Once you receive PCS orders, your first big decision is most likely whether to do a PPM (formerly known as the DITY move) or arrange for a government move.

The most appealing aspect of the PPM is the possibility to make a profit. Don’t let that be the only detail you see. It’s a huge endeavor to personally move your belongings.

Consider these 4 big questions before starting your path to a PPM move:

1. What time of year is your PCS?

Peak PCS season is in the Summer, but orders can come at any time. My first PCS as a military spouse took place in mid-January, out of snowy New York in PCSing in the Winter can be dangerous because of the freezing temperatures and the high likelihood of accidents on the roadways. We were expecting orders to the San Francisco area, and prepared to travel through the MidWest and areas of the U.S. with a lot of snow. The idea of trekking 3,000 miles in snow covered roads from New York to Northern California was not encouraging at all. So, we were both surprised and delighted to receive orders that only took us a couple hundred miles South. That’s when we began entertaining the idea of moving ourselves despite the time of year.

2. How far away is your gaining installation from you now?

It’s naturally easier to move to a place that is only a handful of hours away. Since our new home was only a five hour drive, we felt we could handle moving ourselves. It’s also important to consider the direction. For example, we would have considered moving ourselves if we continued to travel in the Southern states because the weather would have been milder.

3. Do you have a lot of stuff?

Let’s be real. A family of four has more to move than a newlywed couple. Although my family is just getting started, I’ve been a part of PCSes before with my parents. The biggest reason they opted for military moves was because of the amount of stuff they owned. There was no way my parents were going to do it themselves with an impatient child traveling with them. There is another option for families that would like to move some of their belongings and it’s doing a Partial-PPM (or Partial-DITY), where you still responsible for some of your items and get paid for weight of goods you move. A lot of families opt for a partial because of the amount of goods they would have to move themselves or the distance to the next installation is substantial. I helped my husband partial-PPM from New York to Arizona in the Summer of 2012. Because of the mileage, we were able to make the most of the move and used it as an opportunity to sightsee.

4. Will you be moving into a home right away?

If you have a place lined up, it will make the transition more seamless. Before our PCS, I arranged for our new home in advance so we could just bring our goods straight to our new home. There are lots of resources out there to help you find a new home. The Automated Housing Referral Network (AHRN.com) is a great resource to help you get started with the house hunt before your move. In the event that you don’t have a place yet, you’ll need to store your goods yourself and then arrange to retrieve them at a later date. Keep in mind that the government would reimburse for select DITY expenses. Even so, it might end up costing you more out-of-pocket and why it’s in your advantage to move-in straight.

There are also changes coming to the PCS process that might sway your decision as well. The DoD hopes to incorporate the Government Travel Card (GTC) for families in future moves. Be sure you keep up-to-date on the recent developments because it might affect your upcoming PCS.

About Rachel Tringali Marston

Rachel, an Army wife, is the public relations and communications manager for the Automated Housing Referral Network, which helps military families find homes around the world. She is a Texas expat who is stationed with her husband in the Washington, DC, area at Fort Belvoir.

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