A long-distance move, cross-country or otherwise, can be daunting. Once you’ve made the decision to relocate, you need to get down to logistics. And if you own more stuff than you can carry, you need to figure out what is worth moving.
Your first consideration will probably be who is going to pay for your move. If that’s your employer, find out if the moving allowance has a ceiling or any restrictions. You can get moving companies to give you bids. Is professional packing included in your moving package or do you need to pack yourself? If your employer is willing to pay to pack and move all your stuff, you’re lucky.
But for everyone else, the cost of a move can be substantial. So you want to consider what’s worth taking with you and what you should jettison before you head off to greener pastures.
Consider Your Options
If you don’t have the luxury of an employer footing the bill, you’re going to have to get real about what you want to take with you. In this event, your first step is to consider how you want to move.
For starters, you have three options:
1. Enlist professional services — including everything from packing up and delivering your stuff to setting up in your new home; or
2. Do-it-yourself; or
3. Some combination of the above.
Online calculators can give you a ballpark figure to help with your planning.
Making the Choice
If you have more money than time, you may want to use a full-service moving company. The weight of your items and the distance you’re moving will determine the expense. Also, costs are higher in some seasons due to demand. If doing it yourself is not an option for you, consider very carefully how much of your stuff you should pay someone to pack and haul for you. Even if you’re doing it yourself, it may not make sense to take everything. We’ll get to those considerations below, but having an estimate based on weight will help you clarify the value of your moving your treadmill, as an example.
How Much Time Do You Have?
Another consideration for your planning is your time. Whatever option you’re considering, remember that you need to allow time for scheduling with a professional, or ensuring that a rental truck or trailer, or pod, is available if that’s your choice. Packing takes time. Even getting rid of your stuff can take time and might even cost you money if you can’t sell it or give it away. Make a realistic schedule.
What About Pets?
OK, they’re not “stuff.” But you need to consider Fido or Fluffy (or other critters) in your moving plans. If you’re not driving, can your pet accompany you on your flight or might you use a shipping service? If you’re driving, allow extra time and remember to look for lodging that allows pets.
If you have children, your move is going to be even more complicated. Not only do you need to get them to your new home, but they’ll need something to keep them entertained on your journey, whether you’re flying or driving. If your children are young, consider how much space essentials will take, such as safety seats and strollers. And keep children’s feelings in mind when you’re planning what to keep and what to leave.
Deciding what to do about vehicles, if you have them, can be a big deal. Will you have the same need for vehicles in your new home? Are they financed and in good shape or paid for and falling apart? If your plans won’t allow you, a friend or family member to drive or tow one or more vehicles, what will it cost to ship it, and is it worth it? If you’re going to sell a car and you still have a loan, you need to consider if you can get enough to pay off the loan or will need extra money for that purpose.
So, you’ve done your planning, made a schedule and figured your budget. Now it’s time to make the tough decisions about what to take and what to let go.
By now you should have a pretty good idea of the cost of moving your possessions — whether in weight if you’re using a professional or space if you plan to pack it up in a pod, truck, trailer or your car.
If everything you have won’t fit, or you need to cut your moving expense, here are some suggestions:
1. Is it an heirloom or priceless to you? Irreplaceable mementos, family photos, and artwork are in this category. Even if you’re paring down to essentials, you may have some stuff you just can’t let go. Consider shipping them to your new address if you’re traveling light and not using a moving service or renting a truck or trailer.
2. Do you need it? Why take stuff you don’t even use? Maybe you can sell it and use the money to help finance your move.
3. What about books, CDs, and videos? Consider using relatively low-cost educational rates and mailing them to your new address.
4. Do you really need to move 32 boxes of kitchen items? Consider packing a box with essentials that you need to set up housekeeping, get rid of the rest and start over at your new home, adding items as you need them.
5. Furniture takes a lot of space. And it’s a pain to load and unload. Consider selling or donating it and replacing with new or used items when you get to your destination.
6. Beds and bedding are important, especially if you like your bed. Consider the cost of moving your beds versus replacement cost and plan accordingly. If you’re going to have the same size beds, you may want to keep your sheets and other bedding.
7. Patio furniture, lawn care equipment, and tools take space, and you may not even need them where you’re going. Consider their age and replacement cost if you think you need them.
Once you’ve made the decision about your stuff, let it go! A long distance move can be traumatic, but it can also be exciting. Plan to make the move as efficiently and affordably as possible and get ready to enjoy your new home!