How to survive a DITY move on one week's notice

I had a picture in my head of how this move was going to go.  The movers were going to come on Friday to pack and load all of our stuff.  We were going to clean, move out, and spend the last five days relaxing with our friends and family.  After graduation, Rob and I were going to go on our merry way on this incredible roadtrip we planned to all of our {soon to be} favorite southern cities, with our final stop being our new home in Florida, where of course the moving truck would conveniently be ready to unload and unpack all of our stuff.  Then our stress-free selves would head straight to the beach to begin working on our tans.  It sounds funny now as I say it, but I honestly thought that was how this was all going to go down.  I truly believed it.

So you can imagine the look on my face when TMO calls on Wednesday night (just two days before I think my movers are showing up) and says "Our next movers aren't available until June 13th (12 days after Rob has to check in) so you can either wait until then or you can move yourselves"
Ummmm.....excuse me, WHAT?!?! 
Are you serious? {yes, we sure are}
Can you do that? {yes, we can}
Can you make an exception? {no, we can will not}
This cannot be happening.  But it was.  And it was real.  And I had to deal with it.  Was my move as glamorous and stress-free as the original that I had planned?  No, not even close.  But did I survive, get Rob to Florida on time, and gain a few good moving horror stories to tell?  Definitely.  Rob's parents said everyone does a DITY move at some point in their career, so at least we were getting it out of the way early.  In case you haven't done yours yet, here are a few tips we learned along the way:
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Day One: Give yourself time to come to terms with the situation.  Then start doing some research.
For me, this meant sobbing in the fetal position for 3+ hours before being able to think about moving logistics.  Other people are probably more sane than I am and deal with change better.  Regardless, take time to figure out what your game plan is:
  • What will you do yourself? What will you delegate? (Ie. packing, loading, unloading, driving the   truck, driving/towing cars)
  • What is your budget? (Be sure to think about costs of any rentals, moving supplies, and hired labor)
  • What is your timeline? (If you are on a week's notice like I was, begin deep breathing into a paper bag immediately when you realize your ideal timeline started three months weeks ago and adjust accordingly)

Day Two: Fill out TMO paperwork and book/hire any needed labor.
The TMO paperwork is pretty easy to figure out.  My only suggestion (hindsight is 50/50) is when estimating your weight, OVER ESTIMATE!  The simple guide told us our stuff would weigh ~3,000lbs.  We put down 5,000 to be safe.  Our stuff ended up weighing close to 7,000lbs!!!  You get paid by the pound and they say they will not pay you over the amount you estimated (Edit: They did end up paying us for the entire weight but better safe than sorry!)

We decided to pack and load everything ourselves, hire a company to drive the truck down to FL (while we drove our personal vehicles), and then hire people to unload it in FL.  We used U Pack for our truck.  They drop the back of a freight truck at your house and you pack it up.  When you are done, you call them, they put a wall up to block off your stuff (They charge by the foot) and then sell the rest of the space for freight.  They drive your stuff down and set up a date with you to drop the truck off for you to unload.  This was a great option for us because: a. it was cheaper than renting and driving a truck down ourselves and b. we didn't have to tow a car and drive a huge moving truck.  They only thing I would warn is be sure your apartment complex/home owners/etc is okay with the truck being dropped there overnight.  It was totally fine in VA but our new place in FL was extremely difficult and would not let the truck park in the complex which resulted in one unnecessary hour of stress, tears, and phone calls.

