Quick Guide: Top 11 Tips for Moving Out of State

So, you’ve made the leap of faith to pack up all of your stuff and move across state borders. We hate to say it, but making the decision to move to another state was the easy part. Now comes the process of drilling down into the nitty-gritty details of how to plan for the big move.

With this guide, you’ll be prepped on everything you need to know about long distance moving, like what questions to ask your moving company, when to expect your new belongings will arrive, and just how to ensure that moving day goes as smoothly as possible.

CRAFT A MASTER PLAN
Before you begin your moving research process, create a high-level master plan of how you’ll organize your move. For example, what’s the maximum amount of money you can spend on the move? Will you be able to transport any of your stuff in your own car or rental truck, or will you be leaving everything to the movers? Do you have any friends or family members who could help with your move? If you’re driving some of the stuff yourself, how much time can you budget to move your stuff? The key here? Stick with the big plans first so you don't get bogged down in the nitty-gritty details of the move.

PARE DOWN YOUR STUFF
Take inventory of everything that you’ll absolutely need for your new place. Your out-of-state move’s going to be expensive, and you’ll want to minimize the amount of nice-to-have’s (think: your paper mache butterfly collection from the third grade) and maximize the must-have’s like your bedroom set.

Use a pack, purge, or donate approach for sifting through your stuff. Once you’ve settled on what to bring with you to your new residence, sell your used items on Craigslist, host a yard sale, or donate your lightly used items to charity and claim a tax deduction. Hey, it might even save you a bit of money along the way.

ASK YOUR MOVERS THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Make sure to ask in writing whether your movers will subcontract your move to another company during the trip. If they do, your belongings will be divided across two or more trucks, meaning that your stuff is that much more liable to arrive at different times at your new place (traumatic when the trampoline and swing set arrive before the master bedroom set gets there).

SPOT BAD MOVER RED FLAGS
Interstate movers are heavily regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which means that they’ll need to provide a few things to stay in compliance including:

  • Motor vehicle insurance, liability insurance, and workers' compensation should anything happen to their workers during your move
  • An up-to-date registration (renewed every 2 years)
  • A U.S. Department of Transportation number, or a unique ID that is assigned to moving companies to track things like their inspections and reviews

That’s a lot of jargon, but the good news is that most moving companies will clearly list this information on their website (it proves that they are a reputable business, after all). If in doubt, check their reviews on Yelp or MovingCompanyReviews. Otherwise, you can simply call them up for more information and check in with FMCSA to ensure they're an accredited business. These tips should help you spot moving scams from a mile away.

UNDERSTAND YOUR DELIVERY SPREAD
If you’re new to moving long distance, you’re probably imagining the moving truck rolling up to your new home the day or the day after you pack up the truck. That’s how it works, right? Well, not exactly. It’s standard practice in the industry for movers to give you a delivery spread, or an interval spanning 1 to 14 days, of when to expect all of your stuff to arrive.

Why the spread? Moving companies often use one truck to ship multiple customers’ stuff. If they didn’t, moving would be outrageously expensive for both you and the moving company. While you can somewhat control the delivery spread by setting your loading date, the length of the delivery spread is subject to other variables including the move distance, time of year, and the amount of stuff you pack (more items mean a shorter delivery spread).

PREPARE TO PACK THE CAR
Particularly if you’re moving across the country, you’ll need to prepare to ship your car in advance of the move. Coast to coast auto transportation can take 1-2 weeks, so you’ll want to coordinate how you plan on getting around town if you want your car to arrive before you do. Consider reaching out to a neighbor to ask whether they’ll carpool the week or two before you move out of your old place.

BUDGET EVERYTHING
Hey, moving’s expensive and that much more so when you’re moving long distances. Moving cross country can cost between $8-14k, meaning you’ll want to save money wherever you can, whether that’s using recycled packing materials or scheduling your move on a day with lower moving estimates. Pro-tip: Create a master spreadsheet of all of your moving-related expenses so you can expect just how much you’ll have to fork over.

RESEARCH DIFFERENT TRAVEL OPTIONS
We see time and time again that long-distance movers assume that packing up the family van and traveling cross country is the cheapest option to move the family from Point A to Point B. But, between rest stops and overnight hotel stays, expenses can pile up quickly, not to mention the uncertainty of when you’ll actually get there. Double check whether shipping the car and booking a train or even airfare will save you a bit of extra time on your move.

ENSURE THAT EVERYTHING'S MOVE-IN READY
Nothing’s worse than no cable on move-in day. Chances are, you won’t be able to stop by the new house to make sure the water’s running before move-in day. Transfer your utilities (water, gas, electric) and home services (internet, cable) with Updater so you can relax in front of your favorite Netflix series after a long day of unpacking.

SET ASIDE AN EMERGENCY BAG
When you’re moving long distance, you may not have the luxury of packing up the back of the station wagon. Set aside an emergency bag with the essentials in the event that your stuff takes longer than expected to be delivered.

EXCHANGE CONTACT INFO WITH YOUR MOVER
If you’re moving across state borders, you’ll want to double, and then triple, check that you’ve exchanged contact information with your mover. In the event that something goes wrong en route, like one of you gets a flat tire, you’ll want to make sure that you have their cell phone number handy. Then's also a good time to triple check that your mover’s delivering your stuff to the right place (sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often a town has two streets with the same name, e.g. Smith Road versus Smith Street).

Hey, we’ll be the first to admit that moving long distances is no easy feat. It requires even more advance planning and coordination than a short distance move would, not to mention that you'll be entering a totally new area. More than anything, the key to a happy long distance move is planning in advance, doing your research, and not letting moving stress get the best of you!


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