5 Essential Tips for Planning a Cross-Country Move

cross country move

Whether you’re relocating for work or family (or just dreaming about it), planning for a cross-country move can feel overwhelming. While you want to make sure that all your i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, it can be stressful even just thinking about where you should start, especially if you’re planning something big at the same time (such as a wedding or new job)! As someone who just recently went through this process for the third time, I’m here to tell you that being prepared (mentally and physically) can help you get through it without going crazy. All you need is a great cross-country moving company (more on that below) and a plan and you’ll be on your way.

Ready to make the move? Save $150 off the price of your move with Wheaton World Wide Moving, Bekins Van Lines and Stevens Worldwide Van Lines.*

Hire a Reputable Moving Company

While my husband and I had moved cross-country before, because they were corporate transfers we never really had to research everything that went into hiring the right moving company. Since this move was on our own this time, we spent WEEKS researching all our options. From a DIY rental truck to portable containers and cross-country moving vans, we priced out each one and mapped out everything that was involved. Here’s what we discovered when it came to all our options:

Renting a Truck: A part of me thought this could be romantic, though my husband (rightfully) thought otherwise. But once I priced out what it would cost to rent a truck for a cross-country move, I quickly learned he was right. Not only would the truck rental be close to $3,000 for our move, but we’d have to factor in gas (not cheap for a 15′ truck), lodging, meals, hiring movers to load and unload our stuff, not to mention the overall safety of driving a truck that big cross-country. We quickly took this option off the list.

SEE MORE: The Do’s and Don’ts of Moving in Together

Portable Containers: You’ve likely seen one of these in your neighborhood. You rent one to load your stuff into, and they will come and pick it up and drive it to your location. This option seemed attractive to the both of us at first, but there were simply too many moving parts for this to make sense. We would have to hire separate day-of movers at both locations, and on top of that because we lived in an apartment (and were moving into one as well) there were street permit and space issues since the containers have to be dropped off on one date and picked up on a different date. I had read reviews of drop-offs and pick-ups being late, and I just wasn’t prepared to risk that happening. Plus, once you added up the cost of everything, the savings just wasn’t there for us.

planning a cross country move

Professional Cross-Country Movers: Once we realized this was going to be the smartest option for us, I set out to find the best, most reputable moving company and learned so much along the way. We priced out several companies and received virtual and in-person estimates for our belongings, which are mostly priced by weight (IE: we were estimated to be around 6,000 pounds, and you can generally expect to pay about $1.00/lb before adding on additional costs such as insurance coverage, transportation, etc.). We spoke to one company that offered a flat rate using square footage (the amount of space your stuff would occupy on a truck) vs. weight, however the price ended up the same for us so we didn’t personally see the benefit there. And while we received some quotes that were much cheaper than others, once we dug in we realized it was because they would be outsourcing the move, which made us feel like we wouldn’t have any control over the experience.

We ended up choosing Bekins (which is a part of The Wheaton Group–a network of moving companies across the country including Wheaton World Wide Moving, Bekins Van Lines, Stevens Worldwide Van Lines, Arpin Van Lines, and Clark & Reid) and we are so happy we did. (Full disclosure: We are a Wheaton partner and received discounted services for our move, however all opinions are our own.) From Day 1 the experience was one of the best we’ve ever had (and we’ve used most of the top-rated moving companies), and our move went off without a hitch. From their customer service reps to the moving crew, driver, and packers (as part of a full-service move Bekins sent a team to pack our belongings [dishes, clothes, etc.] before our move day, and we watched as they expertly wrapped our wine glasses, china, and paintings. Spoiler alert: They all arrived safe and sound!) they made the moving experience that much easier. Hiring professional movers (and Bekins/Wheaton/Stevens in particular) was, for us, the best decision when we factored in the cost and peace of mind, and while I hope we don’t have to move in the near future, I would absolutely use them again in a heartbeat.

Don’t miss this special promotion for WGM readers! Save $150 off the price of your interstate move with Wheaton World Wide Moving, Bekins Van Lines and Stevens Worldwide Van Lines*

cross country move

Keep a Running List:

Once you’ve figured out how you and your stuff will get there, you’ll want to create a Google doc or Excel sheet that lists everything else you’ll need to do to prepare for your cross-country move. While certain items can’t be done until you get to your new location (like getting a driver’s license in your new state), you’ll want to try to do as much as you can before you arrive in your new location. Big items include:

-Setting a cancellation date for your cable/internet/electricity in your old place, then…

-Setting a start date for your new one!

-Create an official mail forward with USPS, and change your address with your credit cards, subscription companies, online shopping sites (like Amazon), government agencies, lenders, etc.

-Talk to your lawyer/accountant about your move, and start working on any official forms that need to be filled out for you (or your company’s) new location.

-If you rent your current place you’ll want to make sure you give sufficient notice, and arrange for an official move-out date once you’ve coordinated when the movers will pick-up/drop-off your stuff. Discuss any walk-through procedures with your landlord, and ask about how to pay last month’s rent and when you can expect to get your security deposit back. If you own, the process of selling or renting your property will obviously take longer, so you’ll need to make this a top priority.

-You’ll want to have an accurate inventory of what you want the moving company to transport by the time they give you an estimate, however once you have that you can make plans to sell or donate any items you’re NOT planning on taking with you. We used a combination of LetGo (a great app that lets you sell locally) and Facebook Marketplace to sell items that weren’t going to work in our new place, and scheduled a pickup for donation items such as clothes and books with the Salvation Army.

planning a cross country move

Decide If You Want to Drive Your Car or Ship It

We went back and forth on this a bit (again, me being the romantic and loving the idea of a road-trip and my husband, who is usually the one stuck with doing all the driving, reminding me of the reality) and decided to have Bekins arrange for transportation of our car as well. On our move-out day we watched as our car (which we are super protective of, mind you) was oh-so-carefully loaded onto the same moving trailer as our other belongings, where it would be transported, covered and safe!

Plan Visits With Family and Friends

Even though a new move can be exciting, it’s also sad to leave a place you’ve lived for a few years or a few decades. We slowly started telling our friends the news when we had an official date, and making plans with them for fun dinners and lunches. A great way to do a farewell tour of your city is to pick restaurants or scenic locations that you’ve perhaps never been to but always wanted to go, or make reservations at your favorite places that you want to make sure you visit before you leave. TIP: Saying all those “goodbye for now”‘s can get a bit exhausting emotionally, so be sure to also schedule a date night with your partner to toast your (almost) former home and make plans for the new one! Speaking of…

Make Sure Your New Place is Ready For You

We’re renting in our new location, which means we had to not only prepare all the documents we needed for the new lease, but also prepare for a walk-through shortly after we arrived. There were a few things that needed to be fixed prior to moving in, and the timing worked out perfectly for when the movers were scheduled to arrive and when the apartment would be ready for us. The bottom line? The more you can prepare for any maintenance or other changes you might be doing to the apartment beforehand (such as adding fixtures or painting walls) the better, so take advantage of the time between your move-out and move-in. Also, make sure to finalize plans for where you’re going to stay during that interim period. Whether with family, friends, or at a local hotel, make sure you know where to go as you land in your new home state!

Save big on your move! Get $150 off the price of your move with Wheaton World Wide Moving, Bekins Van Lines and Stevens Worldwide Van Lines.*

*Applies to interstate moves only. Valid Sept. 2020 through April 2021.


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