Military Relocation, The PCS in 10 Steps

Photo by garann

For those who have not been around the military for long, the idea of moving to a new duty station seems pretty scary. Military moves are actually pretty predictable, though.

What happens first? How does my stuff get from my old place to my new place? How will I find a new apartment or house? Will I live on-base or off-base? How much time will I have to prepare? What the heck is a DITY Move, anyway? The questions just go on and on. . .

For those veteran military spouses, the information in this post will be old news. For those that are newer to the military or those that have not moved recently, I will give you an general overview of the process.

Hopefully, this overview will answer some questions about your upcoming move.

Step 1 – Orders! The military service member will receive orders. Often, rumors precede these orders. Sometimes the rumors are accurate, other times they are not. Do not automatically spend hours researching a move until the orders are in hand. Even then, things may change.

Step 2 – By now, you know where you are going and when you need to be there. Now you will contact your installation relocation office for a briefing. This briefing helps you to understand military regulations and procedures relating to your move.

Step 3 – After your relocation briefing, you will contact your transportation office. The transportation office will probably have its own briefing. You will learn about how to use the portal. You will learn how much stuff you can move (your weight allowance) and what items can be moved to your new location.

Step 4 – The transportation office will schedule the movers (otherwise known as TSP or Transportation Service Providers) on a date that hopefully you have discussed ahead of time. Although your preferences are taken into consideration, you will not always have control of when transportation schedules movers.

Step 5 – You will take care of all the personal stuff involved in moving. This step covers everything from researching the new location to purging the things you don’t want to drag to your next duty station. Depending on your situation, you will have different items on your to-do list.

Step 6 – Packing up. If you choose to use movers, they will come and pack up your things. The things involved in this step could be a series of posts. I promise I will give you more information on this later!

Step 7 – Time for temporary quarters. No matter how carefully you plan your move, you will be spending time in temporary quarters. Most likely, you will be in temporary quarters when you leave your old duty station and when you arrive at your new duty station. Pack what you will need, but not too much. You will likely be put up in a hotel or at the military installation temporary quarters facility.

Step 8 – Get yourself and your family to the new duty location. The way you get to your new duty station will depend on where you are moving. Many people combine leave time and visit family along the way. A few military families have a short time line and end up making a more rapid transition to the new duty station.

Step 9 –  Find new housing. Hopefully, you have been working on this the whole time. However, if you live in government housing, you may not be able to do anything until you are physically at your new duty station. Once you know where you are living, schedule the movers to drop your things off.

Step 10 – Unpack and settle in to your new home. By the time you are good and settled, it may be time to move again!

About Peggy Crippen

I am a military wife, mom and writer. I love to help the military community by sharing my knowledge of life in a military family. I write, blog and spend time chasing my children around. In my spare time, I love to read and ride motorcycles.


  1. anna says:

    For those that just received their orders and travelling OCONUS (overseas), the first step is to set up an appointment to get the official passport . You can’t do any of the following steps without having your official passport and stamp from the host country.

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