Best Moving Companies for Military Members

Atlas Van Lines earns the top spot for its experience with PPM moves

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Moving can be a daunting task, especially for military families who may have to relocate frequently and on short notice. It's important to choose a moving company that understands the unique needs of military families and offers services catering to those needs. In this article, we'll guide you through the process of selecting the best moving company for your military move by discussing factors such as price, services offered, availability, and military affiliation or discounts. 

When talking about a military move, you’ll want to brush up on your acronyms. A DITY move, or Do It Yourself move, allows military service members to move their household goods themselves and be reimbursed for some of the expenses. PPM is short for Personally Procured Move and is another reimbursement program available to those who personally move their household goods. PCS stands for Permanent Change of Station and refers to a military-ordered move. TDY stands for Temporary Duty and refers to a short-term assignment. Armed with these acronyms, the right information, and a little bit of planning, you can ensure that your military move is BZ, A-OK, and you make it to your LZ (landing zone), NP (no problem).

Best Moving Companies for Military in 2023

Best Overall : Atlas Van Lines


Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, interstate, long distance, and international
  • Type of Quote: Both binding and non-binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Knowledgeable about military moves and PPM process

  • Mobile app with shipment tracking

  • Offers packing, unpacking, storage, and auto transport

  • Perks for AAA members

Cons
  • Quote process can be difficult

  • Low customer reviews

Why We Chose It

Atlas Van Lines offers the best overall experience for military movers, earning this distinction for its exceptional service and commitment to meeting the unique needs of military families. The company is the second-largest moving company in the United States, and it promises a stress-free moving experience.

Atlas Van Lines’ strong knowledge and expertise in the Personally Procured Move (PPM) reimbursement process sets it apart from its competition. It offers a range of key military moving services, which includes protection options for coverage against loss or damage, flexible storage options, assistance with completing and filing reimbursement forms, and satellite and mobile app tracking for 24/7 secure online access to your shipment’s location. 

You can also be assured that the movers hold the best certification and offer the performance. Atlas service personnel have to undergo labor certification and background checks before being hired, and the company has a "zero tolerance" policy for substance abuse. You can be assured that your items will be taken with care by the best of the best. And since the company services all 50 states, military families will be able to trust them for a move across the country.

Best for Full-Service Moves : United Van Lines


United Van Lines logo

United Van Lines

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, interstate, long distance, and international
  • Type of Quote: Binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Offers full-service packing and loading

  • Protection pricing included in quote

  • International moves key for military

  • GSA approved moving company

Cons
  • No 24/7 customer support

  • Does not offer moving containers or trailers

Why We Chose It

United Van Lines is the top choice for those seeking full-service moving options. The company is renowned for its comprehensive moving package, which covers packing, loading, and unloading services for a hassle-free moving process for military families. To make things even easier for a military family with a need to move quickly, United Van Lines also provides additional services such as debris removal after move-out and vehicle relocation. The company has significant experience with military moves, having moved over 260,000 military families in the past.

United Van Lines sets itself apart from its competitors with its GSA (General Service Administration) approval and its expertise in international moves. This makes it a great option for military families moving overseas. The company also understands the ins and outs of PCS and military moves, which allows it to provide specialized assistance to military families. United Van Lines is available in all 50 states, making it accessible to military families all over the country.

Best for Vehicles : Allied Van Lines


Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, interstate, long distance, and international
  • Type of Quote: Binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Great for international and military moves

  • Vehicle relocation uses Allied’s own trucks

  • GPS tracking available on all shipments

Cons
  • Pricier than other competitors

  • No instant quote process

  • No live chat for 24/7 support

Why We Chose It

Allied Van Lines is the best company for vehicle relocation thanks to its exceptional services. The company moves vehicles in its own trucks—both exposed and covered—and can even move boats. Using its own vehicles means less buck passing when something goes wrong and may permit more flexibility. Allied Van Lines also offers GPS tracking on all shipments, custom crating available for odd-sized objects, in addition to packing and loading services.

Allied Van Lines’ 94 years of service in the moving industry sets it apart from competitors. This experience allows it to provide hard-to-match expertise and reliability. The company also offers special military services such as labor certification, background checks on personnel, 24/7 shipment tracking technology, compliance with any necessary safety requirements, and international shipping. Through Allied’s extensive partnerships both in the U.S. and around the world, the company can provide door-to-door service virtually anywhere you need to move.

