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Long Distance Relocation

Moving Across the Country: Step-by-Step Guide

Author: James Gratton Reading time – 7 min

Have you ever dreamt of a life-changing adventure, a journey that takes you across borders and opens doors to new possibilities? The prospect of moving across the country is both thrilling and daunting. How do you embark on this transformative journey seamlessly, avoiding pitfalls and ensuring a smooth transition? In this guide, we provide you with a step-by-step roadmap to turn your dream move into a reality.

From meticulous planning and budgeting to selecting the right moving company, every decision shapes your relocation experience. Wondering about the key players in this challenging game of moving homes? Dive into our comprehensive guide, where we break down each step, offering insights that demystify the complexity of relocation.

Step #1: Get to know your future home

Before you start packing up, it’s crucial to understand what awaits you in your new location. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with your future home can reduce stress and help you feel more prepared for the new chapter in your life. Here’s how you can approach this step:

  • Research the area. Dive deep into research about your new home. Look into the climate, local culture, job market, cost of living, and essential amenities such as schools, hospitals, and grocery stores. Websites, local forums, and social media groups can provide insights and first-hand experiences from residents.
  • Visit in person (if possible). If you can manage it, plan a visit to your new home before the move. This trip can be invaluable in scoping out neighborhoods, visiting potential homes, and even securing a place to live. It gives you a tangible sense of the area and helps in making informed decisions about where you want to live.
  • Virtual exploration. If a pre-move visit isn’t feasible, virtual tools and resources can be a great alternative. Many real estate websites offer virtual tours of properties and google street view can give you a sense of the neighborhood dynamics. Additionally, connect with locals through community websites or apps to get a better feel of the area.

This proactive approach allows you to align your expectations and plan your move with a clearer vision of your future home.

Step #2: Explore your cross country moving options

Researching cross country moving options is an essential step in planning your relocation. This involves understanding the different types of moving services available and choosing the one that best fits your needs and budget.

  • DIY moving. This option involves renting a moving truck, packing your belongings, driving the truck to your new location, and then unloading everything yourself. It’s often the most cost-effective choice but requires a lot of time and effort.
  • Full-service movers. By hiring full-service movers, you get professionals who will handle everything from packing and loading to disassembling and reassembling your furniture. It is the best way to move cross country for those who have limited time to manage relocation.
  • Moving containers. Moving containers are very convenient because they can be delivered, filled over several days, and shipped by a container company. Generally, moving containers are a cost-effective alternative to hiring a traditional moving company.
  • Freight trailers. Freight trailers are similar to moving containers but on a larger scale. A freight company drops off a large trailer, and you pay for the space you use inside it. Once you’ve loaded your goods, the company will drive the trailer to your destination, where you unload it. This option can be more cost-effective for larger moves and offers flexibility in how much space you need.
  • Shipping items. For smaller moves, shipping items through postal or courier services can be practical. This method is often used for long-distance moves where transporting a few items is necessary. It can be costly depending on the weight and size of the items, but it’s ideal for items like books, clothes, or small furniture.

Each of these options has its pros and cons, and the best choice depends on your personal preferences, timeline, and the specifics of your move.

Step #3: Obtain quotes from cross country relocation companies

When preparing for a cross country move, it’s important to obtain quotes from reputable movers. This step ensures that you find a service that fits your budget and meets your needs for a smooth transition.

  • Start early. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to compare companies, services, and prices. This also increases your chances of booking your preferred moving date, as top movers can get booked up especially during peak moving seasons.
  • Ask about additional fees. Inquire about potential additional fees that may not be included in the initial quote, such as charges for moving large or heavy items, long carry fees if trucks can’t park close to your door, and any possible surcharges for weekend or holiday moves.
  • Gather multiple quotes. Aim to get at least three to five quotes from different cross country relocation companies. This will give you a better perspective on what the average cost will be and what services are offered within your budget.
  • Check insurance. Ensure the company offers adequate insurance to protect your belongings during the move. Understanding the levels of protection available and their respective costs can save you from unexpected headaches in case of loss or damage.

