Don't really have anyone else to ask — The Bump
Military Families

Don't really have anyone else to ask

My husband and I have only ever done an OCONUS move before and now we're looking at a move to God-only-knows-where after he finishes up Recruiting school.  From what I understand we won't have a lot of time after he gets back to get ready to go so I'll be packing while he's gone and getting the house ready.  We'd like to do a DITY/PPM move but everyone we know has not yet had their first PCS move or they've had the Army move them.  Does anyone here have any experience with moving yourself that's willing to give us some tips?  It would be greatly appreciated!
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Re: Don't really have anyone else to ask

  • I know people who have done DITY moves for their whole careers, but I've only done one, and that was when I was just starting out and didn't have much stuff.  Now I let the AF move me, it's much easier.  That being said, you will take care of your stuff much better than a moving company will, so I suppose you'll probably have less damage if you move your own stuff.  The only thing I can say about DITY moves is, get everyone you know to help load the truck, then provide pizza and beer (and water) for your helpers.  You don't want to do it all yourself, trust me on this!!

    General stuff to remember...don't pack any dirty clothes or damp towels...they get gross if you don't get to unpacking those boxes for a few days.  Use a travel towel the last couple of days and either pitch it, or bring it in the car with you, or stay in temporary lodging for a day or 2.  Also, pack a couple boxes with basics (pillows, towels, sheets, toilet paper...basically anything you will need immediately upon arrival), and tape it with some crazy colored duct tape so you can find it easily when you get there.  Also, check craigslist for moving boxes, or ask around with recently arrived military friends.  You'd be surprised how many you can get for free.  Can't think of anything else...good luck!

  • We always move ourselves. We get most of the money upfront prior to the move. We get a moving truck and weigh it empty. We pack our stuff, and we weigh it as well as our cars. We move, and we submit our expenses. We do a one way rental for the truck, and we turn it into a local location where our new duty station is. To me, it's no different than moving locally. Save receipts and pack up. 
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  • Get a one-way rental with unlimited mileage if at all possible.

    Get boxes from people who've just moved where you are (they'll be happy to get rid of them and then you only have to buy the tape and other packing materials).

    Label everything by room (Kitchen, Bedroom 1, Bathroom, etc.).  Also label "heavy" or "light" so you know where to put it on the truck (top or bottom).

    Don't move hazardous liquids (bleach, motor oil, pesticides).  They can leak, cause toxic fumes, possibly catch on fire or explode.   The best rule of thumb is not to move any liquids at all.

    Use large quilts and blankets to protect furniture, especially wood furniture.

    Use the tie down straps that come with the van to hold things in place against the walls.

    Put heavy items on bottom and distribute the weight evenly.  If you put all the heavy stuff on the right side, for example, it can cause the vehicle to be unstable during movement. 

    Pack cleaning stuff (vacuum, broom, mop) and tools last because they're the first things you'll need.

    Use a dolly. 

    Your truck should have a wood bottom but if it's metal just remember you  never pack metal on metal because it can cause sparks if it shifts in transit. Put cardboard or wood between metal items instead.

    Transportation will give your husband the amount you can be reimbursed for your DITY move. (a percentage of what they would have paid to move you).  You can compare this to the out of pocket expenses you're accruing so you stay on track not to lose money on the move.

    Remember to also do empty and full weights of your car if you put stuff in there and drive it.

    You cannot claim the weight of towing a 2nd car behind the moving truck because they expect you to drive both vehicles.  However, I think you may be able to get reimbursed the mileage for that vehicle?  Something to ask transportation about.

    Don't be too pushy about asking people to help you move.  They know you're making money off their free labor and moving is hard work.  I personally would not ask someone to help me DITY move, and I wouldn't help someone DITY move if they asked me. 

    I also don't ever get travel advances because DFAS screws those up so often but that one's up to you.

    Use a zip lock bag to save all receipts en route. 

    Make sure you have adequate renter's or homeowner's insurance that will cover your household goods while they're in transit in case they're stolen or damaged in an accident. 

  • Ahh, thank you guys so much!  Several things there I hadn't thought of yet.  I've heard both sides of the aisle about taking an advance, anyone happen to be able to tell me how that actually works?  Specifically how it's paid back?  Transportation is very difficult to get to talk to, my husband's shift doesn't line up well with most office hours and we only have one car, and they're not likely to want to tell us much yet anyway as we don't have orders.  We know we're going, he's got orders to Recruiting School, but we don't get anything as far as a "where" until possibly his second week of school.  I'm trying to find out as much as possible before then because it sounds like we'll be moving within a few weeks of him returning. 

    While we could afford to pay for the move entirely out of pocket, it could be a strain and would likely use most of our Emergency Fund.  I don't know how long we'll be looking for a place to move to, either.  Not all areas away from bases have much of a rental market and we're not interested in buying.  We really weren't expecting orders for a while yet, or I'd have made sure we were better prepared.  Serves me right, I suppose, for thinking we'd get a "normal" PCS!  :P

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  • One of my friends did have a genius (but very thorough) way of knowing what is in each box.  She knew she had a kitchen box because it was for example, say labeled in the 100's.  And then anything she had in her master bedroom was in the 200's.  She then had an excel spreadsheet that she made that said what specifically was in each box, so she didn't have to rummage through each kitchen box if she just wanted to get out the silverware on the first day.  To her, it made packing and unpacking very systematic, and less chaotic for her when she got to her new home. 

    Hope this helps!

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  • Just a few more tips for ya!

    We moved from his recruiting station to base, so when we got our truck weighed empty, we had to go to a normal (not military?) weigh station. The girl that weighed it didn't sign and date the receipt, so it caused a LOT of issues. Also, we kept all the receipts in the truck, and when he went to turn them in, the heat had made half of them go blank, so definitely keep them in your purse or inside.

    Oh, and make sure your husband is around to help pack the uhaul. That was probably our biggest mistake! :)

  • Bexx24Bexx24 member

    imageLissa832:
    We always move ourselves. We get most of the money upfront prior to the move. We get a moving truck and weigh it empty. We pack our stuff, and we weigh it as well as our cars. We move, and we submit our expenses. We do a one way rental for the truck, and we turn it into a local location where our new duty station is. To me, it's no different than moving locally. Save receipts and pack up. 

    Yep. Did a self move all the way from coast to coast, and it really wasn't bad. We've done it both ways, and Honestly, being able to keep track of the stuff myself and know where everything was, etc, made up for the hassel of doing it myself. The crazy disorder of the unpacking from the movers was just as annoying lol.

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