how to plan a mess-free cross country move

We moved cross country two times in less than a year. Our first move happened when I was 8.5 months pregnant and 2nd move happened when our baby was 6 months. The moves are both emotionally and physically tiring and you need months to recover from cross-country move (at least it was for me). Below are some of the lessons learned on planning, moving, and settling down in a new place.

Before The Move:

As soon as the move is confirmed, create a to-do list and assign a responsible person under each task. We used post-it notes and wrote the task name, due date, owner name and stick to it on a wall.

Also the tasks are posted top to bottom based on due date. So, the urgent works would be at the top and it goes down if the due date is far from now.

We started this planning 3 weeks before the move and continued to remove the notes as soon as we complete a work. We also talked about the progress at the end of every day.This process helped us finish all the work on time and in the end, almost all of the things went as planned.

Our Move Plan:

My husband moved a couple of weeks before us for early start date of the new job. I had to stay due to my work schedule. My parents flew down earlier than expected and stayed with me after my husband moved. During those few weeks, I sold our 2nd car, packed rest of the house and rented the house before we left to NJ. It was crazy when I think about it. But I’m so glad I did. I was able to sell the car at the target price although it was a little risky in case if the car wouldn’t have got sold.


Packing is what makes the move more painful. Think of it as a project and take one step at a time. Before you even start packing an item, ask yourself the below questions:

  • Is it worth taking this item or not?
  • Have I used this item in the last 3/6/9 months?
  • How much would it cost to replace?

If your answer is no to the above questions, get rid of the item or sell on Facebook Marketplace and move on to the next one. If you need the item, put it in an assigned box (Write down the rooms in each box before you start packing things. For example, kitchen items go under kitchen box. This is called assigned box).

For moving boxes, check out your nearby retain store. Some big retail stores give you the boxes for free (just ask them if they have any extra boxes for packing stuff). If not, you can get some from craigslist or local facebook groups. If you couldn’t find any second hand moving boxes, you can find new ones at U-Haul. The best part is, you can return the unused boxes back at U-Haul after the move.

When packing, make sure you put couple cover/pads around the mattress and other expensive items to avoid damages.

The Cheapest Way to Move:

If you’re looking to save money, moving on our own is the best option. During the 2nd move, my husband drove the truck from NJ to TX while we stayed a few more days, cleaned the house and flew on the day he reached TX. It saved us at least $1000.

Finding The Right Mover:

This is a very important step when you plan the move. Uship is a great place where you can get quotes from many moving companies. Go over their reviews, insurance information, delivery time etc before you select one from the bidding process. The one we found was quite nice except that there were some scratches on the furniture and trash can (I know 😉 ). They broke our laundry sorter and bought a new one when we reported. They also delivered within 2 days (2 days from TX to NJ. Can you believe?).

If Uship doesn’t work for you, I also heard that Amtrak for cross country shipping is another good option.


For movers insurance,  check your old/new renters insurance. Some insurance companies cover the move up to a certain limit.

3 Weeks Before the Move:

Call your utility companies and let them know your termination of service. Make sure you include 1-2 extra days in case if the plan didn’t go as expected. Same with USPS, make sure to forward your mails to the new mailing address. The forwarding process takes place over 10 days time. So you need enough planning to avoid missing important emails.

During The Move:

Late evening/night time loading worked the best of all the times. Because, even if it gets late, you don’t have to worry about other basic requirements such as food etc. Make sure you have sleeping arrangements planned after the movers loaded the truck.

Also, provide specific instructions to the movers on the weight of the box, which boxes should go first etc. depends on the type of the product. Some boxes are lightweight and contain fragile stuff. The movers need to handle it with care and cannot stack anything else on top of it.

Carry on luggage:

More than clothes, I’d recommend carrying important documents and other important stuff with you when you travel. I hear a lot of moving companies losing stuff these days. It’s better to keep the most valuable items with us instead of stuffing all of them in the moving van.

After the move:

Update your new address in back accounts, Amazon and other important accounts.

Settling in the new place:

It kinda goes against what I’d normally prefer. But as soon as you moved into the new place, start unpacking and keep the house ready within a few days. I noticed that the earlier we keep the house in order, the faster we would feel settled.

Back Story:

There were many interesting events happened during the move (especially, when I tried to sell our 2nd car). People didn’t take me seriously although I knew the details about the car. What helped me was feeling and looking confident. I posted on Facebook, Craigslist and keep meeting people until I found the right seller.

Again, our 2nd car was not an expensive one and in case if I didn’t get to sell it to individual buyers, I would have gone to the dealer and sold it myself.

When was your last move (doesn’t have to be cross country) and how did it go?