15 Tips for Moving Across Country
Are you one of the 13% of Americans moving across the country each year? If so, you know the process requires juggling a lot of responsibilities. It’s also mentally and physically tiring.
Fortunately, there are some ways to streamline the experience and reduce headaches. Take a break from packing and learn 15 hassle-free tips for how to move across country in US states!
Table of Contents
1 1. Start with a Checklist
2 2. Pare Down Your Belongings
3 3. Build a Budget for Cross Country Moving
4 4. Earmark Critical Boxes
5 5. Ask Questions About How Shipments Will Arrive
6 6. Focus on Furniture Prep
7 7. Go with a Reputable Moving Company
8 8. Consider Essential Moving Supplies
9 9. Are Your Items Insured?
10 10. Choose the Right Time to Move
11 11. Polish Your Packing Game
12 12. Keep Moving Receipts
13 13. Try Negotiating
14 14. Don’t Overlook Cleaning
15 15. Know What Fees Are Included in a Quote
16 Get Ready to Move Across Country in US
1. Start with a Checklist
Wondering how to move across the country? Start by staying organized with a checklist! No matter if you have weeks or months to prep, you’ll want to outline key steps and deadlines.
For instance, if you’re doing the packing alone, gather as many free boxes as possible. Additionally, you’ll need to amass newspapers, packing peanuts, and other supplies. Put these tasks on the front end of your checklist so you don’t wind up unprepared.
Forward your mail to your new address and make travel arrangements for pets. You may want to gather medical or dental records, too, so you’re ready to connect with new medical professionals. And, of course, confirm a time to disconnect utilities and cable.
Organize your tasks on a calendar that you and others involved can access. You can delegate responsibilities more easily. Plus you’ll be able to hold each other accountable!
2. Pare Down Your Belongings
Long distance moving can be a costly experience if you’re not careful. That’s why you’ll want to make an honest appraisal of your belongings — and then make cuts.
Host a garage sale in the neighborhood and post items to online sales platforms. You’ll be able to earn some money while chipping away at your moving footprint. For moving companies that determine costs by weight, you’ll be in better shape without a bulky armoire!
3. Build a Budget for Cross Country Moving
Before you start booking anything, hammer out a budget. If a new job is providing a stipend of $2,000 to help with costs, for instance, figure out what is most essential. For cross country moving, driving an unwieldy truck may be the biggest task you want to hand off to someone else.
You can delegate the heavy lifting and driving responsibilities but save money by packing yourself. You may need two or three movers for your job. It’s generally customary to tip about $5 per hour per mover.
Examine quotes from multiple moving companies. And ask about payment policies. You may need to pay half the price on the front end, so make sure you have the funds ready.
Factor in cleaning costs, fuel surcharges, and extra cargo into potential moving charges. Save money by gathering as many old boxes as you can, and pay family members and friends with a free meal to get some help.
4. Earmark Critical Boxes
Which items will be most critical to access right away in your new place? Designate certain boxes and consider putting them in your personal vehicle, if possible. Otherwise, it could take days to sift through a mountain of boxes to find your prized items.
Coffee makers, garbage bags, and basic tools are all good items to earmark for easy access. Include flashlights, towels, and toiletries that you’ll want right away. A first aid kit, a few quick-cooking tools, and extension cords are smart to earmark, too.
Place jewelry and other valuables in earmarked boxes. Birth certificates, passports, and other sensitive documents should travel with you, as well. During your drive to your new home, make sure you take these valuables into hotel rooms when you stay overnight.
5. Ask Questions About How Shipments Will Arrive
In other words, can you expect all of your boxes and belongings to arrive at the same time? Or will you be sharing space with someone else on a moving truck? These are questions you should address with your moving company before signing any paperwork.
At the same time, you’ll want to do inventory on your boxes. If items arrive in a staggered manner, you’ll want to be sure everything eventually shows up. Track all boxes on a spreadsheet and check off each one as you open it.
6. Focus on Furniture Prep
If you have a lot of furniture, factor it into your choice of moving company. Furniture can chew up floor space on a moving truck. The more you can do on the front end to minimize its footprint, the better for your bottom line.
Empty all furniture, and consider removing drawers from dressers. Alternatively, use stretch wrap film to secure the drawers to the main structure. Unlike packing tape, you won’t be stuck with a sticky residue when you try to remove the film days or weeks later.
Does your dining room table come apart? Then dismantle it and stash the hardware in a designated — and clearly labeled — bag. Bundle the legs together and protect them with bubble wrap.
7. Go with a Reputable Moving Company
Moving across the country involves a lot of logistic challenges — so a professional moving company is key. You want movers who are bonded and insured. You also want movers who return calls promptly and have the experience to move efficiently if they charge by the hour.
Also, ask about the cancellation policy. If closing on a home falls apart, you might not be able to stick with your intended moving dates. And you’d hate to be stuck paying thousands of dollars in moving expenses.
