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How to Plan a Long-Distance Move in 10 Easy Steps

Moving to a new home can be stressful even if it only requires transporting your family’s things across town. When you’re planning to move to a new city or state, the situation will be even more complicated. Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate the stress of a long-distance move so that you can focus on making a smooth transition into an exciting new life.

To be clear, there are no shortcuts, and planning a long-distance move takes serious time and energy. That’s why it’s wise to get started early and follow the ten simple steps below to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

Step One: Get Organized

The best time to start planning for a long-distance move is as soon as you confirm the relocation. Remember that it’s not just about packing the family’s belongings. You’ll also have to make plans to get people, pets, and vehicles to the new home, so it’s important to stay organized. One of the most effective ways to do that is to take advantage of tools like to-do lists, calendars, and general moving timelines.

In an ideal world, everyone planning a long-distance move would have a year’s advanced notice to plan out every detail and get prepared. In reality, people often start planning for moves just two months in advance. With effective planning, that should be enough time to fit everything in.

Step Two: Research the New Location

The chances are good that you’ve already researched things like where kids will be going to school and what the neighborhood is like. Unless you’ve purchased a house or signed a lease sight unseen, you should also have a clear idea of what to expect when it comes to the home, yard, and driveway. However, there are also less tangible matters to consider.

If there are parking regulations, for example, that could impact the accuracy of a moving estimate. The movers may need to transport items in smaller vehicles or take additional time getting them into the new house. You’ll also want to know about things like what utility companies to use and where to get a quick local meal after a long day of unpacking if you choose not to use a packing service.

Step Three: Get Estimates From Long Distance Movers

Few factors are more crucial to the success of a move than who you choose to work with when the big day comes around. Finding a good long-distance moving company should top the priorities list because schedules can fill up fast.

Most experts recommend scheduling the move two months in advance. However, there’s nothing wrong with staying on the safe side and choosing a company as soon as you pin down a definite moving date.

When evaluating estimates, be sure to compare apples to apples. Many moving companies will provide initial quotes for free. They base these estimates on the size of the home and the distance of the move. However, companies may either include or omit optional products and extras like moving blankets and boxes, professional packing services, and temporary storage.

You should also note that the initial estimates will likely include only a limited insurance policy. While the chances are low of anything coming up if you choose a skilled professional mover, you may want to ask about insurance add-ons and other extras.

Immediately choosing the company that offers the cheapest estimate is never the best way to decide who to trust with a long-distance move. At a bare minimum, you should research:

  • License and certifications
  • Moving vehicles and their maintenance
  • References from prior moves
  • Insurance coverage
  • Awards, recognitions, and reviews

There’s no way to guarantee that the move will go smoothly and nothing will break because accidents happen, no matter how careful and professional the movers are. That said, you should look for a company with a reputation for integrity and excellent customer service, not just competitive prices.

Step Four: Take Inventory

Before you order boxes and start packing everything away, stop to take inventory of everything in the home. You can either go from room to room with a pad of paper and a pen or take advantage of modern technology and use apps that include home inventory checklist tools.

Some household items are more expensive and difficult to move than others. Bulky or heavy furniture, for example, is rarely worth moving halfway across the country unless it has some serious sentimental value since most moving companies assess costs based not just on the time it takes to load the truck but also on the total shipment weight.

Step Five: Declutter

Unless you’ve already embraced a minimalist lifestyle, an upcoming move should provide an excellent opportunity to reduce clutter. Only taking along the things you need won’t just help to keep moving costs low. Decluttering in preparation for a move can also be a therapeutic process.

Most people start decluttering by choosing one room and dividing its contents into keep, sell/donate, and discard piles. The inventory list you made in the first step can also be helpful here. Give yourself time to go through everything instead of waiting until it’s time to start packing. That way, you won’t be as likely to get burned out.

Step Six: Packing for a Long-Distance Move

Once you have decluttered your house, it’s time to start packing up what’s left. The easiest way to go about the process is to hire professional packing and unpacking services. Good moving companies may even offer this as an add-on service. If you’re adamant about saving the extra money and packing everything yourself, though, be sure to follow these tips:

  • Pack heavy items in small boxes.
  • Label everything or use clear containers.
  • Take furniture apart and put the fasteners in baggies attached to the pieces.
  • Use plenty of padding around dishes and other breakable objects.
  • Tape parallel edges of box flaps instead of interlocking them for extra stability.
  • Enlist help if possible. 


