How to Plan a Cross Country Move

How To, Moving Tips
March 13, 2018
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Moving is a big job even if it’s just to the next town over. But if you’re moving clear across the country, well, you need to plan it down to the smallest detail. This article will give you everything you need to know about how to plan a cross country move.

Whether you’ve got dreams of living on the opposite coast or are moving because you got a new job, cross country moving is a major life event. The strategy isn’t that different from a local move, though it is on a larger scale – and you will need to do some extra prep work.

First, you need to find a place to move to. Moving to a new city across the country is a romantic idea, but unless you are young and single with no kids, it’s a tough thing to do without a plan. So, after you’ve found a place to live, we suggest breaking your cross country move into three phases.

Phase 1: Get Your House in Order

What will you take with you on your cross country move? If you have a family and an established home, you’ll have more permanent belongings than a 20-something with a studio apartment. Whatever your circumstances, this is a perfect time to decide what to take and what to leave behind.

The more you take with you, the more expensive the move will be. However, thanks to utilities like Craigslist, furnishing your new home across the country can be both easy and affordable.

Take a hard look at your belongings and sort everything into 4 categories:

  • Keep: things you can’t live without, favorite pieces of furniture, clothing, etc. Just remember that the less you move with, the more convenient it will be.
  • Sell: you’d be amazed at what you can sell on places like ThredUp and Craigslist, and how quickly the things will go. Not only is it a good idea to reduce your possessions from time to time, if you sell enough, you can finance all or part of your cross-country move.
  • Donate: anything that doesn’t fall into the ‘keep’ or ‘sell’ categories but is still of value to others can be donated. Organizations like your local church, the Salvation Army, and Goodwill are great places to take your donatable items.
  • Toss: anything you don’t want to keep, can’t sell and isn’t worth donating to someone in need can be thrown out. Hopefully, you don’t have too many of these items lying around, but a cross country move is a great way to find out what you really need and what you don’t.

Phase 2: Plan a Cross Country Move

Now that you’ve whittled your belongings down to the essentials, it’s time to think about getting it all from the east coast to the west coast (or vice versa).

Unless you’re making a completely fresh start across the country, you have two options: hire a professional mover or do it yourself.

While driving a rented U-Haul from coast to coast can seem romantic, it rarely is. It’s also been documented that DIY-moves can often cost almost as much as moving with a professional, and can also be a lot more stressful.

We suggest working with a professional moving company who understands the intricacies of a long distance move. A professional mover can help you make an inventory, insure your possessions against damage or loss, and coordinate the packing and unpacking of all your belongings. Most reputable movers will have plenty of experience with planning a cross country move and can walk you step-by-step through the planning process.

Phase 3: Put Your Plan into Action

Once you’ve found a mover and set a date for the move, you still have a few last-minute details to address.

First, make sure all your paperwork is in order. This includes closing papers on your previous home, insurance on the new home, updating licenses for another state, changing post off information, and moving contracts.

Next, set a shutoff time for utilities in the home you are leaving, and a turn-on time for utilities in the home you are moving to. You can probably do this online, but a quick call will also work. Make sure you do this because arriving at your new home only to find that it doesn’t have heat, hot water or electricity can be quite a shock!

Finally, it’s time to hit the road. Coordinate with your mover so everyone arrives at the appointed times. You may wish to travel ahead and stay at a hotel or friend’s home until your stuff arrives or pack some essentials and get your new home ready to receive the movers and all your belongings.

Take Everything in Stride

If you’ve followed this guide to plan a cross country move, then you shouldn’t have any big problems. If small problems do come up, such as a forgotten item or slight travel delay, don’t make a big deal of it. You’ve done the heavy lifting, so to speak, so be kind to yourself. Of course, there are plenty of ways to reduce moving stress and we that advise you follow these tips.

Remember – you are on an adventure to your new home, so try to enjoy it!

Do you have any other tips about long-distance moving? Let us know in the comments below.

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