As for the labor, I knew I would be useless when it came to lifting heavy objects.  Plus, Rob was going to have to go back to work so we knew realistically he wouldn't be much help.  I came across the website Hire a Helper and would definitely recommend them.  You put in your zip code and dates and then a list of companies that offer moving labor by the hour pop up with prices and reviews to compare.  You book through Hire a Helper and they handle everything!  More about this later. 
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Day Three: Get supplies and begin packing.
We raided our parents houses for any boxes they had and then went to Uhaul and bought all of our boxes and packing supplies.  We spent ~$120 on packing supplies.  Check craigslist, facebook, or uhaul box exchange for free or super cheap boxes.  We didn't get lucky but if you do, you can save a nice chunk of money.
When it comes to packing, definitely begin by pack everything in your cars that you want to keep for the trip/would absolutely die if it was lost or stolen.  You don't want this stuff mixed in with the stuff you are packing in boxes.  For us, this included:
  • Suitcases of clothes for two weeks (Overpack by a couple of days just in case you can't get to your stuff as planned)
  • The safe with all important documents
  • Computers and cameras (the thought of losing my pictures was unbearable)
  • Air mattress, sheets, pillows, blankets
  • Towels (We only left out one and keep drying it between on showers! ha)
  • Gun/Ammo
  • A pot/pan and a spatula/spoon (We did not do this one but it is a must!  By the time we got to our new place, I was so sick of eating out but we had nothing to cook with so I couldn't even make soup or a grilled cheese)
Image and video hosting by TinyPicDay Four and Five: Pack.
I had no idea how to pack.  I was watching youtube videos of how to wrap wine glasses.  Just wing it and wrap everything in paper and you'll be fine.  We didn't have a single item in a box break.  Be sure to label every box with what is inside and the room it belongs in.  This will save you so much time and headache on the unpacking end.  If you are lucky, you will have wonderful friends to bring you oreos and wine (Mackenzie, you are the best!) or a sister to eat fried rice with you on the floor when you feel like you are at your breaking point.  
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Day Six: Load the truck and clean.
It truly takes a village.  We are so lucky that both of our parents lived in the same town we were moving out of because we could not have survived this move without them.  Rob had to work on and off that day, so our dads packed the entire truck while our moms helped me scrub down the apartment.  We worked all day long and finally got everything finished.  We ended up using 10 ft of space in the truck (with Upack you pay by the foot)  Make sure you have a lock to secure your stuff in the truck over night. (If you don't have people to help you load, I would definitely suggest hiring someone to pack the truck for you)
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Day Seven: Get vehicles weighed, do final inspection, say goodbye.
Getting weighed empty and full is the number one most important piece of the DITY move.  If you mess it up or forget, you will not get paid!!!!!  Make sure if someone else is driving your truck, you double and triple check that they get the truck weighed.  (Upack charged a whopping $150 for it but you do what you have to)  You also have to get your own vehicles weighed empty and full.  They have all of these weird rules about it being done within 50 miles of your home and you must have a full tank of gas.  We emptied out our cars completely and filled them up with gas.  We took them to TMO on base and got the official weigh ticket.  Then we drove all the way home, loaded them up with all of our stuff, drove back to base and got another official weigh ticket.  You don't have to do it on base, this website will give you all of the approved scales however it is completely free on base and other scales charge $8, $10, sometimes $15 per ticket.  (That's 60 bucks for two cars!)
We did our final inspection at our apartment {squeezed in Rob's actual graduation from TBS} and then said our goodbyes.
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Finally made it! But the DITY move isn't over yet.  We arranged for the truck to come a few days after we moved in and after a nightmare a couple of difficulties with our apartment complex letting our truck come, we finally had our truck of stuff delivered.  I booked two movers for two hours with Handy Dandy Movers (through Hire a Helper) to unloaded and it was the best decision.  Rob had to work so I watched as they unloaded everything.  I paid ~$300 for it but it was money well spent!
We saved all of our paperwork, receipts, weigh tickets, etc and turned those in to TMO so that we could get paid for the move.  (We put in for an advance but the advance takes 7-10 days so clearly we had to pay everything up front out of pocket before we got the money)

Total cost of move: $2,058.00
Total TMO payout: $3,036.00
**Update: After all was said and done, Rob and I pocketed $978.  Yes, almost 1k is a nice chunk of change...especially considering we were going to be moving regardless.  Plus in our minds that number is doubled since if we had stuck with the plan TMO gave us (me stay in VA another month to wait for household goods to come and meet Rob in FL) we would have had to pay an extra month's rent AND not gotten any DITY move $$.  With that said, I do value my sanity time so I can't underestimate how much extra stress doing a DITY move caused.  I gave up precious time to pack boxes that I could have spent with friends and family and I begged family members to do the same to help load the truck.  There are definitely pros and cons to both types of moves but I still don't think I will try a DITY move least not for a while ;)  Now my biggest question is where are we going on vacation with that $978 (Rob promised!!!)**

Overall, a DITY move can be done...even on one week's notice.  It is stressful and a lot of work and I definitely would not chose to do it (although I know some people do and I totally respect that and give you props!), but it is possible if necessary.


  1. Hello! I am a new follower from 'The Collective' link-up. I look forward to reading more. :)


    1. Thanks for stopping by Haylee! Glad to have you!

  2. Oh my goodness, that looks exhausting! So much work. And wow, expensive too! But you're so organized and it's done so relax now. :)

    1. So true--thanks for the much needed reminder to relax! The military will pay us for the move, we just have to wait until all of our paperwork gets settled to see how much we get back. I would be happy just to break even, although some people do actually make a little money from it.

  3. Can we talk about how organized this looks? Down to the numbered boxes and what they contain. Genius! Of course oreos and wine never hurt :)

    1. Haha Thanks Ashley! When I get overwhelmed, I make a zillion lists and am super OCD. That kind of played in my favor with this move ;)

  4. You are a trooper! Semper Gumby, right? ha! We have a lot of friends who did a full DITY across the country. NO THANK YOU unless we have to, we did a partial. You handled this DITY like a champ!

    1. Thanks Jordan! Semper Gumby for sure...fake it until you make it, right?! I can't even imagine DITY moving across the country. We have run into a few people who actually LIKE and choose to DITY move. That blows my mind! I know you can make some cash from DITY moving if you do it right but I just don't think I could deal with all the added stress.

  5. We went through a packing and moving process last year when we moved from TX to NC. It is not fun! I especially hated sleeping on an air mattress for five nights while waiting for our stuff. Next time, if we can, we are getting packers! In my dreams... :)
    Glad your move is behind you! Time to work on the tan!

    1. Having just gone through all of this, you totally know where I am coming from! I thought we had a really nice air mattress and sleeping on it wouldn't be a problem, but you are totally right, it gets old fast! Glad we both survived...until next time ;)

  6. Oh wow! You have perfect handwriting, lol. But seriously this is a great guide! Thanks for sharing :)
    Stopping by from the Wednesday Walkabout :)
    Kelsey @

    1. Thanks Kelsey! My students say I "write like a teenager" haha

  7. Is there an update on the TMO payout? Was it worth it?

    1. Just updated it! Thanks for the reminder!

  8. I recommend getting packing boxes from Walmart.... They are usually more than willing to get rid of their boxes for free!


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