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Planning a Cross-Country Move 101

Packing up and moving yourself and your family from one side of the country to the other is no small job. You have to find a safe, financially feasible, and efficient way to transport your belongings, ready your new home and pack up your old one, handle the mountain of paperwork moving requires, and take care of a hundred time-consuming tasks. All of this requires careful planning, preparation, and attention to detail in order to make the process happen smoothly. If the whole idea overwhelms you, here are a few suggestions to help you create a successful relocation strategy.

Make a Moving Checklist

It’s a good idea to sit down and make a comprehensive checklist of everything you need to do before, during, and after the move. You should start about eight weeks out and do as much in advance as possible so you aren’t overwhelmed with last minute details. Creating a moving file to keep up with quotes, receipts, notes, and other pertinent moving information will save you a lot of time and stress.

  • Establish a moving timeline so you have enough time to complete everything on your list.
  • Remember to put transferring prescriptions on your list, and make sure everyone has an adequate supply of their medications.
  • Get health care provider referrals from your current doctors and dentists. Contact your insurance company to make sure these referrals are in your network.
  • Transfer your checking accounts if the bank you are currently using doesn’t have a branch in your new location.
  • Don’t forget to call the utility company to have the power disconnected as soon as you leave your old house.
  • Be sure you have made arrangements to have the power connected in your new home right before you arrive.
Make a Moving Checklist

Research your New Community

The more you know about the area where you are moving, the easier it will be to become comfortable in your new surroundings. The Chamber of Commerce will have a website where you can get information on utilities, local regulations, social events, and historical background. Weather websites will give you an idea of what the average temperatures are throughout the year. If you have school-age children presumably you already know which schools they will be attending, and you should visit the school website to find information about school activities and annual calendar.

Decide What Method You are Going to Use to Move

If you’re moving across the country because of a job transfer and your employer is picking up the tab, this decision may be made for you. Otherwise, you can decide if you’re going to haul your belongings from coast to coast behind your car or in a moving truck whether you rent and drive yourself or hire a moving company.

If you feel confident driving a large truck, you can rent a moving van and make the drive across the country yourself. This solution can save thousands of dollars on the cost of the move. You will have to do all the packing, loading, and unloading yourself though. Moving trucks don’t get very good gas mileage which will cut into your savings.

You might consider using a freight trailer to move your belongings. The freight company delivers the trailer to you 3 days before you move, and you load it up with your belongings. They return to pick it up and drive it to your new home, and this option saves you both time and stress.

If you don’t have a house full of furniture you could ship your belongings to the new location. These shipping companies focus on transporting your belongings to your new location as safely as possible.

You should call to get quotes and decide which method makes the most economic sense for your needs. Be sure to factor in your own time and labor. You may find that it makes more sense to hire professionals and let them handle the packing and loading for you especially if you have an entire house full of furniture.

Start Paring Down Your Belongings

This is a great time to go through your attic, basement, garage, and closets and decide what is going with you and what can be donated or trashed. A yard sale is a good way to rid yourself of items you don’t need anymore and don’t want to take to your new home, and this is a great way to make money to cover moving costs.

Make a Visual Inventory of Your Belongings

It’s a good idea to take photos of your most valuable belongings because if they are scratched, dented, or destroyed by the moving crew, you will need proof of the original condition of the damaged items. You should have a list of each piece of furniture and other important belongings and include their condition prior to the move along with photographs showing their condition.

Make a Visual Inventory of Your Belongings

Create a Floor Plan of Your New Home

A basic floor plan of the major rooms in your new house is going to be a big help to you and the movers when you arrive. You don’t want the moving crew standing idle while you try to decide where you want large pieces of furniture to go. It will be a huge time saver if all your boxes are marked so movers know which rooms to put them in and you have a floor plan that tells them exactly where to put sofas, tables, chairs, beds, and dressers. You can always redecorate after you get settled in.

Be sure to have a box packed with the items you will need right away. Mark it clearly “load last” because that way it will be one of the first boxes off the moving van when you arrive at your new home.

Change Your Address and Gather Important Papers

Be sure to change your address with the post office about a week before the move, and you should send change of address information to everyone who needs to contact you at your new home.

Important documents like titles, birth certificates, insurance policies, and health records should be set aside. These should be with you whether you are flying across the country to meet the movers or transporting your belongings yourself.

Make Transportation Decisions

Once you’ve decided how you’re going to get your belongings across the country, it’s time to decide exactly how you’re going to get yourself and your family there. The most common options to arrange transportation for your belongings including flying yourself or following your belongings to your new location whether you transport them there or hire a moving company.

Making the drive in your vehicle has some benefits, especially if there is more than one adult to share the driving responsibilities. This is typically the most economical option, and you have the ability to stop as often as necessary to stretch your legs and walk the pets.

Flying will most likely deliver you to your location quicker. However, it can be expensive with multiple people, and a plan must be made beforehand on when and how your belongings will arrive. When flying, important paperwork and mementos should be kept with you instead of placed on the moving truck.

>Make Transportation Decisions

Decide How You Will Transport Your Vehicles

If you’ve opted to fly to your new home or have multiple vehicles, you’ll have to plan for transporting your vehicles across the country. There are auto shipping companies that transport cars, and the cost will depend on the weight and size of your vehicle and the rates the company charges. When choosing an auto transport company, you should ask potential companies questions on what type of carrier they use (open-air or enclosed), insurance coverage, and timeframe for your specific transportation route. A major benefit of using an auto shipping company is the peace of mind knowing a professional moving service is handling the care of your vehicles so you can focus solely on transporting yourself or other belongings to your new location.

Collect Boxes and Moving Materials

If you’ve hired a moving company to pack for you, collecting boxes is something you don’t have to worry about. If you’re packing yourself, you need to start collecting boxes a month or so before you move. You can find free boxes at liquor stores, bookstores, retail outlets, grocery stores, and schools, or you can purchase them from big box or home improvement stores. Check with friends and family for any containers they might have. You can also purchase boxes from moving companies even if you’re not using them to move.

Right before you leave, you should make sure all the food is out of your freezer and refrigerator because the power will be disconnected. Double check to make sure all windows and doors are locked and close the garage door. It’s always a smart idea to do a final sweep of the house to check for any forgotten items.

If you’ve already sold the house, it is now the responsibility of the new owners. If not, you might ask one of your neighbors to keep an eye on it until the new owners move in. A major move is complicated and stressful no matter how organized you are. Planning ahead, creating a comprehensive checklist, and setting realistic weekly goals for what you want to accomplish will make the process go much more smoothly.