Woman smiling in front of moving boxes

Why We Chose a PPM/ DITY Move


Last year, we completed our third successful Personally Procured Move. Formerly called a Do-It-Yourself, this is when you get PCS orders and, instead of using the military moving company, you take responsibility for your own move. Is it a lot of work? Yes. A PPM is sweaty, messy and requires A LOT of organization. Is it tough to pack up your entire house into boxes? Absolutely. I usually spend weeks sorting, wrapping and packaging everything we own…and that’s before we figure out how to get it onto the truck!

Each PPM had its own challenges, and there were times when I swore afterwards that we wouldn’t put ourselves through it again. But obviously we found enough reasons to keep choosing the PPM over the full military move! Here are the top reasons we chose a PPM, three times:

Earn money. Let’s be honest, this is the big motivation behind all the labor involved in a PPM. I don’t pack up all those boxes for fun! When you move yourself, the military will pay you 95% to 100% of what they would pay a professional moving company to pack and move your household goods. Your total compensation is based on the service member’s rank and the actual weight of your household goods. You can choose whether you do all the work yourself or hire a moving truck, shipping company or even extra movers to help you. The more help you hire out, the less profit you will make. When we do all the packing and loading ourselves and rent a moving truck, we generally earn $5,000 to $10,000 on our move.

More control. When you choose a military move, you are subject to the available dates of the moving company and are forced to accept any delays. When you do a PPM, you have a lot more control. You can choose to pack for a month or do it all in one crazy week. You can grab some friends and load a moving truck in one day or rent storage PODS to do the loading gradually. If you want time to clean before you check out of your house on a certain date, then doing the pack-out yourself guarantees you won’t be waiting on movers to finish their job. And the risk of having your stuff lost or stolen is greatly reduced when you move it yourselves.

You don’t have to drive a moving truck. Driving that enormous truck across the country can be a daunting task, especially if you have kids and pets with you. However, a PPM doesn’t mean you have to drive the truck. Other options include renting PODS containers to be delivered to your new home, paying a trucking company to drive after you load a trailer or even hiring a moving company. You usually make the most money if you drive a moving truck yourself but be sure to compare prices for the other options. It’s often worth it not to drive that inconvenient truck to every hotel along your route!

Better care for your stuff. Professional movers are experienced and good at their jobs. But ultimately, no one will care about your things as much as you do. When you’re packing your house, only you know which items belong together or need to end up in different rooms. You can distinguish between items that need to be packed in suitcases versus things that go to long-term storage. And you probably won’t accidentally pack the kitchen garbage or the cat litter like *ahem* we’ve heard some movers have done.

Less time without your stuff. Moving companies typically drive your household goods directly to a storage facility where they can keep it for several weeks or months before delivering it to you at your new address. Sometimes this is necessary if you are on a waitlist for base housing or you are house hunting at the new location. But if you’re able to move door-to-door, then a PPM is the fastest way to get your stuff on the other end. If you drive your own moving truck, it will arrive the same day you do! If you hire a trucking company, you can choose your delivery date. We usually “house-camp” and sleep on the floors for just one night on each end of our move to save the most money.

Get paid for your work. Every time we move, it is a temporary disruption to my job. Even though I work from home with a portable job, there are typically several weeks of lower pay because of all the turmoil from moving. If I’m going to lose wages from PCS orders, I like getting paid for a “side job” of packing boxes for a few weeks instead. Any type of move will disrupt your working schedule, so you might as well get paid for your physical labor with a PPM.

A PPM is not easy, but it may be worth it for your family. Weigh all the pros and cons and consider whether your next move should be 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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1 Comment

  • Sidney Boardman says:

    Good day Lizann, I read your information on doing a PPM move. Just a couples of notes. They are paying 100% all the time now. Also please please please always implore the importance of empty and full certified weight tickets. Whether the member is renting a vehicle or using PODS, etc. As you say the move is paid depending on how much weight and distance moved. I have had customers show up without weight tickets and the move is then at cost. The reasons for no weight tickets are varied; member didn’t know, weight station to far out of the way or PODS or whomever didn’t get them. I hate to see our member lose thousands of dollars for not having certified empty and full weight tickets. Thank you for your service and helping to keep other members informed.

    Kind regards,
    Sid