Parents and their daughter packing the back of their car to move homes.

How To Move Across The Country: A Guide

Breyden Kellam7-minute read

September 07, 2022

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Whether it’s by necessity or choice, moving across the country is a life-altering experience. You’ll likely be leaving familiar places and faces as you venture into uncharted territory. Yes, a fresh start awaits you that’s full of exciting opportunities! But before you can begin this new chapter in your life, there’s still the question of how to move across the country successfully.

We’ve created a guide to help you do just that! Let’s consider the steps you may want to take when moving across the country, as well as some practical tips to ensure your cross-country move is a success.

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Before Relocating Across Country

There’s a great deal of forethought and preparation that goes into moving across the country. If you have a place in mind that you’d like to live, why not visit and familiarize yourself with the area before deciding to move there permanently? This way you can see whether this prospective new city aligns with your goals and interests.

Once you’ve decided to move, you’ll also want to create a moving checklist that’ll help you to stay organized and complete all necessary tasks. And if you’re buying and selling your home at the same time, consider working with a real estate agent to assist you in the process. These are just a few suggestions you can implement before the moving process even begins!

Steps For Moving Across Country

After you’ve found a new place to live and chosen your moving date, it’s now time to begin the moving process. Here are eight useful steps to implement when making your cross-country move.

Step 1: Budget For The Move

Since a long-distance move is often more costly than a local one, budgeting is essential. But exactly how much does it cost to move across the country? This will depend on the size of the move and the distance. HomeAdvisor reports that the average cost of a cross-country move falls between $4,000 and $8,000. When calculating moving costs, make sure to account for all potential expenses. It may even be helpful to use a free moving calculator online to generate an accurate cost based on your unique situation.

Other factors to consider when creating a moving budget include:

  • Travel fees
  • Packing and unpacking services
  • Storage
  • Moving supplies and add-ons
  • Moving specialty items
  • Liability and valuation coverage
  • Tipping

Step 2. Decide How To Move Your Things Across The Country

As we’ve already discussed, a long-distance move can become quite expensive. So, understandably you may be wondering what’s the best and cheapest way to move your things across the country. You may decide to:

  • Drive it yourself: Renting a truck and moving yourself is the cheapest way to move your things across the country! In fact, you could potentially save thousands of dollars by going this route. This option, however, will take a significant amount of time and energy on your part. So, consider enlisting family and friends to help lighten your load!
  • Ship it: If you don’t have much to move, you may choose to ship your belongings via the United States Postal Service, FedEx or UPS. This is a convenient option that many overlook.
  • Full-service moving company: If you’re prepared to pay, hiring a full-service moving company affords you the least stressful moving experience. Full-service movers will take care of everything from supplying all packing materials and supplies to unpacking your home. Move.org reports that a full-service move can range from $1,200 to $29,000, with the average price being $9,060.
  • Hybrid options: A hybrid move includes a mixture of “do it yourself” moving and full-service moving. For example, you may choose to pack and unpack your belongings while hiring moving professionals to transport your items. Essentially, hybrid moving offers the best of both worlds; you can be involved in some parts of the moving process and opt out of others.

Step 3: Plan Your Cross-Country Travel

To drive or to fly when moving cross-country, that is the question! If you’re trying to figure out which mode of transportation is the best for your moving needs, consider asking yourself:

  • How many belongings am I bringing with me?
  • How much time do I have to move?
  • Do I have to move a car?
  • Will I be traveling by myself?
  • Can I afford to fly?
  • Is my new home near an airport? 

If you are looking to save money, have time to spare or have quite a bit to move, it may be best to rent a moving truck and drive there yourself. However, if you’re in a time crunch, willing to spend a bit more and are moving by yourself, you may choose to fly. To have the most seamless moving experience possible, you’ll want to stick to a timeline and stay organized. So, make sure the mode of cross-country travel you choose aids you in this goal.

Step 4: Create A Packing Plan

 Much like a moving checklist, creating a packing plan will help you to better tackle the stressful task of packing up your belongings for the move. Here are some things to keep in mind when coming up with your plan.

  • Pack early: It’s easy to underestimate the time needed to pack for a move. Starting early will increase the likelihood of a hassle-free move, while giving you more than enough time to sort through your belongings.
  • Itemize and label boxes: Itemizing and labeling your belongings will help you easily locate your belongings during the unpacking process. Consider labeling your boxes by contents or room. Also, make sure to note if items are fragile or require special attention.
  • Downsize and declutter your home: Moving across the country is a chance to start fresh. So, packing is a perfect opportunity to get rid of items that you may no longer need or want. Having a garage sale and donating your belongings are excellent ways to declutter.
  • Find boxes and supplies: There are many inexpensive ways to get the supplies you need for your move. You can often find free boxes at local businesses, from family and friends or online.

