A woman standing in front of moving boxes

Benefits of a Do-It-Yourself Move

When a service member receives PCS orders within the United States, they have two options for moving all their belongings from point A to point B. The first option is to sign up for a government move, where a professional moving company packs up all your things, drives them to your new location, stores them until you have housing and then delivers them to your next home. The second option is to do the packing and moving yourself. Formerly called a Do-It-Yourself, or DITY move, this is now called a Personally Procured Move, or PPM.

Even though a PPM is a lot more work, there are many reasons it is beneficial and still a popular choice for military families. Yes, it’s sweaty and exhausting, but in the end, it might be the right way to move your family.

You can make money doing a PPM.

This is the main reason a PPM is attractive to military families, since the Department of Defense is approved to reimburse families a percentage of the cost of hiring a professional mover. Rates are based on service member’s rank, number of dependents and distance to the next duty station, so it’s easy to look up what your move is worth.

Of course, that amount won’t be your total profit, since you will have to reserve a moving truck, purchase boxes and packaging materials, pay for the gas in the moving truck and possibly ship your other vehicles. You will have to weigh your moving truck when it is empty, then again after it is loaded, and keep your receipts to request reimbursement. But if you do your PPM correctly, you can walk away with some extra cash. You can use that money to get new furniture, to cover your first month’s rent or for any of the other major purchases you face after a PCS move.

A PPM gives you more control.

For years, military families have been sharing stories of their bad experiences with the military-approved moving companies. With thousands of moves every year, it’s not surprising that there are problems. But potentially having your items lost, mislabeled, or broken upon delivery, can be scary.

When you move yourself, you have control of your belongings the entire time – you decide how to pack precious items, you choose where to stack them in the truck and you ensure they are locked up each night when you drive. When you do a PPM, your boxes won’t get lost in a warehouse or accidentally shipped to another family.

A PPM happens on your timeline.

Have you ever spent half the day waiting for the movers to arrive because one of their crew members couldn’t make it through the base gate security? Or had your delivery date changed at the last moment? How would you feel if you paid money to board your pets or send your kids to child care, only to find that the moving company had changed the schedule?

When you do a PPM, you don’t have to deal with any of those changes. You can get a mobile storage unit and start packing weeks before your move…or get help from friends and move everything in one day. When you are driving the moving truck, all your household belongings arrive at the new place the same day you do, so there’s no sleeping on the floor and waiting in an empty place for your furniture to be delivered. One great benefit of a PPM is being independent and making the move fit your own schedule.

You can pack things the way you want.

No one wants to see their box of heirloom china tossed onto the moving truck or crushed below a larger piece of furniture. It’s frustrating when movers throw clean clothes into a box of greasy parts from the garage. You can tell the difference between dog toys and toddler toys…but maybe your movers can’t. Careless packing can ruin your items or cause a lot of extra cleanup on unpacking day.

With a PPM, you control the packing process. You don’t have to direct traffic or repeat your requests. You can gather items into the correct rooms, label the boxes in a way that makes sense and organize things according to your own system to make unpacking go more smoothly. That peace of mind might be worth all the extra heavy lifting.

Next time you are preparing for a PCS move, consider doing a PPM. If you’re willing to put in the extra time and work, and you can round up some friends to help out on moving day, then you can enjoy the benefits of a PPM.

Lizann Lightfoot
Written By Lizann Lightfoot
Marine Corps Spouse

Lizann is the Seasoned Spouse – a Marine Corps wife, mom of four and published author. She loves writing, exploring new duty stations and chocolate!

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