7 Tips To Move Across The U.S. Successfully

Whether you just landed your dream job or want to get out of your home town, the allure of moving thousands of miles away is appealing. Here are some tips to help you achieve your goals.

Moving across the country is no easy feat, but it can be completely worth it if you plan everything out correctly. There are many reasons why somebody would want to move thousands of miles away, but no matter how much help you have, it is not going to be an easy transition.

I recently moved from northern California to Massachusetts and there are many things I wish I knew before I did it, and there are a few things I was able to find out that I think would be very helpful for other people to know as well.

Here is a list of my top 7 tips for a successful and cost-effective move thousands of miles away from home:

1. Give Yourself Time to Find a Place to Live

move cross-country united states drive
Image Source: BC Heights

This was, by far, the hardest, most stressful, and most time-consuming thing out of the whole move. I had never looked for an apartment before, going from my parent’s houses to college campus housing, so this was something I was not at all prepared for.

Also, if you’re just getting your first job, you may have to have a guarantor (co-signer) on your lease if you don’t make enough money to meet income requirements.

It is so difficult to try and figure out where to live when you’re not already in the area to look at the neighborhood and the places in person, but I recommend websites like Apartments.com and sometimes even Facebook Marketplace.

Luckily, since COVID, a lot of apartment complexes and realtors have started (and continue to do) virtual/FaceTime tours. A face-to-face tour, rather than a pre-recorded video, provides a prime opportunity to ask questions about not only the apartment and community but also about the town or state you will be living in.

It’s always nice to know the best place to get groceries, the closest ATM, or the cheapest gas in the area beforehand so you aren’t scrambling to figure it out after you get there.

Also, if you’re looking for a roommate, there are always rooms for rent on Craigslist or Facebook. I know that can be kind of a hit or miss, but doing things virtually definitely makes it less of a risk to try and meet a potential new roommate.

2. Overestimate Everything on Your Budget

budget smart finances overestimate
Image Source: Procurement Academy

Not only should you be keeping track of the money you’ll be spending on the move, but you should try to figure out how much money you’ll be making and spending per month to truly figure out your housing budget.

It is hard to see the reality of your finances during a move, and it may not even seem possible for you. But, you can always make it work! After getting my first paycheck, I realized I was going to be making less money than I thought I would, but taking on a gig job made everything a lot more feasible.

Also, locating all of the utilities and things you will need to make your new place home can be very expensive and add up super quickly, so I would recommend a simple Google search to find out the average prices of utilities in the area you’ll be moving to for your budget.

I overestimated everything (utilities, groceries, internet, etc.) to figure out realistically what I would be able to afford in terms of rent, and I’m happy I did because there are so many random things I didn’t even think about purchasing that I was going to need. Also, it’s always a nice surprise to see something cost less than you thought it would.

3. Account for Everything You Have

packing and moving boxes back of suv honda
Image Source: The CarGurus Blog

When I started going through all of my things to figure out what I was going to be able to take with me and what I should instead donate, I realized I own a lot more stuff than I thought I did.

It took a long time and three huge piles of keep, donate, and trash to get through all of the belongings I had gathered in my childhood bedroom since the age of 2. Then, the actual packing process began and I was nervous about whether I would be able to take everything with me in my car.

Whether you’re planning on driving or flying, it’s going to take a lot of planning to pull off the actual move and on-time arrival to your destination. I decided I was going to drive because I had just purchased a new car a few months prior and knew it would be more cost-effective for me to drive than fly.

But, for each person, it could be a different path and that’s all depending on the amount of time you have, whether you have a car, and just how much money you can afford to spend on the actual moving part.

I had somebody come with me, that way we could get more driving done and make the trip much faster. We took a total of four days to travel the 3,000 miles from California to Massachusetts and it definitely would have been faster to fly, but I had my car, belongings, and finances to consider.

There are a lot of things that will play into your moving journey, but doing whatever is going to work best for you is obviously the best choice.

4. Make Your Place Feel Like Home

moving make apartment like home decorate
Image Source: The Spruce

One of the most important things I have done to battle homesickness and ensure I have felt comfortable in the place I live is to put up a ton of decorations. I wanted my apartment to truly feel like home since it would no longer be easy to go back and visit.

