We're USMC and Moving: Let them pack? — The Bump
Military Families

We're USMC and Moving: Let them pack?

So DH says that the military will send someone to pack up our house for our next move.  I've never moved with the military before.  This sounded strange to me since no one's house is perfectly organized the way you might group things when packing.  I would almost rather pack myself, even with a newborn.  What do I need to know?
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Re: We're USMC and Moving: Let them pack?

  • Definitely let them pack you, especially with a newborn! Depending on how much stuff you have, it'll only take a day or two. Just make sure to pack beforehand anything you'll want to take with you, especially valuables. And take photos of your big expensive items in case anything is broken. Moving is so much easier when you don't have to pack.
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  • My understanding is that if they are going to move your belongings, they are required to pack them. So, unless you plan to do a full DITY (do it yourself), they will pack everything. You can organize things however you want before they arrive. My advice would be to put your nice linens and towels in bags so that the packers don't use them as padding when packing boxes. The movers don't think when packing, they simply wrap and pack. There are stories upon stories of trash, dirty diapers and completely random items being packed and shipped.

    The items that you don't want packed, put in an empty closet or in your car. Be certain that your DH keeps out his important documents and uniform.
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  • If you want to pack yourself then you will have to move yourself too.  Due to liability and reimbursements for damage, moving companies contracted by the military will not move boxes or items you pack yourself.  They will even un-pack and re-pack boxes you do yourself in some cases.

    What we do is we have a few boxes of items (stuff that is valuable, a "survival box" of items we like to have before our HHGs arrive, anything else we want with us) and we pack it up and put it aside.  We put all items that need to either stay with the house (fireplace screens, etc) and those boxes in a half-bath and tape the door shut and put big signs that say "don't pack this room".

     As for everything else, we try to get somewhat organized.  We make sure all clothing is clean, all trash is emptied (yes, they will pack your trash sometimes. ugh), and desks are free of clutter.  We take the pictures off the walls and then let them pack.

    They pack VERY quickly... LIke, our 2,500 square foot house was packed in a day.  But in 3 PCSs we havent had that much damage at all.  Things have worked out. 

    Aside from what I mentioned above, the only other important thing I can think of is to be present while they are packing.  Theft happens and you need to be a presence.

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  • Let them move you! I was so thankful I actually let them do this for our last move. I did end up packing some stuff myself in storage totes, and they just taped them shut and marked them as I packed them so they were liable for damages.
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  • Everything the others said. I can't imagine packing for a move with my two young kids underfoot, much less a newborn.  Organize first, but then by all means let the movers take care of packing!
  • They have rules that they're supposed to abide by but if you ask them nicely they'll take boxes you packed. It takes me about 1/2 hour to take pictures of all of our furniture. KEEP THEM ON HAND. We had quite a bit damaged in our last move from FL to VA and the company for filing a claim isn't the quickest or easiest. 

    I also provided lunch (Like KFC or chinese) and that softens them up. They are not the brightest. It took them two days to pack up our house (4 bedrooms) and they will send all sorts of people. One guy was about 80, the lead guy was about 30ish and there was an 18 yr old kid. I did watch them.

    OH.. make sure that they label boxes appropriately. I found kitchen items with my frkn living room stuff because the rooms were next to each other and they just started throwing things in a box at one point).

    I greeted them when they showed up and gave them a tour of the house and stressed what items in each room were expensive or meant a lot and I expected great care to be taken, 2 or 3 boxed I watched being wrapped for fragile items. They will also leave some boxes behind if you request so that you can take them with you personally. Stay with them the whole day. I would move all valuables and jewelry to your luggage before hand.

    If they're good I tipped them each $20. Make sure when you tip anyone that you give the money to each individual directly and not just the lead guy. They weren't the most honorable with each other and two guys actually said "make sure you give directly to each person". There were a few guys I did not tip when they showed up and unpacked us due to late arrival, laziness and being mouthy.

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  • You can have them move you, or you can do a DITY move.  We always do DITY moves.  We lived in base housing when we first got married.  They were tearing down the complex we lived in, so we were reassigned to a different housing community.  On that move alone, we made over $500.  With our last PCS, we made over $3000 moving from NC to VA.  With the budget cuts, I'm told that they are a bit more tight with money, but I'm sure you can still make money off of it.  They only way I will consider letting TMO move us is if we PCS'd to the opposite coast.  I've moved multiple times with DS.  The first was when he was 5 months old.  I just prefer to do it myself.
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  • Agree with PP! They pack everything however they want. We found random *** boxed together.  Definitely keep a room with BIG signs with the stuff you don't want packed. Plan for at least two weeks of essentials, as sometimes you won't get your stuff delivered right away.

    We let them pack for our first move, since we were moving west coast to east coast and there was a six month gap in between (husband had to do further training, I went to live with my parents). They stored everything until we were ready. It was so not stressful - they came, packed, and left. Only a few minor things were damaged and one box of linens was lost. We were reimbursed for everything damages/missing. The only pain in the ass was having to live on the floor of an apartment for four or five weeks until they could get our stuff out of storage. Looking back though, it was sort of an adventure! It was like camping!

