- As of March 2021 -
An upcoming PCS move can be an overwhelming experience and it’s easy to overlook important aspects that could impact your overall success. Starting to plan your move a few months in advance can help relieve unnecessary stress. It’s important to understand the various ways you can carry out your move and what entitlements are available to you.
This article was co-created with Navy military spouse Kelly O.
We hope our resources help planning your move and create a reasonable timeline of events for a smooth and painless PCS.
COVID Life PCS & VA Home Loan Interview
First, we welcome you to watch our interview with one of our favorite Navy couples that PCS'd and bought a home using the VA Home Loan during the 2020 COVID-19 summer with two little ones.
Key Timeline Markers
BLUF on PCS Benefits: 00:00:30
Why they chose a PPM: 00:11:11
Using Millie Scout: 00:21:59
Your Three Options
There are three ways you can accomplish your move:
PPM, HHG, P-DITY
PPM - Personally Procured Move
The first type is referred to as a Personally Procured Move (PPM), or a complete Do-It-Yourself (DITY). Traditionally, for a DITY, the government will cover 95% of what they estimate the costs should be. However, during COVID, they are now covering 100% of the move. The primary benefits of a DITY move are complete control and flexibility of your move. You have the responsibility of packing, transporting, and unpacking your belongings. By minimizing costs, many families can find they are able to keep a worthwhile portion of the entitlement after all is said and done.
HHG - Household Goods
The second of your PCS options is having a Household Goods Move (HHG). With this, the government travel office (TMO) will coordinate with a moving company to pack up your goods and then deliver them to your new location. The benefits are that you don't have to worry about buying packing material, hiring movers, and you can be reimbursed for damaged or lost property. Ensure to take your time with property inventory on both the move out and move in dates. You have 180 days after the move to file any reports of loss or damage that occurred during the move. Once the moving company packs up your belongings, you are free to choose the way you travel to your next destination.
The last option for your PCS move, and the most popular CONUS option, is a partial do-it-yourself (P-DITY). In short it's a combination of the PPM & HHG. Here, the TMO will schedule movers for the majority of your items but you will also be reimbursed (by weight) for whatever you move yourself.
As you make your decision on what type of move you will choose, it’s important to note all entitlements (including the total weight) are based on rank and time in service.
PBP&E or ‘Pro Gear’ is given an extra allowance.
Entitlements During Your Move
There are some important entitlements you should be aware of as you prepare for your PCS move.
While you are in route to your next destination, you are given a per diem allowance for food and lodging. For each dependent you have who is 12 years and older, you get an additional ¾ rate of per diem. For any dependent under the age of 12 years, you get an additional ½ rate of per diem.
If you choose to drive as your means of travel, you will get a mileage allowance at 16 cents per mile (2021).
You will also receive Dislocation Allowance (DLA) to help offset any extra expenses brought on by the move. This is based on rank and the number of dependents you have.
For a CONUS (move within the US), you will receive 10 days of temporary lodging expense (TLE). This is to help cover any costs associated with lodging or meals at your losing or gaining location. The TLE rate is based on the local per diem and your dependent status. The TLE must not exceed more than $290 a day. You can split the 10 days between your two locations (losing and gaining).
For an OCONUS (overseas) move, you are allotted 60 days of temporary lodging assistance (TLA). This will help cover housing while you for your permanent housing. Storage options are available on either end of your move if you qualify for those services.
Planning a Timeline for Your Move
If you start planning your move in advance, it can help reduce the chance of last minute problems coming up. The following is an excerpt from the content within our PCS Checklist & Timeline Resource.
Select the image below to download the PDF.
Four Months Out
Do you have orders yet? If not, it's a good time to start reaching out to your personnel office. The family is probably eager to learn more and so start researching schools, local area, housing, and cost of living in your next city. It never hurts to reach out and request a sponsor at your new location. At this stage, it’s a good idea to make a binder for all the information and documents you will be collecting for the next few months. You can then begin to consider which type of move you’d like to have.
Three Months Out
Time to get serious about finding your next housing. With each PCS move, you are entitled 10 days (more for OCONUS) of Permissive TDY for house hunting. You will have to pay for the travel costs but the time away from work does not count as leave time. This is also a great time to help set up your spouse with resources for the new location. If you have children or pets, you will want to start saving and transferring any necessary records. Take this opportunity to start going through your household goods and seeing what you can get rid of or donate.