Step #4: Downsize your belongings before moving across the country

Regardless of the chosen method of moving, the number of items directly affects the total cost. The more items, the more boxes, the more time spent packing, the more space in the vehicle and potentially the higher storage costs. Here are some effective tips for downsizing your belongings when moving across the country:

  • Evaluate your needs. Start by assessing what you really need. It’s easy to accumulate things that we use once and forget about. If you haven’t used something in over a year, it might be time to say goodbye. Make a list of essentials, and be realistic about what will fit and function in your new space.
  • Donate thoughtfully. Clothes and small household items in good condition but no longer needed can find a new home through donations.
  • Dispose responsibly. Throw away broken furniture or large items that cannot be repaired. Hiring one of the best junk removal services is a practical solution for those who do not have access to a truck or dumpster.
  • Sell unwanted Items. Offset moving costs by selling furniture, décor or electronics that won’t fit in your new home. Holding a yard sale or using platforms such as Facebook Marketplace can effectively recoup some costs while facilitating a more focused move.
  • Digitalize what you can. Reduce physical bulk by digitizing items where possible. Scan important documents, convert CDs and DVDs to digital formats, and take photos of memorabilia that you don’t need to keep as physical items.

Step #5: Gather the right packing supplies

Investing in good packing materials may seem like an added expense, but it is crucial for ensuring the safety of your belongings during the move. Here’s a closer look at the essentials:

  • Boxes. Opt for high-quality, durable boxes specifically designed for moving. These are typically made from thicker cardboard that can withstand the weight of transport. Consider purchasing various sizes to accommodate different items and make stacking easier in the moving truck.
  • Packing paper and bubble wrap. Packing paper is perfect for wrapping dishes, glasses, and other fragile items before placing them in boxes. Bubble wrap offers additional protection for extra fragile items such as porcelain and glassware by cushioning against shocks and bumps.
  • Packing tape. Don’t skimp on tape. Use a strong, high-quality packing tape to seal boxes securely. It’s advisable to tape both the top and bottom seams of the boxes multiple times to ensure they hold during the move.
  • Labeling materials. Permanent markers are essential for labeling your boxes with contents and room designations. Color-coded labels or stickers can also be used to quickly identify which room each box belongs to, speeding up both the loading and unpacking processes.

Step #6: Master the packing process

When it comes to cross-country moving, packing is more than just stuffing your belongings into boxes. It’s an art that requires strategy and foresight. Here’s how to turn packing from a daunting chore into a smooth, efficient operation that sets you up for a successful move.

  • Label each box with its contents. This makes unpacking much easier and allows movers to know where to place each box in your new home. Consider also noting on the box if the contents are fragile so that extra care can be taken during transport.
  • Pack room by room. Tackle one room at a time to keep the packing process organized. This method helps you keep track of what you’ve packed and what still needs to be done. Packing room by room also makes it easier to unpack when you arrive at your new home.
  • Keep boxes manageable. While it may seem efficient to stuff as much as possible into each box, this can lead to broken items and back strain. Keep boxes at a manageable weight, especially those containing books or other heavy items.
  • Create an essentials box. Pack a box or suitcase with items you’ll need immediately upon arrival at your new home, like toiletries, a few dishes, towels, bed linens, and chargers. This ‘essentials’ box should be loaded last so that it can be unloaded first.

Step #7: Plan your travel and accommodation

It’s important to make a timeline and then arrange your travel and accommodations. If you don’t have a place to live already, you should book a hotel or short-term rental ahead of time. If you’re flying, it’s a good idea to book your tickets well in advance because prices tend to go up the closer it gets to your travel date. If you’re driving, plan your route and make sure you have places to stop if you need to stay overnight.

If you’re moving with pets, you should make plans for them, too. If you’re flying, check with the airline about their pet transportation policies or look for a reputable pet transportation service. If you’re driving, make sure your pet is safe and comfortable in the car and plan to stop regularly for breaks.

Step #8: Optimize your finances and subscriptions

The final step should involve streamlining your finances and managing your subscriptions. This not only ensures that you do not incur unnecessary costs but also helps you transition smoothly into your new local economy and lifestyle.

  • Update your address. Start by updating your address with banks, credit card companies, and insurance providers. This not only ensures that you receive important correspondence but also helps prevent potential fraud or delays in service. Most institutions allow you to update your information online or via their customer service line.
  • Notify utility companies. Contact your utility providers (electric, gas, water, internet, and cable) to disconnect services at your current home and set up services at your new address. Try to schedule the disconnection for the day after you move out and the connection a day before you arrive at your new home to ensure you’re not without essential services.
  • Manage subscriptions. Review all your current subscriptions, including streaming services, magazines, memberships, and box subscriptions. Cancel any that you no longer need or transfer them to your new address. This is also a good time to evaluate which subscriptions you use and value, potentially saving money by discontinuing those that are no longer beneficial.

By organizing these aspects of your move early, you can settle into your new life with ease and confidence.


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