Plan early to survive military moving season

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Amanda Savannah
  • Public Affairs
It's summer, and the change-of-station orders you've been waiting for have finally dropped on your desk.
You've got four months until your report date and most of your virtual out processing appointments are still a few months away, "Plenty of time to start making plans," you think to yourself.
But don't wait too long -- you're in the midst of the "military moving season," and the process will take a lot of hard work.
Most military moves occur between late April and September, as people try to move when school is out, according to Marilyn Lunday, family housing office specialist. This means more people in the housing office, more people renting moving trucks and more moving trucks on the road, adding to the already busy vacation traffic.
Every military or civil service member must make an appointment with the transportation management office before a move, which also clogs TMO shipments this time of year.
"I've been working transportation management here for 16 years, and I've never seen the system this backed up," said Gaylord Willis, transportation assistant. "I strongly recommend people make their appointment to see us and book their shipment as soon as they have orders in hand."
People outprocessing the base usually have three options: goods are shipped for them, they move part of their items themselves or they move it all themselves, also called a do-it-yourself or DITY move. Each option has its benefits and downfalls.
"With a government move, the work is done for you at your losing and gaining base. If you know you're going to need your goods to remain in storage when they arrive at your new base, annotate it on the paperwork," Mr. Willis said. "If you want your delivery door to door, that can be arranged too, as long as you annotate it and provide an address and phone number. The thing to remember when having your goods shipped is that packers can't pack more than 4,000 pounds per day. Remember to allow for packing days when deciding your shipping date prior to your departure."
If moving short notice or if the member desires, the person can do a DITY move. When military members move themselves, the Air Force pays 95 percent of what it would have paid a contracted mover. This is determined by an allowed weight, based on rank and with or without dependents, as well as distance.
"A weight estimate is about 1,000 pounds per room, including an attic but not including the kitchen or bathroom," said Mr. Willis. "The payment amount is then figured, but no money is paid in advance. The traveler uses his or her government travel card or personal credit card for gas, tolls, weight fees and the truck up front. However, if a person's entitlements come to $6,000, for example, and they spend $2,000 for trip expenses, they will get back $4,000 minus 28-percent tax."
While this entitlement usually entices movers, Mr. Willis doesn't recommend this option.
"Moving yourself is hard, especially if you have a large family or a lot of weight," he said. "You may have help packing it up, but what are you going to do when you get there?"
His suggestion is to do a partial DITY.
"Take valuable items, clothing and other immediately necessary items with you and let the military move the rest," he said. This option is best for families transporting 2,000 pounds themselves and traveling at least 1,500 miles, to completely cover expenses.
However, with any move, Mr. Willis's final advice is to have renter's or homeowner's insurance.
"Murphy's Law applies during moves -- anything can happen to your things," he said.
After a member has met with TMO, he or she should make plans for housing. Enlisted dorm residents outprocess and receive guidance on future housing plans through Angela Bobb, the enlisted dorm manager. Officer dorm residents receive their information through the Cherokee Lodging office.
Any military member entering into a contract for housing off base must visit his or her gaining housing referral office first.
"Our office checks to make sure the company or person the military member is renting from is reputable, and we offer guidance on what to make sure the contract states," said Tracy House, Vance housing referral manager. "We can also assist the member with their utility service. Our office has available utility waivers which will save the member money. Once people are living off base, we also act as mediators between landlord and tenant, if necessary."
People looking for where to move can also find reputable listings in the housing referral office, or before the move, visit
Family housing occupants must visit the family housing office at least 40 days before their departure date. Orders are not necessary for this visit. There they will schedule a pre-inspection to take place 30 days before they leave.
"After the pre-inspection, we give the family a cleaning list for what to do to pass their final inspection," Ms. Lunday said. "When the family leaves, the house must be completely empty and the yard must be mowed and edged, according to (Air Force Instruction) 32-6001 and the Vance Pamphlet to 32-6001."
If the family plans to move on base at their new location, Ms. Lunday will also give them an advance application for housing to complete and apply for housing approximately one month before the family leaves.
For Maj. Juliana Astrachan, outgoing 71st Mission Support Squadron commander, preparing and planning for her move to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, was the most difficult part.
"We had to decide what we were getting rid of, what we were having the movers pack and how to take the items the movers won't pack," she said. "The change also puts stress on our pets."
Having her household items packed for her was the easiest part of her move, she said.
"Every agency I've worked with on base has been very helpful, which also helped make things run smoothly," said Major Astrachan.
Finally, your house is packed, you've outprocessed the base, hit the road and safely arrived at your new duty station. With enough planning and preparation, you survived this military moving season!