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Posted in How-to, Moving Preparation on May 30, 2022
Milly Andrews

Born and raised in Portland, Milly has had a lot of experience moving and writing about the relocation process.

How to Prepare for a Move – the Ultimate Checklist

Every cross-country move is a complicated task that demands a lot of your time and energy. Good moving preparation can make all the difference, but many don’t know how to prepare for a move. If a smooth and problem-free move is your goal, we put together a detailed list of everything that needs to be done before the relocation day, so make sure to consult it.

How Can I Make Moving Easier? Plan Your Actions in Advance and Start on Time

One of the essential things for an efficient move is planning your actions in advance. You should start by writing a to-do list that will keep you focused and organized. It should contain all the tasks we’ll mention today and some extras. It will be easier to stay on track and not get lost among many assignments.

Make a Schedule of Activities

The thing that will definitely keep you focused and organized during the move is making a schedule. Most of your activities will take at least a few hours. Depending on how much time you have ahead, you can schedule these actions and avoid being overwhelmed with many activities in a short amount of time.

This will help you fight the relocation stress as well. For example, if you have a full month ahead of you, you can start by hiring professionals, taking medicine prescriptions, organizing storage belongings, and then continue with other tasks as the relocation day approaches.

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Declutter Before You Start Packing for the Big Day

Another essential thing to do before you actually begin testing all the moving hacks is decluttering. This is an important part of the process because you do not want to waste your time, money, and energy on relocating unnecessary stuff. Make a packing list with everything you really want and can relocate. For everything else, consider some of these options:

If you have some old clothes or bulky furniture pieces that are worth selling, you can organize a garage sale. This will help you earn some extra money you can add to your relocation budget and use for buying supplies, new furniture, or professional relocation services. If you feel like you can’t earn much but still do not want to throw them away, you can always donate to local charity centers such as Goodwill or The Salvation Army.

Woman carrying a couple of boxes
It is better to donate some unnecessary stuff than to relocate them

How to Prepare for a Move? Start With Creating a List of Tasks and Determining Their Timeline

Good organization is half of your work, which is why a relocation checklist is an important ally in each move. Although we will provide you with an idea of what a checklist should look like, know that every relocation is different.

That is why you should include every task, small or big, that needs to be done before the day of the move. Don’t worry – you don’t need to come up with the whole list immediately. Rather than that, think for a few days about everything that lies ahead and add more items to the list as you remember them. Once the list is completed, you should set a timeframe in which every task should be completed. The more you stick to it, the smoother the move will get.

Decide if You Can Manage a DIY Move or Need to Hire Long-Distance Movers

The answer on how to prepare for moving depends mainly on your decision about getting long-distance moving services. Those who struggle financially often try to save on relocation costs and do everything they can by themselves. However, people who want to move efficiently opt to hand over all the relocation work to cross-country movers. Whatever you choose, ensure the items on your list are created accordingly.

If you opt for getting help from a cross-country moving company after creating a relocation budget, make sure you know how to find the best one. Look for recommendations and reviews, schedule several estimates with different companies, and check if the long-distance moving company is licensed and insured by asking for their USDOT number.

Long Distance Movers carrying boxes
Hiring cross-country movers can be a solution for the best relocation experience

Researching the New City Should Be One of the First Items on the List

No matter if you’ve chosen the future destination or it was predetermined, you must find out all the important aspects of the city you’re relocating to. Therefore, one of the first things to do when the decision about the move is made is to research:

  • Living expenses – the cost of housing, transportation, food, taxes, and utilities differ between cities. You need to ensure that you’ll be able to afford life in new surroundings. Luckily, this kind of research is easy today if you use specialized websites like Numbeo.
  • Job market – if you’re moving without a job and want to get a job in a new city, you need to find out if your field of expertise is in demand and to which extent.
  • Education and safety – ensure the place you’re relocating to has low crime rates, especially if you’re relocating to a new home with kids. Exploring the city’s education system is also necessary if you’re a parent.
  • Transportation – when you want to decide whether to get a car shipping company or leave your vehicle behind, make sure you know all about the best transportation options the future destination offers.

Research The Cost of Living in a New State

Research, research, research. The costs that you are used to right now might not be the same in a new state. Make sure to compare rent, utilities, grocery prices, and transportation costs, especially if you’re moving alone. There are many websites that can help you get a grasp on the costs of living and compare them with your current residence.

