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Cross Country Moving Checklist

Moving across the country can be both an exciting and daunting task. With countless things to consider and remember, having an organized and comprehensive checklist can be a lifesaver. In this article, we will break down the essential steps and tasks to accomplish at various stages of the moving process, ensuring that your cross-country move is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Embarking on this new chapter of your life is undoubtedly thrilling, but not without challenges. To help you navigate this process, we've compiled many resources, tips, and advice that will assist you in making informed decisions throughout your move. Paying attention to these crucial milestones in your moving journey will make you better prepared to tackle this next adventure head-on.

Key Takeaways

  • Prepare well in advance by creating a thorough cross-country moving checklist and addressing tasks at their appropriate timeframes
  • Keep important documents, quotes from movers, and other essential information organized in one place for easy reference
  • Utilize resources for a smoother moving experience

Two Months Before Move-Out Day

  • Sort and purge: Grab a cup of coffee, turn on some tunes, and head into every room in your home. This is the time to decide which belongings will accompany you on your journey and which items you can part with. Consider donating or selling items you no longer need, and think about whether any valuables require special packing or insurance coverage.
  • Establish a moving budget: Cross-country moving expenses can add up quickly, so setting a budget is crucial. Your budget should cover hiring professional movers, transporting your vehicle, packing supplies, and other unforeseen expenses. The final bill could range between $4,000 and $10,000, so it's wise to plan accordingly.
  • Research movers: Don't call the first moving company you come across! It's important to compare your options and request on-site estimates. You should also check online reviews to ensure you're hiring a reputable mover. Remember, investing a little more in a well-reviewed company is better than being stuck with a less-than-stellar moving experience.
  • Gather packing supplies: Now is the perfect time to collect boxes from grocery stores, department stores, or friends. You can also search for free boxes on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Nextdoor. Plus, don't forget to stock up on packing tape, bubble wrap, and markers for labeling your boxes.

Six Weeks Before the Move-Out Day

  • Create a moving checklist. This will be your roadmap to a successful move. Break down tasks by weeks leading up to the big day, and include important items like contacting movers, packing, and updating your address.
  • Plan your travel arrangements. Whether you're flying or driving, it's important to start booking accommodations and travel plans now. Consider hotel reservations or alternatives like Airbnb if you plan to make overnight stops during your trip.

Remember, being organized is the key to a smooth and stress-free move. 

One Month Before Move-Out Day

So, you've got a month left before the big move? Let's get some important tasks checked off your list!

  • First, it's time to notify your landlord if you're renting your current home. Usually, they require 30 to 60 days' notice to break a lease. Don't forget to check your lease agreement for any early termination fees that may apply.
  • Now, let's talk about organizing your belongings. Create a checklist that includes all your clothes, kitchen items, or electronics. This is a perfect time to take photos of your valuable items for insurance. As you pack, consider whether it's time to declutter, donate, or sell items you no longer need. You'll thank yourself later for lightening your load!
  • With the packing process underway, remember to update your address. Notify important parties like banks, credit card companies, and subscription services. Don't forget to forward your mail by registering your new address with the postal service.

Three Weeks Before Move-Out Day

By now, you've probably started to feel the excitement and stress of moving cross-country. Don't worry, you're on the right track! With just three weeks left before the big day, it's time to tie up loose ends and prepare for the adventure ahead. Here are some key tasks to focus on during this crucial time.

  • Call your insurance companies. Now is the perfect time to review your current policies and update them if necessary. Your new location may require different coverage or regulations, so ensure you're fully prepared.
  • Notify important parties of your upcoming move: Make a list of businesses and individuals who should be informed about your change of address. This includes your employer, banks, insurance providers, credit card companies, and utilities. Transfer both medical records and school records. Don't forget to forward your mail with the USPS too!
  • Start packing nonessential items now to avoid last-minute stress. Save essential items such as toiletries or your bed for the days leading up to the move.

Two Weeks Before Move-Out Day

It's crunch time! With just two weeks left before your big cross-country move, you probably feel excitement and stress. Don't worry – take a deep breath, and let's tackle this two-week moving checklist together.

  • Arrange for pet and childcare, if needed: Moving day can be chaotic, so it's best to have a plan for your pets and kids. Coordinate with friends, family, or professional services to make sure your loved ones are taken care of on the big day.
  • Confirm your moving company: Touch base with the movers you hired to ensure everything is on track. Verify the arrival time, moving date, and any other necessary details.
  • Gather important documents: Your passport, driver's license, social security card, and other vital documents should be organized and easily accessible. Consider keeping them in a separate box or folder so they won't get lost in the shuffle.

One Week Before Move-Out Day

Congratulations! You're getting closer to your big cross-country move. With just one week left, it's time to buckle down and make sure everything is for move-out day. Here are some essential tasks to tackle during this crucial week.

