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Life in the Military
Moving & Relocation
Service members are typically given Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders every two to three years, but depending on their specialty or role, these moves to new duty stations can be more frequent.
Types of Moves
Assignments that require moves can be both outside the continental U.S. (OCONUS) and within the continental U.S (CONUS). Moves to installations within the United States are most common, as nearly 1.2 million active-duty service members were stationed domestically, according to a Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) 2020 report.
Service members have three options for moving when relocating to a new duty station:
- Government Contract or Household Goods (HHG) Moves
These moves involve government-sourced contractors packing, moving and unpacking your household goods.
- Personally Procured Moves (PPM)
This do-it-yourself option involves packing, shipping and unpacking yourself. To help service members with this type of move, the government pays 95% of what it would cost them to contract a commercial mover for the job.
- Combination Moves
This type of move is partially provided by a government contractor, and individual service members are responsible for the remainder.
It is important to note that with all moves, there are weight regulations with regard to how much you are allowed to transport. Rank is used to determine this weight allowance. Learn more about PCS entitlements.
On-base Traffic Management Offices (TMO) and the Passenger Travel Offices (PTO) provide service members with a wealth of relocation information and assistance. Besides these services, the Defense Personal Property System (DPS) is a logistics tool that can help military members schedule moves, track their shipments and even file claims. Learn more about PCS moves and how to prepare for one.
The government covers the cost of travel expenses of service members and their families when they are assigned to new duty stations, both within the United States and outside the country. This includes:
- Mileage driven
- Daily pay allowance (per diem)
- Temporary lodging
- Dislocation allowance
House Hunting Leave
With PCS moves, service members are allowed a “house-hunting leave,” which is officially referred to as Permissive Temporary Duty (PTDY). Limited to 10 days, this leave provides no reimbursement for transportation, travel or per diem to the service member; however, PTDY does not count against their 30 days of annual leave. Service members may request this leave from their commander anytime after receiving reassignment orders.