A Car on the Road Between Trees

The Complete Checklist for Moving Across Country


Moving all the way across the country is a big undertaking, especially if you’ve got kids, pets, your belongings, and possibly a couple of cars. 

It’s a new chapter in your life and you’ll want to do it properly but you might be feeling a little anxious. This is perfectly normal and there are lots of ways you can take control and ensure your moving experience is a smooth one. 

Unless you’re relocating on short notice, you should have a few months to plan the logistics of moving across the country. The following cross country moving checklist should prove invaluable. 

Moving across the country may seem a little daunting but if you take it one step at a time things should stay orderly and feel more manageable.    

A couple of months before your move

  • Decide on your moving budget

If you’re not careful, your cross country moving expenses will quickly add up. You can expect your final relocation bill to be between $4k and $10k. 

Set yourself a budget and you’ll keep the spending under control.

When you know where you are financially, you can take any necessary cost-cutting measures early on in the process. 

  • Check out movers and compare rates

If you’re relocating last minute, you’ll struggle to hire movers. Cross country moving companies can be booked up weeks in advance, particularly during the summer months. 

It’s therefore advisable to start shopping around for movers as soon as you can, preferably at least a couple of months in advance. 

Ask around for recommendations as well as research your options online. Don’t go with the first one you find. Instead, compare rates from up to four cross country movers.

After your initial quotes schedule in-home estimates with the best candidates. You’ll get a more accurate quote if a moving company can walk through your home.  

  • Work out how you’re going to move your cars

A road trip across the country might sound appealing but if you’ve got more than one vehicle it’s better if you book an auto transport service.

A traditional moving company won’t offer transport services so you’ll need to contact several car shipping companies. 

Provide us with all the necessary details of your vehicles and we’ll provide an accurate quote.

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  • Start clearing out

If you’re at all concerned about the cost of moving, a good way of cutting costs is to get rid of things you no longer use or want. 

Decluttering from top to bottom will take some time, so start the process early. Reduce the weight of your shipping by donating or selling things such as unused gifts, worn-out furniture, and long-forgotten books. 

An effective way to tackle your decluttering is to separate items into three piles: sell, donate, and trash. 

Arrange a garage sale for selling your items or post items online using sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and OfferUp

If you’re donating items, get a tax receipt and write off your donation in your next tax return. 

  • Make an inventory

Once you’ve thinned out your belongings, make a household inventory for keeping track of everything during your move. 

An inventory also comes in handy should you need to make an insurance claim further down the road. 

If you’re not sure where to start, try an app such as Belongings, Encircle, Sortly, or III Inventory App.

  • Create a moving file

There’s going to be a certain amount of paperwork and information about your move. Keeping it all in one paper moving binder or an electronic file makes tracking expenses easier and keeps your relocation organized. 

  • Consider travel plans

Are you going to drive or fly to your new home? Now’s the time to start making plans whether it’s booking plane tickets or mapping out a route and booking hotels along the way. 

  • Look for suitable housing

Finding a suitable home in a new city requires a lot of research. It’s advisable to home in on one particular area and make an in-person visit. 

However, visiting in person is not always possible. Apps such as Suburb Scout, Wikihood, and Walk Score will help. 

You can also use apps to help you find suitable housing. However, contacting local realtors and apartment-locating companies is the best way to approach your search. 

  • Start gathering moving supplies

You’ll need to box up your belongings ready for your move which means lots of packing supplies. 

Save money by using recycled boxes, but start collecting them early on. Ask friends and family if they have any boxes or check your neighborhood grocery store, liquor store, big box store, or Craigslist. 

One month before your move

  • Book your moving company

You’ve previously compared prices so now it’s time to make sure you’ve booked a moving service with your company of choice. 

  • Transfer your kids' school records

For a super smooth transition for your little ones, contact their school and arrange a transfer of their records. 

  • Start the packing process

Ask any professional moving company when it’s a good time to start packing and most will recommend you start at least one month before your move. 

Start with the items you use infrequently along with seasonal items such as winter clothing, Christmas decorations, and serving ware. 

As your moving day looms ever closer, you can tackle the other items. 

  • Gather together the important documents

Important documents include your passports, birth certificates, and social security cards. Gather them together in one place because you’ll want them with you during the move. 

  • Make arrangements for your kids and pets

It’s better if small kids and pets are out of the way on moving day. Now’s the time to make those arrangements because getting a sitter last minute could be tricky. 

  • Notify your landlord

If you rent your current home month-to-month, now is the time to give your landlord a 30-day notice of your plans to move out. 

  • Work on your floor plan

If you’ve already organized your new home, start thinking about the floor plan. Sketch out the rooms and where you plan to place your furniture. There are also apps you can use if you prefer to use technology rather than pen and paper.

With a plan in place, you can label your boxes and let the movers know where everything goes. 

