5 Expert-Approved Tips for How to Move Cross-Country

Moving is complex, and cross-country moves can be headache-inducing. To streamline your process, here are five professionally tested tips.

By Parker King | July 21, 2022

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A cross-country move can mark an exciting step into your next big adventure. Whether you’re relocating for your career, love life, or dream home, trekking hundreds or thousands of miles across the country is a significant undertaking.

To make your move as smooth and stress-free as possible, we’ve tapped moving industry experts for top insider tips, from location scouting to unboxing. Before changing your address, spend a few moments with our expert-approved guide to moving cross-country. Your future self will thank you.

Tip 1: Scope Out the Area

Advance research is vital for a cross-country move. Before you pick a city or close on a home, take the time to get to know the area. Kirsten Jordan, founder of The Kirsten Jordan Team at Douglas Elliman and a cast member on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York, has a few pointers. “The best advice I can give is to work with an agent who is a tried and true expert on the local area and cares to get to know you really well,” she advises. “Make sure you connect on a personal level, that they understand your lifestyle, long-term goals, and capabilities.”

Jordan also recommends taking advantage of social media as you scout prospective locations. “The geotag is your window into that world,” she says. “This is the best way to get a genuine sense of the area’s vibe and community.”

Lastly, Jordan urges against hurrying through virtual home tours, a common trend among remote clients. Her advice? “Be more thorough. … Don’t rush the tour. Ask your agent to show you every nook and cranny. And be prepared with specific subjective questions.”

Tip 2: Love It or Sell It

Parting ways with your beloved hand-selected furniture isn’t always easy, but a major move could be the right time to bid a few pieces adieu. Katie Stephenson, principal and CEO of Stephenson House, a luxury interior design firm, weighs in. “Not all pieces are worth taking,” she offers. “Consider the architectural similarities and differences from one house and location to the next. Will your West Coast sectional really work in your downtown Brooklyn apartment?”

If not, Stephenson suggests taking advantage of the currently blazing market for gently used fine furniture. And if you’re purging more than a few pieces, “Hire an in-home online auctioneer to sell smaller household items off in curated lots. Rely on their network and marketing reach instead of Facebook Marketplace where every online friend sees the random items you are trying to purge.”

Tip 3: Check the Boxes

Before you start packing your belongings, Sarah Jameson, moving expert and marketing director of Green Elements, recommends you take two important steps:

First, create a moving checklist. “These consist of tasks that make the relocation go smoothly, including transportation, utility transfer, memberships that will require updating, and changing the address,” she explains. “This will help in finalizing key aspects and sorting out any requirements before the actual moving date.”

Second, Jameson suggests taking inventory of your belongings so you can easily track them throughout your move. Along those lines, she emphasizes the importance of securing moving insurance. “Look at valuation coverage options,” she suggests, “in order to decide on how much protection you may need and whether the mover shall be held accountable in the event of any damage.”

On that note, all of the nation’s best moving companies are legally required to provide some level of coverage on your belongings, but you may also choose to purchase additional protection from a third-party insurer.

close-up view of keys from new house on cardboard box during relocation
Photo: Adobe

Tip 4: Choose a Quality Moving Company

When it comes to actually moving your belongings, it’s crucial to pick a reputable and experienced long-distance moving company that will handle your possessions with care.

Kate Windleton, relocations manager at London-based Strong Move, warns, “When you move cross-country, the last thing you want to do is hire a rogue mover. Fortunately, it’s easy to spot them if you know what to look for, [such as] low quotes that look way too good.” Further, she advises checking the company’s license and proof of insurance, which should be readily available.

In addition to vetting moving companies, it’s also crucial to choose a provider that specializes in the services you need. Don’t want to drive your car to your new home? Then you need to choose a moving company that’s equipped to transport it. 

“If you have a luxury vehicle,” offers Bill Gassett, owner of Maximum Real Estate Exposure, “it is highly recommended to go with a closed carrier to protect your car from the elements and other potential hazards moving such a long distance. You’ll pay more for a closed carrier, but it will be worth it.”

Tip 5: Unpack Wisely

The moving process doesn’t end when you cross the threshold of your new abode. As you settle in, how you unpack can be just as important as when.

Ben Soreff of House to Home Organizing provided us with a few surefire strategies to successfully unpack. “First,” he instructs, “find out what to do with all the empty boxes and wrapping paper. If your moving company doesn’t pick them up, find out before you move if the city or private company will.”

Soreff also advises that you “keep as many boxes in the garage or basement as possible, create a staging area upstairs, unpack one box at a time, then flatten it and move to the recycle area.” He cautions against unpacking without cleaning as you go, which can leave busy movers feeling lost and overwhelmed. To avoid this stressor, he advises taping post-it notes with basic instructions on boxes.

Our Recommendation: Move Like a Pro

From finding the perfect location to updating your home aesthetic and researching interstate moving companies, you have a lot of factors to consider when you plan a long-distance move. It can also be a fun, exciting, and wholeheartedly rewarding challenge. With the tips above in hand, go forth and make your cross-country move with confidence.