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Tips & Tricks When Moving Cross-Country (Or Really Anywhere!)

My husband and I spent the better part of 10 years figuring out how to get back to our home state of Colorado. We relocated to Madison, WI just two weeks after 0ur wedding so my husband could attend graduate school. After that, he got a job that he loved – it was hard to leave the security of a good job and we started to settle into midwest living. However, the pull to be nearer to our families grew stronger with every milestone, holiday, and children’s school recital that went by without a grandparent in sight.

When we moved to the midwest, all love struck and doey eyed, the move itself was very seamless (except that one tiny incident in *very* rural Iowa where I filled my dad’s diesel truck – that was hauling my car – with unleaded gas at 11pm). So, this time around, moving cross country didn’t seem too bad. I mean, we are self proclaimed moving experts (6 homes in 10 years) and I thought, this will be totally fine! We’ve got a system!

I should also mention I am an optimist. Well. That was until I started packing. And when I got a glimpse of the moving truck – and I realized we had a 16 hour road trip ahead of us, I took a big gulp and said a prayer. 

You see, we decided to move ourselves because:

  • It’s cheaper! This girl wants to travel-and I have a future Switzerland trip all planned in my mind which requires some real funding. I’m sorry but I am not about to pay a few thousand dollars for moving trucks that will show up two weeks late with our stuff.
  • We are do-it-yourselfers. My husband is an annoyingly perfect perfectionist and wanted things packed and loaded in a way that really you can only do for yourself.
  • We are adventurers! Also can be read as crazy. We’re crazy. We have three dogs and one cat to prove it (I am allergic to dogs and my husband is allergic to cats).

I’m sure you are dying for me to get to the point, so here it is friends-some quick tips that helped take the pressure off a bit for us as we moved 1000 miles with a family of four (and four animals).

1.) Downsize

  • Start getting rid of your excess stuff early. And then do another round of getting rid of stuff. If you are moving there is no doubt that you have a lot of past loved treasures in your home you do not need to haul across America. Some things are obvious – baby gear that we won’t need again, clothes that I wore two children ago, gifts that hadn’t been touched since 2010. But for the things that were a bit harder to decide on, we looked at them and asked ourselves if we’d replace them in a fire. If the answer was ‘no’ we donated or sold it.

2.) Pack efficiently

  • Buy boxes that are all the same size (with an exception of a few smaller ones for fragile and heavy items). I understand that the girl who is too cheap to pay a moving company is asking you to buy cardboard-but hear me out. If you have the same size boxes it is SO much easier to pack and you can fit more into your truck since everything fits together so easily. 

3.) Sell your furniture

  • Obviously if you own high end pieces or heirlooms it’s not going to be cost effective or make sense to sell them. But if you are like us, we have a lot of IKEA and Target furniture at the moment, because, kids. We opted to sell what we could easily replace once we got to the new house. I have also found that when I bring things that I think “might” work in my new house-they almost NEVER do. I end up havingto replace them anyway because they don’t fit or are the wrong color and get irritated that I spent the time and space moving them. 

4.) Get your ducks in a row BEFORE you move

Trust me, when you get into your new home and there are boxes multiplying while you sleep, the last thing you want to deal with are these tedious tasks. 

  • Budget and plan for the upcoming expenses- for instance, if changing jobs, will there be a gap in your pay? Do you need new furniture pieces or to put in landscaping? Account for those ‘extra’ expenses and then some prior to your move so you can help eliminate surprises.
  • Work out details of health insurance and new doctors and dentists
  • If you have pets, take them to the vet and have them get examined as well as get heath certificates
  • Change and forward your address 
  • Contact credit card companies and banks so they don’t put a hold on your accounts while traveling because they suspect fraud
  • Get your cars serviced and prepared to drive safely cross country
  • Find local resources (like your local City Moms Blog) in your new location and research activities that interest you so you have somewhere to start when you get there

5.) Talk to your kids often about the move and get them involved

My kids loved helping me pack their rooms because they didn’t worry as much about their things disappearing when they’d put them in a box and say “see you at the new house!” We also read books about moving and talked about it daily. They felt very much a part of the process and that reduced the anxiety. 

6.) Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for this big change

This will be hard. Moving is just really hard. Whether it is a move you are excited for or one you are apprehensive about, there will be a lot of emotions (mixed with stress) and that’s ok. Allow yourself space to feel those feelings, have a cry if needed and then unpack another box.

7.) When you are in your new home, decorate your space

I know people think I am a little nuts for saying this-but I firmly believe getting things on the walls in your first week makes you feel better. I just love the feeling of being surrounded by familiar photos and things in the sea of boxes. 

I know that I have not covered everything and would love to hear if you have any secrets or things that helped you and your family prep for a big move or settle in once you’d arrived!




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