When you’re in the military, a permanent change of station (PCS) relocation is an inevitable eventuality. It’s also an expensive one!
From the transportation and storage of your family’s belongings to military car shipping to the cost of getting settled into a new home, the bills can add up quickly — especially if you’re dealing with frequent transfers. And the average military family will deal with at least one PCS every four years.
Even with entitlements, moving can be pricey, and frequent moves can lead a family into debt. Making it through a relocation with your savings intact is a matter of being efficient plus finding and then taking advantage of every military discount and money saving opportunity that is available to you.
From military markdowns to money saving tips, this guide will highlight discounts and reimbursements that can make your PCS less stressful and less expensive.
What kind of move are you planning?
There are different ways to relocate, and there are benefits and drawbacks to each. Whether you opt for a Personally Procured Move (PPM), a partial PPM, or a Transportation Management Office (TMO) Full Move will depend on your family’s circumstances, your needs, and your financial situation when your PCS order is handed down.
PPM: With this type of move, you pack and ship your belongings like a civilian and the military reimburses you. It’s a good option if you want full control over your move, you’re generally thrifty, and you have plenty of lead time for planning and organization. Choosing a PPM doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll drive your own vehicle to your next duty station, but rather that you’ll pay for military car shipping out of pocket.
Partial PPM: When you choose a partial PPM, you pack and move some of your things but the military will choose the moving company and schedule your move. You may prefer this option if you want to pack your own boxes to ensure nothing is lost or broken during the move but you’d prefer not to be the one behind the wheel of the moving truck.
TMO Full Move: In this type of relocation, the military handles just about all of the details of your move except for military car shipping. You will take inventory of your family’s possessions, keep an eye on the movers, and sign off on the move. A TMO Full Move is the stress-free option when you’re working with a great moving company.
Cutting costs when it’s time to relocate
Moving is never cheap, but a PCS doesn’t have to eat up your savings. Whatever type of move you choose, the following tips will help you keep more of your pay in your wall
Choose the DIY option
You can definitely save a lot of money by handling your relocation yourself and then taking the reimbursement. Assuming, that is, you have enough lead time.
Create a moving budget
The figures in your first draft don’t have to be exact. You’re creating your first-round moving budget with estimates from movers, storage companies, and auto transport companies to get an idea of how much you’ll be spending. For instance, cross-country military car shipping may run you about $1,000. Don’t forget to factor in costs associated with getting set up in your new home! As the date of your relocation gets closer, keep track of all of your expenses so you don’t go overboard in any one area.
Transfer accounts to nationwide providers
Moving to a state where your bank or insurance provider doesn’t operate can mean having to jump through hoops to change providers (and risk costly mistakes when changes don’t go through in time). Even if you’re hoping to never deal with another PCS, it makes sense to use banks and insurance companies that operate in all 50 states.
Understand what reimbursement does and does not cover
There will be people at your family center who can walk you through what reimbursements will and won’t cover so you’re not blindsided by out of pocket expenses.
Exceeding your PCS Weight Allowance can have hugely expensive consequences, so it pays to get rid of anything you’re not using anymore. If there’s time, try selling some of the bigger ticket stuff you won’t be bringing with you.
Insure your stuff before relocating
Losing possessions means having to replace possessions, and even if you don’t anticipate any of your family’s things being lost, broken, or stolen during your move, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Saving big on your military move
Moving is hard enough without worrying about how you’re going to pay for it all. Some of your prep time should be devoted to researching military discounts and getting estimates from the moving, shipping, and storage companies that offer them. Here are just some of the deals you should look into before and during your PCS move:
You will need to store your stuff if there will be a gap in time between your relocation and your move into your new residence. You may also want to store some of your things if you’re moving to a location with a very different climate but aren’t ready to give up your seasonal gear.
CubeSmart: Offers a 10% discount for all active military in addition to any other promotions that apply to your storage unit. To get the discount, present your military ID when you first access your unit.
SMARTBOX: Offers a $20 discount on storage for active military with the code MILOFF20.
Oz Moving & Storage: Offers discounts to both active duty personnel and veterans. You can get a 10% discount on storage (and moving) for local moves or a 5% discount on long distance moves.
