Seven years into the Coast Guard as a significant other/spouse and I was on PCS #3. Already knowing we had acquired more than our allotted weight amount, I had the brilliant idea of doing a DITY (Do It Yourself) move.
For any of you that have done a DITY move, you either find the positives, or you hate it and choose to not do it again.
Okay, Kelsey – so what is your story?
My mother had moved in with us – yes, how lucky of my husband. So we got all the wonderful antique pieces that better be wrapped beyond wrapped to ensure no damage comes to it, and her 10 year-old dog.
Let me paint this full picture for you.
We were going to move 3 adults, 1 toddler, 2 dogs, 2 vehicles, and yes, the truck. No, it gets better. Which leads into my 5 incredibly awesome tips to make sure your DITY moves goes much smoother than mine – trust me!
Tip #1 – Do Not Underestimate Your Stuff
So my husband and his co-workers are packing up the truck. I provided beverages and pizza. Apparently, they supplied their own adult beverages too because when I saw the way they packed the truck – well let’s just say it isn’t the way I would have done it.
I think at the point when I saw the rental truck 90% full and we still had 35% sitting in the garage – I freaked out. Yes friends, we now went from the BIGGEST truck they would rent to us to the realization that we needed a 2nd truck (oh and a trailer for one of the cars as someone had to drive the 2nd truck). That $750 hurt. After all, one reason we do DITY moves is to make some money (which ultimately we did), but oh my goodness! Look at the guides the rental companies provide – we had a 3 bedroom house with a 3 bedroom truck – nope, did not fit. Give yourself a buffer!
~ I recommend Budget – they provide great military discounts.
Tip #2 – Downsize and Donate
Have your kids not played with their “favorite” toys in 8 months? You haven’t worn that ball gown that you wore to the ball in two years? The reclining couch is on its last hinge? It is time for a yard-sale or time to gift younger members from your unit your stuff. This decreases that weight you will probably need, and not to mention, who wants to keep moving stuff that is not being used over and over. Free yourself. It is very liberating unless you are my 4-year-old who feels we need to keep every “treasure.”
Tip #3 Have a Packing Game Plan
This is one that I find is to alleviate YOUR stress in the build-up phase to your move. There is a lot of stuff that you are not using in your home. Start packing all that stuff – bookshelves, kitchen dishes, extra linens, clothes, etc. Create a plan where you pack x amount of boxes per day. We did 5 boxes a day. By the time it was moving day, we were not so tired from packing everything the two-three days before. Create a plan and stick to it.
Tip #4 – Pay for Packers and Unpackers
My husband tells me every time we move (and we have moved more than three times due to changes in housing at the same unit), he’s “got this.”
That’s great for a 50-mile radius, but not when you are moving 500+ miles. If you have all your stuff packed like the game plan in tip #3, those packers can properly pack your truck, your husband/wife can relax as can you (and if he/she is on deployment and you have children – this is really a necessity), and you do not have to watch the insanity.
I did not do this – I WAS stressed watching that truck get packed.
I think it is because my idea of an arrangement and his idea are not aligned. I did, however, hire unpackers.
This was the best money spent.
They met us there, I pointed, they placed the boxes and furniture wherever it needed to go. Much smoother on the end side.
Tip #5 – Plan out Your Trip Before the Move
Depending on how far you are moving (cross-country or one state away), be sure to plan out how far you will travel each day. Do not try to travel too far as this is not a road trip in your family mini-van. The rental trucks move slower especially if you are moving larger loads. You will want to consider what hotels/motels are on your route if you do not have family or friends you can stay with. Don’t forget to look for pet-friendly hotels if you are traveling with fur babies.
About the Author
Kelsey Ramirez is a Real Estate Broker in western Washington. She is also a veteran elementary school teacher, military wife, and mom to two daughters. She is the founder of The Military Move, a military-based website to help families in the PCS process. Kelsey loves to travel, write, and create amazing content. She has her Masters in Technology, which she uses to learn all new things digital.
With three decades of military support, Kelsey’s mission is to help new and existing military families in their unique adventures through all military topics including PCSing, budgeting, school choice and rights, housing, and especially just being a military spouse.