If you’re in the military and you hear the term a “DITY” move (do-it-yourself move), you might immediately feel overwhelmed, panic slightly and then want to run the other way…even if you’re not the one moving!
Have no fear, this post is going to help you do a DITY move like a pro!
I’m beyond excited and honored to have Mallory from DITY Mama sharing her expertise in today’s post. She amazes me with her knowledge and helpfulness when it comes to doing a DITY move—she does it all with so much grace and confidence, and thrives when she’s sharing her wisdom with others.
She’s done 12 DITY moves in a dozen years, and is already gearing up for another move this summer. She’s seen it all, done it all, and is here to help you get the ball rolling. Absolutely give her a follow on Instagram, and check out her story highlights for excellent how-to videos.
DITY Move Basics
For those who aren’t in the military, DITY stands for a Do-It-Yourself move. This means you choose to do everything yourself during a PCS (permanent change of station or move) instead of using the government and its contracting offices.
For some, a DITY is a choice, but sometimes it’s the only option due to availability and/or timeline.
It might sound intimidating and impossible, but be encouraged: it is doable!
About Mallory, aka DITY Mama
For my family, DITY moves are the preferred choice. We PCS a lot! We just completed our 10th PCS in 12 years, and we’re already starting to prep for our next move this summer!
Every move was a full DITY, and over the years we added three kids into the mix. We didn’t start this military life expecting to move this much, and we definitely didn’t set out to do DITY moves each time, but here we are.
I’m not here to tell you that it will be easy. Each DITY takes work, and each move has its own challenges and victories. The season of life you are in can make it more or less challenging too, but there are a few things that make all the difference.
So, if you find yourself wanting to do a DITY or realizing it’s the only choice available, here are a few of my favorite tips to help you DITY move like a pro!
Identify your goals.
A successful DITY varies with each move and each family, so your success will depend on your personal goals.
First off, everyone’s number one goal should be to not pay out of pocket on a DITY move. That’s a given, but in planning your move, families have different reasons and/or goals for doing a DITY. So sit down with your partner and identify your DITY goals. This will affect decisions you make during the planning process.
Are you doing a DITY because you had a terrible experience with government movers and now control is more valuable than profit?
Are you doing a DITY only for the profit?
Are you doing a DITY because that’s the only option?
For me, a successful DITY move is if I get our family to our new duty station within our timeline, with a little profit, and with my sanity intact. Even if I profit less than anticipated, it’s worth it to me because I have more control and we receive our items right away.
Some may say success is based off how much they profit—and that’s okay too!
Before we had kids, our goal was to pay off some of our student loans with the profit. These days with three little kids, sanity is way more important than profit! So, we outsource what our budget allows.
Those who are doing it only for the profit may choose to do more of the hard labor themselves instead of outsourcing. Either way, identify your goals and plan accordingly.
As I mentioned earlier, the main goal of a DITY move is to spend less than what you are estimated to make. You don’t want to have to pay out of pocket!
What you’re estimated make on a DITY depends on the amount of weight you have and the shipping rates for your specific location.
Start saving before your DITY move and create a budget.
Ideally, having a plan and saving money for an expected DITY is the way to go. If you don’t want to use the government credit card or file a partial advancement of pay, start saving now!
If you budget correctly you will be able to pay yourself back for the upfront costs with your reimbursement. So, find out your DITY incentive and create your budget.
Categorize what you will spend and set goals in each category (moving supplies, movers, taxes, etc.) Write down the total budget goal and stay under it so you can make a profit and avoid paying out of pocket.
Once you create a budget- stick to it!
It is never too early to get organized.
Organization is the first step to the packing process and one of the many keys to success! It makes you more efficient, more productive, and it will save you time, money and stress during your DITY move.
Early on, start planning for your move by researching companies, gathering supplies, and organizing your home. You may not have orders or a moving date, but most likely you have a general timeline.
Organizing a home can feel overwhelming, especially if you’ve never packed your home.
One of the benefits to a DITY move, though is that you know what you have, you know how you want to pack it, and you can avoid moving with unnecessary items that will end up getting stored at the next location and never used.
When you DITY you need to be intentional about what you decide to pack into your trailer. You don’t want to go over your weight limit and you also don’t want to run out of room in your truck (unless your budget allows for two!).
