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Mastering the TMO Move: Your Guide to a Successful Military PCS

Military TMO move

Permanent Change of Station (PCS) season is in full swing, and you are staring down the barrel of the dreaded military move.

If you’re in it for the 20-year long haul, the PCS process will need to become a rinse and repeat staple for your family. So let’s make sure you get it down right from the start.

In our previous post we walked through the DITY or PPM move. Now, let’s flip the script and discuss how you can successfully use the Defense Personal Property Program, or what most people call a Transportation Management Office move, ie. the TMO move.

Scheduling a TMO Move

You have two options to schedule your military move. Since the release of the Defense Property System (DPS), you can log on here and perform self counseling. DPS will review your entitlements, and walk you through setting up your move.

The other option is contacting your local Transportation Office and scheduling an appointment with a personal property counselor.

You cannot use self counseling if this is your first personal property move, your last personal property move (retirement or separation from Active Duty), you are using a Power of Attorney, or you are moving personal property as “next of kin.”

Preparing for Your TMO Move

Since Summer is peak PCS season, try to be flexible with your dates. You are most likely to get the moving date you want by going to the Transportation Office as soon as you have orders, but it’s smart to have a backup date too!

TMO needs to know your dates and weights to complete your shipping application, and brief you on your entitlements and PCS shipment options.

If you don’t know the specific weight of your household goods (HHG), that’s okay! Estimate 1,000 – 1,500 lbs per fully furnished room.

Did you know the Joint Travel Regulations determine how much weight you are allowed to have on your military move? The PCS Weight Allowance is broken down by rank and dependents/no-dependents. Check out the chart on page five to figure out your weight allowance!

packing clothes in a cardboard box to prepare for a tmo move for the military

Getting the House Ready

Sometime before your scheduled military move, a company representative will contact you for pre-move survey. This helps them determine what material and equipment they will need to ship your household goods.

Make sure your house is ready for packing before the movers show up! Don’t have dirty dishes or clothes lying around, and remove any items from your attic.

If you are going to ship appliances such as a washer, dryer, freezer, or refrigerator, they must be emptied, defrosted, and dried out.

Most people recommend not shipping items that are extremely valuable to you and your family. It’s best to move jewelry, photo albums, heirlooms, art work, etc. on your own! You can do a partial PPM and make money for moving certain things yourself in your personal vehicle, or by renting a U-haul trailer. Learn more about DITY / PPM moves here!

Another pro tip: record everything!

Use your phone and take walk-through videos of your house. Try to get detailed videos of expensive items. This can be very helpful if something gets damaged or lost.


Day of the Move

Ensure that you are available for the movers from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. During peak PCS season, you can expect the movers to be at your home past 5 p.m.

Keep your pets in a secure area and make sure you are monitoring the wrapping and packing of your items. If something does not seem right, speak up!

Although it’s not required, feel free to offer the moving crew refreshments. Not saying it’s a bribe…but if someone offered me lemonade and cookies, I’d probably be less likely to accidentally break their fine china!

At the end of the day, you will sign an inventory sheet before the moving crew leaves. Make sure you read through the list thoroughly. If you disagree with a description, you are allowed to make a note in the remarks section.

Before the crew leaves, make sure everything you want packed is packed! Once they leave, any forgotten items will have to find their own way to your new assignment.

A successful military move doesn’t have to be complicated as long as you start early (or as early as possible), stay organized and take advantage of the right moving option for your family and your current season of life. If the heavy lifting of a PPM move is in your bag of tricks, go for it! If a TMO move is going to save your sanity, do it.

Regardless of which way you choose, take deep breaths, expect some hiccups along the way, and don’t forget to pack the kids!

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