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The Only Cross-Country Moving Checklist You’ll Ever Need

Are you planning cross-country relocation? If you haven’t already, you’ll soon realize that this type of relocation takes lots of energy and some mad organizational skills. We’ve put together a comprehensive checklist to help you keep your relocation on-track.

2 Months Out from Your Move:

  • Create a moving budget: If you’re lucky, your employer is footing the bill for your cross-country relocation, but if you are like most Americans, you’re paying for moving expenses out of your own pocket. So, before you do anything, make sure to think through your moving budget. How much do you plan to spend on movers, temporary storage, moving supplies, hotels and transportation, etc.? Deciding on your budget now will help you keep your relocation spending from spiraling out of control. 
  • Research moving companies: If you’re reading this, then great job! You’ve already started the daunting task of finding a moving company by requesting moving quotes using our platform. Before hiring one, double check to ensure their licensing and insurance information is up-to-date so you know you’re working with a reputable company. Cross-country movers must have a valid U.S. DOT # and carry certain insurance, while intrastate (in-state) movers must abide by applicable state laws. If you hire one of our movers, then we’ve already done the work of vetting movers for licensing and insurance for you! 
  • Request an in-home estimate: By law, interstate moving companies are required to provide customers with an in-home moving estimate. While an over-the-phone quote is a great starting place, an in-home estimate helps the mover provide you with a far more accurate quote. If possible, request in-home estimates from at least three moving companies. 
  • Research car transport companies: Did you know shipping your car to your new home might be cheaper than the wear and tear of driving it yourself? If you’re curious how much it will cost to transport your vehicle, that’s something we can help with! Click here to request a free quote from one of our cross country auto shipping partners. 
  • Begin the great purge: Did you know that interstate moving costs depend on the weight of the shipment? To reduce the cost of your move, sort through your belongings, placing items in piles to “donate”, “keep”, or “sell”. Plan to drop unwanted items off to charity (and claim a tax deduction) or stage a garage sale prior to moving day.
  • Transfer school records: If your move means your kids must transfer to a new school, then now’s the time to get the ball rolling on transferring their school records. Contact your child’s school and ask them to initiate the record transfer process.
  • Start a moving binder: A moving binder helps keep all your moving to-dos organized. This is also a great place to stash moving-related receipts and keep track of your moving expenses.
  • Start the housing search: If you already know where you’re moving to, check this one off the list. If you don’t, then this is the perfect time to begin your home or apartment search. Start by reading about the neighborhoods in your new home town, then contact a real estate company or apartment locator to assist. If you have the time and money, you might want to fly out to your new city to view properties and neighborhoods in person.
  • Make travel arrangements: If you’re moving cross country, how are you getting to your new home? By plane, train, or automobile? Once you nail down a moving date, start booking your tickets and hotel rooms on the way to your destination.

1 Month Out from the Move: 

  • Book a mover: By now, you should have received quotes from multiple cross-country moving companies and decided which one works best for you. If you haven’t already, be sure to call and schedule your move! 
  • Start a home inventory: Home inventories are useful for both organization and keeping up with your belongings during the move. Additionally, a home inventory may prove useful for future insurance claims. We recommend using an app like Sortly to streamline the inventorying process. With this handy app, you can snap photos and tag your items, group items by box, and even create smart QR labels for your moving boxes. 
  • Gather moving supplies and jumpstart the packing process: In anticipation of that impending moving day, now’s the time to start boxing up your belongings. Start by locating free moving boxes, then buy the rest of the moving supplies you need. Then, go room by room, boxing up items that you plan to keep, but won’t need for a while. As you pack, be sure to separate your valuable items like jewelry, keepsakes, and important documents. These are items you should plan to move yourself. Make sure all boxes are labeled with the destined room and box contents to make unpacking easier. 
  • Arrange sitters for kids and pets: Moving day is no fun for anyone, but especially not for children and pets. To keep the little ones and furry friends out of the way on moving day, you might want to go ahead and arrange for a friend, family member, or sitter to watch them offsite.  
  • Create a floorplan: Moving into a new place means rearranging all your new furniture. If possible, use one of these handy apps to create a floorplan. Planning now will help moving day go smoother and will mean less rearranging after the movers leave.
  • Notify your landlord: If you rent, make sure you give your landlord sufficient notice of your plans to move out.

3 Weeks Out from the Move: 

  • Plan a yard sale: If you’ve sorted through all your unwanted items, now is the time to plan and execute a yard sale. This is a great way to make a little extra cash to put towards your moving budget. 
  • See the doctor and forward medical records: If applicable, go visit your GP or other medical provider one last time to get final refills on any essential meds to tide you over until you have found a new doctor. This is also a great time to ask for a copy of your medical records or to get them transferred to a new office. 
  • Visit the vet and forward veterinary records: Fido might need a final check-up too. You may also want to ask your vet about microchipping, anxiety medicine for the road trip, and refills for any medications your pet currently takes. While you’re in the office, request a copy of your pet’s medical records or have them transferred to your new vet practice. See here for our pet specific moving to-do list.

