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How to Move Across the Country: Preparation

Updated on December 21, 2009

Things to consider before you move across the country

Last January I moved from Oregon to North Carolina. What a trip it's been! Moving across the country takes a lot of planning, research, and commitment but it can definitely be worth it as long as you keep in mind what it is you're getting into. I'd just like to take some time outlining what you may want to keep in mind as you plan your big move.

Do you have a place to live?

I'm guessing most people that plan a cross-country move will have a place to live before they start anything else. However, you may know exactly where you want to go without having a place to call home yet. In my case, I had applied and been accepted to a college in North Carolina, but I'm a little too old to live in a dorm, and can't afford to buy a house. For me, an apartment was the best option. It may be a little different for you. However, no matter what you are looking for you may start your search in the same place(s).

Here's some ideas:

  • The classifieds in the local newspaper - getting a newspaper subscription is helpful for a number of reasons, but you may be able to check the classifieds online for free.
  • Local real estate agencies - note that when I say local, I mean local to the area to which you are moving.
  • Craigslist (use with care - anything or anyone requiring upfront payment or too much information should be avoided!)
  • For college students - your college may have a list of local rental companies or a forum for those needing subleasers. I would generally consider this one of my top resources.

What to do when you move from here...
What to do when you move from here... here? here?

Do you have a job?

If you are not moving for work, you need to consider this right away. It is absolutely possible to move without getting a job beforehand (I've done it twice) but it isn't for everyone, and especially with the current state of the economy, may end up being a scary situation. Be careful! It's best to start job hunting months before you make the move. The classifieds will also help you here, as will the local college if you're a college student. Craigslist will vary in effectiveness and usage depending on your location, and as always, be careful when using it!

Some other resources are:

  • Linkedin
  • Your network of friends, coworkers, family etc. Twitter's becoming a fairly good tool for networking lately.

Now, despite all your careful planning and searching, you may not have a job before you move. As I said above, that can be scary but with some planning ahead you will be fine! Make sure to save as much money as possible before your move. You will probably need more than you think for the move itself. In addition, try to save back a couple month's pay. Pay off your debts before you move - you don't want to be paying credit card bills without a steady paycheck! You may also want to consider getting all of your routine doctor's appointments done while you still have health insurance.

When you reach your destination make finding a job your priority. In the meantime, be very frugal and always consider how much money you may need down the road. Don't worry, moving jobless can be done. You may in fact get lucky and find work immediately. More likely than not you will spend some time searching, but it's important to be levelheaded and persistent.

Things to do before you move

  • Make sure you know where all your important information (birth certificate, social security card, etc.) are before you pack anything up. You'll want to have these close at hand when you get a new driver's license or ID in your new state.
  • Decide whether or not you want to keep your bank. If not, research banks and if possible apply for an account before you move. In my case, I decided to stick with Wells Fargo but local bank accounts will make establishing residency easier.
  • This goes without saying, but remember to notify your current employer that you will be moving. Make sure you give HR your new address so they can forward your W-2 if need be. Also remember to notify: USPS, doctors, friends, family, and anyone else that may need to contact you. Make sure to notify the DMV depending on your state - some states will require you to file a change of address within 90 days but it does vary.

Moving across the country is a time consuming, expensive process, and it can be even worse when you are moving without a job or a clear plan. The key is to be organized and flexible. You may need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. At any rate, good luck on your move and I hope you found this helpful!

Up next: How and what to pack and ways to move your stuff.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Thank you. we are a family of 5 form a small town 9 home of State Farm ) Bloomington/Normal ,Il we are moving to Charlotte . With our boys being in such a close, family oriented community, we are scared stiff. These tips are very helpful.

    • cheapmoving profile image

      David Johnson 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      Thanks for the tips! Definitely make sure you know where all your important, personal stuff is before, during, and after your move. Clearly mark the contents of each box on the outside so you don't have to go digging through tons of packed boxes looking for that one thing you need. Organization and planning are very crucial to a successful move!

    • profile image


      7 years ago


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      None of this applies if you have bad credit.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Moving across country I found this very helpful thanks

    • Carilaya profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from North Carolina

      I hope moving gets easier! I've only moved a few times and it was not at all fun.

    • moanalisa profile image


      9 years ago

      I've moved too many times to count. Nice hub! Thank you for sharing it!


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