The Complete Guide for Moving in the Military

Well, it’s that time again and your spouse has a new PCS orders. It’s time to wrap things up and hit the road.


Well, it’s that time again and your spouse has a new PCS orders. It’s time to wrap things up and hit the road. That means terminating the lease, selling the house, switching schools, and snagging a u-haul. It’s hard - no two ways about it. But before you and your family begin pulling out the boxes, here’s a few things to consider.

  1. Decide on the type of move
  2. Research a community
  3. Find good schools
  4. Terminate leases and bills
  5. Downsize and Pack-up

Decide on the type of move

If you’re not already aware, there are three different types of moves available. The first is the “Military Contractors Move” which involves a contracted moving company to completely take care of the move for you. The second is called a DITY move or do-it-yourself move, which as the name suggests, involves moving everything yourself. With the DITY move, however, you get reimbursed for the weight you transition to your new assignment. Then there’s the “Combination-DITY” move which, you guessed it, is a combination of the previous two - the contractors move some stuff and you move some stuff. This move is particularly beneficial if you have some large items that would be difficult to manage on your own and you’d rather pawn that off… no shame in that!

In either case, you’ll have to do some paper-work and reconcile the trip with finance when you get to your new base / post. So, do yourself a favor and save the receipts for EVERYTHING; that means gas, hotel, food, extra air in the tires, all of it.

Research a Community

No one likes bad surprises, especially when they involve your living conditions. Having had my share of moves, TDY’s, and PCS’s, I can affirmatively tell you that extensively researching the community you’re moving to is Not paranoia… it’s good practice.

Misleading photos, censored reviews, and undisclosed smells can quickly turn a cute town into a dump. Before signing a lease or choosing a neighborhood, make sure you check out google street view and join the local Facebook group. You can also use Realtor’s interactive map to view the neighborhood crime rates and local school rankings.

Find Good Schools

Speaking of schools, this might be the most important tip to consider… that is if you have little soldiers or fighter-pilots running around.

Finding good schools for your kids is very important, but not always easy. Some academies are expensive, have bullies, bad teachers, or just don’t provide the education you want for your child. Of course, not every military installation is near a big city with lots of state funding so be prepared to make some compromises. If you’re looking to compare schools in the area you're moving to, Great Schools is a huge help. It provides detailed information about every listed public or private school in a given radius.

Also keep in mind that most bases offer a free public education that’s on par with most state schools - even exceeding expectations in some cases. So don’t rule out the on-base school-house. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Terminate Leases and Bills

This should go without saying, but be sure you close out all leases, bills, and local memberships. Moving is expensive enough without tacking on unnecessary costs.

One of the easiest ways to check for memberships and subscriptions is by having a look at your bank and credit card statements. Look for gym memberships, energy autopay services, and water billing items.

When it’s time to close out your lease, and given it’s an early termination, be sure to bring your spouses PCS orders to the front desk to avoid any early termination fees or penalties.

Downsize and Pack-up

A little less intuitive, but something you’ll be glad you did it downsize before your pack-up. Not only will this lighten the load, but it will shorten the packing time, free up more boxes, and reduce some of your stress. The truth is, the more you have, the harder it is to move. I know, who knew right?

An easy way to tackle this procedure is to quickly go through your closet, attic, sheed, garage, wherever you hide your junk, select one item at a time and quickly make a judgment call as to whether or not to keep said item. Give yourself a rule and stick to it, like: “If I haven't worn this in 9 months it’s going away”. Goodwill and The Salvation Army will be happy to take your donations.

That’s it, time to hit the road and start a new adventure. Best of luck to you and your family and, of course, thank you for what you do!