Family loading a moving van for a cross-country move

Best Ways to Move Cross Country: The Complete Guide to an Affordable Cross-Country Move

If you’re a person who loves experiencing new places, a cross-country move may be exciting. You’ll get to travel from one corner of the country to another. Should you choose to drive, you can make a road trip of it. Beyond this, you’ll get to experience life in a new city and region once you move cross country.

Exciting, isn’t it? But without planning and executing your cross-country move flawlessly, it may turn into a nightmare. When it comes to residential moves, trying to move cross country is the most demanding option. Not only are the costs higher, but there’s a lot more work to be done and a minimal margin for error.

So, if you want an enjoyable cross-country moving experience, you’ll need to take control of the situation. In this article, you will find insightful tips to help you plan and give you room to enjoy the experience as you move cross country.

1. Get Your Finances in Order

One of the first areas where you’ll take a significant hit is finances. At best, you can expect to pay a few thousand dollars for your move. This is if you opt for a DIY approach or other cheap moving alternatives. However, if you use a full-service moving company to move cross country, the costs will range from $4,000 to $9,000. Of course, the variations depend on factors such as:

  • The total distance you’re moving
  • Quantity of belongings being transported

2. Do Extensive Career and City Research

One of the main reasons why people relocate is to improve their career prospects. If that’s the case for you, it’s vital that you do extensive research. Just because a city is thriving and has great living standards does not mean it will have opportunities that suit you.

Do research to find out if your industry of interest performs well in the new city. With a strategic move, you may find yourself in your dream role in no time.

Another thing to be keen on is the standard and cost of living in the new city. For instance, New York and Washington are the most expensive areas in the US. So before you move cross country to such places, find out average costs for rent, food, clothing, entertainment, etc.

Pro tip for moving cross country:

In this regard, you should also check your credit score before moving. It will significantly affect your renting and buying ability in your new state. If you are fortunate enough to have time to plan your move, take measures to improve your credit score.

3. Prepare a Moving Checklist

Whether you’re moving from coast to coast or within the city, a moving checklist is a must-have. There are many tasks involved with moving. While most may seem easy enough, they’re also easy to forget. More importantly, it’s also not just about accomplishing each task but the order you use.

This is where a checklist comes into play. You can list all the pre-moving, moving day, and post-moving tasks you want to accomplish as you move cross country. The last thing you want is to begin rushing as moving day approaches. Moreover, a checklist gives you a clear picture of the scale of work ahead of you, allowing you to plan efficiently.

4. Look for Free Moving Boxes and Supplies

Beyond the expense of transporting your belongings, there will be other costs for facilitating the move. You’ll need supplies such as boxes, packing tape, and packing paper. While they may seem unimportant, they may significantly add to the cost of moving.

Instead of buying supplies, find places where you can get them for free. This means reaching out to places with a surplus of such items, such as online marketplaces, retailers, and even community groups.

Other places where you can find such items include:

  • Local liquor stores
  • Bookstores
  • Grocery stores
  • Recycling drop-off points

5. Be Strategic When Packing Clothes

If there are things you are guaranteed to take with you are clothes and shoes. While they may seem easy enough to pack before you move cross country, you need to be smart about it. Just tossing clothes into boxes, especially bulky ones such as sweaters and jackets, will increase the number of boxes needed.

Instead, follow the space-saving method of packing clothes:

  • Rolling: Roll clothing items neatly and tuck them inside boxes. You’ll not only be surprised with how many can fit in a single box, but they’ll also remain wrinkle-free.
  • Fill the gaps: As you pack bulky items, there will be some gaps left between them. Fill these using the less bulky items such as t-shirts and socks.

6. Sell, Sell, Sell!

One practice that’s common in most homes is hoarding. You buy items that you rarely use, and they end up accumulating dust in the attic or garage. Before you pack an item, ask yourself how often you use it and the last time you used it. You’ll realize that many things you have are not as near and dear to you as you think, and you can easily downsize.

Instead of increasing your moving costs, why not make some money off of these belongings before you move cross country? Use online marketplaces such as Craigslist, eBay, and even social media platforms to find buyers. You’ll be surprised to find that things you consider junk will have a lot of demand.

7. Organize a ‘Take My Stuff’ Party

After organizing a sale, you may still be left with items that are in good condition that you can’t donate. With such things, you can organize a ‘take my stuff’ party. Call your friends and ask them to bring others, too. If they find anything that interests them, they can take it. This may also be the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to friends you’ll see less often after moving cross country.

8. Donate What’s Left

Woman donating clothes before she starts to move cross country

With items such as clothing and those that are left after the sale and party, you can opt to donate. If you live in a major city, there’s likely a charity near where you live. However, don’t just take items there as if you’re dumping them.

