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How to plan a long distance move?

September 25, 2017 | Ethan Greenfield

So, you just found out that you need to move halfway across the country (or halfway across the world, for that matter) in pursuit of your dreams and goals in life? The thought alone is probably enough to make you wish for a teleportation machine or some other Sci-fi or magic device that can help you relocate safely and quickly over such a great distance. But since the chance of getting supernatural help with your move is next to nothing, you have little choice but to help yourself and do your best to plan a smooth and successful relocation.

Planning a long distance move, however, is not a piece of cake – you need to find a safe and efficient way to transport your belongings across the country, secure the services of a trustworthy moving company, deal with plenty of paperwork, organize your own trip to your new home, and take care of hundreds of other less or more important moving tasks. The extra miles add some extra challenges to your relocation endeavor and there is nothing you can do about it except plan your cross country move with utmost care and attention to the details.
Not sure how to plan a move of such magnitude? Here are some proven tips that will help you build the most efficient long distance relocation strategy possible:
Get to know your new area
When moving far away from your current area, you’re likely to encounter a number of significant differences in all aspects of life – social practices, laws and regulations, climatic conditions, standard of living, economic situation, etc. In order to prepare well for the inevitable changes and plan a successful cross country move, you need to know what to expect from your new area:
  • Research the available housing options and find an appropriate new home for you and your family (you need to know the location, type, size, and layout of your new place in order to be able to decide which of your old household items will be worth taking along).
  • Research the job market and employment options in your new city (unless you have already secured a job) and learn the cost of food, transportation, utilities, medical care and other everyday necessities (so that you can plan your post-relocation finances).
  • Get familiar with the local laws and regulations (to be able to put your paperwork in order in a timely and efficient manner).
  • Find out what the weather's like in your new area (so that you know what kind of clothes and weather-specific items you’re going to need).
  • Get a clear idea of the social practices and everyday life in your new community (so that you can start on your new path without any psychological turmoil).

Make a detailed to-do-list
Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done prior to the big move. To be able to take proper care of all the laborious relocation tasks ahead of you, you need to organize your time well and stay on top of things throughout the entire moving process.
A detailed moving calendar is what will help you the most here – it will allow you to set clear goals, define realistic timeframes for the completion of every single task, prioritize the chores according to their importance, difficulty, and urgency, and keep track of your progress. Just make sure you don’t miss anything important and stick to your moving timeline, no matter how exhausted or overwhelmed you may feel.
Pare down your possessions
Moving all your earthly possession such a long distance will be both very difficult (ensuring the safety of your items during the long trip to your new home will require a lot of time and effort on your part, as well as considerable expenses for specialized packing materials and professional packing services) and very expensive (the final moving cost is based on the total weight of your shipment).
Therefore, it’s highly advisable to sort out your belongings before the move and get rid of everything you won’t really need in your new life – items that you won’t be able to use in your new surroundings; duplicate, outdated or damaged items; items that don’t have high practical or sentimental value, etc. It may be even a good idea to leave behind useful items that are too difficult to move (large furniture, breakables, etc.) and buy new ones after the relocation.
Make a moving inventory list
When you know exactly what you’re going to take to your new home, you’re recommended to create a detailed inventory sheet that includes all the important information about the items you intend to entrust to the movers (current condition, market value, designated new location, important specifics, such as make or model number, etc.). Make sure you add photos and/or videos to your inventory to have proof of the condition of your belongings should any conflict arise between you and your movers and to have visual aids that will help you recreate your home décor (if you wish so), see what worked well in your old home setup and what didn’t, remember what is packed in a certain box, put back together disassembled furniture and complicated electronic hook-ups, etc.

Find good cross country movers
Securing the services of a trustworthy moving company is of paramount importance when planning a cross country move. A self-move may be a good option when you’re moving short distance, but it’s very likely to result in a complete disaster in the event of a long distance move. The great distance poses great relocation challenges that can be best overcome with the help of professional movers. The experts have the rich experience and appropriate equipment (reliable moving trucks, specialized tools, quality packing supplies, etc.) required to perform a safe and trouble-free cross country move.
Just make sure you find licensed, trustworthy and affordable movers to help you relocate – ask for recommendations, read online moving reviews, visit the websites of several reputable moving companies, get at least three or four in-house estimates of the moving costs, discuss the details of your move with the moving company representatives, find out what specific services are included in the offers and how much any required extra services are going to cost, compare the offers, carefully research the movers that seem to suit your needs and requirements, and choose the best ones for you.
Decide on your traveling method
The question of whether to drive or fly when moving cross country has no definitive answer – it depends on the specific circumstances in your case (the actual distance to your final destination, the time limits you have, the size of your family, the type and amount of items you need to relocate on your own, your available budget, etc.):
  • Flying is the quickest, safest and easiest way to get to your new home.
  • Driving will allow you to take plenty of items in the car with you, take better care of your pets and children (if you have any), have fun on the road and bond as a family. It is the more comfortable and more cost effective method of travelling across the country, especially if you have a large family (the cost of fuel, road tolls, food and hotel stays will be smaller than the cost of plane tickets for all your family members and, what’s more, you won’t have to pay for the shipment of your car).
Whatever option you choose, don’t forget to make the necessary arrangements well ahead of time – book your flight and find a reliable auto transport company to ship your car, or book your hotel stays and have your vehicle serviced to reduce the risk of breakdowns and other troubles on the road.
Change your address and take care of all the necessary paperwork
Putting the required paperwork in order is an essential step of the relocation planning process – it will ensure your peace of mind and will help you settle into your new life without any hassles and troubles.
  • Change your address with the USPS and notify all the people and institutions that may need your new address.
  • Transfer utilities and cancel memberships and subscriptions.
  • Collect and organize your personal documents, financial records and moving-related paperwork.
  • Retrieve yours and your family members’ medical and school records, as well as your pets’ health certificates and other relevant documents.
  • Transfer your driver’s license and update the registration of your vehicle.
  • Update insurance policies.

Pack like a pro
When moving cross country, your items need to be packed as safely as possible in order to survive the long trip safe and intact. In fact, professional packing is your safest, easiest and most efficient packing option when planning a move out of state.
Whether you pack your belongings yourself or have them professionally packed, make sure:
  • Your items are perfectly immobilized and well cushioned in the moving boxes (for protection against shocks and vibrations during the transportation).
  • The boxes are sturdy, lined with protective materials, packed to the top, and tightly sealed (SEE ALSO: How to pack boxes for moving).
  • Each box is properly labeled with your name and destination address, as well as with their contents and important handling instructions.
  • Your larger household items are safely wrapped in moving blankets, bubble wrap and other adequate protective materials and well secured in the moving truck.
  • Your shipment is properly insured (anything can happen during the long trip to your new home, so you’ll probably want full value protection for your items).
  • No perishables items, hazardous substances or other non-allowables have been packed with the rest of your goods.
  • The delivery window provided by the moving company suits your needs and preferences.
  • You have your essentials with you (the so called open-first box), so that you can survive for several days without the rest of your belongings.
  • You keep your documents and valuables with you all the time (SEE ALSO: What items to move myself).

Last but not least when planning a long distance move:
  1. Find a way to say a proper goodbye to your friends and your favorite places as you will not see them again for a very long time.
  2. Take every measure to prevent injuries and accidents during the moving process.
  3. Organize moving day in the best possible way.
  4. Have a fun trip to your new home.
  5. Remember that moving expenses can be tax-deductible when moving long distance.