elderly dependents, consider their needs, such as medical care and comfort during travel.

6. Prepare for Departure and Arrival

The days leading up to the move and the initial days after arrival can be hectic.

  • Farewells: Say goodbye to friends and neighbors. Share your new contact information.
  • Essentials: Pack a bag of essentials for each family member to cover a few days during transit.
  • Clean: Clean your current home or arrange for professional cleaning.
  • Arrival: Plan for the first few days at your new location. You might not have your household goods immediately.

Moving can be a complex process, but with careful planning and organization, it’s manageable. Regardless of the type of move, this checklist can guide you through the process and help you cover all the bases. Remember, every successful move begins with a well-organized plan. Stay patient and flexible, and soon enough, your new location will start feeling like home.

Why Should You Choose Unmatched Services of Military Movers?

Navigating the ins and outs of a military move can be an intimidating prospect. At Military Movers, we specialize in making this process as straightforward and stress-free as possible. Our comprehensive range of services, combined with our dedication to customer satisfaction, ensures that every aspect of your move is handled with utmost professionalism and care.

1. All-Inclusive Moving Services

Our all-inclusive moving solutions cater to every conceivable aspect of military moves. Whether you’re dealing with a Permanent Change of Station (PCS), a Temporary Duty Yonder (TDY), Deployment, or even Retirement, we’ve got you covered.

  • Packing and Unpacking: With years of experience under our belt, our team excels in efficient packing, ensuring that your belongings, from the most mundane household items to valuable and delicate possessions, are secure for transportation. We also offer unpacking services at your new location, arranging your items just the way you want.
  • Loading and Transportation: Our personnel are adept at meticulous loading and unloading procedures, treating your possessions with the care they deserve. We leverage our advanced satellite tracking technology for real-time tracking of your shipment, offering you peace of mind throughout the transportation process.

2. Exceptional Storage Solutions

Beyond mere moving services, we also provide both temporary and long-term storage solutions. Whether you need storage during your move or a more permanent solution, our climate-controlled facilities ensure that your items, including sensitive ones, are well-preserved.

3. Customized Moving Plans

Understanding that each move is unique, we work closely with you to develop a custom moving plan that caters to your specific needs. Our specialists factor in every detail, from your current location to your destination, the volume of items to be moved, and your personal preferences, to formulate a plan that ensures a seamless move.

4. Transparent Pricing and Affordability

At Military Movers, we believe in absolute transparency when it comes to pricing. Our customers appreciate our no-hidden-fee policy and the affordability of our services. We are committed to providing top-tier service without compromising on affordability.

5. Superb Customer Service

Customer satisfaction is the cornerstone of our operations at Military Movers. Our team is available around the clock to answer your questions, address your concerns, and provide guidance every step of the way. Our excellent customer service, coupled with our professional execution, has earned us glowing testimonials from satisfied military and non-military customers alike.


Military moves are undeniably challenging, with numerous factors to consider and a multitude of tasks to handle. But with the right moving company at your side, it doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience.

With our wealth of experience and dedicated services, Military Movers is well-positioned to be your trusted partner during this transition. We understand the unique needs and challenges of military relocations, and we’ve honed our services to provide seamless, stress-free moves for military personnel and their families.

If you are preparing for a military move and require a professional, reliable, and customer-oriented moving service, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Contact us today and let us help you turn a complex moving process into a smooth and hassle-free experience.


How far in advance should I contact Military Movers for my move?

We recommend reaching out to us as soon as you receive your orders. This allows us ample time to plan and execute your move seamlessly.

What services do Military Movers offer?

Military Movers offers a comprehensive range of services, including local and long-distance moving, packing and unpacking, and temporary or long-term storage solutions. We also provide customized moving plans and real-time tracking of your shipment.

Do you serve non-military customers?

Absolutely! While we specialize in providing services to military members and their families, we are open to anyone needing professional moving assistance. Our goal is to make your move as smooth and stress-free as possible.

What measures do you take to ensure the safety of my belongings?

At Military Movers, we employ efficient packing techniques to safeguard your items during transportation. Our moving carriers are equipped with advanced satellite tracking technology for real-time monitoring of shipments, and we offer climate-controlled storage facilities for your valuables.

How do you calculate the cost of a move?

Our costs are based on a transparent pricing plan, which considers various factors such as the distance of the move, the volume of items to be transported, and any additional services like packing and storage. You can contact us for a free, no-obligation quote for your specific moving needs.

Mia Miller

Mia Miller, a true wordsmith, documents the journey of Military Movers through her engaging blog posts. She ensures that our stories, mirroring our commitment and dedication to facilitating military moves, reach a broad audience.