How to plan and prepare once you receive your PCS Orders

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Commonly Overlooked Steps

  • Start PCS planning early — don’t let your move date creep up on you.
  • Make a budget for expenses before reimbursement or for non-reimbursable expenses.
  • Create a new spending plan that reflects the cost of-living difference and entitled allowances in the new location.
  • Keep all receipts — even if you won’t be reimbursed for expenses, you may be able to deduct them on your taxes.
  • Have enough insurance on your personal property during transit and short- or long-term storage.
  • Safeguard and hand-carry important documents (birth certificates, airline tickets, passports, etc.) and valuables (jewelry, cash, etc.).
  • Purge excess household goods — you won’t have to worry about exceeding your authorized weight allowance, and you’ll have less to unpack at your new house (exceeding your weight allowance can be expensive; charges can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars).

 Using Advance Pay and Government Travel Cards

Generally, only take what you need when it comes to advance pay and government travel cards. Rather than taking advances, use your PCS fund and request reimbursement. Charge only authorized expenses to your government travel card. If you advance or charge more than you need, you’ll have to pay back the difference later while you’re trying to settle in to a new location and spending plan.

View info on top military communities: places that are not only near military installations but are also affordable, with low crime, good schools, and convenient shopping and restaurants.

Search by Estimated Monthly Payment

  • Search based on the monthly mortgage payment — calculated using the principal, taxes and insurance — to help you determine the price of the home you may be able to qualify for. Search by Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
  • Find your BAH by entering your duty station’s ZIP Code, your rank and the number of dependents you have (if you have any) into our BAH Calculator — http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bahCalc.cfm


Move Types: Government, Personally Procured Move (PPM) or Both?

When you get your PCS orders, you have the option of having the government move your belongings. However, it may be possible to realize some savings by opting for a Personally Procured Move (commonly known as a Do-It-Yourself or DITY move). There are many factors to consider to make a DITY move worthwhile

With a DITY move, you take on some additional responsibility, but you may decide that it’s worth it given the potential financial and other benefits:

  • Money Left Over. If you’re able to keep your costs down and ultimately spend less than the 95% it would cost the government to move you, you get to keep the leftover money.
  • More Time. When you receive move orders, you’re given travel time so you can take care of moving arrangements. With a DITY move, you’re allowed additional time, and if you plan efficiently, you can use the time to make the move less stressful.
  • Total Control. With a DITY move, you can decide which moving service you want to use and what you’d rather handle yourself.

Many service members take both approaches; this is called a partial DITY. For instance, they may allow the government to move most of their belongings, but make separate DITY arrangements for items that have high monetary or sentimental value or require special handling. The costs are reimbursable at the same percentage as a full DITY move. Think about choosing a DITY/PPM move very carefully. It’s not for everyone. While the allure of potential savings is understandable, keep in mind that these savings may be consumed by miscellaneous expenses that a full government move might otherwise cover. Or the added responsibility may be more than you want during that stressful time. Permissive TDY (or House-Hunting Leave) At your commanding officer’s discretion, your PCS can entitle you to up to 10 days of permissive Temporary Duty (TDY). This is time you can take for a house hunting trip to your new location that will not be charged against your allowance for leave. This benefit does not include any allowances for travel costs or per diem for other expenses (we recommend using your PCS fund for that), but it does give you extra time to plan, prepare and ultimately make getting settled easier.

Spending Plan

Make a New Spending Plan Your income and costs may change in your new location — don’t let that catch you off guard, especially if your current spending is likely to exceed your take-home pay. Likewise, if PCSing will work to your financial advantage, position yourself to take advantage of that.

Make a new spending plan based on changes to: Income • Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) • Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) • Family Separation Allowance (FSA) • Family Separation Allowance for Housing (FSH) • Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) Costs • Housing • Groceries • Utilities • Gas


  • Conduct a personal property inventory at least 60 days before your move date to allow time to update coverage
  • Record a video or photo inventory of your electronics and other expensive items — including serial numbers — to show the condition of furniture and working condition of electronics. Get appraisals for high-value items prior to your move
  • Contact your insurance company about vehicle, home, high value and household goods coverage during your move as well as coverage for personal property while in transit or in storage
  • Set aside fragile, valuable or keepsake items that you want to keep with you if movers are packing your household goods

PCSing with your Pets

Traveling with your pet

– If the next duty station is within the United States, PCSing is like moving from one town to another. On-post housing generally impose a two-pet limit.

– Breed specific legislation, or BSL, prohibits ownership of certain breeds of dogs within a given municipality. Restrictions vary by branch of service and base.  Even if your base permits certain types of dogs, the municipality in which it resides might not. Know before you go.

Different countries have different requirements for importing pets. Some countries, such as Italy, require a professional pet shipper to handle the import. Continental Pet Relocation can help with the booking and all of the requirements that your pet will need.

Some countries, such as Hawaii and Japan, require a rabies titer test and a list of requirements to avoid a long quarantine.

Continental Pet Relocation has partners all over the world to ensure a smooth door to door relocation for your pets.