Moving across the country isn’t as simple as a move within the same zip code. Here are tips for planning and executing and fast, efficient cross-country move.

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1. Use a Moving Checklist

Following a cross country moving checklist is the best way to stay organized and on-track during your relocation. You can use the one we provided above, look through dozens of others online, or create one yourself tailored to your move. To keep your list at your fingertips, upload your checklist to an app like Wunderlist, Google Keep, or, easily check off tasks or add new ones.

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2. Plan the Logistics

Explore your options and decide how you’re going to get yourself and all your things from one place to the next. U-Haul might seem like the cheapest option, but you could also sell everything you own, use a U-Haul competitor, rent a moving pod, or hire professional movers. Decide what makes sense for you based on affordability, convenience, and your timeline. Don’t forget about transporting your vehicle and planning the details of your road trip or booking other travel.

3. Choose Your Moving Date Wisely

Most people move when school is out, and there’s no snow on the ground. The peak moving season is May through August, which means moving rates also peak during this time. If you want to save money when hiring a moving company, then try to schedule your move outside this window to get better rates. If you move during the winter months, you might even be able to negotiate a substantial discount.

4. Agree to a Consolidated Cross Country Move

Another way to relocate for less is by agreeing to a consolidated move. If you have a small move (anything from a studio to a 2-bedroom apartment), your things won’t take up all the space on a standard moving truck. The moving company can consolidate your shipment with those of other customers with the same origin and destination, making the trip cheaper for everyone.

5. Purge Before Packing

If you have things crammed in closets, shoved under beds, or hidden in the dark recesses of your cabinets, or worse, still boxed up from your last move, it’s time to bring it all out into the light. Now is the perfect time to declutter and get rid of everything you’ve hoarded and held onto that you don’t want or need. By selling, donating, or trashing these items, you’ll have less to pack, less to put on the moving truck, and less to unpack on the other end… and all of this lowers the total cost of moving.

6. Use Free Moving Boxes

Packing supplies add up. One new box from your local home improvement store costs $1-$3, and you’ll likely need dozens of them to pack everything in your house. Instead of rushing out and buying bundles of new boxes, do the environment and your wallet a favor, and scrounge up free moving boxes. Hound your local grocery store, hassle your friends and neighbors for spares, or hunt through Craigslist postings to find gently used boxes for packing up your home.

7. Pack Carefully

While it’s tempting to throw everything in a box, tape it shut, and call it a day, that’s the surest way to end up with lots of broken stuff at the end of your move. Here are some expert tips to packing the way professionals do:

  • Use padding: Whether you opt for packing paper and bubble wrap or hand towels and t-shirts, make sure you used plenty of padding when packing.
  • Wrap items separately: Wrap fragile items like plates, picture frames, or glassware individually. Doing so will prevent items from knocking against each other and chipping or cracking during transit.
  • Use special boxes as needed: Free boxes work perfectly for most household items, but you might want to invest in some specialized boxes for delicate or expensive items, like wine glasses, artwork, or your flat-screen TV.
  • Use the right-sized box: Extra large boxes are fantastic because you can cram so much into them, right? This thought is great until you can’t lift box packed with over 100-lbs of books. For heavier items, like the books, use a small- or medium-sized box. For lighter items, like towels, bedding, and pillows, feel free to use large- and extra-large boxes.
  • Fill the boxes all the way: Be sure to fill in all the nooks and crannies of your boxes with more packing paper, bubble wrap, or packing peanuts. Removing wiggle room keeps items from moving around when the truck encounters potholes and dips, thereby preventing breakage.

8. Label Your Boxes

Every mover will tell you, labeling is one of the most important steps for keeping your home relocation organized. As you tape each box, write out two labels with the room and a brief description of the contents. Stick one on the side of the box and another on the top, to make it easier to read what’s inside, no matter how the boxes are stacked. You can also add colorful pieces of tape to the boxes that correspond to a color coding scheme. For example, you could use red tape to denote boxes destined for the kitchen or yellow tape to indicate items from the living room.

9. Make Use of Plastic Wrap

Just like Saran wrap makes things easier in the kitchen, the plastic wrap does wonders during the moving process. Buy a roll or two of professional grade movers’ wrap when you’re stocking up on moving supplies. You can use this invaluable tool to help secure moving blankets around furniture and appliances, to adhere pieces and parts to disassembled furniture, or to keep liquids from leaking out of bottles of toiletries and cleaning supplies.

10. Take Pictures

Before packing up your electronics, like your television or computer, take pictures of the backs of each. Snapping a quick photo with your phone will help you remember how to plug everything in as you unpack at your new place.

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