A few weeks before your move

  • Hold a garage sale

When you were decluttering earlier you set aside a pile of items for selling. If you’ve still got some items left, why not hold a garage sale and see if you can get rid of the rest? 

  • Don’t forget those final check-ups

Final check-ups include a visit to the doctor so you can fill up on any medications you might need before your move. 

Once this is done, you can complete the paperwork to forward your medical files to a new practice. 

  • Make plans for your pet

Every state is different, but they all have some form of law regarding the entry of animals into the state.

If you’re a proud pet owner, research the legal requirements before you transport your pets to their new home. 

In Hawaii, for example, there is a mandatory quarantine period. In Alabama, each pet has to have a certificate of veterinary inspection.

Also take the time to restock on any medication your pet needs, ask about micro-chipping, and check whether anxiety medication might help your pet cope with the move.  

2 weeks before your move

  • File a change of address

You can file a change of address form online using the US Postal Service. It only takes a couple of minutes. It ensures your mail is routed to your new address after a date you specify. 

Also remember to contact any financial institutions, insurance companies, subscription services, and any other critical parties to let them know you’re changing your address. 

  • Cancel current utilities and schedule turn-on in your new home

It’s not generally possible to transfer utilities if you’re moving across the country. Therefore, you’ll have to arrange the cancelation of your current services for a couple of days after your move-out date. 

Also try to schedule the turn-on of essential services in your new home, before your arrival. At the very least, you want the lights and water to be working. 

  • Get your car tuned

If you’ve decided to take a road trip to your new home, make sure you take it for a tune-up and oil change before you hit the road. This is an important step in your checklist for moving across the country. 

1 week before your move

  • Pack all your essentials

You may have to wait a week or two for the movers to deliver all your things. In the interim, pack a few boxes to tide you over. 

For everyone who’s moving, pack plenty of changes of clothing, towels, toiletries, and medicine. Inflatable mattresses and linen will mean you’ve got a place to sleep while you wait for the beds to arrive. 

  • Water any plants

Generally, cross country movers won’t accept houseplants. If they do, there are still strict government restrictions that vary between states. 

There’s a good chance that you’ll be driving with your plants in the car. Water them well at least a week before you transport them. 

  • Finish all the food

Food is unlikely to survive a long-haul trip so skip any trips to the grocery store and use up as much as you can from your fridge and pantry. 

If you have large amounts of perishables, consider donating them to a local food bank. It’s also worth checking if your moving company participates in the Move for Hunger Program. 

  • Prepare your appliances

If you’re taking your home appliances with you, they’ll need prepping before you transport them. Defrost your refrigerator and get a technician to disconnect the gas line from your dryer. 

All appliances need to be thoroughly dried to prevent mildew and mold. Also, check the manufacturer’s documentation for specific moving instructions. 

  • Finish packing your belongings

During the final few days before your move you’ve got time to finish packing. Empty your wardrobe. Box up your kid’s toys. Load up the rest of your dishes. 

  • Arrange pick-ups for any donations

If you’ve still got some unwanted items left, arrange a pick-up of donations and furniture via a local charity. 

  • Talk to the movers

It’s time to confirm the final arrangements with the movers. 

2 days before your move

  • Clean up

When all the boxes are packed, it’s time to start the cleaning process and get your home ready for the new owners or tenants. This is a crucial step if you’re renting because it means you’ll get your security deposit back. 

  • Make sure you're ready to make the final payment for the movers

You may have made a partial payment already, but once the truck has delivered your items to your new home there’s the final installment to pay. 

Moving day

  • Drop off pets and kids

If your kids and pets are spending the day elsewhere, make sure you drop them off before the moving truck arrives. 

  • Greet the movers

Be sure you’re there to greet the movers when the moving truck arrives. Communicate any concerns you might have so that they’ve got time to address them. 

Also, check that the US DOT number on the side of the truck matches your bill of lading. 

  • Sign the paperwork

You’ll be asked to sign a bill of lading once the movers have taken possession of your belongings. Make sure you check and agree with the provided list before signing. 

  • Finish cleaning up

When all the boxes and furniture have been loaded on the truck, make a final sweep of the house. Vacuum and then mop the floors to make sure all dirt and mud have been removed. One final dusting might be required before you hand over the keys. 

After the move

  • Update your insurance

Make sure you review your insurance policies once you’ve settled into your new home. This is a good time to think about shopping around for new rates since most insurers base their rates on your zip code. 

  • Visit the DMV

 In most states, you’re required to register your vehicle within 30-60 days of moving to the state. 

  • Unpack

Try to resist the urge to unpack your belongings in a rush. Start with the essential rooms such as the kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms, before working your way through the rest of the house.

Take your time unpacking things and do it methodically. Put things away in a logical manner and your home will be nicely organized. 

Now you’ve finished reading our moving across country checklist, you might be ready to make your move. If you’d SGT Auto Transport to ship your car, our shipping advisors are waiting to hear from you today. Call (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat.

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