Two Months Out
You will want to finalize your housing situation at the new location. If you are currently renting, be sure to share a copy of your orders with your landlord and fully understand your expectations on move out. If you are doing a full DITY, now's the time to reserve your rental truck or other expensive moving arrangements.
One Month Out
You should schedule a pickup for your car if you plan on shipping it. Be sure to cancel any local memberships you have in your current location and follow up on any prescriptions needs. If you are doing a full DITY, start gathering any necessary moving supplies and any additional equipment, like a dolly or packing blankets.
Two Weeks Out
Now's the time confirm your moving date with TSP and start canceling your services in your local area. Make sure to finalize your travel route and keep all important documents (IDs, medical files, birth certificates, etc.) with you. If you are doing a DITY, you will want to start organizing your boxes and begin the packing process.
Last Week Out
There are several things not to forget in your last week and days leading up to your move. Be sure to change your address with USPS, credit cards, subscriptions, etc. This is the best time to pack the items you don’t want the moving company to pack. It’s also a great opportunity to have a garage sale and get rid of things you don’t need in your next house. Take pictures and inventory all high value inventory. This will come in handy if anything gets lost or broken.
The Items for Moving Day
If you are doing a Partial or Full DITY, make sure to weigh your vehicle, with a full tank of gas, and save the receipt. Before you vacate your current location, thoroughly clean the property and dispose of any trash. Triple check you have all needed ID's and documentation. Do a final sweep of your home and make sure you didn’t leave anything behind. Pack a bag of clothing and toiletries to have for the course of your move.
It never hurts to order some pizza and get some food for the movers. They are working long days and this gesture will go a long way. Don’t forget to fuel yourself as well; pack your bags with snacks for your car trip or flight to your next destination
If you had an HHG or P-DITY move, it’s important to inspect all high value items and note any lost or damaged items. Take the time to double check, and even triple check, your inventory list to make sure nothing is missing. As you are moving in to your new home, verify all utilities are set up in your name. You have five days to submit your travel voucher.
Welcome to your new home!
Final Thoughts from a Military Spouse
Going through a PCS move doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Knowing the process and what you are entitled to, can go a long way. It’s important to stay informed about everything that goes into a move. I, as a Military spouse, have been through several PCS moves myself and have learned something from each one. I have three young children and that is definitely an added dynamic. During our past two moves, I have gone ahead of my husband with the kids to the next destination. This isn’t always feasible but it made it easier for my husband on the back end to finish all the last minute details without the kids running around.
One of the most important things I do is to always keep important documents (social security cards, birth certificates, etc.) aside and never let the movers pack them up. Included in this, is anything I deem as “irreplaceable.” If I can’t buy it again, I don’t want the movers to pack it. We thankfully have had very smooth moves but you never know what could end up damaged or lost.
I, personally, have never had the movers unpack our belongings. We decided we would rather have control over that part of the process. If you choose that route, don’t feel you need to unpack everything right away as It can be overwhelming. Take this from someone who moved into a new home 3 days before I had my second child and felt the need to unpack the majority of our boxes. It will happen but it doesn’t have to happen all at once.
Lastly, my biggest tip for once you get to your new destination, is to network. I always started looking for mom groups when I moved to a new city. It’s so important to start making those connections early, especially since you never are in a place for too long.
For official information, you can visit .
To learn more on your travel entitlements visit: https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/travelreg.cfm
To find a public scale:
To help your kids understand: https://militarykidsconnect.health.mil/Military-Life/Moving
We always enjoy supporting Military owned businesses.
Stressless PCS Kit will send you a kit in the mail with labels, door hangers and a color-coded room chart to help with your packing. Created by a military spouse, these kits help provide structure when it comes to labeling your goods.
Millie Scouts are there to help with managing your property or helping you choose a rental property when you can’t see it yourself. The Scouts are Military spouses who have many years of PCSing, renting out homes and buying homes under their belt. Excellent resource if you can't travel due to COVID restrictions!
Other Housing Resources:
To find short term rental/lodging for yourself or the family that meets Federal Travel Regs (FTR): https://pcsatease.com
20% off a Budget Truck rental with code USMIO:
10% off a Penske Truck rental with code MILITARY:
10% off a PODS container with code SERV10:
$50 off military move from U-Pack with code MIL50:
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