While there are always ways to get the furniture you currently own across the country, I knew I didn’t own enough to make it worthwhile to rent something like a U-Haul to drive 3,000 miles.

I decided I would grab some inexpensive essentials from Ikea, and grab the more expensive stuff on Facebook Marketplace. If you’ve never used Marketplace, it’s similar to Craigslist but a lot more safe and reliable since you can always check out the seller’s profile before committing.

I ended up getting a pull-out sofa, matching ottoman, and bed frame for a total of $40. It’s a great way to save money and an even greater way of promoting buying second-hand instead of feeding into consumerism.

Also, it may be best to get cheaper furniture at the beginning if you’re starting fresh because you may decide the place you moved to isn’t the place for you, and then you wouldn’t have wasted money on furniture you only used for a year or so.

The hardest thing, for me, was decorating my apartment after getting all of the furniture since it was so plain. But, an always easy solution is to go to a yard sale or, if you’re creative, make your own art to put on the walls. Command strips and hooks are also an absolute lifesaver to avoid putting holes in walls.

The trick here is just to do everything as creatively and make everything as inexpensive as possible! Do not rule out Pinterest and find ways to decorate yourself instead of opting to buy expensive things.

5. Get Out and Explore the Area

explore your new town move across country neighborhood
Image Source: Niche

While everybody probably knows the most important places to find around you are the grocery store or the least expensive gas station, there are other places you should be sure to locate.

I found the closest place that would give me a cashier’s check (Walmart, surprisingly) and my local nail salon, coffee place, restaurants (fast food included), and outdoor spots.

It is important, especially if you’re moving to a completely new place, to get outside of your living area and truly learn about what the area has to offer. It all depends on what you already like to do in your free time, but finding places to go on a hike or to lounge around a body of water was on my list of essential activities to find.

A simple Google search could help you find some things to do or places to visit, but I have found the easiest way to get recommendations is to ask people who live near you.

Whether that be your coworkers or your neighbors, hearing people’s opinions firsthand shortens the list of places to go but also provides some valuable information that may not be able to be expressed on a Yelp list.

6. Form Connections

making friends forming connections after a move new place
Image Source: Best Colleges

If you’re anything like me and get anxious about going to new places alone, it is also an important step to make some friends in the area if you’re alone. This is still something I am trying to figure out as I go, but I have found it a lot easier to make friends at work than any other way as an adult.

Just try to put yourself out there and form plans with them outside of work, rather than just bonding during work, although that is also important to make the workday more appealing as well!

A lot of people also use apps to meet new people, but I know I’m inconsistent and struggle to form connections without talking to somebody face to face. But, if you’re more of an online or tech-savvy person, then it is a good tool to try out or use! Bumble has a specific BFF mode to put yourself into where you can match with other people who are also looking for friends.

It is also important to form connections to battle homesickness or eventually find a roommate to save money if you don’t already have one.

Even introducing yourself to your neighbors so you know you will have somebody to rely on when you need help opening a jar or when your car will not start can go a long way in making a new place more comfortable.

7. Find Out What Else You Need to Research

to do list notebook bullet journal moving
Image Source: College Info Geek

If you’re bringing a car, look up what it will take for you to transfer your license, registration, insurance, and title to a different state. Some states don’t have a grace period for this and expect you to have it done by the time you move, which is a little ridiculous given how long it can take to make a DMV appointment.

The apartment search is hard enough but then throw in finding a new gym and laundromat, if your apartment doesn’t have one, is additionally difficult.

Essentially, just take note of everything you do weekly outside of your home and work, and then remind yourself that you’ll have to find new places to do all of those essential things wherever you move.

Everyone has different lives, so there is not one checklist somebody can make about everything to do when you are changing your life, but taking account of what you already do is a great first step to making that list yourself.

If you truly have your mindset on moving far away, then don’t let anything deter you from your goal. It just takes a lot of hard work, research, and networking to do this.

After doing it myself, I admire everyone who has ever taken a risk such as this, but it has been very rewarding during the two months I have been living 3,000 miles away from home and I would completely recommend doing it.

I have met a lot of great people while I’ve been here and everyone has such different life experiences that I never would have heard if I had not moved across the country.

It is truly fulfilling to know you are doing things independently, especially after so many people moved back in with their parents following COVID. I fully recommend moving far away and hope this is a helpful guide.

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