Finally, be sure not to rush the packing process. If your moving date is getting dangerously close, it’s worth spending the extra money to hire professionals instead of winding up with items damaged due to rushed, improper packing techniques.

Step Seven: Making Travel Plans

Most long-distance moving tips focus on how to make pre-move checklists and pack items securely but don’t forget that you won’t just have to worry about how your things will get from point A to point B. You also need to make travel plans for yourself and your family, pets, and cars.

If you’re only moving a few hundred miles, the best approach may be to simply drive to the new location. However, a cross-country move changes the situation. In that case, it may make more sense to fly there and have vehicles transported professionally to avoid the stress of multiple days on the road and the extra wear and tear on one or more cars.

Just be sure to have a plan in place before moving day arrives. If you’re unsure whether you’ll make it to the new home before the moving truck, consider asking the company about short-term storage solutions.

Step Eight: Change Over Utilities

If this is your first serious move, you may not realize that you’ll need to change over utilities before the move. Most people recommend contacting your current and future utility companies around six weeks in advance and arranging when, exactly, your current electricity, heat, water, and other utilities will get shut off and your new ones turned on to avoid unnecessary frustration or extra bills.

Step Nine: Change Your Address

Changing your address at the post office is easy. Simply request a change of address form, fill it out, and date it appropriately. The post office will forward mail from the old address for up to one year depending on what it is, giving you some extra time to settle in before you worry about updating contact information for banks, subscription services, and other accounts.

Step Ten: Say Goodbye to Friends and Get Excited

One of the advantages of planning a long-distance move carefully in advance is that you’ll have some time before you go to say goodbye to friends and local family and build up some excitement for the upcoming move. Even if an official celebration isn’t on the agenda, you should at least make some extra time to get in touch with people and give them your new address or try to fit in one last lunch date or night out on the town before you leave. If nothing else, you can let the people closest to you know how excited you are about the new location so they’ll be more likely to visit.

Long-Distance Moves Don’t Have to Be Stressful

Moving any distance can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Leaving yourself plenty of time and following the simple steps above to avoid missing any essentials can make even a cross-country move much easier so that you can focus on your family’s bright future in a new home.

Moving to a new home can be stressful even if it only requires transporting your family’s things across town. When you’re planning to move to a new city or state, the situation will be even more complicated. Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate the stress of a long-distance move so that you can focus on making a smooth transition into an exciting new life.

To be clear, there are no shortcuts, and planning a long-distance move takes serious time and energy. That’s why it’s wise to get started early and follow the ten simple steps below to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

Step One: Get Organized

The best time to start planning for a long-distance move is as soon as you confirm the relocation. Remember that it’s not just about packing the family’s belongings. You’ll also have to make plans to get people, pets, and vehicles to the new home, so it’s important to stay organized. One of the most effective ways to do that is to take advantage of tools like to-do lists, calendars, and general moving timelines.

In an ideal world, everyone planning a long-distance move would have a year’s advanced notice to plan out every detail and get prepared. In reality, people often start planning for moves just two months in advance. With effective planning, that should be enough time to fit everything in.

Step Two: Research the New Location

The chances are good that you’ve already researched things like where kids will be going to school and what the neighborhood is like. Unless you’ve purchased a house or signed a lease sight unseen, you should also have a clear idea of what to expect when it comes to the home, yard, and driveway. However, there are also less tangible matters to consider.

If there are parking regulations, for example, that could impact the accuracy of a moving estimate. The movers may need to transport items in smaller vehicles or take additional time getting them into the new house. You’ll also want to know about things like what utility companies to use and where to get a quick local meal after a long day of unpacking if you choose not to use a packing service.

Step Three: Get Estimates From Long Distance Movers

Few factors are more crucial to the success of a move than who you choose to work with when the big day comes around. Finding a good long-distance moving company should top the priorities list because schedules can fill up fast.

Most experts recommend scheduling the move two months in advance. However, there’s nothing wrong with staying on the safe side and choosing a company as soon as you pin down a definite moving date.

When evaluating estimates, be sure to compare apples to apples. Many moving companies will provide initial quotes for free. They base these estimates on the size of the home and the distance of the move. However, companies may either include or omit optional products and extras like moving blankets and boxes, professional packing services, and temporary storage.