Contrary to what you may think, charities tend to be choosy about what they accept. So, call in advance to find out and pack the items neatly before delivering them.

9. Don’t Forget the Little Things

As you prepare to move cross country, you may focus too much on the logistical aspects and forget some little things. Each month, you receive your utility bills and other letters in the mail. Since you’ll be moving, it’s essential that you change your postal address. Otherwise, some important letters may be sent to the wrong place.

To avoid such issues, it’s best to contact the United States Postal Service (USPS) and change the address at least a couple of weeks before you move cross country. You can do this in person at your nearest USPS office, over the phone, by mail, or online.

Along with your address, be sure to change your home utilities. Get in touch with your current utility companies to schedule disconnections. Then, contact the utility providers in your new state to arrange for water, electricity, gas, sewage, cable TV, internet, and phone line connections.

Other things you should do include:

  • Arrange for key drop-off or transfer
  • Collect all personal records, such as school, medical, and veterinarian records
  • Cancel or transfer gym memberships

10. Only Deal With a Reputable Moving Company

One of the most popular options for people moving cross country is hiring a moving company. With a cross-country mover, you’ll make the process a lot easier for yourself. They’ll help you with packing, loading, and providing transportation. With their experience in such matters, you can be confident that your belongings will be safe.

However, not all moving companies are reliable. There are some that provide substandard services or take advantage of innocent customers. Since moving costs can be high, some companies give clients very low estimates to secure their business. After loading your belongings, they then charge you high prices. With little room to navigate, you’re left with no option but to accept.

As such, you must choose a trustworthy moving company. One way to spot unreliable options is their too-good-to-be-true estimates. Beyond this, check for the company’s review online. You can use their social media pages, website, and other review sites.

Finally, before agreeing to anything, inquire about their licensing. Use their USDOT number to look them up in the FMCSA database. This will ascertain that they are authorized to offer such services. Moreover, ask them to provide their insurance details. If a company is not insured, it’s likely they will not compensate you if any of your belongings are damaged during transit.

11. Rent a Moving Truck

If the services of a moving company are beyond your budget, a DIY approach may suit you. By far, the cheapest option is renting a moving truck. Find a reputable truck rental company that has the coverage to help you move cross country, and book one for your moving day. In addition to the rental charges, you’ll also incur fuel and insurance costs.

The only thing you need to be keen on with this option is fuel costs. Such trucks typically offer 10mpg. So if you are moving 1,500 miles away, you’ll need 150 gallons of gas. Also, assuming that it has a tank capacity of 30 gallons, you’ll need to refuel five times.

12. Use a Freight Trailer

Another suitable alternative to hiring a moving company is using large freight moving trailers. Three days before the moving day, the freight trailer moving company will deliver a large 28ft trailer. Once it’s there, you can begin loading it, and the company will pick it up on moving day and deliver it to your new home.

Compared to hiring a moving company, freight trailer companies are usually cheaper by a few thousand dollars. Some of the companies that offer such services include Old Dominion Household Services, Estes SureMove, and U-Pack.

13. Ship Your Belongings

If you do not have many belongings to take with you, hiring a moving or freight trailer company or renting a truck may not be feasible. So, just pack your things and ship them to your next destination. While this may not be the most popular option, it’s convenient.

14. Choose a Strategic Moving Date to Move Cross Country

Man on the phone changing his address before he moves cross country

Undoubtedly, cost is a major factor when moving. By taking every possible measure to reduce costs, you may save a few thousand dollars. In this regard, a choice that may seem meaningless will contribute significantly.

Generally, most people prefer moving over the weekend. They also prefer when months are transitioning. This ensures there’s the least disruption to school and work. However, this also means that moving companies and other services you may need will be in high demand and come at a much steeper price.

Instead, consider moving during the middle of the month and week and at around midday. At such times, you are likely to get huge discounts.

15. Hire People to Help You With Packing

Should you choose a DIY approach to moving, you’ll be taking most of the work and responsibility on your shoulders. But that does not mean that it should only be you. Even if you’re able to pack everything, loading them onto the rental truck will be challenging.

Fortunately, some companies offer labor services. They have people who will come and assist you with packing, junk removal, and delivering donation items. For example, you can find such services from College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving and HireAHelper.

16. Family and Friends Can Help, Too

Whether you’re hiring a moving company or taking a DIY approach, you can always cut costs before you move cross country. One area where it’s easy to do so is with packing and loading. Instead of hiring packers, you can enlist your family and friends to help. With this approach, you should be flexible and start the process as soon as you can. This is because people’s schedules may vary, and you’re the one who’ll need to adjust.

