When you move your family, there are some predictable moving costs, like the cost of gas and hotel rooms during your travel days, or the security deposit to move into a new apartment. But there are other hidden moving costs that may surprise you or catch you off guard.

Whether you do a full military move or a PPM (Personally Procured Move), you won’t be able to take most food items with you. You will also discover that you have to replace many cleaning supplies and garage items. Replacing all of these items at once will mean an expensive first trip to the grocery store. It’s important to be aware of the cost of replacing all these household staples so you can build room for it in your PCS budget.

Make the most of your DLA

Although the government does reimburse many major moving costs, there is currently no specific reimbursement for the cost of setting up your home at a new location. The military does provide a DLA (Dislocation Allowance) which is a flat rate to help with travel expenses and the hidden costs of moving. You are entitled to receive DLA whether you do a military move or a PPM. You can receive this payment in advance of your move, but it will not be automatic. You must put in a claim for your DLA with your moving paperwork.

However, DLA is calculated based on the service member’s rank and whether or not they have dependents. It does not take into account the number of dependents in the family, or the high cost of living in some parts of the country. Currently, a married E-5 rates $2,337 in DLA. If you and your spouse are moving to Oklahoma, that DLA will cover the security deposit on an apartment, the first utility bill, and several weeks of groceries. But if you are an E-5 with three kids moving to Southern California, that same DLA won’t even cover the security deposit on a small apartment. And just wait for the sticker shock when that family of five makes their first trip to a local grocery store!

Prevent sticker shock on your post PCS shopping trip

To prevent that sticker shock experience, it’s important to start saving for your move ahead of time. You can build a PCS budget that includes replacing your household pantry items. You will need to restock the fridge, the baking supplies, and the cleaning products all at once. Many families report that it is normal for them to go to a grocery store, Walmart, or Costco immediately after they move. There, they spend hundreds of dollars on essential supplies. There is usually an additional trip to Lowe’s or Home Depot where they spend hundreds more just getting supplies to make things work at the new home. For example, new purchases often include shower rods and shower curtains, bath mats, window blinds, rods, and curtains, shelving units, organization bins, and furniture.

Essential household items to replace after a PCS move

Perishable Items:

Everything in the fridge will need to be discarded or given away when you move. Also, any dry goods from the pantry that have already been opened will need to be discarded. You will likely replace these items as soon as you move, so you can start cooking at home. Plan to buy:

Condiments (ketchup, salad dressing, hot sauce, mayonnaise), milk, eggs, butter, bread, flour, sugar, cereal, baking supplies, fruits and vegetables, rice, pasta, coffee, creamer, tea

Liquid items:

Moving companies won’t pack these, and if you move yourself you don’t want to bother with them either. It isn’t worth the risk of them leaking and ruining everything else in the box. So be prepared to replace:

Oil (vegetable and olive oil), vinegar, cooking spray, cleaning products (dish soap, laundry soap, bleach, sprays, bathroom cleaner), hygiene products (shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, hand soap), medicine, and first aid items.

Hazardous items:

Most moving companies won’t allow you to move with anything that is flammable or corrosive. Pay particular attention to all the items in your garage, and be sure to dispose of the old ones properly before you move. After you move, be prepared to buy:

Batteries, light bulbs, propane tanks, gas tanks, oil for lawn equipment, paint, BBQ materials, craft and hobby products

Household Items:

Although you can pack these items on a move, most people choose not to, because the overall bulkiness and weight isn’t worth the value of the individual item. And some of these have a risk of molding during the moving process, which is something you do not want in your shipment. But when you put them all together, it can be an expensive shopping cart:

Paper products (paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, and plasticware), trash cans, plunger, toilet bowl scrubber, mops, brooms, laundry baskets, coffee filters, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, Ziploc bags, trash bags, sponges, scrub brushes, cleaning rags

Be sure to budget for these items when planning your PCS move. Then you can comfortably buy the supplies you need for your new home. You can find additional lists of items to replace here.

PCSgrades is here to help you have a smooth military move and to help military families find home. Use our resources to learn more about your duty station before you move, to research housing options, find a real estate agent, or to read reviews written by and for military families!