You should also note that the initial estimates will likely include only a limited insurance policy. While the chances are low of anything coming up if you choose a skilled professional mover, you may want to ask about insurance add-ons and other extras.

Immediately choosing the company that offers the cheapest estimate is never the best way to decide who to trust with a long-distance move. At a bare minimum, you should research:

  • License and certifications
  • Moving vehicles and their maintenance
  • References from prior moves
  • Insurance coverage
  • Awards, recognitions, and reviews

There’s no way to guarantee that the move will go smoothly and nothing will break because accidents happen, no matter how careful and professional the movers are. That said, you should look for a company with a reputation for integrity and excellent customer service, not just competitive prices.

Step Four: Take Inventory

Before you order boxes and start packing everything away, stop to take inventory of everything in the home. You can either go from room to room with a pad of paper and a pen or take advantage of modern technology and use apps that include home inventory checklist tools.

Some household items are more expensive and difficult to move than others. Bulky or heavy furniture, for example, is rarely worth moving halfway across the country unless it has some serious sentimental value since most moving companies assess costs based not just on the time it takes to load the truck but also on the total shipment weight.

Step Five: Declutter

Unless you’ve already embraced a minimalist lifestyle, an upcoming move should provide an excellent opportunity to reduce clutter. Only taking along the things you need won’t just help to keep moving costs low. Decluttering in preparation for a move can also be a therapeutic process.

Most people start decluttering by choosing one room and dividing its contents into keep, sell/donate, and discard piles. The inventory list you made in the first step can also be helpful here. Give yourself time to go through everything instead of waiting until it’s time to start packing. That way, you won’t be as likely to get burned out.

Step Six: Packing for a Long-Distance Move

Once you have decluttered your house, it’s time to start packing up what’s left. The easiest way to go about the process is to hire professional packing and unpacking services. Good moving companies may even offer this as an add-on service. If you’re adamant about saving the extra money and packing everything yourself, though, be sure to follow these tips:

  • Pack heavy items in small boxes.
  • Label everything or use clear containers.
  • Take furniture apart and put the fasteners in baggies attached to the pieces.
  • Use plenty of padding around dishes and other breakable objects.
  • Tape parallel edges of box flaps instead of interlocking them for extra stability.
  • Enlist help if possible.


Finally, be sure not to rush the packing process. If your moving date is getting dangerously close, it’s worth spending the extra money to hire professionals instead of winding up with items damaged due to rushed, improper packing techniques.

Step Seven: Making Travel Plans

Most long-distance moving tips focus on how to make pre-move checklists and pack items securely but don’t forget that you won’t just have to worry about how your things will get from point A to point B. You also need to make travel plans for yourself and your family, pets, and cars.

If you’re only moving a few hundred miles, the best approach may be to simply drive to the new location. However, a cross-country move changes the situation. In that case, it may make more sense to fly there and have vehicles transported professionally to avoid the stress of multiple days on the road and the extra wear and tear on one or more cars.

Just be sure to have a plan in place before moving day arrives. If you’re unsure whether you’ll make it to the new home before the moving truck, consider asking the company about short-term storage solutions.

Step Eight: Change Over Utilities

If this is your first serious move, you may not realize that you’ll need to change over utilities before the move. Most people recommend contacting your current and future utility companies around six weeks in advance and arranging when, exactly, your current electricity, heat, water, and other utilities will get shut off and your new ones turned on to avoid unnecessary frustration or extra bills.

Step Nine: Change Your Address

Changing your address at the post office is easy. Simply request a change of address form, fill it out, and date it appropriately. The post office will forward mail from the old address for up to one year depending on what it is, giving you some extra time to settle in before you worry about updating contact information for banks, subscription services, and other accounts.

Step Ten: Say Goodbye to Friends and Get Excited

One of the advantages of planning a long-distance move carefully in advance is that you’ll have some time before you go to say goodbye to friends and local family and build up some excitement for the upcoming move. Even if an official celebration isn’t on the agenda, you should at least make some extra time to get in touch with people and give them your new address or try to fit in one last lunch date or night out on the town before you leave. If nothing else, you can let the people closest to you know how excited you are about the new location so they’ll be more likely to visit.

Long-Distance Moves Don’t Have to Be Stressful

Moving any distance can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Leaving yourself plenty of time and following the simple steps above to avoid missing any essentials can make even a cross-country move much easier so that you can focus on your family’s bright future in a new home.

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