Although they may be more than willing to assist, find a way to appreciate their help. Organizing a dinner or small feast will do the trick.

17. Make Use of Your Network

In this day and age, it’s easy to interact and keep in touch with people. However, having a big network is only beneficial if you use it. It may be of use to you when moving. There’s a high chance that you have a friend or relative who’s lived where you are relocating to.

Rather than going in blind, you can ask them about the state and things you should know. This will make the process and transition easier. If they’re currently living there, you can ask them to help you get some things done for you. This may be:

  • Checking out suitable houses
  • Looking for suitable storage solutions
  • Collecting up school application forms

18. Pack a Moving Day Essentials Bag

Unless you’re flying to your new home, a cross-country move will involve several stopovers and may take a few days. During this period, you cannot begin opening boxes to look for items you may need. As such, ensure that you pack a box of essentials. These are items that you’ll need to use as you move cross country.

Such items may include:

  • Vital kitchen items
  • Toiletries
  • Prescription medicines
  • Enough change of clothes for everyone
  • Children’s items
  • Pet items
  • Basic hand tools

19. Carry Important Documents and Valuables With You

One of the biggest risks involved with moving is damage or loss of belongings. Even if you have the best moving company (and one with insurance), it’s best not to risk some things. Instead, pack the items with the most value, monetary or otherwise, separately and carry them with you.

Such things may include:

  • Important documents and paperwork such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.
  • Jewelry
  • Family heirlooms

20. Will You Drive or Fly?

When dealing with a moving company, their responsibility is to transport your belongings safely to your new home. But what about you and your family as you move cross country? Are you going to drive there or fly? Should you choose to fly, will you sell your car or have it shipped?

These are some of the important questions to address. For most people, driving is the preferred option. It saves you the hassle of having to ship or sell your vehicle and buying another one once you arrive. If you choose to drive, the last thing you’ll want is any interruption during the journey. Therefore, you should service the car prior to the trip to ensure it goes smoothly.

However, if you lease your car, driving may not be the best option. The long journey may quickly deplete your allotted miles. So, you can ship your car at an average cost of $950 across the US and book plane tickets for you and your family.

21. Get Your Company to Cover the Cost of Moving

One of the best reasons for deciding to move cross country is for a better job. In addition to the better pay they may be offering you, most companies are willing to support the transition of new employees. To this end, they have relocation policies that stipulate what they offer.

Upon inquiring from the HR department, you may find that the company will cover all or part of the costs. With this, the financial load on your part will be much lighter. Beyond this, they may also have a moving company they like to work with, eliminating the need to look for one.

It’s important to note that you will still need to cover the full cost of moving and wait for reimbursement. As such, you should keep all your moving receipts; these are what will determine how much you’ll be reimbursed.

Another reason to keep the receipts is that you may be eligible for tax breaks if you move for work. You can claim deductions on your federal income tax to cover moving expenses.

22. Perform a Thorough Discount Search

When searching for a moving company, freight service provider, or rental truck, you should know that prices are not fixed. Therefore, they may offer discounts to entice customers during off-peak months, days, or hours.

As such, discounts should be one of your search parameters as you evaluate suitable companies. With such discounts, you may find that a company that was out of your price range is now the most affordable one.

If you are a veteran, many companies offer discounts for people who have served in the army. These include U-Pack, Penske, Budget, and PODS. For members of the AAA, there are discounts from moving companies such as Penske, Extra Space Storage, and Atlas Van Lines.

23. Get a Place to Sublet Before You Find a House

One of the most important steps when you move cross country is house hunting. Other than the type of house and amenities you want, you should also consider things such as:

  • Security
  • Traffic
  • Access to schools, hospitals, and banking facilities
  • Entertainment spots

This is why finding a house that perfectly suits your needs may take time. If you’re moving on short notice, you may not have enough time for house hunting. Instead of rushing, consider subletting for a short period. This will ensure that you can look for a house while settled and without a hurry.

Get a Reliable Storage Solution

One of the best ways of making moving easier is finding storage solutions. If you have time to prepare for your move, you can begin packing things that you rarely use early on. Instead of piling boxes in the house, you can have them safely stored, waiting for moving day.

In some cases, you may need to move within short notice. This means you will not have enough time to prepare. If that’s the case, you’ll likely need a storage unit. You can have your belongings stored safely before you plan how they’ll be brought to you.

Even if you manage to move with your belongings, finding an ideal apartment within short notice is next to impossible. Therefore, you’ll need a safe place to store your belongings before you get settled. Neighbor is a platform that allows you to store your belongings in someone else’s home.

Instead of leaving your things in a storage unit, you’ll give them a new home in the meantime. Whether it’s a boat, car, or household furniture, you’ll find suitable storage options on Neighbor.

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