2 Weeks Out from the Move: 

  • File a change of address form with the USPS: To prevent mail from getting delivered to your old address after your move, file a change of address form with the United States Postal Service. The USPS allows you to select a date to begin forwarding mail to your new address for up to six months. 
  • Notify others of your change of address: In addition to the post office, let other critical parties know about your change of address. This list includes financial institutions (bank, credit card, and investment companies), magazine subscriptions, your HR department, your insurance company, etc. 
  • Schedule utilities stop service or transfer: If you’re moving locally, schedule the date to transfer all your utilities accounts to the new address (think cable, internet, water, gas, electric service, etc.). If you’re moving to a new city, make sure to schedule a “stop service” date for your utilities so you don’t get billed for resources consumed after your move.  You’ll also want to set-up utilities at your new place in advance, so the water and lights work when you go to move in! 
  • Prep the car: If you’re driving to your new home, make sure to schedule a tune-up with your local mechanic shop to make sure the vehicle is in good condition for a road trip.

1 Week Out from the Move: 

  • Pack an essentials box: When you’re moving cross-country, the first few days or weeks in the new place will probably be chaotic. To avoid having to tear through boxes looking for items you’ll need the first week, set these items aside now and pack in a separate box. These essentials should stay with you throughout the move, so they’re always accessible when you need something. 
  • Finish the packing: Hopefully, you’ve made significant progress in the packing department over the last few weeks. Now’s the time to finish packing up your belongings and prepping for the movers.  
  • Finish up your food: Most of your food won’t fare well on the journey to your new home, so now’s the time to dig in and eat up. Instead of buying groceries this week, plan on eating what you already have so clean out that fridge and pantry. If you still have food leftover, consider packing a cooler for the road, donating non-perishables to your local food pantry, or giving food to neighbors or friends. 
  • Drop items off at a local charity: Now that you’re at the tail end of the packing process, you can finish donating all those unwanted items to a local charity. Some charities, like Salvation Army, will even come to you to pick up.
  • Check in with the movers: Most cross country moving companies will call to confirm the details of your move about a week out. If you don’t receive a call, you might just want to touch base with your mover to ensure that your plans are still a go.

2 Days Before the Move: 

  • Prep major appliances: If you’re moving major appliances, make sure they’re prepped in advance of moving day. Refrigerators, washing machines, and dish washers need time to dry out after you disconnect the water lines to prevent mold and mildew from growing during the move. Additionally, you’ll need to prep the dryer and oven for the move. 
  • Start cleaning: If you live in an apartment, then cleaning your place is essential to getting back that coveted deposit. If you’re able, start the cleaning process a couple of days before your move.  
  • Plan to pay the movers: Make sure you’ve made the final arrangements to pay for your move. You might want to take some cash out to tip the moving crew. For stellar moving services, we recommend tipping $100 per mover.

Moving Day: 

  • Drop of the kids/pets: If you arranged a sitter for moving day, drop of the kids and pets before the moving crew arrives.  
  • Meet the movers: Now that moving day has arrived, you should be ready to go! Make sure you’re home at the scheduled time, so the movers can get to work loading the moving truck. When the truck arrives, verify that the US DOT # on the truck matches the number on your estimate and confirmation.  
  • Sign the bill of lading: The movers will take inventory of everything they load onto their truck. Make sure this meshes with the home inventory you have on file, then sign the bill of lading so they can be on their way. 
  • Finish cleaning: After the moving truck leaves, you can finish of the rest of your cleaning checklist and turn over the keys.

After the Move 

  • Update your insurance policies: As you settle in, take time to review your insurance policies. At the very least, make sure you notify your insurance company of your address change. Now is also a great time to compare new insurance quotes as insurance companies charge different rates depending on the zip code. You might be able to score some savings by changing carriers. If you moved to a new state, make sure your auto policy complies with your new home state’s laws.  
  • Update your driver’s license and car registration: Most states require motorists to update license and registration information within 30-60 days of moving. Check here for the specific requirements in your state. 
  • Start unpacking: Once the boxes arrive, try to unpack methodically, room-by-room until the process is complete. Check out our helpful unpacking tips here.

With this handy checklist at your fingertips, you’ll be able to keep your move on pace, without getting frazzled or overwhelmed. For assistance from vetted, licensed cross country moving services and auto shipping companies, reach out to Kip’s Cross Country Movers. We’re your source for affordable, reliable help for your upcoming move. Request free quotes from our best movers today!

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