How to Move Across the Country

Moving can be stressful. Making sure your breakables are packed so they don’t actually break, deciding on a DIY move or hiring professional movers, managing security deposits or down payments on both ends of the move—moving cross country could stress even the most relaxed people. There are some things to keep in mind, though, to make the process go as smooth as possible.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The three Rs aren’t just good environmental stewardship, they’re essential for planning a big move. Think of it this way: Is it really necessary to pack up and ship the six half-empty conditioner bottles under the bathroom sink?

Moving is a great time to embrace your inner minimalist and get rid of absolutely everything that’s no longer needed. Not only does minimizing now help cut down on moving costs, but it also helps avoid filling up the new place with meaningless stuff.

Instead of just throwing away unwanted goods, trying to find them a new home might give them a second life. Big-ticket furniture items can be sold online or in consignment stores to raise a bit of extra money for the moving fund, or they can be donated to a thrift store.

Professional clothes that are no longer worn could help someone if donated to a job readiness program. Animal shelters often take donations of old sheets and blankets to make cuddly beds for their charges.

Local freecycleor buy-nothing groups can also be great places to unload unwanted home goods—you never know who has a use for those five dish strainers you’ve somehow accumulated.

Pack Like a Pro

Once you’ve decluttered, it’s time to get packing. Resist the urge to throw everything into a medium-sized box and call it a day. Taking the time to pack up your home like a professional will make moving—and the subsequent unpacking—a whole lot easier.

First, gather your packing supplies. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of boxes of varying sizes, several rolls of packing tape, large black markers, scissors, a utility knife, and several types of packing materials, like old newspaper, bubble wrap, and even old rags or sheets.

To pack like a pro, start with non-essentials. The last thing you want is to realize that you accidentally packed all your clean underwear two weeks before you plan on leaving. Seasonal home goods, out-of-season clothes, and rarely used kitchen goods are a good place to start.

Make sure to wrap all fragile items in paper or bubble wrap before putting them in boxes. Plates should be packed next to each other vertically, which helps prevent breaking. Likewise, adding a layer of crumbled newsprint or packing paperon the bottom of your box can also help prevent breakage.

Aim to keep each box light enough to lift alone, with heavy items on the bottom and lighter items on top. Don’t forget to pack like items together—no one wants to arrive at their new home and find their dishes somehow got packed next to the cat litter box.

Choose Your Mode of Transportation

One of the most challenging parts of planning a cross-country move can be planning the actual transportation. Will you fly, and ship your cargo? Hire a moving company to pack everything up and unpack it at your new place? Rent a cargo trailer and make it into a cross-country road trip?

Each option has its benefits and its drawbacks, but choosing the right mode of transportation can help keep your move as stress-free as possible and, depending on the mode you choose, could help you keep your budget intact.

The easiest, and usually the most expensive, option is to hire a moving company and let them take care of the details. Using a moving company for a cross-country move can cost almost $5,000on average, and that can increase with the addition of fuel costs, fees, and insurance.

The benefit to paying more upfront is that you are only responsible for getting yourself and your family to your new home. The moving company takes care of the rest, which can be a significant relief if you’re short on time or are looking at the prospect of trying to maneuver your couch up three flights of stairs in your new apartment building.

Some moving companies will send someone out to take a look at how much stuff you plan to move to give a more accurate cost estimate. They may also estimate the weight of the load and calculate how far you plan on moving when giving you the final estimate.

If you’re hiring movers, one way to cut down on cost is to pack and unpack your stuff yourself. Asking for personal recommendations, reading online reviews, and getting a few different quotes before deciding on a moving company can help you get the best company for your needs.

If hiring movers isn’t in the budget, there are still plenty of options to ensure your beloved record collection arrives safely across the country. If you don’t have any big furniture to move, you may be able to get away with shipping your goods and hopping on a plane with just your essentials.

Shipping your goods as freight can be a budget-friendly option, whether you send them via mail, train, or even take a few boxes as checked baggage on the flight.

The downside is that unless the boxes are traveling on your flight with you, you may end up waiting a while for them at your destination, and, like all mail, there is always a chance things could be lost or damaged during the journey.

Many movers choose to take the DIY route and rent a cargo truck or trailer to haul their worldly possessions. This can be a budget-friendly option, but remember that for all the cost savings, you’ll be putting in a lot more hard work.

You’ll need to pack and load all your boxes and furniture into the trailer yourself. On top of packing, you’ll also have to be comfortable driving the cargo truck or trailer the thousands of miles that lie between you and your destination.

Budgeting for Your Move

Still wondering how to move across the country without going broke? There’s no doubt about it—moving is expensive. And don’t forget to include the additional costs of moving, like a down payment on your new place, or first and last month’s rent, and the cost of setting up your new home with all the essentials.

On top of that, moving often coincides with changing jobs, which may mean that you have a few weeks where you are sorely missing your paycheck. All of this makes moving across the country financially draining for many people.

If you know you’ll be moving in the future, saving up now and using any money you make selling unwanted goods can be a good way to build up your moving fund.

Some people, however, realize they need a little more help in covering the upfront costs of moving across the country. A personal loan might be able to help cover that cost without affecting the rest of your finances.

The Takeaway

For some people, there may be a few potential benefits of using an unsecured personal loan rather than a credit card to fund moving costs. A personal loan may offer lower interest rates than many credit cards do and, unlike a credit card, a personal loan is not revolving credit. That means the loan is for a set amount of money and paid back over a fixed period of time.

Lenders usually review an applicant’s credit report, among other personal financial factors, to determine the loan term and rates they qualify for. Some lenders disburse loan funds within a few days. This means that you can spend more time exploring your new home base and less time stressing about paying for your move.

This post originally appeared on SOFI and was republished with permission