Best for Customization : JK Moving Services


JK Moving Services

JK Moving Services

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, interstate, long distance, and international
  • Type of Quote: Non-binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Offers financing through third-party service

  • 24/7 customer support

  • Government and military moving experts

  • GPS shipment tracking available

Cons
  • Limited local moving availability

  • Pricier option than many competitors

  • Complicated quote process

Why We Chose It

JK Moving Services can highly customize the details of your move, basing final costs on factors such as distance and location, the weight of your shipment, any challenging furniture or items, necessary service personnel, and any additional services you purchase. The company uses an AI-driven virtual survey to plan moves, making the process more efficient and accurate.

JK Moving Services offers 24/7 customer support and GPS tracking, ensuring customers are always informed about the status of a move. The company also offers financing through a third-party service called Enhancify, making the financial stress of moving less of a burden.

What sets JK Moving Services apart from its competitors is its focus on local moves in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, where many military families are based. JK Moving boasts 30 years of experience with military moves and partners with several U.S. government agencies, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Departments of State, Defense, Agriculture, Treasury, and Justice.

Best for International Moves : International Van Lines


international van lines logo

international van lines

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, interstate, long distance, and international
  • Type of Quote: Company does not disclose
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • 180 countries served

  • Vehicle relocation and specialty items

  • Good customer reviews and BBB rating

  • Affordably priced compared to competitors

Cons
  • No upfront pricing

  • Issues with outsourced third-party services

  • Requires 25% upfront deposit

Why We Chose It

If you’re moving abroad, International Van Lines is the best-choice hire. The company capably handles the whole process of an overseas move, from packing and loading to ocean freight transport. International Van Lines has partnerships with moving companies in 180 countries, taking significant stress off your shoulders as you adjust to living in a new country.

International Van Lines is a great fit for military families because it is a fully licensed and insured Government Military Relocation Mover with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The company also offers vehicle relocation as well as the moving of specialty items. 

While International Van Lines does not offer upfront pricing, customers have reported prices that are much lower than its competitors. The company maintains good reviews and a BBB rating compared to other, similar services. However, it should be noted that the company requires a 25% upfront deposit.

Best for DIY Moves : PODS


Pods Moving logo

Pods Moving

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 46 states
  • Moving Options: Local, interstate, long distance, and limited international
  • Type of Quote: Non-binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Offers military discounts

  • Online quotes available and transparent pricing

  • More time to pack and unpack

  • Great for low-cost local moves

Cons
  • Little to no international moving available

  • Not available in all 50 states

  • Packing and loading services not included

Why We Chose It

PODS focuses on DITY moving by providing a lockable storage "pod" at the customer's moving locations for packing and unpacking, while the company handles the move itself. This unique approach allows for a more flexible, self-directed moving experience.

For military families, PODS services can be especially valuable. Self-serve packing allows for greater control over the moving process and can be especially beneficial for families who are moving on short notice or who are unable to take time off from work. PODS will help with PPM and DITY paperwork and weight calculations, making the complex process of moving on and off military bases much easier. Additionally, the company offers military discounts, which can help to offset the cost of a move. It's important to note that PODS only serves 46 states and does not offer international moving services, except from the U.S. to Canada.

Best for Storage : American Van Lines


American Van Lines

American Van Lines

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 48 states
  • Moving Options: Local, interstate, and long distance
  • Type of Quote: Binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Climate-controlled storage units

  • Provides flat-rate pricing

  • Services for antiques, pianos, and artwork

  • GPS shipment tracking

Cons
  • No international moves

  • Not available in Alaska or Hawaii

  • Higher cost than competitors

Why We Chose It

For military families with long- or short-term storage needs, American Van Lines offers private, climate-controlled storage units with 24-hour security, flat-rate shipping, and GPS shipment tracking. The company's storage pricing is not available on the website, but the first month is free. If necessary, it can provide special services for valuable or fragile items like antiques, pianos, and artwork. These features make it an ideal choice for military families who may need to store belongings for extended periods before, during, or after a move.

In addition to storage, American Van Lines offers specialized military relocation services, which include a free in-home estimate, full-service packing, furniture and appliances disassembly/assembly, online shipment tracking for long-distance moves, and valuation insurance options. Though American Van Lines services most of the U.S., it is not available in Hawaii, Alaska, or internationally.

