Tips For An Easy, Budget-Friendly Cross-Country Move


Tips For An Easy, Budget-Friendly Cross-Country Move

Lisa Wright · Oct 7, 2021
Woman loads her home furnishings into a large moving truck.

Moving can be a huge headache, and moving across the country can be even more of a hassle, as it requires extra planning and research to organize an efficient and timely moving strategy. If you’re currently in the midst of planning a cross-country move, have no fear — we here at ApartmentRatings have created the ultimate to-do list to help your move go as smoothly as possible.

Planning is Key (2 Months Pre-Move)

Planning ahead is the key to any successful move, whether it’s across town or across the country. But the latter can seem especially daunting to those who have never done it before. That’s why a little planning goes a long way. Here’s how to get started.

The cost of moving (especially cross-country) is often highly dependent on how much you need to move (i.e. the weight of your belongings, total boxes, etc). That’s why the first step to planning a successful move is to try and lighten the load before you even begin packing. This means getting rid of non-essentials or items that can be easily replaced once you’re settled.

Tip: You can try selling lightly-used items on an online marketplace to try and earn some extra money in the process of decluttering. Donating items to a Goodwill shop or Salvation Army also works.

Researching potential moving companies is an important thing to do early in the moving process, as it can save you from potential headaches later on. Get quotes from several companies to compare rates, and be sure to ask about any additional (or hidden) fees. Additionally, be sure that your moving company is both licensed and insured. Moving scams do exist, unfortunately, so you’ll find doing your homework to make sure your moving company is legit well worth the time and effort. Check customer ratings and moving company stats to get the best idea of which is right for you.

Tip: Many moving companies offer insurance options. However, basic protection may only cover the bare minimum, so be sure to get adequate insurance to cover the cost of any damaged items. After all, you are moving across the country, and accidents happen with even the best movers.

Pre-Move Essentials (4 to 6 Weeks Pre-Move)

Young woman fills out the necessary paperwork to complete her cross-country move.

Organization is key when planning a move. Now that you’ve streamlined your belongings and (hopefully) hired a moving company, it’s time to deal with the logistics of moving. That means paperwork. Create a to-do list or moving binder to help keep track of everything. This way, small details will be less likely to slip through the cracks.

Tip: Use your binder to keep important information like mover contact info, travel details such as flight information, and written confirmation of your moving arrangements.

Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s is especially important when planning a move. At this stage, you should begin doing all the necessary paperwork, which includes transferring school and medical records, changing addresses, and alerting other important parties, such as your financial institutions, employer’s HR department, credit card companies, and utility companies of your upcoming move.

Tip: Make a checklist of everyone that needs to be notified of your upcoming move to guarantee that no one gets missed. Start with important things like medical records and your employer and work your way down to non-essentials like newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

Now is the time to begin ordering moving supplies to make sure everything arrives on time for the move. Boxes, bubble wrap, and packing tape are all essentials for any move. Be sure to have plenty of options when it comes to packing, including wardrobe boxes and specialty containers for more fragile or delicate items.

Tip: Need more boxes? Places like Lowe’s and Home Depot sell boxes that are reasonably priced and easily assembled.

At this stage, you can also begin packing things up — but be sure not to pack up essential items! Be sure to mark any items of special value that may require additional insurance.

Tip: Keeping records of valuable items is very important! Photo records are best, but in a pinch a written description will suffice. Don’t forget to declare (in writing) items that are valued at over $100/pound — such as your computer or stereo system.

Time for a Smooth Move (1 to 2 Weeks Pre-Move)

At this point, all your planning should be coming to fruition as you get to the finish line: moving day! This is when you’ll do most of your packing, so be sure to carefully label and document all your items accordingly, especially valuables. Don’t forget to label boxes as “essentials” or “non-essentials” so you know what needs to be unpacked first.

Tip: You may want to keep especially valuable items like important documents/papers/records or jewelry separate from other items. Invest in a safe box to store them and make it easy for you to transport them yourself. You should also be sure to remove the contents of the safe deposit box in your old place (if you have one) and put them with the items in this box. This will ensure that everything is as safe as can be in one place.

Last minute preparations often fall through the cracks. This includes things like making sure you have enough time off work to supervise the move, making sure your car is in tip-top shape, and refilling necessary prescriptions. Be sure to refer to your checklist so you don’t forget any of these small (but important) details.

Tip: Be sure to contact the moving company at least two weeks in advance to reconfirm your moving arrangements. This will give you much-needed peace of mind come the big day.

Moving Day!

Children excitedly race through the house with full moving boxes.

A few days before moving day, be sure to reconfirm all details with the moving company, including arrival time and other specifics. Upon arrival, be sure to verify the moving truck is from the company you hired, and double check the truck’s USDOT number (this should match the number you were given on the initial estimate). Have your inventory list handy to check off items as they’re packed, get the movers’ signature as verification, and keep a copy for your records. Place the copy in your safe box for easy access once you arrive at your new home.

After the movers depart, the move is now (mostly) out of your hands! Once you arrive at your new home, be sure to tip them for a job well done. Carefully examine items for damage when unpacking and compare them with your records. If anything was damaged during transit, you may have to file a claim to get compensation.

Above all else, moving across the country requires careful planning and organization. Start early to be sure you have plenty of time to make the best possible arrangements, and to ensure your move is smooth sailing from start to finish.

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