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Top 10 Tips for Moving Cross Country

Moving is a lot of work, period. Then if you add a move clear across the country and you've entered into a much more overwhelming task. So where do you even begin?! First, take a deep breath, we've got you! With a little guidance, you can make a seamless move into your new home — all while still enjoying (most of) the process. 😉

tips for an easy move across the country

10 Tips for a Seamless Move

Prep, clean, declutter, repeat!

We recommend doing some prep work very early on in the moving process, especially when moving cross country. This includes things like organizing, purging and cleaning to get ready for your big move. Find some helpful tips in our article Make the Easiest Move Ever.

Consider Staging

Staged homes spend 90% less time on the market (Real Estate Staging Association) — and timing is key when it comes to moving cross country! Contrary to what you may think, staging your home doesn't have to take a ton of time or money. Not only will you likely spend less time keeping your home "show ready" for those never convenient showings, but there's also a good chance that you will end up getting more money for your home in the long run.

Get Planning

The earlier you begin planning your move the better when moving cross country. By two months out it should be top of mind. As you can imagine the logistics of transporting all of your things out of one home, and across the country into another takes some careful thought.

Sit down and create a timeline and checklist no later than eight weeks prior to your moving day. This will allow you to stay on top of priorities and will help make sure you aren't left scrambling at the last moment.

Set Realistic Expectations

If you've seen people moving long distances sell all of their home items you may have wondered, why? Won't they need their bedroom suite and kitchen table at a new home? The reason is that moving your belongings cross country or long distances can take a lot of time and money. Sometimes it's just easier to buy new things once you've arrived at your new home.

For instance, 10-14 days is an average timeframe for moving companies to transport your things long distance. However, if you're moving from one side of the country to the other it could take up to three weeks or longer for your things to arrive ( For this reason, it's very important to plan accordingly.

If you will be driving to your new home you should plan to pack some of your necessities that will be needed right away and place them in the car with you. This can hold you over until the moving truck arrives with your things. Alternatively, if you're flying or traveling by a method that won't allow you to pack much with you, consider shipping some of your smaller items to arrive at your new home at the same time or even ahead of time if you have a friendly neighbor to hold packages for you.

Decide on Moving Help

A major aspect of your move will be deciding what type of assistance you'll need with packing and moving your belongings. Do you need the whole shebang — all of the box packing, loading and unloading done by movers? Or do you just need a hand with the super heavy items in your home? Thankfully, most moving services offer options for whatever help you need. Figure out exactly what type of moving help you need in Get Your Move On: Unpacking the Costs.

Organization is Key

Try to organize your belongings and the boxes as thoroughly as you can. Use a notebook to keep track of what’s in each box, and number them accordingly. Labeling each box with its room will also help your movers know which room to put the boxes in and you won’t even have to lift a finger. Invest in a spiral notebook, some permanent markers, and even colored tape to help you stay on top of where everything is during your move. Categorize your items by room and function, such as “kitchen” and “cutlery”, or “bedroom” and “linens”. This way, aside from prioritizing your unpacking, you can keep like-items together and save yourself some time later.

planning a cross country move

Start Packing

It's never too early to start packing. While there are many things that you won't be able to pack until closer to moving day, do your best to get everything else squared away. It's easy to fall into the trap of "The guest room doesn't have much stuff and shouldn't take long to pack up..." when in reality there is much more hiding than you originally thought and takes MUCH longer than planned.

Have a "First-night" Box Ready

Plan ahead and pack up a “first-night” box that stays with you (if possible) or make sure it's distinctly marked and strategically packed so that you can easily get to it. Especially since you are moving cross country you should plan as if you won't have immediate access to the majority of your things — so do your best to include things you will need right away in this box. Think about any necessities such as medications, toiletries, towels, a change of clothes and any other essentials you will need for your first night’s stay in your new home. After a big move, even if all of your things arrive on schedule, you still may not feel like digging through your boxes to find something you need for your first night.

Don't forget to include a few celebratory items in your "first night" box such as a bottle of something special, glasses (plastic is fine), a corkscrew and something yummy to munch on.

Tips for Delivery Day

If you have employed professional movers to assist with your move or recruit some new friends with the enticement of free pizza and beer - be sure that you or someone you trust is "running point" as items are removed from the moving truck. This way you will be able to properly direct everyone to place the boxes in the appropriate room and away from doors and major pathways to make your life easier when unpacking.

Moving with Pets

Don't forget to make special arrangements to think about the transport and comfort of your pets. For more tips on how to make the move a little easier on them, check out our article about moving with your pets here.

While moving is never an easy task, moving across the country is a huge feat and can make even a seasoned mover feel stressed. Although getting started with the process may feel daunting, following some simple steps can make a huge difference in how smoothly your move is pulled off (and your level of stress)! Don't be afraid to reach out to family, friends and professionals to help along the way. Once you've successfully moved clear across the country and are settling into your new home, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back! Happy cross country moving!

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