Final Verdict

Final Verdict

Although plenty of options out there boast special service for military members and families, Atlas Van Lines is the best overall choice if you’re a military service member or military family considering a move. The company offers a seamless and stress-free moving experience, with a mobile app for real-time updates and tracking of your shipments. It also offers expertise in handling the Personally Procured Move (PPM) process and provides a range of military moving services intended to ensure a smooth and safe move. With nationwide availability, Atlas Van Lines is accessible to military families all over the country.

Compare the Best Military Moving Companies

Company Nationwide Availability Packing & Loading Options Vehicle Relocation? Tracking Option? Type of Quote
Atlas Van Lines Best Overall 50 states Full service Yes Yes Binding and non-binding
United Van Lines Best for Full-Service Moves 50 states Full service Yes Yes Binding
Allied Van Lines Best for Vehicles 50 states Full service Yes Yes Binding
JK Moving Services Best for Customization 50 states Full service Yes, with partners Yes Non-binding
International Van Lines Best for International Moves 50 states Full service Yes Yes Company does not disclose
PODS Best for DIY Moves 46 states Self service Yes, with partners Yes Non-binding
American Van Lines Best for Storage 48 states Full service No Yes Binding

How to Choose the Best Moving Company for a Military Move

When choosing a moving company for a military move, one of the most important considerations is price. Look for companies that offer military discounts to help offset the cost of the move. 

Military moves also often require specialized services such as packing, loading, and vehicle relocation, among others. Not every company offers the same suite or level of service, so consider the availability of the company. A military move may require quick turnarounds or schedule changes, and hiring a company that understands and can accommodate your situation will make your move much easier—whether you’re moving domestically or internationally. Take the time to research different companies and compare services, prices, and availability before making a decision.

Price

Moving isn’t cheap, but it doesn’t have to be extremely expensive. Military families and service members can benefit from military discounts, which most moving companies offer. You may be eligible for reimbursement for a portion of your moving costs through the PPM program, so ask each company you evaluate about its PPM process and what documents it needs to ensure you’ll receive your reimbursement. We recommend comparing prices among different companies and asking for detailed quotes for a wider breadth of price ranges.

Services Offered

Some moving companies offer full-service moves, which include packing, loading, and unloading, while others offer self-service moves or only loading and unloading assistance. Consider which services you need and what you and your family are comfortable handling on your own. Always make sure a company can handle any specialized items or requests you have, such as moving fragile or valuable objects, or multiple types of vehicles, and that it has storage options if required.

Availability

A moving company’s availability can make a big impact on military families planning a move, since many military moves involve going overseas or to a different region of the country. Some companies have a limited service area, while others offer nationwide or even international coverage. The company should provide your desired service both in your current and destination location. It’s also best if the company has 24/7 customer support, as military moves often happen on tight timelines and through different time zones.

Plan a move as far ahead of time as you can. Movers working with military families often understand you don’t always have the luxury of a heads-up when it comes to a change of station and will work with you. But as with making nearly any appointment, the earlier you can call to schedule, the better. Most companies can reasonably schedule you comfortably within two months, but 10 to 12 weeks is preferable during busier times of the year. Many families make moves at the end of the school year, and the holidays often slow down movers’ schedules.

If you’re tight on time and have to relocate with only the essentials, some movers may be willing to move your house without requiring you to be there for the pickup—you can just pack your home into boxes, and the moving company will do the rest. Though extra fees and risk may be involved, some moving companies might be willing to pack and move your belongings after you’ve left.

Factors That Affect the Cost of a Military Move

Several factors can affect the cost of a military move. These include:

  1. Distance of the move: The farther you move, the higher the cost will be. Transporting your belongings over a greater distance requires greater time and more resources.
  2. Weight of your shipment: Heavy shipments will cost more because higher weight limits can affect the amount of time, resources, service personnel, and safety precautions that need to be involved in your move.
  3. Specialty items: If you have any large or specialty items, such as a piano or a pool table, the cost will be higher to accommodate the extra care and resources required to move these items.
  4. Additional services: If you opt for additional services such as packing and unpacking, the cost will be higher.
  5. Insurance: The cost of insurance for your move will also affect the overall cost.
  6. Storage: Any storage options—whether long- or short-term—will cost more, especially if the company does not offer storage and you need to outsource to a third-party service.
  7. Timing: Late spring and summer are considered peak moving seasons in the U.S., and companies will often adjust their pricing scales to match.
  8. Discounts: Some companies may offer military discounts or other special promotions that can help lower the cost of your move.

