The Smart Military Spouse’s Guide To A Personally Procured Move

The Smart Military Spouse's Guide To A Personally Procured Move (PPM)

by Jenah Wieczorek, PCSgrades Director of Community Outreach 

Do It Yourself Move (DITY), Personally Procured Move (PPM), something only insane people do…it goes by many names these days, but I’m here to let you know that packing and moving your household goods is not that bad.

The first question I get when I tell people we move our own HHG is “why?”

Our decision started with a terrible move that brought only half of our house with the other half coming two weeks later. Things were broken, missing and the unloading crew was dragging our stuff off the truck and into the house.

My spouse and I said enough is enough and we took on the burden of moving ourselves.

The Smart Military Spouse's Guide To A Personally Procured Move (PPM)

Here are some tips that I hope help those of you who are curious or considering going this route. A PPM is hard work but worth it in the end.

The Smart Military Spouse’s Guide To A Personally Procured Move

Collect As Many Free Boxes As You Can

The first thing you’ll need is boxes. We all see the posts on Facebook about free boxes and packing paper so get them!

The Smart Military Spouse's Guide To A Personally Procured Move (PPM)

Starting about six months out, collect supplies from families moving into your neighborhood or around town. The wardrobe boxes, dish packs, and packing paper are a must.

The more you collect, the less you have to buy.

It Feels So Good To Purge

Three months out begins the great purge. It feels SO good to get rid of things that you no longer use.

Purging is also a great way to make extra cash while ensuring the rental truck or container you have to pack won’t overflow.

Neighborhood yard sales followed by posting to local yard sale pages or the Facebook marketplace have proven the best place to sell things.

PPM pro-tip: if we haven’t used the item in a year, it’s gone.

Labeling Your Boxes With The Best Labels Ever

Now that you are down to the items you plan to move, you can start packing up the non-essential items. Things like seasonal décor, off-season clothing, off-season sports gear, outdoor toys that aren’t being used and anything else you and your family can live without.

Related: 6 Essential Steps to Keep Your Sanity During a DITY Move

We usually start by breaking down my spouse’s office that he HAS to have at each home. He doesn’t ever use it but it’s a great place to contain all his Army memorabilia so it’s not spewing into the rest of the house but I digress.

We break down the office and use this part of the house as our “ready area.” We pack up the non-essentials and tag them with the best labels EVER.

The Smart Military Spouse's Guide To A Personally Procured Move (PPM)
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Your recycled moving boxes have other family’s names and info written on them so instead of getting a sharpie and going to town, pop this label on it and move on.

All boxes that are ready go into…you got it, the “ready area!”

PPM pro-tip: save one label from each roll because you will put it on the door of the corresponding room at your new home for unloading purposes.

3 Options For Getting Your Stuff From Point A To Point B

The Smart Military Spouse's Guide To A Personally Procured Move (PPM)

Now let’s talk about how to get your things from Point A to Point B. You have numerous options here and can choose the best fit for your family. We always do option C because that option works best for us.

PPM Option A, U-Pack or Pods Container: This shipping container gets dropped off at your home and they pick up and drive it to your new location.

Pros – you get your family and cars to your new home.

Cons – it’s not always a door-to-door move since it’s based on the availability of drivers and it’s more expensive than the other options.

PPM Option B, U-haul, Penske Truck, Enterprise (No Tow): You call and price out with the military discount and pick your winner!

Pros – cheaper than Option A and allows for a door-to-door move.

Cons – you have to drive the truck to your new home along with any other vehicles.

PPM Option C, Option B WITH the Car Tow: Book your moving van and pull a car behind.

Pros – you can store extra boxes or luggage that you need in the vehicle being towed and it allows for a door-to-door move.

Cons – it’s more expensive than Option B and the truck drives slooooow with the tow.

Your Personally Procured Move (PPM) Timeline: 30 Days Before You Leave

Let’s fast-forward to the month of your move. You are packing your home, have your truck or container booked, and now it’s time to think about loading day.

We have pets and kids and we don’t like for them to be there on loading day. The animals go to doggie daycare for the day and we utilize the on-base child development center (CDC) for our kids. If the CDC isn’t an option, you could consider hiring a sitter or asking a close friend to watch your children for the day.

Now it’s time to call in the favors of said close friends at the duty station and get help loading the moving truck. We aim for six to eight people for only two hours for two reasons.

  1. It doesn’t sound that bad when you ask someone to help you for only 2 hours.
  2. It only take two hours with eight people.

Your Personally Procured Move (PPM) Timeline: 7 Days Before You Leave

The week of load-out is an excellent time to confirm all reservations – doggie daycare, moving truck/container, a friendly reminder to friends helping move and so on.

Also, think about snacks and drinks for your friends helping. People don’t expect a full-on meal but we still need to feed ourselves, so I always make a lot and offer it to our friends. Things in the crockpot like pulled pork tacos or sandwiches with chips feed a ton and are crowd-pleasers. We provide water and beer because we love our friends.

Your Personally Procured Move (PPM) Timeline: 24 Hours Before You Leave

The night before the load-out, move everything from the “ready area” into the garage if you have one. Once everything is in the garage, move all fragile items to the front. Most trucks have a “Grandma’s attic” for these breakable items and they need to be loaded first. They will be easy to spot with those fragile stickers you put on!

The next morning you will pick up and weigh the truck empty, then back it up to the garage, throw open the doors, and begin the game of Tetris to make it all fit.

After some colorful language and rearranging numerous times and everyone’s suggestions, the truck will be loaded.

Don’t forget to put a decent lock on your truck when you are finished loading because people could potentially try to get into your truck as you PCS to your new duty station.

Lastly, keep all receipts along the way and consider hiring movers at your new duty station to help you unload the bulky items. This is a great option since you probably don’t know too many people at your new location.

Related: PCSing? Show Me the Money!

Congratulations, you did a door-to-door move where nothing was broken or stolen…hopefully!

You saved money along the way and will be handsomely rewarded for your efforts. We suggest a treat yo’ self massage.

For a downloadable PPM checklist, check out our friends at

Jenah Wieczorek, PCSgrades Director of Community Outreach, is an Army spouse and mom to two wonderful boys.Jenah Wieczorek, PCSgrades Director of Community Outreach, is an Army spouse and mom to two wonderful boys. She is a two-time recipient of the First Cavalry Division Commander’s Award for Volunteer Excellence, the Department of the Army Award for Patriotic Civilian Service, and is a member of the U.S. Cavalry and Armor Association’s Order of St. Joan D’Arc. Jenah enjoys coffee from 9-5, wine from 5-9, leggings as pants, reading and spending time with her family. She currently resides in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and is PCSing to Fort Stewart, Georgia this summer.




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