Every day, many people type the term “DITY” or “DITY calculator” into Google, searching for help in planning a “do it yourself” military move. Many of them end up on my military wife blog, where I’ve discussed the pros and cons of choosing a DITY rather than being moved by the government. Doing a DITY can be financially lucrative, whether you pack a Uhaul yourself, or just take government funds and hire your own moving company. No matter what option you choose, however, a DITY move is stressful, and it’s important to have all your information straight before you commit to that choice. While all the information you need to plan your DITY move is freely available on the internet, it is widely dispersed and can take a while to gather. For that reason, I’ve collected a list of the basic web tools you’ll need to plan and execute your DITY move.
In order to use a DITY calculator to estimate the amount you’ll get for your move, you’re going to need an estimation of the weight of the belongings you’ll be hauling. You can find a helpful estimator here: AF Weight Estimator
While this weight estimator is provided by the Air Force, it can be used for any branch of the service, or for civilians as well.
It’s important to note that this only gives you an estimate. However, this will suffice to give you an idea of the payment you’ll be receiving- once you make it to the DITY calculator.
Your Weight Allowance
The government will only pay up to a specified amount of pounds, based on your rank and whether or not you have dependents. You’ll want to make sure that your household goods don’t exceed your assigned weight limit, or you’ll find yourself paying out of pocket for the remainder. You can find a chart of weight limits here: Joint Federal Travel Weight Allowances
This chart is valid for all branches of the Armed Services.
Now that you have done the ground work, you can plug in the weight of your household goods and your rank and find out how much you are entitled to for your move.
You’ll need the weight estimate from earlier, the city and state of your move’s origin and destination, and the pay grade of the service member. Although the DITY calculator I provide a link to here is affiliated with the Navy, its calculations are valid for all branches of the service.
Before you start seeing dollar signs and you have visions of fancy electronics and expensive jewelry dancing in your head, however, remember that you are going to need to use your DITY entitlement to actually move. Meaning, that big number you might be looking at on your screen right now isn’t going to go straight into your savings account (or next big purchase). If you do a DITY the right way you can walk away with some profit, but moving expenses add up quickly, so you need to be realistic about your expectations of profit in this venture.
Before you run out to load up on boxes and packing tape, however, please consider a few words of caution.
If profit is your sole aim, then the best way to pocket the maximum amount of your DITY entitlement would be to rent a truck, pack and load everything yourself, drive to your next home, and unload without outside help. This is also the best option if you are interested in throwing your back out, losing your sanity, or breaking up your marriage.
Unless you are insane or enjoy pain in all forms, I don’t recommend doing everything yourself. The next step up would be to hire local movers at each location to help with loading and unloading. You could pay an hourly rate, or a flat fee, depending on what you negotiate, and this shouldn’t put too much of a dent into your DITY payment.
What I would recommend, however, is looking into hiring a full service moving company yourself. They’ll do everything that you’d get from a military sponsored move, but they’ll charge you less than they would the government, and you can pocket the remainder. This will limit your profits, but you will still have a little extra cash leftover to decorate your new place. As a bonus, if you go this route, it’s most likely you’ll still be married and have your health at the end of the process.
Here are a few other helpful references for planning a DITY move:
AF MOVE home (where I found many of the above resources-this has some good guides and checklists as well)
BaseOps FAQ Scroll down to the PCS section for some great advice and plenty of good links.
If you are looking for more resources via internet search engines, it’s important to note that the government refers to a ‘DITY move’ as a Personally Procured Move, so you might have more luck finding info using this as a search term.