So, when organizing and purging, ask yourself questions such as:
“Is it worth the space it takes up in the truck?”
“Do I love it enough to move with it?”
“Can I make enough selling it to replace its when we get there?”
Keep in mind, you get paid for the weight you have, but you never want to go over the limit. Also, don’t purge if you need the weight to be able to pay off your moving expenses.
Get Mallor’s DITY Binder here. It includes 4 and 8 Week Packing Plans, The Kids PCS Packet and an Open First Box Checklist!
Set Packing Goals.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 8 weeks out or 2 weeks out, have a plan!
You don’t have to follow it perfectly, but breaking down the packing process makes it less overwhelming and more attainable.
For example, thinking about packing a house in its entirety might leave you feeling defeated at the start, but thinking about packing living room decor is much more attainable. Think of it as small victories!
Create goals based on your timeline; the earlier you start, the less time you will have to spend packing each day. Your goals depend on your home and even though they may look differently than mine, start setting them today!
Your plan could have daily goals or even weekly goals. Just remember: progress over perfection.
The move may not go as you originally planned and there might be a few set-backs, but keep at it. The last few weeks may get pretty crazy, but it will get done—it always does.
Honestly, the first box is the hardest, you will hit your groove and your confidence will increase as you work towards your goals!
See all of Mallory’s packing plans here!
A successful DITY isn’t just about the numbers or having the best packing tips, it’s also about your well-being.
Doing a DITY is hard work and moving takes an emotional toll on you and your family. So, don’t forget to practice self-care and set realistic expectations.
You can do this by setting boundaries with the packing to protect yourself from becoming overwhelmed.
Believe me, I know there are instances where you don’t have the privilege of time. I’ve personally done a DITY across the country with only 7 days notice…with a 2 year old and a 4 month old.
Self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant.
Know when to say yes to the boxes and when it’s time to take a break from them. Take cues from your family, too.
Boundaries are essential to our physical and emotional health, and they help reduce stress levels.
So, whether you’re finding yourself a little more irritable, stressed, sad, or tired- be aware of how you’re feeling. Breathe, take a break, confide in a loved one, renew your mind, receive encouragement, and show yourself some grace!
PCS-ing in general presents uncertainty and produces financial stress, parenting challenges, emotional distress, and can foster feelings of resentment.
It throws us off of our routines, and is both mentally and physically exhausting. Maybe even more so if you are doing a full DITY! That is why teamwork is so important.
Communicate expectations with your partner.
Discuss expectations of the move and what you expect from each other during this process. Unspoken expectations can lead to resentment and frustration.
Communicate details by developing the plan together. Create a budget, assign roles and tasks, then set attainable goals.
Make sure you both are aware of the timeline and important dates. Working as a team also creates peace in your home and helps your children feel secure as you pack and prepare to move.
There have been times where my husband was overseas and then showed up the week of a DITY move. He hasn’t always been there to help and that’s a reality for military families. So, if you’re in a similar situation and you’re planning and packing alone, your teammate doesn’t have to be a spouse, it can be family members or friends too!
Moving is full of uncertainty, checklists, and a basket-full of different emotions.
As military families, we often don’t get a say in where we move and when we move. Some moves are known months in advance, and sometimes they are surprises. I get it. Moving is not always ideal and when you find yourself doing a DITY the stress can increase that much more.
Yes, doing a DITY move is hard, but having the government move you is hard too. Either way you look at it, moving is hard!
Attitude makes all the difference no matter which way you choose to move.
Moving is unpredictable and sometimes things happen that are out of our control, but throughout it all we have control over our attitude. We can make it a miserable experience for our family, or we can choose to change our perspective and focus on the positives.
Our attitudes will influence those around us, including our children, so make the most out of the situation. Chances are you will find your new normal, new routine, new community and soon wonder why you didn’t want to move in the first place.
You may be surprised that my advice doesn’t include my favorite packing tips, moving supplies, etc., which I have plenty, but how you pack your items is just a small part in what makes you a DITY pro!
Overall a DITY move takes planning, organization, goal setting, teamwork, and perspective.
My hope is that the next time you hear the word “DITY” you won’t get overwhelmed and you won’t panic or run in the other direction. I hope will feel informed, encouraged and ready to tackle the job that lays ahead!
You’ve got this. One box at a time.