Step 5: Set Up Mail Forwarding and Contact All Utilities & Services

About a month before your moving date, don’t forget to alert the U.S. Postal Service of your address change in order to receive mail at your new home.

You’ll also want to notify your utilities and other service providers of your address change.

Consider contacting:

  • Electricity and gas providers
  • Water and sewage treatment providers
  • Internet, phone and cable providers
  • Medical and dental service providers
  • Home, auto, life and other insurance providers
  • Banks and credit card companies that mail statements to your home
  • Your children’s schools
  • Newspaper, magazine and other subscription providers
  • Home alarm system providers
  • Any organizations you may receive written communications from regularly, including the VA

Step 6: Pack Your Travel Bag Last

A travel bag contains items you’ll need on your moving day and while you’re first settling into your new home. You’ll want to pack essentials such as your wallet and keys, medications, important documents, toiletries, clothes, electronics and any other necessary items.

It also may be a good idea to pack your bedroom and travel bag last. Since it’s easy to forget important items, packing this bag last will help ensure that you add these things as you come across them.

Step 7: Clean Out The Place

This is an important yet often overlooked step in the moving process. Deep cleaning your current home before moving out ensures that you leave it in pristine condition for the next resident. You’ll want to:

  • Sweep, mop and vacuum empty rooms
  • Remove all screws and nails from the walls
  • Clean all windows, doors, outlets and light switches
  • Dust all necessary surfaces including ceiling fixtures and ledges
  • Thoroughly clean out the refrigerator
  • Cut the grass and sweep out the garage

If this job seems a bit overwhelming, you also have the option of hiring a cleaning service to do it for you.

Step 8: Hand Over The Keys And Hit The Road

Congratulations! The time has finally come to embark on your new journey. Before you hit the road, the last thing you’ll need to do is give your keys to your landlord or new owner. It is best to complete this exchange in person; you and your landlord or new owner should confirm on paper that the keys have been returned on the agreed upon date.

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The Best Tips For Moving Across The Country

In addition to the eight steps mentioned above, here are some best tips for moving across the country!

  • Move during the off-season: While the right time to move will ultimately depend on your unique situation, consider moving between the months of April and October, which is often deemed the off-season for moving. During this time, you’ll likely benefit from lower moving costs and greater flexibility from moving companies which makes for a less stressful move.
  • Check your employer’s relocation policy: If you’re moving for work, consider learning about your company’s relocation policies. You may have access to an employee relocation package which can help to cover costs associated with your move.
  • Get multiple moving quotes: It’s important to work with a moving company that is both reliable and affordable. This is why you’ll do well to get multiple moving quotes before settling on a company to hire. Generally, it is best to get at least three quotes. You’re also more likely to get an accurate estimate from movers who inspect your home in person.
  • Keep personal documents with you: You never know when you’ll need to access important documents during the move. So, make sure to keep all personal documents with you rather than packing them away in boxes. Doing so will also help to protect your personal information from getting stolen, lost or damaged.
  • Communicate often with your movers: For a successful and stress-free move, good communication between you and your movers is essential. Be sure to politely tell them exactly what you want to be moved, packed and unpacked. If there are any items that you want handled extra carefully, make sure they’re aware of it. Your movers will no doubt appreciate clear and consistent direction.

How Much Does It Cost To Move Across The Country?

Understandably, many people are searching for the cheapest way to move across the country. How much it costs to move across the country will depend on several factors that we’ve discussed. Moving costs can be lower or higher depending on how far you move, the moving company you hire, your mode of transportation, the time of year and much more.

The Bottom Line

The thought of leaving what you’ve always known and moving across the country can be quite scary. Hopefully, though, our guide has you feeling confident to take the leap and start a new chapter in your life. There are many resources available to help make your cross-country move a success. Get started on relocating today with Rocket Mortgage! Give one of our experts a call at (800) 581-6683.

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Breyden Kellam

Breyden Kellam

Breyden Kellam is an intern writer covering topics on homeownership, finance, lifestyle and more. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. With a deep love for all things literary, Breyden is passionate about using her words to touch hearts and positively impact lives.