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Army PCS Moving Basics

“We have orders!”

Those may be the sweetest words you’ve ever heard if you’re at a duty station you hate. But if you’re fond of where you live, those words may induce panic.

It’s the famous PCS (Permanent Change of Station) orders. These orders are the ones that let you know where your soldier will be serving next.

Within the orders, you’ll find information on the relocation assistance that is being afforded to your family. Do not act until you have orders in hand; depending on the location of your next assignment, the benefits accompanying it can vary greatly.

Weight Allowance

The weight allowance is one of the most important things the orders will contain. This is the total weight that the Army will move without charge to you. This weight allowance is based on rank and whether the soldier has dependents.

If you exceed your weight allowance, you will receive a bill for the overage, which will not be pretty!

What is allowed to be moved and how much can also vary based on location, particularly if it involves an overseas move. It is important never to assume something is covered and to contact your transportation office if you have questions.

And because you are charged by weight, be sure to clean out and declutter before packing. Don’t risk paying to move things you are going to throw away or donate.

There are few restrictions on what you can take CONUS; but OCONUS moves may be a different story depending on the country.

Think carefully about what items you want to be out of your possession versus what you want to take with you. If it can’t be easily replaced, take it with you instead of allowing it to be packed.

Traveling

If you move CONUS (within the continental United States) and choose to drive your vehicles to the next duty location, you will likely be reimbursed for travel expenses.

The Army typically provides a mileage rate and an allowance for food and lodging. The transportation office can give details on how this applies to your situation.

You will need to move your pets on your own. Be sure to check with your new duty station about any quarantine or immunization requirements.

Lodging

Temporary lodging is available on most posts and provides a place to stay while waiting for on-post housing or other housing to become available. This lodging can vary greatly from one post to the next.

Some are like a standard hotel room, while others are similar to suites. Most have a few rooms that are pet friendly for small pets. Regardless, this lodging is almost always less expensive than a comparable commercial hotel off-post.

Temporary lodging fills up quickly, particularly in the summer when many people move to a new duty location. It is advisable to make reservations as soon as possible.

In some cases, it is required for you to check with temporary lodging on post for availability before the Army will agree to reimburse you for accommodations at a commercial hotel. Be sure to check before you make reservations off-post.

Transportation Office

The transportation office on-post is there to answer your questions and assist you in coordinating your move. Be sure to utilize their knowledge! If you are not near an Army post, you can utilize the services of the transportation office at the military post that is most convenient for you.

The transportation office can also help you decide whether it’s best to have a moving company move you or do a DITY (do it yourself) move. I personally always let them do it – less work for me! But I know several who enjoy the DITY move because if it’s planned just right, you can bank some extra cash (though, be warned, I know others who have lost money doing one!).

Check out the DoD website for moving.

See our other tips on preparing for the move and what to do after your PCS is complete.

author avatar
Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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71 Comments

  1. I Married My Husband While On His AIT CHRISTMAS Break . It’s Almost Graduation And The Base Where He Is Are Not Allowing Them To Go To DEERS To Put Me As A Dependent So I Can Move With Him To His First Duty Station . Will It Be Too Late When He Gets His Orders .

  2. Hi i have a question! My husband is going to PCS to Korea sometime in 2018 and my son and I will be moving back home to be closer to family for his absence..he said he will be living in the barracks or that is what they told him…do we still qualify for BAH and if so what state will we be drawing it from? I heard we will have FORT HOOD’s BAH because thats where he PCSed from…but Im not sure… any information you have would be very helpful. Thank you!

    1. It should be based on where you live, not necessarily where he was last (unless you choose to stay). You may need to provide a lease or some sort of rental agreement.

  3. My husband wanted us to move to his ait location and we did and now he got orders to our first duty station but we have only been here for 4 months. Will the military pay for the move?

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