8 Things You Should Do Before Moving Cross Country

October 05, 2022 by: Rachel Pruette

Moving is a stressful experience even if you’re relocating to a nearby neighborhood, but relocating across the country can be maximally overwhelming. Figuring out the logistics and actually moving your belongings often takes weeks of planning, and even after getting everything in order, the relocation can be challenging.

Below, you’ll find eight tips for planning your cross-country relocation and making the process a little easier.

1. Start the Process Early

Most people underestimate how much time and energy it takes to plan a move, let alone complete the actual relocation. If you put off planning and wait until the last minute, you’re likely to forget things you need, run into issues that will cause delays in your move, and add unnecessary stress to your relocation.

We recommend beginning the planning process about three months before your moving date. This means you can start as soon as you’re under contract on your new home and your existing one.

You can always slow down the process or backtrack if the new home falls through for any reason, but being prepared gives you plenty of time to think through the details and ensure you don’t overlook something important.

2. Figure Out How to Move Your Car

One of the largest and most expensive things you’ll need to consider moving is your car, so you should get those details ironed out as soon as possible. If you’re moving to a densely populated urban area where public transportation is available, consider selling your car if you feel you don’t need it.

If you do plan on bringing it with you, you can look into shipping your car or driving it yourself while professional movers drive the moving truck with the rest of your belongings. Either way, having a solid plan in place is a good way to ensure you’re not scrambling for a solution at the last minute.

This will also help you budget for your move, as your car will likely be one of the most expensive things to ship.

3. Lock in a Job in Your New Hometown 

Moving will always be stressful, but moving to an area where you don’t yet have a job can be far more taxing mentally and emotionally. Some people recommend waiting until you’re situated to begin your job search, but this can often lead to added financial stress.

We suggest getting a job well in advance of your relocation and requesting a start date a few days after you’re scheduled to move. Most employers should have no issue with a delayed start, and this will be one less thing to have to worry about while you’re relocating. Just having future finances in order can make the moving experience much more enjoyable.

4. Take Only What You Need

If you’ve lived in your current home for some time, you’ve probably accumulated a lot of “stuff,” some of which is essential for daily living and some of which is probably useless and can safely be left behind. Unfortunately, going through your belongings and deciding what you will and won’t be taking is one of the first things you should do to prepare for the move.

We recommend going room by room and sorting things into three categories: need, want, and don’t want. Things you need include items you use every day, like dishes, sheets, blankets, some small kitchen appliances, and clothes you commonly wear. Things you want can include home decor, jewelry, items of sentimental value, and clothes for special occasions. Things you don’t want can include items you haven’t used in a year or more and general clutter.

If you have measurements for your new home, you can fit larger pieces of furniture — like couches, coffee tables, dining tables, and more — into these categories as well.

Part of the reason we recommend starting the moving process so early is so you have time to sell or donate items that you won’t be taking with you.

5. Organize While You Pack

Once you’ve sorted your belongings and decided what you will and won’t be taking with you, you can finally begin the packing process. However, it’s important to stay organized while you pack.

It’s a good idea to start by packing a box of things you’ll need on the first day or two you’re in your new home. This can include a small selection of clothes, cookware if you plan on cooking right away, cutlery, toiletries, and bedding. Having easy access to these items will mean you can take your time unpacking the rest of your belongings without having to search for things you need right away.

For the remaining belongings, it’s a good idea to sort things by where you’ll be storing them in your new space. For example, pack everything that belongs in the bathroom together, all of your kitchen appliances and utensils together, and all bedroom accessories and items together.

Label each box with the room where the items inside belong. This will allow you to unpack room by room and stay as organized as possible throughout the process.

A great way to stay super organized during and after your move is to rent a storage unit in your new hometown. This will allow you to keep non-essentials out of the way while you gradually get the more important belongings in and situated.

6. Get Friends and Family to Help

Packing up all of your belongings and organizing boxes and bags is time-consuming, especially if you’ve lived in your current home for many years. We recommend enlisting the help of family and friends to make the process easier. This is especially useful if you’ve put off the packing process for too long and need to kick it into high gear to get things packed on time for your move.

It’s a nice gesture to offer them dinner in exchange for their help, and you can go one step beyond and buy each person a gift card to their favorite restaurant as a token of your appreciation.

7. Get Utilities Squared Away

Many people moving to a new home will understandably focus on moving their belongings. Unfortunately, this often means that other important things can get neglected. It’s a good idea to set aside some time to alert your current utility companies of the relocation and get utilities for your new place switched into your name.

You’ll want to call the following companies about a week or two before your move to fill out any necessary paperwork and get things squared away before your move:

  • Water company
  • Electric company
  • Phone provider (if applicable)
  • Internet provider
  • Natural gas or oil delivery company for home heating

8. Hire Professional Movers

Finally, we recommend hiring professional long-distance movers to assist with moving furniture and other belongings.

Professional movers have the tools and resources to get bulky furniture out of your home and safely into a moving truck without injury or stress. They can also often provide packing materials and assistance with packing fragile items to prevent damage during the relocation.

Movers will also stop at interstate truck weigh stations for you, which is something most homeowners forget about and don’t know how to do. Additionally, if a professional drives the majority of your belongings for you, you can drive your own car and save on shipping fees.

Hiring movers can be expensive, but it’s almost always worth the investment to reduce stress and provide peace of mind that your belongings will get to your new home safely and on time.