Guest Blog Post: How to Move Cross Country

by Nicole DiCenso, Apartment List 

truck in the mountainsThinking of moving from happening New York City to laid back San Francisco? Or are you ready to transfer from your satellite office in Seattle to the headquarters in Boston? People move across the country for many reasons. Some accept new job opportunities while others are just looking for a change of pace or a new adventure. Whatever the reason, what all of us cross-country movers know to be true is that though the move itself is exciting, the process can be a little tricky. To make relocation a bit easier, we’ve outlined a quick overview of key steps to remember.

Planning the Move

Before you begin the physical act of moving, there are a few tasks you should complete ahead of time. First, assuming you already know where you’re moving and have an apartment picked out, confirm the earliest move in date with your new landlord. If you’re still looking for a new apartment, we’ve got you covered there too — start your search here! While the lease may officially begin on a certain date, sometimes tenants move out early, which could give you the opportunity to move in early. You can then figure out how much prep time you need before you leave your old home behind.

Next, you should get measurements of your room from the landlord or property manager beforehand. Will your comfy queen-size bed fit into your new room? Do you have space for a dresser or should you buy storage containers for under your bed? If you’re going to be living with roommates, connect with them on what each of you are planning to bring that will be shared. Items for common areas like living room furniture and kitchen utensils can usually be divvied up instead of everyone bringing their own (though you can never have too many throw pillows). Start selling off your large furniture early. You can post your couch, bed frame, dresser, and coffee table for sale on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to make your luggage a little lighter and to earn some extra cash to then spend on all new furniture for your new place. Lastly, don’t forget to update your address with USPS. It only takes a few minutes and it can be done online here!

Packing

Once you’ve sold off your big ticket items, it’s time to start thinking about what belongings you want to have in your new home. We recommend making a list. Start with what you absolutely have to pack no matter what, like the stuffed animal you’ve had since you were you were born or the expensive coffee maker you don’t want to replace. Then list out items you’ll bring if you can fit them and lastly anything that you can live without or replace upon arrival. Begin packing according to this list. Once all of your necessities are boxed up, you’ll have a better idea of what else you can fit and can continue boxing until there isn’t any space left. Next, decide how to get rid of your left over possessions, whether you’re selling them online or at a garage sale, donating them to goodwill, or bringing them to the dump. If you need to pick up packing supplies, check in with local businesses such as grocery and liquor stores as they tend to have a good amount of free boxes, bubble wrap, and newspaper laying around.

All Things Transportation

Now that you’ve figured out when you can move in and have packed, you should probably figure out how you’re going to get to your new apartment. Unless you have your own private jet, you have three options of travel: planes, trains, and automobiles.

Flying or Taking a Train/Bus

While getting yourself to your destination by flying or taking a bus is relatively simple to figure out, transporting your belongings can be more difficult. If you’re moving for a new job and your company provides relocation assistance, you should definitely take advantage of it. If you’re on your own, you should look into long-distance moving services. There are two types of services in this field, professional movers and container-type moving, and both tend to work pretty much the same way.To start, get quotes from multiple providers, decide which option you are going to choose, then follow the provided instructions. This could mean loading up a truck or container for someone to drive to your new apartment, or hiring professional movers to load for you. The big difference between the two services is that with professional movers, a truck is scheduled to come when you’re ready for your items to be moved and will take off as soon as you’ve finished loading. Alternatively a container can be dropped off to your current home and picked up when you request, giving you some pliancy as to when you start and finish packing. Some top choices for professional movers include A-1 Freeman Moving Group, North American Van Lines and Allied. A few container companies are uShip, PODS, and U-Pack.

Once you’ve figured out how to transport your stuff, you need to figure out how to transport, well, yourself! If you have some flexibility on when you’re going to move, the best deals on travel happen during the late fall through the spring and it’s cheaper to travel during the week. There are also websites designed to save you money on long journeys like Wanderu, which will find the fastest and cheapest way for you to get from point A to point B via bus or train. If you’d like to take the classic approach and plan the trip yourself, Greyhound and Amtrak are great places to start.

Driving

If you want to bring your car to your new city or would prefer to transport your possessions without the help of a service, driving cross-country is definitely the best option for your long-distance move. If you don’t have your own car to bring, but still would like to drive, check out truck rental companies like Budget Truck and UHaul that allow you to rent one way trucks. If you are driving your own car but don’t have space for your abundance of belongings in your back seat, you can also rent a tow trailer from UHaul.

Regardless of which road ride you choose, there are a few additional tips you should keep in mind. If you have a family member or close friend willing to make the drive with you, definitely accept their offer! Driving with a buddy makes the road trip much easier because you can split time behind the wheel and you’ll appreciate the additional company. Just make sure you can stand multiple days in close quarters with them. Also, pack a bag of necessities like several changes of clothes, toiletries, and whatever else you’ll need for the few days you’ll spend on the road. Make sure you store this bag in an easily accessible spot because digging through all your boxes to find a toothbrush or new shirt will be difficult and frustrating. Finally, you’ll need to map your journey. Instead of doing it yourself, we recommend using sites like Roadtrippers and Furkot. You can enter your destination and the amount of hours you’d like to spend driving per day and it’ll spit out where you should book a hotel each night based on approximately where you’ll be at the time. If you want to save some money on hotels, give motels, Airbnb, or Couchsurfing a try.

Extra Tips

Transporting a Pet

You’re moving with your best furry friend—that’s great! Let’s get them to their new home as safely and humanely as possible. If you’re driving and there is enough space, have them make the trip with you. Set up a space in your car for their bed and make sure they have a few toys and treats nearby. You’ll also want to map out a few parks along the way for bathroom breaks and to allow them to stretch their legs. If you’re flying, some animals that meet certain height and weight requirements are allowed on the plane with you. Others may need to be shipped as cargo. Read up on your airline’s policies before making a final decision. Lastly, there are actually some services that will move your pet for you! Check out Happy Tails Travel or Royal Paws if you choose to go this route.

Use a Relocation Service

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices and plans you have to make for your cross-country move, you do have another option. There are relocation services that will plan the entire move for you! These services are easier to find in the city that you’re moving to, like JBGoodwin in Austin, though some large real estate firms offer them as well. Just remember, since they do all the work, you will be expected to pay an additional fee for their efforts.

Moving from one side of the country to the other is a big task. It can be stressful and taxing but it will also end up being one of the most exciting and rewarding moves you’ll ever make!