It's PCS time!

No. Not for us. We just got here!

But I'm sure it's time for some of you out there. And it could be a first time PCS for many of you.

I'm here to help you out with it.

There are three different types of moves you can do: DITY (Do it yourself), Partial DITY, or full military. I'll go into detail about each one. Let's start with the full military move...

Full Military Move:

It's exactly what it sounds like. The military does everything for you. This is optional for CONUS moves, but not for OCONUS, for obvious reasons.

The service member will generally get the ball rolling at TMO (or the equivalent for your relative branch). There, they will get everything in order for the move.

The moving company that the government has contracted will then contact you to set up an appointment to pick up your stuff. They'll discuss how big your home is over the phone so they can get an idea of what/how much they will be packing.

Before the movers come, GET READY. Make a list of all of your belongings and note their condition. Take pictures of electronics working (On and with the date showing somewhere), take pictures of furniture (If there is already damage, document the extent. If there is none, be sure the pictures reflect that). One of my favorite websites for maintaining a running inventory of our home goods is I use it for insurance purposes, but it would also be excellent for a PCS. You can even scan in receipts so that you have proof of purchase and prices paid. I'll get more into how important this is later.

Purge and organize! Make three piles: sell, donate, trash. A yard sale is a great way to make some extra cash before a move and to clear out your clutter. The other two are pretty self explanatory. Be honest with yourself! If you haven't used or worn it in the last 6 months, chances are you won't use it at all. Let it go!

The movers will pack everything and anything. This is what they are paid to do. They do not have the "jurisdiction", if you will, to decide what you are planning on taking with you or getting rid of. For this reason, make an "off limits" room. A lot of people choose to use an extra bathroom for this. Put all of the things you will need or want before your goods get to your new location. I know some people put some pots and pans in that room, clothes (obviously), linens, air mattresses, and even a vacuum if you have room. Your stuff is usually at least a week or so behind you. It's normal, I promise. But for the time being, you need to live in your home without all of your stuff. Take any valuables (jewelry, computers, etc.) with YOU!

The movers will NOT pack any non perishable food that has been opened and forget about the fridge. However, they will pack your garbage can with garbage still in it. Empty it. Trust me. 4 week old garbage is horrendous.

Before signing the inventory list that the movers have compiled, READ IT and compare it to your list! Sometimes they will notate damage that isn't there in order to cover themselves, and even though not all movers are shady, some are, and sometimes things won't even make it on the inventory list at all. So when it doesn't show up at your new location, their hands are clean. If there are any discrepancies between your inventory and theirs, refuse to sign until it's fixed. If a conflict arises, call TMO immediately. They will send someone over to mediate and fix it.

Plan on feeding the movers and having some water or soda available. Of course, this is optional, but it's just the nice thing to do. And please, let them use your bathroom. They're going to be there all day packing your stuff. Feed them and don't make them pee in a bottle.

If you are moving CONUS, the military will NOT pay to ship any vehicle. Getting them from A to B is entirely your responsibility. For an OCONUS move, the military will pay to move ONE (1) vehicle.

If you have pets, you are responsible for their transportation in both an OCONUS and a CONUS move. If you are going OCONUS, begin researching quarantine laws for your destination immediately. The sooner you get it started, the easier the process is.

Full DITY:

This is the route we have gone every time we move. Mostly because I'm a control freak, and partly because it was really much easier for our circumstances.

Once again, the service member will visit TMO to be pre-approved for a DITY. If you don't go through this step, you risk not being reimbursed for this move. And depending on how far you are going, that could be a huge hit.

You are given a weight allowance that is dependent on you or your spouse's rank as well as dependents (Not per dependent, just whether or not one has any). If your allowance is 8,000 pounds, and you go over it, you will not be reimbursed for that extra. The bigger your weight allowance, the bigger the amount of money you will be entitled to. However, if your allowance is 8,000 pounds, and you only have 2,000 pounds worth of belongings, you will not receive the whole allowance. Your "sell, donate, trash" piles are essential in a DITY move. I prefer not to move anything I'm not going to want when we get to our new location.

In order to determine the weight you have moved, you will have to weigh your vehicles. A lot of bases have scales, but in case yours does not, many truck stops do. Make sure the gas tank is full when you do the "full" weigh. Weigh the moving truck and any other vehicles you used to move. You will need to do this again when the vehicles/moving trucks/gas tanks are empty (the gas tank thing isn't totally necessary, but it helps a little). This is how they will determine how much weight you actually used.

The money you get for a DITY is meant to cover the mileage you drive and the weight allowance. You can get this in advance. We always get it after we reach our duty station so that if we are entitled to less than they paid out, we don't have to worry about paying any of it back. Much easier that way.

Hotel rooms and food are NOT a part of your DITY reimbursement. That money comes from something called a per diem. I'll talk about that later.

Keep the paperwork for your rental trucks/trailers, gas receipts, boxes, other packing materials, your weigh tickets, and even tolls. This will all be turned in to TMO when you reach your new duty station to determine how much money you will get.

Make sure you submit your travel claim! If what you spent comes in under what you are entitled to, congrats! You did it the right way and made a little money in the process.

Partial DITY:

It's exactly what it sounds like and will benefit you if you have more than one vehicle especially. It's often overlooked. The military will come and pack your home, while you take some of your stuff in your cars. This is a good way to ensure that even though you're having the military move your household goods, you don't get stuck paying totally out of pocket for moving two vehicles a long distance.

So you will be reimbursed for your time and travel in your personal vehicles while letting the movers do all the heavy lifting.


There is a widespread belief that a DITY move will make you thousands upon thousands of dollars.

It won't.

The money most people are seeing comes from the dislocation allowance. This may be paid out ahead of time. We always get it before the move. It's a flat rate, so we don't have to worry about the military coming and asking for it back in the end like they would for a DITY advance.

The amount you are entitled to depends on rank and whether or not the service member has a dependent.

You can find the amounts for FY 2012 here.

Do NOT forget about this allowance. It's basically free money.

You're also entitled to a per diem. This is meant to cover your food and hotels. The service member is entitled to the flat rate of 123 dollars a day. Each dependent is entitled to a per diem as well. This is the only time more than one dependent matters. Each dependent over 12 years of age is entitled to 75% the amount of the service member's per diem. Each dependent under 12, 50% the per diem. *source This is also a flat rate. If you go over that amount, then that's on you. If you stay under, then you've just made some more money.

So there you go. That's your basic guide to PCS moves. If you have any questions, leave me a comment, and I'll do my best to answer!


  1. We are getting ready to PCS and I feel like I have been ready for months! I just want to it be here already!

  2. Just curious - do you get the per diem up front or is it paid after you arrive at the new location?

    1. Okay Jenn, I have an answer.

      You can request per diem in advance, but it will only be for about 80% of what you're entitled to. You'll get the remaining portion (if you are owed any) when you file your claim.

  3. MOST helpful information I've found!! Thank you!

  4. I know the rates on per diem may have changed. But, to make things easier, and to make sure I understand, since my soldier and I have 2 children under 12, we would be entitled to 275% of the $123/day, correct? That comes out to about $338 a day. Does that mean that we will be reimbursed up to that amount per allotted day, or does that mean we will be given that much per day, so if we don't spend all that we can keep the overage?

    1. Per diem rates are still the same according to what I've found, but yes, that's right. Your husband will rate $123 a day, your two children combined will rate $123, and you'll rate $92.25, for a total of $338.

      So if you only spend $200 a day on room and board, then you've made some money. If you spend over that $338, then you're out that money and they will not reimburse you for that. Per diem allowance is a flat rate.

      Check out this link I found, it's very helpful.


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