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Relocating: To DITY or Not to DITY

“Do a DITY, DITY dum, DITY do.” I kid you not when I say that this was all I knew of DITY moves when I became a military spouse. If you know anything about DITYs, you know that the lyrics of that song are less than helpful in explaining just what in the world a DITY move is. It’s either some code that I have yet to crack or the “DITY” song and the DITY move aren’t even remotely related.

My money’s on the latter, but let’s put a pin in that while I give you some information that may actually be helpful. To decide whether or not a DITY is “dum” or a “do” for you and your family, you need to know exactly what those four little letters stand for and what the process entails.

A DITY move is simply a do it yourself move or a personally procured move, and it means just that. You do the packing, heavy lifting, truck driving (or hiring of a truck driving service). Before you start tuning me out thinking a DITY is a lot of work when the military will just move all of your stuff for free, you should know that you are compensated for your elbow grease.

Now that you know what a DITY move is, you have to ask a very important question: Is it the right choice for you? Only you and your family can make that call. Everyone is different; I would love to do a DITY move because I’m mildly obsessed with the way my belongings are organized and packed, but my husband grew up moving in typical PCS fashion with contracted packers, movers and truck drivers and insists that is the way to go. So, I let him win that battle since I win basically everything else; you’re welcome, dear.


Taking on a DITY move requires a little effort on your part, but for some people the satisfaction of packing things according to your timeline and organizational standards is well worth any extra phone calls and trips to collect boxes. For others, the chance to make even a little profit on a reimbursement makes the process worthwhile. Whatever your reasons, consider these pros of opting for a DITY move.

You are in control. If you enjoy being in control of every detail from carefully wrapping your crystal to packing and unpacking at your own pace, you might consider a DITY move. Remember that you’ll also be in charge of driving your household goods from one duty station to the next, which can be quite an undertaking whether you plan to drive the truck yourself or hire a moving service at your own expense.

Profit potential. It may seem like you are footing the bill, but you may be reimbursed in full for your DITY move, and in some cases, military families even make a little cash depending on how much your household goods weigh, how far you move and the amount of tax withheld from your reimbursement. The reimbursement process through the Traffic Management Office/ Joint Personal Property Shipping Office may vary slightly depending on your service branch, but you may need any or all of the following in order to file for your reimbursement:

  • Orders.
  • TMO/JPPSO documents.
  • Vehicle weight tickets, both empty and full.
  • All receipts.

As you begin to research your DITY move, be sure to contact the TMO/JPPSO at your destination for a full list of what you need in order to receive your reimbursement as quickly as possible.

Not to DITY

Let’s face it; a DITY move is not for everyone. If you’re someone who read the first pro of a DITY move, “You’re in control,” and shuddered at the idea of researching and nursing paper cuts from all that packing paper, you may want to avoid the DITY move at all costs.

Every person and situation is different; you may want to opt out of a DITY if you:

  • Have a short moving time frame.
  • Have little to no free time to pack.
  • Prefer the hands-off PCS approach.
  • Are moving solo because your service member is deployed or has already moved ahead of you, your shipment and family.
  • Can’t afford to front the money for moving costs.

Deciding whether or not to DITY is a tough call. Start weighing your options early. If you decide to do a DITY (DITY dum, DITY do…last time, I promise) you’ll need plenty of preparation and packing time. Make some phone calls to your TMO/JPPSO, and talk to other military families who have done a DITY move. Really listen to their experiences and advice if you’re seriously considering a DITY move.

The good—I guess we could call it good—news is that if you try it and don’t like it, you can always opt for a full service PCS for your next move (or next 10 moves).

Kristi Stolzenberg
Written By Kristi Stolzenberg
Marine Spouse

Kristi started writing for Blog Brigade as a new Milspouse in 2008, and all of a sudden, she’s a seasoned (but not overly salty) Marine spouse.

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