Moving Cross Country: The Ultimate Moving Checklist

Wondering how to move across the country without being completely overwhelmed? Planning your move early and staying organized are key to keeping your cross-country move as painless as possible. We’ve put together a moving checklist that covers all of the important details and things to do before a big move that will help you prepare like a pro!

How to Prepare for a Cross-Country Move

8 Weeks Before

  • Explore your new neighborhood with sources like Area Vibes or Street Advisor, and research nearby schools in your new area via Great Schools if you’re moving with kids.
  • Decide if you’re going to hire cross-country movers like TWO MEN AND A TRUCK or organize a DIY move. Gather a few quotes from moving companies and compare prices.
  • If you decide to ship your items and fly, book your flights at least two months in advance of your moving day to take advantage of lower prices.
  • If you’re doing a DIY move, buy moving items like floor mats, dollies, packing tape, and newspapers or bubble wrap. Take your car for a mechanical checkup, and make sure your tires are in good condition.
  • Once you’ve chosen what type of move is best for you, create a moving budget. Make sure to include all expenses like gas, food, lodging, and cash tips for movers.
  • Request time off from work for the move.
  • If you’re renting an apartment or house, you may need to give notice before the end of your lease. Check with your landlord to see how far in advance you need to give notice before moving.
  • Make any last minute doctor or dentist appointments for everyone, as well as any appointments for your pets. Be sure to research physicians in your new area and transfer your records.

6 Weeks Before

  • Gather free boxes from grocery stores, department stores, family and friends, or Craigslist.
  • Create a list of all belongings and take photos of them. This will help you keep track of everything in your home and how they should be grouped when packing.
  • Heavy items like couches, dining tables, washers and dryers, and other bulky furniture cost the most to haul cross country. If these items are worn out or easily replaceable in your new home, donate or sell them. Hold a garage sale and purge any clothes, toys, or belongings you haven’t used.
  • Once you’ve tossed out any old items, start packing all of the things that you don’t use or need on an everyday basis, such as art, pictures, or room decor.
  • If you’re asking friends to help you move, give them plenty of notice ahead of time and do the same with scheduling babysitters if you need help corralling the kids.
  • Curious what services you need to update when moving? Make a list of magazine subscriptions and services that have your current address so you can notify them of your new one.
  • Let your current utility companies like gas, electric, and cable know when you will be leaving your home, and check with the utility companies at your new home to make sure everything will be up and running by the time you move in.
  • Set aside a few days in your schedule for friends and family who live nearby. You’ll want to have plenty of time to say goodbye before moving on to your next adventure!

4 Weeks Before

  • Pay all outstanding fines, as well as transfer or cancel any memberships.
  • Update your voter registration and find your new polling place.
  • Change your address for your car insurance. If you’re moving out of state, you’ll have 30 days to transfer your plates and get a new registration.
  • Use up the perishable items in your freezer, and try to make meals with pantry items to lessen your moving load.
  • If you’re planning a cross-country drive, map out your route and book hotels or Airbnb.
  • Organize important documents like birth certificates, passports, medical records, and insurance forms in one easy-to-access folder and be sure to keep it with you during the move.
  • Get copies of pet records, and make sure you have their ID tags, documentation of vaccines, and registration.
  • Get a head start on cleaning up your house or apartment. If you want to get a security deposit back, you’ll need to follow the cleaning specifications in your lease.

2 Weeks Before

  • Update your bank information, cell phone provider, and other important information with your new address. Keep track of other providers to notify with this handy checklist.
  • Transfer your renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance, if necessary.
  • Keep a list of deductible moving expenses like the paperwork from the moving company, cost of the rental truck, and other moving-related receipts in a large folder.
  • If you’re worried you might have forgotten to change the address for something, forward your mail online or pick up a forwarding packet at your local Post Office.
  • Set up trash and recycling services at your new home and cancel your current services.
  • Notify government offices like the IRS of your new address. If you’re receiving Social Security benefits, you must change your address within ten days of your move.
  • If you decided to hire professional movers, get confirmation of moving details with the company.

1 Week Before

  • For an easy way to spread out your final to-dos, grab a calendar and write down a few tasks for each day to keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Transfer any prescriptions to a pharmacy in your new neighborhood.
  • Put together your essentials box with all of the items you’ll need for the first night in your new home.
  • Double check with your new utility companies to make sure water, electricity, cable, and internet will be up and running in your new place.
  • It may seem small, but remove all light bulbs from lamps you plan to move. This will save you from having broken glass in the truck or car come moving day.
  • Defrost your freezer and clean out your refrigerator. Keep any leftover items like food, soda, or water cold the night before you move in a cooler.
  • You’ll want to clean your oven, microwave, sink, toilet, and other appliances the night before you move as well.
  • Withdraw cash so you can tip hired movers.
  • Drain oil and gas from any outdoor equipment you’re transporting.

Moving Day

  • Clear a pathway to the front door to easily move boxes out of your home. Use doorstops or bricks to keep the door open.
  • Make sure floors are protected as you move furniture out of your current residence.
  • Keep a first aid kit in the car or in a bag with supplies for children and pets.
  • Do a final check of your old home. Make note and take photos of any damage and walk through with your landlord if they’re available.
  • Savor the last few hours in your old home, and look forward to your new chapter.

Whether you’re organizing your first move or you’re a seasoned pro, moving cross country can be overwhelming. But with this moving checklist, you’ll have a stress-free move from beginning to end. Looking for even more ways to streamline your cross-country move? Check out these cheap ways to move cross country!

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Moving Cross Country: The Ultimate Checklist