Here’s a fun fact for you: the highest cost of living in the US is in Hawaii, and Mississippi has the lowest, which makes it 43% less expensive in comparison. Good websites where you can research and compare your living costs are, Statista, and Numbeo.

Get a Job Lined Up in Advance

Moving without work is tough and uncertain. You never know what can happen to the job market, so if you plan on moving out of state, try to have a job waiting for you when you get there. Waiting for your stuff will be easier if you spend some of that time working. You can also discuss your relocation with your employer – some companies can help you offset the moving costs and offer a relocation remuneration.

Girl browsing job openings on a laptop
Stable income (or lack of it) can make or break your fresh start

Gather Supplies Before Packing Starts

If you decide against getting packing services, gathering boxes and other supplies will be your responsibility. When the day for it comes, ensure to consult the following checklist:

  • Different-sized boxes (the number will differ depending on whether you’re relocating to a new city alone or with someone),
  • Wrapping materials (bubble wrap or packing paper),
  • Peanut foam,
  • Marker (or sticker labels),
  • Scissors,
  • Tape,
  • Relocation blankets (for moving furniture and home appliances).

Look Through Your Home For Cost-Free Moving Supplies

Relocation to a new place is expensive as it is, so saving a buck or two when possible is always desirable. Therefore, think about using newspapers, old rugs, linens, and used boxes as packing and wrapping supplies – all of them you can find at your place. However, keep in mind that more valuable belongings still demand the best quality materials if you want to keep them safe and damage-free.

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Start Packing Several Weeks Before the Move

How early should you prepare for a move? To pack all of your household items, you’ll need to set aside a lot of your time, from several days to a few weeks. So you can avoid making relocation mistakes in the last-minute rush, ensure you start to pack on time.

Here are some of the best relocation hacks that can help you do it pack more efficiently:

  • Start with storage spaces – the attic and garage are rooms you use the least, so you should start there, while the kitchen and bathroom should be left for last.
  • Set a decluttering goal – How do you declutter before moving? Ensure you leave behind stuff you haven’t used for over a year (excluding things with sentimental value).
  • Decide what to do with unwanted belongings – you can throw them away, gift and donate, or earn some money by organizing a garage sale or selling them at online marketplaces.
  • Label boxes – it can be the simple marking of the room it belongs to, or you can use a more complicated color-coding system.
  • Have one room dedicated to boxing up – it will save you from running from room to room and losing precious time.
  • Create a checklist for all of the boxes – with a good packing list, you’ll know where each thing is located without having to open a single container.

Notify Others About the Move

When you decide it’s time to move, you need to inform everyone about your decision – and it includes more than just your family and friends. First of all, ensure to change your address online at USPS so that mail can find its way to you. After that, your personal information should be updated with life insurance and health care providers, IRS, bank, and Social Security Administration.

Only after you’re finished with these important institutions should you update your address in magazine subscriptions, online marketplaces, utility and internet providers, and the like.

Get a New Driver’s License (Oh, Joy)

The majority of the states require that you get a new driver’s license when you relocate. You will have two weeks to settle this at a local DMV. We have no tips for this step except – good luck!

a woman getting browsing a blue organizer for cross country moving
Getting your documents in order is among the modest tedious parts of the process

Don’t Forget to Pack a Bag With Moving Essentials

One of the most common things people forget to do when moving to a new home is setting their essentials aside. Therefore, when preparing to move, it’s crucial to form a separate list of all items you can’t live without. This should help you survive the first few days in your new home, as well as the trip itself. Although it will differ from person to person and can be more or less extensive depending on whether or not you plan on getting storage services, the list should contain items like a change of clothes, documents, medicine, electronics (and chargers), and snacks.

If you’re not sure what else should be a part of the essentials box, watch the video below o get a few more ideas.

YouTube video

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Emotional Preparation

All things we discussed are a matter of physical preparation but don’t forget that preparing emotionally is equally important. So, how to get ready to move on the emotional level? Focus on the benefits cross-country moving brings and make plans that will help you achieve your goals. Try not to overstress and give yourself time to breathe and relax.

Relocation stress will only set back the progress you make, so do everything you can to secure a stress-free move to another home. The best way of doing it is hiring the most trustworthy movers you can find to help you relocate.

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