Moving with the military, or, what’s more frequently called a Permanent Change of Station (PCS), can cause unbelievable amounts of stress for service members and their families. It often seems surprising that “PCS” isn’t a four-letter word. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. The most important part of the PCSing process is to have a solid plan. From the moment you hear mumblings of orders to the time you’ve finally figured out where all the light switches are in your new home, we’ve got you covered. 

Before you go any further, you have to decide on how you’re going to move. There are three PCS options in the military world, and each one has their pros and cons. 

1. Let the military do it! 

We’d say sit back, relax, and watch it all happen, but we all know it’s not quite that simple. With a full military move, you leave the packing and lifting to professional moving companies contracted by the military. You won’t have to supply boxes or wrap anything, but you won’t have a lot of control, either. We’ve all heard the horror stories of missing heirlooms or broken furniture with often-complicated claims processes. While all these red flags may point to “DO IT YOURSELF!” there’s something absolutely wonderful about not having to wrap your own dishes or wading through closets. And it’s certainly faster to have a team of pros pack up your entire house in two days. Register for your move on move.mil and unlock a world of resources there, too. Want a little more oversight of your move process? Keep reading. 

2. Personal Procurement Move (PPM) or Do It Yourself (DitY)

Ah, the feeling of control. It’s all in your power to pack, unpack, and everything in between. It sounds like a lot of work (and don’t get us wrong – it is), but a PPM definitely has its perks. First, no ridiculous tales of movers packing your cat’s full litter box or last night’s leftover takeout. If you’re transporting your goods, you’ll know exactly when they leave your origin and precisely when they’ll be arriving… and you don’t need to worry about them getting lost along the way. You also have the option to hire your own commercial moving company or shipping company to transport your stuff. 

You can also make money from a PPM. According to move.mil, as an incentive to move yourself, the government will pay you 95% of their cost to hire a moving company on your behalf or perform your own move. If you can move your belongings yourself for less money, you get to keep the difference. Remember, this money is considered an incentive and is based on the household goods weight you actually transport, not to exceed your authorized weight allowance. If necessary, for most branches of military service you can receive an advance payment of up to 60% of the incentive value. 

3. Partial DitY

This is exactly what it sounds like – a little bit of both. You’ll get the ease of the military move and the peace of mind of transporting some of your own things. With a partial DitY, you can take some household goods with you, making it much easier to set up your new home before you get the rest of your stuff. You’ll get paid a small allowance based on the weight of these transported goods.

Plan My Move

Once you’ve decided how you’re going to move, look no further than Plan My Move, operated by Military One Source. Utilizing user-populated data, Plan My Move generates a super-helpful checklist to aid you in everything from scheduling movers to finding childcare. First, select whether you’re a service member or family member, then input your point of origin and where you’re heading. Then, you’ll select “yes” or “no” to the following: 

  • Are you moving with a spouse or significant other? 
  • Are you moving with an infant? 
  • Are you moving with children
  • Are you doing a personally-procured move – also known as do-it-yourself or DitY? 
  • Are you bringing a vehicle? 
  • Are you bringing a pet
  • Is anyone in your family enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program

Based on your selections, Plan My Move will create a checklist for you with all of the resources and links you need for the following: 

  • Family
  • Financial
  • Health Care
  • Household Goods
  • Housing
  • Paperwork
  • School
  • Transportation

While move.mil and Plan My Move will give you the scoop on things like how to ship your vehicle and how to file claims (and so much more!), PCSgrades is your best resource for finding the ground truth on what moving is really like. With users just like you – users who have “been there and done that,” you’ll be able to read reviews from the military community with firsthand knowledge about things like the companies you’re looking to hire, the neighborhoods you’re considering moving to, and the schools your kids may attend. Moving can be overwhelming, but with a proper checklist and our reviews, PCS can stay just a three-letter word.