Many moving companies will allow cancellations up to a week prior to the moving dates. As a result, you may need to pay $100 or so in a cancellation fee. But get confirmation of the cancellation policy from your moving company in writing.
8. Consider Essential Moving Supplies
Moving is more than piling a bunch of boxes into a truck. Aside from labor, boxes, and the truck, you’ll need to account for other supplies. For example, you’ll need lots of packing paper, furniture blankets, and plenty of packing tape.
Ask moving companies what is included before you sign a contract. If you hire the company to do the loading and driving, don’t assume that furniture blankets are already on the truck. This may be an extra cost you’ll have to reserve.
Do you own a lot of fancy dishes? Old shipping boxes and newspapers may not be sufficient to secure it during a long drive. Plan on getting corrugated boxes with partitions designed to provide sturdier protection. Get foam pouches and bubble wrap, too, to cushion the edges of boxes.
9. Are Your Items Insured?
In the frenetic flurry of moving, you don’t want to forget about this question. It’s imperative that your moving company insure your items through one of a few policies. In fact, moving companies are required to offer these policies when you’re moving across the country.
With released value protection insurance, you won’t need to pay anything extra — but you might not gain a lot in return. This is because you only get 60 cents per pound for each pound of damaged goods. When you do the math, you’ll see that amounts to only a few dollars for items that may be worth far more.
Upgrading to full value protection entitles you to a lot more. A mover may need to replace or fix an item that is lost or damaged. While they won’t be responsible for expensive items, like jewelry, they’ll still be far more accountable for any problems.
You’ll have to pay for full value protection, and your deductible will determine the amount. Finally, with third-party insurance plans, you can expect the weight of your goods to dictate how much you would get in compensation. Be sure to ask what options are available and determine how much risk you can handle.
10. Choose the Right Time to Move
What time of year are you hoping to move? If the answer is spring or summer, you’ll have a lot of company. And that means you may end up paying more.
For a thriftier move, plan to do it during the less congested winter months. Even better, if you opt for a weekday you could score a better deal. Weekends tend to be the busier days for moving companies.
11. Polish Your Packing Game
The last thing you want to see is a box bursting open as you’re carrying it out of the house. Take the time to secure boxes with multiple pieces of packing tape and use ample bubble wrap.
Consider who will be helping you move, too. If your workforce consists of family and friends, be considerate by packing manageable boxes. Avoid stuffing them with hardcover books that will cause someone to pull a back muscle.
Label boxes clearly if they are fragile. Put bubble wrap or paper in boxes that have some empty space inside. This will help precarious items from shifting and potentially breaking.
12. Keep Moving Receipts
When you’re moving across the country due to a job change, you might be able to deduct the expense. If your new company isn’t footing the bill, you could be stuck paying thousands. But you could recoup some of the costs.
Keep your receipts — and keep them in mind when tax season rolls around. For moves associated with job relocations, you can deduct costs for you or a spouse. You’ll need to satisfy some criteria, including moving at least 50 miles from your previous employer.
And you’ll need to move within a specific window of time after starting a job. But what if one spouse stays put because a child is finishing the school year, and the whole family doesn’t move until a year later? There are exceptions, so check with a tax specialist.
13. Try Negotiating
It never hurts to compare prices among different moving companies in your region. Some may have a pricing structure that meets your needs better, for instance. If you’re looking to do the packing but hire out the heavy lifting, look for moving companies with an a la carte approach.
Once you have quotes from a few places, start comparison shopping. Don’t be afraid to leverage one moving company against another. Especially for an off-season move, you might be able to negotiate a better price if the business is slow.
14. Don’t Overlook Cleaning
Once your old place has been cleared out, you’ll want to ensure that it’s clean for the new occupant. After all, you don’t want them to see a suspicious stain and start questioning the home’s structural integrity.
Similarly, you’ll want your new home to be clean. In either instance, you can expect a lot of physical work to scrub floors, remove carpet stains, or wash windows. You may be better off outsourcing this responsibility to a third-party cleaning company to save time and energy.
15. Know What Fees Are Included in a Quote
Knowing how to move across country means knowing what fees to expect. Do you live in a highrise? If so, you could end up paying a one-time cost for the extra challenge of negotiating an elevator.
Ask how mileage factors into your quote. For example, some moving companies use a flat fee depending on geographic region. For a longer cross country moving experience, the moving company may charge by the mile, plus fees to cover tolls.
While you’re at it, ask if there are fees for movers to disassemble furniture. Bulky furniture that won’t fit as-is on the truck may require this extra effort. Similarly, some pieces of furniture, such as a piano, may require delicate handling or equipment, like a crane, for removal.
Get Ready to Move Across Country in US
A move across country in US states can feel like a daunting process if you’re not prepared. But long distance moving tips, like making a checklist, can help you stay calm and organized. You’ll also be able to stay on budget, optimize timing, and pack items carefully.
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