How to Prepare for a Military Move

Boxes packed up for a military move.
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Since marrying a soldier more than 11 years ago, we have moved to 6 different houses! And out of those 6 military moves, only one of them has been a DITY (do-it-yourself) move.

That’s right! We have let “the Army” move our stuff all over the country… multiple times!

The Army contracts out professional moving companies to relocate military families. Companies, such as Gameday Moving Services, Houston, will pack all of your stuff, load it into a truck, and drive it to your next duty station.

You don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting, thanks to these professional loading helpers in Houston!

These companies are incredibly efficient. In fact, during our last move, they packed and loaded nearly every single thing we own in T W O days!

While the movers take care of the packing and loading, there are still plenty of things that you need to do to prepare for a military move.

1. Notify Landlord & Schedule Utility Shut-Offs

Once you have your moving date, the first item on your to-do-list is to notify your landlord/base housing. You will need a written notice of termination and a copy of the PCS orders. (You can find more info about the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act here.)

After notifying the landlord, it’s time to schedule your utility and service shut-off dates.

I keep a record of our monthly bills in an organizer like this. It makes scheduling shut-offs easy because I already have a list of all of our utility and service companies. Plus, I can easily find the phone numbers and account information that I need. (Type A brain for the win!)

2. Purge!

Next, it’s time for the purge! You’re going to want to do a major clean-out of your entire house!

A month or so before each move, we go through everything we own and decide what makes the cut to go into the next house.

I break this overwhelming task up into smaller chunks and try to do a little each week. You will be amazed by how much stuff you find to get rid of every 2-3 years. (Before our last PCS, we hauled away almost 400 pounds of stuff to a donation center!)

3. Pre-Move Inspection

One to two weeks prior to your scheduled pack date, a representative from the moving company will come to your house to do a pre-move inspection.

This person will look at your furniture/belongings to get an estimate of how much stuff will be moving and how long they think it will take to pack and load.

The representative will also answer any questions that you have about the moving process. They will be able to give you a list of things to do prior to packers arriving at your house. And they can tell you the things that cannot be transported through their service, such as aerosols, liquids, and candles.

4. Un-decorate

A few days to a week before our pack-out date, I start the process of un-decorating our house.

Take the pictures, art, curtains, and curtain rods off of the walls and stack them in a corner out of the way.

I also use this time to gather liquids and other items that the movers will not pack. I put all of these things into a plastic storage tote and set it aside. (Typically, these include cleaners, candles, lighters, aerosols, batteries, lotions, shampoos, body washes, perfumes, medicines, paint, etc.)

5. Do Your Own Packing

Military moves can require a pretty long road trip. (Our first PCS was completely cross-country from Florida to Washington State!)

So, you are going to need clothes to wear while you are traveling. Plus all the other things that you want with you on a long trip (i.e electronics, chargers, medicines, purse, toiletries etc.).

Also, don’t forget to set aside the things that you will need in order to spend the last couple of nights in your old house and the first couple of nights in your new house without your household goods. We usually keep a shower curtain liner, toilet paper, air mattress, pillows/blankets, towels, camp chairs, paper towels, disposable plates and utensils, etc. It’s pretty much like packing for a camping trip without the tent.

I usually gather all of these things and pack them into laundry baskets and storage totes.

6. Make Your ‘DO NOT PACK’ Area

The day before the packers arrive for your military move, you will need to designate a ‘DO NOT PACK’ area. This area is for all of the things that you do not want the packers to box up, such as the suitcases and ‘camping supplies’ you’ve set aside.

The best option for a ‘DO NOT PACK’ area is to empty an entire room where you can close the door and put a sign on it. (On our last move, we used the girls playroom after moving all the toys into the living room.)

But setting aside a whole room isn’t always feasible, especially in a small house. In the past, we have used the patio/porch, the bed of our truck/back of our car, and our master bathroom. Just make sure that you clearly label the things that you don’t want packed with signs that say ‘DO NOT PACK’. Otherwise, they’ll be boxed up with everything else.

7. Let the Movers Handle the Rest

Once the movers arrive, there’s really not much for you to do. Except for answering their occasional questions and staying out of their way, your job is done!

Once the moving truck drives off into the sunset, it’s time to move onto the next chapter.

Letting the professionals handle the packing and loading has saved us SO MUCH time, stress, and back pain. They can make your next military move so much easier.

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This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, I may make a commission at no extra cost to you. For more info, please see my full ad & affiliate disclosure.

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