  • Focus on packing any last-minute items you'll need for the trip, such as essential documents, medications, and valuable belongings. Keep an envelope with your important paperwork (passport, birth certificate, etc.) to quickly access them during the move. Remember that any crucial items, like medications, should be packed with your carry-on luggage or personal vehicle if driving to your new destination.
  • Now is also a great time to disassemble larger furniture pieces that won't fit through doorways or onto the moving truck fully assembled. Keep track of the hardware and take photos to help with reassembly later.
  • Make a plan for how to handle perishable food items. Consume or donate what you can and properly dispose of anything that can't be moved. Consider inviting friends or neighbors over for a farewell meal featuring the items in your fridge and pantry.
  • Don't forget to clean your current home, especially if you're renting and need to get your security deposit back. Dedicate some time daily to tackling different areas of the house, or consider hiring professional cleaning services if needed.

Two Days Before Move-Out Day

You're almost there! With just two days left before you move out, it's time to finish those final things. To keep everything on track, here are some essential tasks to tackle during these last 48 hours:

  • First, pack a moving essentials box with items you'll need immediately upon arrival. This could include toiletries, a change of clothes, essential electronics and chargers, medications, and important documents. The idea is to have everything you'll need for the first day or two in one convenient and easily accessible box.
  • Next, defrost and clean out your fridge and freezer. Throw away any perishable food items that won't make the trip, and wipe down the inside surfaces. This will prevent any unpleasant odors or messes during the moving process. Remember to unplug the appliances at least 24 hours before the move to give them enough time to defrost.
  • Take a moment to visit your neighbors and let them know about your move-out day schedule and plans. This way, they can be prepared for any disruptions— such as a blocked driveway or extra street noise—that might occur during the moving process.
  • Double-check your moving arrangements with the moving company or any friends and family members who have agreed to help. Confirm the move-out date, time, and any specific packing or loading assistance details. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and help your move go smoothly.
  • Finally, take some time to walk through your home one last time. Check closets, cabinets, and other nooks and crannies to make sure you haven't overlooked anything. This is also a great opportunity to say goodbye to your current space and mentally prepare for the exciting change ahead.

Move-Out Day

You'll want to be well-prepared and organized on move-out day to ensure a smooth experience. Here are some tips to help you on the big day.

  • Begin your day by double-checking your cross-country moving checklist. Ensure all boxes are packed, labeled, and placed in designated areas for easy loading. Your checklist will help you identify any last-minute tasks or items that may have been overlooked.
  • Before the movers arrive, take a quick walk-through of your home. Check cabinets, closets, and storage areas for any remaining items that need to be packed. Take photos of valuable or fragile items as a record for insurance purposes.
  • Once your movers arrive, provide them with any special instructions they may need for handling your items. Don't forget to budget for tips as a way to show your appreciation for their hard work. Keep an eye on the loading process and assist the movers if necessary, but remember to respect their expertise—they're professionals, after all.
  • To stay on top of move-out day expenses, make sure you have your moving budget handy. Keep track of additional costs, like gas, hotels, meals, and other travel expenses. Staying organized financially will help alleviate stress and keep you in control of your move.
  • And finally, give your old home one last look before leaving. Make sure that all doors and windows are locked, appliances are turned off, and unwanted items are disposed of. Say your goodbyes to neighbors and friends, and hit the road with the excitement of new beginnings in your cross-country adventure.

After the Move

Whew, you made it! Your cross-country move is now officially complete. Are you ready to transform your new place into a cozy living space?

  • Start by thoroughly inspecting your belongings as they come off the moving truck. This way, you can quickly check for any damages or missing items. Remember those photos you took of your belongings before the move? Use them as a reference to ensure everything arrives safely.
  • Next, set up the essentials in your home. This includes assembling your furniture, particularly your bed, and unpacking your bedding and essential toiletries. After a long day, you'll appreciate being comfortable in your new place. 
  • Now, begin unpacking your boxes room by room, prioritizing the spaces you use the most, like the kitchen and bathroom. To make the process smoother:
    • Unpack larger items first
    • Organize as you go
    • Keep your moving checklist handy to ensure nothing is overlooked
  • Don't forget to change your address with important institutions, such as banks, credit card companies, and insurance providers. Additionally, make sure your utilities are set up and working correctly, including electricity, water, gas, and internet services.
  • As you settle into your new neighborhood, explore and meet your neighbors. Familiarize yourself with the local amenities, such as grocery stores, parks, and transportation options. Doing so will make you feel more at home in your new surroundings.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much time do I need to move across the country?

The amount of time it takes to move across the country depends on various factors, such as your destination, household size, and the method you choose for moving. In general, it can take anywhere from a few days for a DIY move to a few weeks if you hire professional movers. When planning your move, remember to factor in the time needed for packing, loading, transportation, and unpacking.

How far in advance should I plan my move?

It's a good idea to start planning your cross-country move at least two months in advance. This gives you enough time to research moving options, schedule services, gather packing supplies, and sort out the logistics of your move. The earlier you start arranging everything, the better prepared you'll be and the smoother your move can be.

What is the cheapest month to move cross country?

The cheapest months to move cross country are generally during the off-peak season, which runs from late fall to early spring. During these months, moving companies tend to have lower rates, and there may be more availability for services. Avoid moving during peak season, including summer and holidays, as rates can be higher due to increased demand. Remember to request quotes from multiple moving companies to compare prices and choose the best option for your needs.