Planning for a Successful Long-Distance Move
Moving is rough and considered one of the most stressful experiences people can go through. That stress can intensify when moving thousands of miles across the country. You may need to move for work or family obligations, or maybe you want a dramatic change in scenery (literally). Whatever the reason, choosing to move across the country is the first of many decisions you must make. We’ll explore crucial things to keep in mind to make the transition as smooth as possible.
How Do I Get My Stuff There?
The costs of travel have gone up, along with gas prices. Moving and shipping costs, especially long distances, will likely be your biggest cost point. Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding how to get your belongings to your new locale:
- Do I need movers, or can I drive a moving van the whole way?
- Instead of a moving truck, would shipping pods work?
- How much can I downsize to save costs?
- Are the things I want to bring worth the shipping cost, or can they quickly
and affordably be replaced after the move?
Depending on your life stage, you may be able to leave most of your things behind and start fresh. If you are more established, you will likely have more belongings, mementos, and things you can’t live without. Most moving trucks and pods are priced not only by how far you are going but also by how much you have to ship.
Not every option is the same when searching for a moving truck or shipping pods. For example, some trucks base cost on weight, while others base it on space used in the truck. Shipping pods may be cheaper, but you must load and pack yourself. Additionally, do an internet search for movers. You will find more listings for moving brokers, which can make finding an available truck easier, but you can pay up to 40% more as a brokerage fee!! If you want a truck but want to save costs, look for independent movers, not brokers. Some other questions to ask potential movers/shipping businesses:
- How long will it take to get my things?
- If I end up downsizing, will the cost go down?
- Are there other shipments heading to my location that I can piggyback on to
- Are there storage options if I can’t move my things in or not all of them
right away, and what is the cost? (Many companies offer the first 30 days free)
- Do I need shipping supplies like protective blankets or tv boxes, or will
those be provided?
- What licenses and insurances do they carry?
- How much space do they need to load, offload, or place a shipping container?
- What is the payment schedule? Most moving truck companies require three
payments: a deposit for ½ the amount, ¼ at pick up, and ¼ drop-off, while
shipping pods may require everything up front.
- How long do you have the container before and after if you have to load it
- Will your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance cover any loss or damaged
- Can I get any moving costs covered by a new employer, the military, or
How Do I Get the People There?
If it’s just you moving, getting yourself across the country may be easier than having multiple people move. Surprisingly, with gas prices so high, driving across the country may not be the most affordable option. However, driving may be the only practical option if you are driving a moving van or bringing vehicles. Here are some questions to consider:
- How far am I going, and what is the difference in price between
driving (including gas, hotels, and food) and flying?
- What type of travel conditions can you expect to encounter? For example,
moving during the spring or fall may be more pleasant than summer and safer
than winter (depending on the route).
- Do I have people that can come with me to help with the driving?
- Is everyone physically able to make a long-distance drive?
- Can some people fly while others drive?
What About My Vehicles?
Boats, cars, motorcycles, and RVs require specialty transportation companies if you aren’t driving or towing them. If you plan on hiring a transportation company, ask them:
- Are there cost-saving options, especially if there are multiple
- How long will the shipment take? And do you have something to get around in
while you wait (such as another vehicle or a rental)?
- What are the licenses and insurance?
If you are planning on driving and towing:
- Are the vehicles mechanically sound to make the trip?
- Have you moved or towed that far before (or the person you plan on
- What challenges might you face (tight city streets, mountains requiring
chains, bad weather)?
- What route should you take, and where can you stop for gas and food with large enough parking lots to fit the vehicles?
What About My Pets?
If your new home won’t be a home without your animals, safely getting them across the country is a top priority. Generally, you will want your pets with you whether you are flying or driving, but there are also animal transports for small and large animals. Just make sure to ask about licenses, insurance, and references. If you are driving or flying with your animals, make sure to research the following:
- What are the laws and regulations for bringing a new animal into
- Will there be a quarantine period before or after the move?
- What vet screening or health documents do you need, and how long are they
- How much food and water will they need?
- What size crates might you need, and do they meet airline requirements if
- How do you fly with pets, on the plane, or with cargo? Most airlines have
this information on their websites, including how to reserve space and any
- If driving, where can you stop to let them out to use the bathroom and get food and water, and what hotels allow pets?
All the above questions may feel overwhelming, and things will likely go wrong at the worst times. The most important piece of advice for moving across the country is to accept there will be challenges. How will you handle them? Who is your support network? When things get tough, remember why you are moving. Your new life is waiting. Make it happen!