7 Tips for Moving Cross-Country Without Losing Your Sanity

Moving long-distance is going to be stressful -- there's no way around that. But our tips will help the process go a little smoother.

Moving long-distance is going to be stressful — there’s no way around that. But our tips will help the process go a little smoother.

You’d have to be a robot not to get stressed over the prospect of a cross-country move. There are a lot of moving pieces – literally – and too many details to think about without breaking out in a cold sweat.

But if you know a move to an apartment far, far away is the right choice for you, our tips for moving cross-country will help the process go as smoothly as possible. Like any big project, the secret to pulling it off successfully is to break it into smaller, more digestible pieces.

Tip #1: Get rid of stuff.

And we mean a lot of stuff. Anything that isn’t necessary or sentimental needs to go. Does your couch sport stains and broken springs after years of use? It might be time for a new one, and the time to buy it is after you move. Ditto for old clothes, linens, artwork you don’t want hanging on your walls anymore and board games you haven’t played in years.

You have to lug everything you own, so the more you pare it down, the easier your move will be. Having trouble parting with your possessions? Look at it this way: Moving is a good excuse to start a new chapter in your life. Starting over with new furnishings may help you turn the page.

Tip #2: Clean everything.

Every time you put something in a box, wipe it down first. It may take longer, but you’ll appreciate everything being nice and clean when you unpack it later.

Tip #3: Use sturdy packing materials.

Your stuff is going to go in a moving truck, and who knows how many bumps that truck will hit and how many sharp turns it’ll take? It may get rough in there, so protect your things by packing them carefully, with lots of padding and sturdy boxes. It’s not a bad idea to use plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes – they’re waterproof and generally more durable; plus, you’ll be able to use them in all sorts of ways around the home after your move, which makes your move a little greener.

Label your boxes carefully. You'll appreciate it when you move in.

Label your boxes carefully. You’ll appreciate it when you move in.

Tip #4: Label everything, and keep an inventory.

The more complicated your move is, the more likely things are to get lost. If you start early, you can keep a detailed inventory of how many boxes you have and what’s in each box. It may sound like a lot of work, but you’ll appreciate it when you have documentation if something goes missing. Plus, when you arrive in your new city, you’ll probably be pretty overwhelmed – so having your things present and accounted for when you get there will be good peace of mind.

Tip #5: Consider your method of transportation.

The first thing you need to decide is: Will you move yourself or hire movers?

If you own a car and are planning on bringing it with you, remember that you have to drive it to your new city along with the moving truck. If you can enlist a trusted friend to drive your car or the truck, or if you’re comfortable towing your car from the back of the moving truck, doing it yourself may be an option.

But it’s more likely that your car plus the moving truck are too much to handle on your own. Movers can load and drive the truck for you. They’ll even pack your stuff for an extra fee (but if you’re on a budget, that’s something you should do yourself.)

Shop around and get quotes from several different moving companies to determine the best deal – and since moving cross-country can get quite pricey, get a “not to exceed” estimate. Still, depending on how much stuff you have and how far away you’re moving, professional movers can charge several thousand dollars.

Tip #6: Plot your route carefully, door-to-door.

You know what’s never fun? Getting lost. You know when it’s really not fun? When you’re in the middle of a move. Even though you’ll probably rely on GPS, map out your route before you leave. It never hurts to print out detailed directions in case something goes wrong. If your move will span two or more days, make hotel reservations well in advance, and keep to your schedule.

Tip #7: Consider a short-term place.

Apartment Guide offers plenty of ways for you to see an apartment before you move in – we’ve got HD photos, panoramic tours, videos and more. But if you don’t want to sign a lease until you see an apartment in person, and if you can’t make a trip to your new city before moving there, consider a temporary living situation.

After you search for your city on Apartment Guide, click on More next to the Bedrooms and Price refinements, then click More Options. This will take you to a screen where you can choose Short Term Available under Lease Options. This will show you all the places where you can sign a short-term lease while you take your time searching for the perfect apartment. This will require another move, but it’s up to you to decide if that’s the right choice for you.

Have you ever made a long-distance move? What advice do you have?

Photo credit: Shutterstock / l i g h t p o e t, B Calkins

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