PODS: Verified members of the military receive a 10% discount, and PODS will handle DITY weight tickets.
Moving companies & truck rental
If yours will be a PPM move, chances are you’ll be renting a truck. The good news is that there are discounts on truck rentals that can help take some of the sting out of this expense.
Penske: One way rentals qualify for a 10% discount, and they offer an additional 10% discount when you show your military or veteran ID. Penske also has a hotline you can call for assistance with DITY moves: 1-844-4TROOPS (1-844-487-6677).
Budget: U.S. military members traveling with orders can receive 20% off their truck rental with the discount code USMIO.
Estes SureMove: Military members can take $100 off a DITY move costing $600 or more.
U-Haul: This company doesn’t list an official military discount on its website but reps are authorized to give discounts when you ask about them.
Military car shipping
When a PCS move is overseas, military car shipping is covered by reimbursements, but in the US, paying out of pocket to ship your vehicle may still be the best option when you factor in the wear and tear of a cross country drive.
Here at Montway, we make it easy by streamlining pickup and delivery, giving you around the clock updates on your vehicle, and handling the details so you can focus on getting settled in. We also offer a $75 discount for active and retired personnel.
Note: If military car shipping is something you’d prefer not to do and you’re driving your car across the country, you can claim Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation (MALT) when you drive your own vehicle from one duty station to another.
H3: Moving companies
A lot of local and national moving companies offer discounts to military personnel and veterans. Keep in mind that getting the discount may be a matter of booking over the phone versus booking online.
North American Van Lines: This company advertises discounts of up to 50% off for American Legion members and Veterans Advantage members. For other discounts, speak with a representative.
1-800-PACK-RAT: All active and retired military can take advantage of a 10% discount with the code MILIME10.
U-Ship: Offers up to a 50% discount on moving services and no transaction fees.
U-Pack: This company offers discounts but doesn’t publish the details so you’ll need to speak with a representative.
Zippy Shell: Speak with a representative for more information about their military discounts.
Companies to help YOU get there
Many airlines and car rental companies offer discounts for military members, but these discounts may not be included in a company’s advertised rates. Talking to a booking agent directly is the fastest way to find out whether there are promotions for active duty personnel or veterans.
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- US Airways
- Virgin Atlantic
- Ace Rent A Car
Don’t forget that you’ll be paid a per diem for food and other daily expenses when you’re traveling to your new base. You can factor this into your moving budget — just keep in mind that the amount paid will vary.
Companies to help you get settled in
Moving is about more than just getting your stuff from point A to point B. You will also be paying for re-organizing your family’s life, fixing up your new home, and stocking up on the essentials (like food, cleaning products, and personal care items) you couldn’t take with you. These companies offer military discounts so you’re not paying as much to get your family settled in:
- A.C. Moore
- Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft
- Home Depot
Don’t forget your pet
Transporting your pet can get expensive, too – especially when your PCS is taking you and your family abroad. If you’re moving to another country, your pet may need specialized veterinary care or to spend time quarantined. (And if that’s the case, we can also help you with international car shipping, too!)
Your pet is a member of your family so you won’t want to economize on care, but you can save money on transportation with these military discounts.
American Airlines: Active duty personnel and their dependents receive 50% off published rates for transporting pets domestically and internationally.
Delta: This company doesn’t publish the details of its military discounts but does offer discounts on personal pet shipments domestically and abroad.
PCS Pets: Past and present military members receive 25% off pet transportation in the US and 20% off international transportation.
Pet Air Carrier: Military families traveling on orders receive $125 off pet transport for one animal and $25 off the cost of transporting each additional pet.
Whether you’re shipping a car, the contents of your home, or other valuables, there are lots of ways to save on your PCS move. That said, military discounts are worth exploring but don’t assume that getting a discount means you’re getting the lowest price.
The cost of your move will depend on your location and so many other factors, and some national storage, shipping, and moving companies that don’t offer a military discount will have seasonal deals and other promotions that make them the cheaper option. And finally, just because you don’t see a discount published doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Many companies are happy to provide one if you ask!
Ready to get a free military car shipping quote with Montway?