It’s one thing to move from your home to another one just a street or two over; it’s another thing entirely to pack up everything you have and transport it across the border into another state. If you’re planning a cross-country move, here are some steps to moving out of your house that will make the experience easier, more efficient, and less stressful for everyone involved.
How to Plan a Move Cross Country
The following 27 steps to moving out of state might seem like a long list, but the reality is that packing up your whole life and transporting it somewhere else is a big task. It takes some work! Our suggestions and tips are just that—you can build on them and alter them as you see fit. Let these tips serve as a starting point to begin the process.
1. Plan Far Ahead
Planning a cross-country move starts with the most important step of all: planning. If you’re trying to achieve a painless move, the best thing you can do is plan for every eventuality and do so well in advance. As soon as you know you’ve got a move on the horizon, use however many months you have to get organized and make sure you’re ready.
2. Create a Plan
Create a master plan. The easiest way to move across the country might not look the same to each person. Every family’s circumstances are different, so your master plan for the move is going to be personalized.
Having a plan will help keep things organized and on track for a successful, on-time move. This list could include answers to questions about whether you’re renting a moving truck or hiring movers, a list of people who can help you pack and move items into the truck, how long driving to your new home will take, etc.
3. Expect Things to Go Wrong
The best-laid plans can go awry. So set yourself up for success by expecting things to go wrong. When they do—which they almost inevitably will with a project the size and scope of moving everyone and everything across the country—you won’t be surprised or caught off guard. So one of the first steps to moving out of state is acknowledging that your plans will not go perfectly. If you can anticipate issues, you’ll be better prepared to handle them and keep the ball moving.
4. Cut Any Excess Belongings Loose
Go through your possessions and evaluate what you have. Do you need this or that? Can you get rid of it? The less you take with you, the less hauling and unpacking you’ll have to do when you reach your final destination.
5. Have a Packing Strategy
Once you’ve gone through and pruned the excess clothes, toys, etc., you have, it’s time to create a packing strategy. The sooner you can pack things up, the better. Anticipate that packing is going to take longer than you expect, and you’ll be well ahead of the game.
Start with loose items like books and toys that can be packed up well in advance and won’t be needed right away. As soon as you’ve cleared away as much of those items as possible, you can move onto furniture and larger things like electronics.
6. Budget for Everything
This might seem like a strange item to include in our steps for packing a house, but moving can be very expensive and you don’t want to be caught unawares. Try to determine early on what you’re willing to pay and what you can pay, and keep those figures in mind while you shop around. Keep track of all the necessary expenses, and be sure to set a little extra money aside for unexpected ones.
7. Budget for Cost-of-Living Differences
The cost of living from state to state and even community to community can be drastically different, including prices for rent, food, utilities, and other essentials. If you’re moving to another state with a higher cost of living, you’ll need to budget for the difference.
8. Set Emergency Funds Aside
Moving to another state can be full of the unexpected. Expenses could crop up, a tire could blow, etc. Keeping that in mind, set aside some emergency funds for the move, just to be prepared for anything that might come your way.
9. Find Packing Boxes Early
Load up on your packing boxes as early as you can. That way, should you find you need more last minute, you’ll be in a good position to use the boxes you’ve been collecting well in advance.
10. Remember Your Utilities
Don’t leave your utilities operating or even under your name at your old home. Be sure to contact your electric, water, internet, garbage, and other relevant providers and request utilities be turned off and have your name removed from them.
11. Don’t Forget to Change Your Residency
Nothing is more annoying than not getting your mail. Change your residency with the post office before you move so that any and all letters or packages are delivered to the right address.
12. Cancel or Transfer Memberships
Transfer or cancel any gym memberships or other local memberships before you leave. If you don’t, you’ll likely continue to get charged until you do.
13. Research Schools
If you’ve got children, they’re going to need to go to a new school. You’re moving to a new place, and it’s not likely that you’re going to know what the best schools in the area are. So do some research. Try Google or look for Facebook groups for area parents so you can ask for their opinion.
14. Look Into Crime Rates
If you haven’t figured out exactly where you’re moving to, it might be a good idea to first look into the crime rates of the area. See which neighborhoods are safer and make a decision based on that.
15. Keep High-Worth Valuables With You
Moving is one thing, but unpacking at your new home is something else altogether. It can be frustrating to rack your brain, trying to remember which box something important is in. By keeping important documents and valuables with you in your personal vehicle, you’ll know exactly where they are when you need them.
16. Transfer Prescriptions
If you or anyone in your family is on medication, don’t forget to find a new doctor ahead of time to get those prescriptions refilled. Your current doctor may be able to add some extra refills to give you time to get settled.
17. Plan on Needing a New Driver’s License
Don’t forget that your current license won’t be sufficient in your new state—at least not if you’re planning on being there long term.
18. Discover Local Transportation
New city, new state, new transportation. Just keep in mind that wherever you’re moving might look a little different, transportation-wise. Will you need a car? Will you take the bus or other forms of local transportation?
19. Keep Daily Essentials Close
There are always going to be several things you need to keep near you at all times. These things include your wallet, phone chargers, and anything similar—items that you’re going to need and use on a day-to-day basis.
20. Update Lenders and Insurance
If you have any outstanding loans on record, you’ll need to replace your old address with your new one. The same goes for auto insurance and home insurance—whether in your favor or not, be prepared for a rate change when you move to a new state!
21. Register to Vote
Don’t forget to register to vote in your new home. You may be able to take care of this when you update your residency.
22. Plan on Filing Multiple State Returns
You’ll probably need to file state tax returns in two different states. Keep that in mind as you plan and make this move happen.
23. Prepare to Meet New People
Get to know your neighbors! Say hi, be friendly, and don’t forget that part of a state-to-state move is getting to know new people.
24. Consider Your Kids
Moving to a new home and away from the old, familiar one can be difficult for children, especially those that are middle or high school age. Keep them in mind during this time and do what you can to make it exciting and fun or something for them to look forward to.
25. Give Movers Multiple Contacts
Moving is hectic, with lots of moving parts and pieces. Giving your movers multiple contact points—not just you, but your spouse, and maybe even a teenager with their own phone—will be very helpful to them and to you in the event that they need to get in touch with someone.
26. Know How Long Movers Will Take
Moving to another state is tricky and complicated—it can often take longer than anticipated. Discuss the plan with your movers. Ask them how long they anticipate things taking, or when they predict they’ll have everything moved over. The better prepared you are with even tentative dates, the more likely things will run better.
27. Consider Professional Movers
Professional movers can make the final steps to packing a house—the actual packing-up part—fast, efficient, and easy. Consider finding reputable movers to help with these last steps in the process.
Use Colonial Van Lines for Your Cross-Country Move
Contact our team at Colonial Van Lines to learn more about our services and extensive experience with moving families and individuals across the country.