It is important to consider all of these factors when budgeting for your military move. Request quotes from different moving companies to compare pricing and ensure you’re receiving the best offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Military Movers Pack Boxes?

Many military movers offer full-service packing, which includes packing boxes for you. However, some movers may only offer partial packing service, where they will only pack certain items like fragile items or large furniture. Check with the companies you're considering to learn what type of packing service they offer and whether or not it fits your needs.

Does the Military Pay for Moving Supplies?

The military does not typically pay for moving supplies. Some military movers may include the cost of basic moving supplies, such as boxes and tape, in a moving package. Additionally, some military movers may offer discounts on moving supplies.

Do You Tip Movers for a Military Move?

Tipping movers is not mandatory for a military move, but it is a common practice to show appreciation for a job well done. The amount of the tip is up to your discretion, but a good rule of thumb is to tip each mover $10 to $20 for a full-day move and $5 to $10 for a half-day move.

What Moving Expenses Are Deductible for Military Moves?

Military members may be able to deduct certain moving expenses on taxes, such as the cost of moving household goods and personal effects, as well as the cost of travel to the new duty station. Certain conditions and documentation requirements apply, so consult with a tax professional or the IRS for specific information. Some moving companies can also help you with the process.

How Do I Maximize My DITY Move?

In order to maximize your DITY move, it's important to plan ahead and budget, stay organized, and make sure you have the right equipment and supplies. Additionally, you may want to consider hiring professional movers to help with loading and unloading, especially for heavy or fragile items.

What Won’t Military Movers Take?

Most military movers will not take hazardous materials, perishable items, or personal items of sentimental value. For example, Allied Van Lines lists paints, propane, fireworks, perishable foods, cash, important family archives, and jewelry as items it will not or prefers not to take. It is best to check with your moving company for a detailed list of items it will not transport.

How Often Do Military Families Relocate?

Military families typically relocate every two to three years. This time frame varies depending on the branch of service, the location of the duty station, and individual circumstances.

Methodology

To find the best moving companies for military moves, our research team reviewed 19 nationwide services, collecting a total of 589 data points. Ratings were created by assigning weights to each of the 31 moving criteria we considered.

Our top picks received high scores in heavily weighted areas such as customer experience (23 percent), coverage and load capabilities (20 percent), moving services (20 percent), and pricing structure (20 percent). Additional factors, like a company's experience with PPM and DITY military moves, were also taken into account.

The information presented here was verified by at least two data collectors through customer service calls. If we were unable to fill in data due to multiple failed attempts to contact a company, the company in question received a zero for any pieces of criteria that couldn’t be confirmed. For more details on our research process and scoring system, head to our complete moving methodology page.

best moving companies for military

Sean Murphy / Getty Images

Article Sources
  1. "Atlas Van Lines." “Military Moving Services.” Accessed January 16th, 2023. URL: https://www.atlasvanlines.com/moving-services/military-moving-services

  2. "United Van Lines." “Military Moving Services.” Accessed January 16th, 2023. URL: https://www.unitedvanlines.com/moving-services/military

  3. "Allied Van Lines." “Military Moving Companies.” Accessed January 16th, 2023. URL: https://www.allied.com/military-moving-companies

  4. "JK Moving Services." “Financing.” Accessed January 16th, 2023. URL: https://www.jkmoving.com/residential-moving-services/financing

  5. "JK Moving Services." “Government.” Accessed January 16th, 2023. URL: https://www.jkmoving.com/residential-moving-services/government

  6. "International Van Lines." “Government & Military Relocation.” Accessed January 16th, 2023. URL: https://internationalvanlines.com/government-military-relocation/

  7. Better Business Bureau. “International Van Lines Profile.” Accessed January 16th, 2023. URL: https://www.bbb.org/us/fl/coral-springs/profile/moving-brokers/international-van-lines-0633-18000007

  8. Trustpilot. “International Van Lines Review.” Accessed January 16th, 2023. URL: https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.internationalvanlines.com

  9. "PODS." “Military Resources.” Accessed January 16th, 2023. URL: https://www.pods.com/resource-center/military

  10. "Armed Services YMCA." “Why Do Military Families Move So Much?” Accessed January 18th, 2023. URL: https://www.asymca.org/blog/why-do-military-families-move-so-much

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