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 the cost can easily get overwhelming.
But if you know a cross country move is the right choice for you, we have a guide on how to move cross country. We include 14 tips to make the process more cost-effective and organized.
Like any big project, the secret to pulling it off successfully is to break it into smaller, more digestible pieces. Taking the time to plan ahead can make the move much easier.
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? Get rid of this one and buy a new one after you move. The same goes for old clothes, linens, artwork you don’t want to hang on your walls anymore and board games you haven’t played in years.
It’s more cost-effective to get rid of old items you no longer need or use and start fresh after your move. Sell these items on apps for some extra cash or donate them. 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.
Every time you put something in a box, wipe it down first. This packing hack may take a little longer, but you’ll appreciate everything being nice and clean when you unpack it later. Be sure everything that you wipe down is dry before putting it in a box. If mold begins to grow on your items in transit, you’ll have to spend money replacing or professionally cleaning them.
Packing materials can be surprisingly expensive. To cut the costs of moving, try tracking down free or used supplies. Many people list their good condition packing materials as free on social or selling apps once they are done with them.
Another option is to ask any local businesses if they are expecting any deliveries. If so, see if they can save the boxes for you to come and pick up.
While free materials can reduce your moving cost, be sure they are still sturdy. Your stuff is going to be packed into a moving truck. That truck will likely hit a number of bumps and take some sharp turns along its journey. Boxes could easily move around in the truck, so be sure to protect your things by packing them in sturdy boxes with a lot of padding.
It’s not a bad idea to use plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes — they’re waterproof and generally more durable. In addition, you’ll be able to use them in all sorts of ways around the home after your move, which makes your move a little more eco-friendly.
The longer the distance of your move, the more likely things are to get lost. Wondering how to move cross country without losing track of your items? If you start early, you can keep a detailed inventory of how many boxes you have and what’s in each box.
This 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.
If you are using a moving company, you may also want to put your name and new address on each box. Your items might be packed with other people’s boxes and this will ensure they are delivered to the right location.
The time and season you move can influence the cost of transporting your belongings. Similar to the cheapest time to find an apartment, the cheapest time to move cross country is the winter. Most people move during the summer, so prices go up during this time.
It can also be significantly cheaper to move mid-week rather than on a weekend. If your moving dates are flexible, aim to move mid-week in the months from early winter (October) to early spring (April).
The first thing you need to decide is: Will you move yourself or hire movers?
If you decide to rent a truck and drive yourself, this is the cheapest option. With that said, it can still cost between $1,000 to $3,000. While this is the cheapest option, it will also require the most amount of time and effort. You’ll have to pack and unpack all your stuff yourself or with the help of friends and family.
Another option is to pack all your belongings into a storage container and have a professional drive it cross-country. This option is good if you want to drive your own car or would rather fly than drive hundreds of miles. This option usually costs between $1,500 to $5,000.
The easiest but most expensive option is to hire a full-service moving company to transport your belongings. In this option, movers will pace up a truck with your items, drive it cross country and unload your boxes at your new home. This option can be pricey, costing between $2,000 and $10,000.
Have you been renting a fully furnished apartment? If so, you may not have any furniture to take with you as you move cross country. Are you tired of your old furniture and looking for a fresh start? You may decide to sell all your large items and purchase new furniture once you arrive at your destination.
In these scenarios, shipping your items might be cheaper than renting a van to drive them yourself. The prices on this will vary drastically, depending on how many boxes you choose to ship.
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).
When looking for a moving company to entrust with your belongings, be sure to shop around. Get quotes from several different moving companies to determine the best deal.
Depending on how much stuff you have and how far away you’re moving, professional movers can charge several thousand dollars. Since moving cross-country can get quite pricey, be sure to get a “not to exceed” or binding estimate. A binding estimate ensures that this is the price you will be expected to pay, even if your belongings weigh more than expected.
Rather than automatically choosing the cheapest estimate, be sure to do some research into the companies. Read reviews to see what other people’s experiences were and how controversial situations were handled by the company. Sometimes paying a low amount to begin with can cost you later on, when your belongings don’t show up on time (or at all!).
Moving insurance is another cost to factor in. Moving insurance, referred to as valuation, takes into account how much value your belongings have in case they are damaged or lost during the move.
When you’re moving out of state, all companies must offer basic coverage or full value protection. Depending on how valuable your items are, you may want to pay more upfront to ensure you don’t have to spend money replacing damaged items later.
A move can be financially draining. Be sure you are getting the best deal you can by looking for moving discounts. Many truck rental companies will offer deals to AAA members. Students, active military and veterans are also eligible for many moving discounts. Be sure to ask the moving company if they have any discounts available.
If you are moving for work, your company might offer to pay a flat-fee to help with moving costs. In addition, if you’ve moved to a new location because of work, you may qualify for a tax deduction. If this is the case, be sure to save receipts during your move.
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.
If you’ve hired a cross country moving company, you’ll want to be sure to plan according to when they will arrive at your new home. You don’t want them to arrive ahead of you and have nowhere to unload. Be sure you arrive in the new city ahead of time so you are ready when they arrive.
On the other hand, you don’t want to arrive early and have nowhere to sleep and only one outfit to wear for the next week because all your belongings are on the moving truck. Plan ahead by booking a hotel room and packing your essentials separately.
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.
Finding a short-term lease will help you have a home base while you hunt for a more permanent place. If you are new to the city, you’ll have time to figure out which neighborhood is the best fit for your lifestyle. This will require another move, but it could be a better option than being tied into a long-term lease for an apartment you aren’t happy with.
Moving cross country will be an adventure, no matter how much help you choose to enlist. Now that you know how to move cross country, you can let go of some of the stress and focus on the exciting new city you are moving to. Want to learn more about your future home? Check out our city guides to learn more about the neighborhoods, restaurants and lifestyle.