How to Start Planning for a Long-Distance Move
Having to pick up your life and relocate hundreds or thousands of miles away can be incredibly daunting. Knowing that such a complicated journey lies ahead is enough to make anyone lose sleep. More than anything else, moving across state lines or even to another country requires a well-thought-out strategy. So let’s talk about how you can start planning for a long-distance move.
Guide to Planning a Long-Distance Move
Confirm Your Move Date Well in Advance
From the moment you decide to move, the clock will be ticking. You’ll need to pick a destination, and find a new home and job. You’ll want to start looking for places as soon as possible, but don’t rush to buy property.
According to Nancy Zafrani, the General Manager at Oz Moving & Storage in New York, renting a place or staying at an Airbnb are better options for those who are moving to unfamiliar places. In that case, you might want to move and start looking for more permanent homes when you get the lay of the land.
Whatever you do, don’t schedule your move for the summer months. Instead, try to move during the off-season when other people won’t be driving around the country too. You’ll want to give yourself at least two months to prepare for the move. Unless you have to seize a housing or job opportunity, you should be able to push the moving date.
Find a Reliable Mover
When you’re moving to another address in the same city, you can get away with not hiring a professional moving service. But when it comes to executing long-distance moves, doing so is pretty much a necessity.
If you don’t have a big enough budget to let your movers handle everything, at least have them on standby for loading and unloading your van. You’ll also need them to pack any large pieces of furniture. But before you settle on a company, make sure you get several in-home estimates.
The person who comes to do your evaluation will point out the pieces their company can take off your hands. They’ll also give you some tips for packing the items you’d like to handle personally. At this time, you can go through their paperwork and ask them any questions you might have.
Make a Plan
Even if you relinquish all control to your movers, there are some things they won’t be able to do for you. For example, in the weeks before your move, you’ll have to:
- Find your birth certificate and any other financial, legal, and medical records (as well as our family members’ documents and vet records)
- Update your driver’s license and registration and other legal documents with your new address
- Make sure your passport is up to date if you’re moving out of the country
- Find cable and Internet providers that service the area you’re moving to
- Figure out utility installation at your new home and school enrollment, if you have kids
- Cancel gym memberships and similar subscriptions that are related to your current address
- Clear out your safe deposit box and any storage lockers you have
- Set up mail forwarding to your new address and update shipping information on Amazon and other subscription services you want to keep
Breaking these tasks and any others you can think of down into smaller chunks can make them seem much more manageable. You could do so in a moving ledger or make individual reminders on your phone. Either way, you should probably get a folder for any move-related documents such as receipts, bills, contracts, and moving insurance. If you’re moving for work, the cost of the move might be tax-deductible.
At this point, you should also start using up the food you have in your home to minimize waste. Additionally, you have to give yourself time to execute any repairs you need to make in your current home. If you’ve been renting a place, your security deposit might depend on the condition of the property.
Figure Out How You’ll Get to Your Destination
Next up, you need to figure out your mode of transportation. If you’re going to rent a van or truck to drive your stuff over to your new home, that’ll be sorted for you. However, if you’re hiring movers for that part, you should book a flight, bus, or rent a car. The number of people and pets you’re taking with you will influence your choice.
Ditch the Baggage
Before you can start packing your stuff, you should sort through it. Separate the necessities from things you no longer need, then donate or sell. Downsizing will make moving your possessions across hundreds or thousands of miles much easier.
What’s more, some movers may even have a list of items they won’t move, such as perishable foods, plants, and irreplaceable objects or heirlooms. Hopefully, you’ll have gone through all your perishables by the day of your move. As for the other stuff, you should probably keep valuables with you, anyway. And if you can’t take your plants with you, just gift them to your friends.
Packing and Labeling
When it’s time to pack, you can buy or rent your boxes from your movers. However, if you’re working with a tight budget, you could get them for free from various stores or by looking online. In addition to boxes, you might also need some Ziploc bags for smaller items.
Use your clothes to pad any breakable items you have before putting them in the boxes. Remember, they’ll have to withstand a long trip so use more padding than you think is necessary. Speaking of fragile items, you might want to backup your digital files before packing your computers. If they get damaged or lost, at least you’ll have your data.
As you pack your things, label the boxes to let the movers know where to put them when they unload your belongings. Ask your movers if they’re going to ship your things together with other people’s boxes. If so, you should mark them with your name, too.
If you didn’t write an inventory of all the things you’re bringing, do it as you pack. Mark each of the boxes with a number and note its contents in your moving folder.
Of course, some items — like bulky furniture — will have to be shipped without boxes. Let your movers take care of those things. They’ll wrap them in moving blankets and bring them down the stairs with practiced ease.
Before you pack anything else, though, put your essentials in a separate suitcase. Those include towels, bedding, some cooking tools, toiletries, clothing, and other necessities. That suitcase will help you survive until you can properly unpack in your new home.
Coordinate With the Movers
On the day of the move, you’ll just have to supervise the movers as they bring your boxes into your van (or their truck). After that’s done, you’ll either go into the van and start driving to your destination or you’ll let the movers take over. If you opted for option number two, your only task will be to catch your bus or flight. Remember to bring your tickets and your suit of essentials!
When you get to your destination, you’ll have to wait for your things to catch up. Alternatively, if you drove them over yourself, you’ll meet another crew of movers at your new address. Offer them snacks and drinks while they unload the van, and don’t forget to tip them while you’re at it!