    Our other two moves were DITY. They pay based on weight and reimburse for the truck rental and all that. I don't know the full details since I didn't see any of the paperwork, but I know we made about $3500 when we moved up here a couple years ago. It really depends how much you love or hate packing and how much time you want to spend.

  • Get used to it! All military PCS moves will be packed and moved for you :) I am extremely OCD when it comes to organization but you basically sit back and supervise the move. You will have to do some of the prep work (taking down pictures, curtain rods, etc). You will be able to watch them pack every item so don't be afraid to speak up if they are doing something you think is wrong!
    TTC our first Navy baby! Me:27 DH:30, together since 8/2003, Married on 7/2006
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  • I like the post that says " They are not the brightest" this is TRUE! The ones we had for our move in March were morons. Left a mess, damaged some stuff in our apt, and used our bathroom the first day and never flushed the toilet.. Grown men who cant flush a toilet boggles my mind.

    Watch what they are doing, take pictures and call the 1-800 number if you have any complaints. I did this  a lot.  I wouldn't allow them to leave and I wouldn't sign their paperwork till someone came over to see what they damaged.  It was only a 5 dollar piece of plastic for a light cover, but still. It was something I shouldn't have to pay for.

    Inventory everything beforehand. If you dont like how they pack something, tell them to do it over. If you dont like who they send, call the number and have it changed.  

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  • One more thing--they use a code of sorts to record how "damaged" your furniture is before they move/take possession of it. The legend should be on the paperwork, somewhere. They will indicate that your furniture is in much worse shape than it really is to protect themselves. So, when they are wrapping things like your kitchen or dining room table, or dressers in your bedroom, make sure that they have not written down that your nearly brand-new items have dents and dings all over the front and back. Make certain it is a fair representation of your furniture.
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    Our IVF miracle was born at 41w6d while Daddy was deployed to Iraq.
    Marni is a pre-e/HELLP Syndrome and PPD/PPA survivor!
  • image Smudges*Mom:
    One more thing--they use a code of sorts to record how "damaged" your furniture is before they move/take possession of it. The legend should be on the paperwork, somewhere. They will indicate that your furniture is in much worse shape than it really is to protect themselves. So, when they are wrapping things like your kitchen or dining room table, or dressers in your bedroom, make sure that they have not written down that your nearly brand-new items have dents and dings all over the front and back. Make certain it is a fair representation of your furniture.

    Ditto this a million! They have codes they use like "SC" for scratched. Its all at the top of the packing list that you have to sign. Each piece of furniture will be given a condition when they move it. They tend to mark things in poorer condition than they really are so that if they get damaged in the move, its already marked as damaged and they aren't liable. We had a BRAND NEW leather sofa that was delivered the day before the move and they tried to label it as scratched in various places. Then when they are done packing and loading they hand you this packing forms and most people just sign them quickly without realizing that their things were marked as damaged. And they use really sloppy writing so its hard to dispute things later. On one of our moves they lost our kayak and then when we disputed it, they tried to deny it even being on the packing list, even though I could make out a line item with it sloppily listed.

    So basically just keep an eye on everything, take pictures and make it known that you won't sign anything you aren't happy with. On our last move the head mover could tell that I was being diligent and he would confirm all the furniture conditions with me because I think he knew I wasn't going to just blindly sign everything.

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  • image Smudges*Mom:
    One more thing--they use a code of sorts to record how "damaged" your furniture is before they move/take possession of it. The legend should be on the paperwork, somewhere. They will indicate that your furniture is in much worse shape than it really is to protect themselves. So, when they are wrapping things like your kitchen or dining room table, or dressers in your bedroom, make sure that they have not written down that your nearly brand-new items have dents and dings all over the front and back. Make certain it is a fair representation of your furniture.

    This exactly.  The ONE time we let them move us we had a lot of damage and they stole some things as well.  If they need to write that something is damaged, make sure they are VERY specific about it.  For example, we had an end table with an attached lamp. The shade on the lamp needed a little TLC, but the table itself was fine.  When we got to our next duty station, it looked like a 500lb man sat on it the way it broke.  Of course, they wouldn't fix because it was "damaged."

    We did a DITY move from VA to CA with a two week old and a 17 month old.  I would do it again in a heartbeat. 

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  • We're military but we haven't moved around anywhere yet. However, our neighbour, who we were close to, moved a few months ago and let the military sort everything out for her. She said it was absolutely wonderful. As PPs have said, she took very personal things like photos, just in case, and organised things as best she could into where she wanted them (e.g. she tried to put things in piles as to how she would have packed them). She said that they will pack literally everything in the house, though, so you have to make sure the fridge is empty and the trash is taken out, etc. But she just chilled at our house while the movers did everything!

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