Top 5 Things I’d Do Differently if I Moved Across the Country Again

Moving is incredibly stressful, and it’s even more stressful as a student with limited resources. Here are a few lessons learned from moving cross-country that will make the process much smoother for you.

View apartments in person or outsource that task

Finding an apartment to rent remotely is challenging.  Without being physically present, it is difficult to get a feel for the neighborhood and the quality of the building you’re looking at moving into.  Not to mention, viewing an apartment in person before signing the lease will give you a better idea of the size and whether or not you’ll get along with the renters next door.

It will be worth your time and money to schedule a weekend to view apartments before signing a lease. Staying at a friend’s house or staying in a hotel while you tour 10-15 strong contenders will give you more peace of mind than making a deal over email.

Before arrival, seek assistance through Task Rabbit to have someone look around the properties beforehand. This isn’t something that I did, and I wish I’d known about it! A good friend of mine was able to ‘tour’ ten apartments before even arriving in the city he was transferring to. He received pictures, information, and a report on the rental agency after each showing based on a series of questions he required his Task Rabbit friend to complete.

This helped him decide where to put a deposit down, and he was able to secure a highly competitive spot before arriving in the city.

Hire a moving company

With any move, a high-quality moving company can make or break your experience.  However, when it comes to a cross-country move, the importance of picking the right moving company is even more crucial. When hiring movers, make sure they meet the following requirements:


A high-quality moving company will do a thorough walk-through of your home, taking inventory of everything you plan to take with you.  From there, they will be able to provide you with an accurate and fair price.


Be sure you are not required to pay a large deposit up front.  Payment should be due upon safe delivery of all your items.


When doing your research, make sure the moving company you choose has plenty of reviews from happy customers.  If you can’t find reviews, ask the company for their list of references and do a thorough check yourself before moving forward.

Avoid downsizing too much

While it might make sense to sell things you don’t need, have two of, or just don’t love anymore, it’s expensive to start from scratch in a new location. Replacing necessary pieces of furniture, kitchen appliances, etc. is expensive, and the costs will add up quickly. Putting your money into moving the objects you already have is your best bet for a budget-friendly move.

Sell the car

New or old, a cross-country move will be hard on your vehicle.  The trip from California to Virginia alone is nearly 3,000 miles, which will significantly decrease your car’s value.  Not to mention, once you arrive you will need to funnel money into having your plates and registration updated.

The easier option and often more cost-effective in the long run is to sell your car in your current city, fly across the country and have a used car waiting for you when you arrive.  This will also minimize the amount of time dedicated to your move.

Next, you’ll want to gather all your automobile’s paperwork including the title, any maintenance records, a bill of sale, a release of liability and warranty documents.  From there, you’ll want to invest in making the car look as new as possible, getting it washed and vacuuming the interior.  If you are posting the vehicle yourself, take pictures from every angle of the car before making your post.  If you are trading your car into a company like Carmax, pictures won’t be necessary and you can simply drive the car to their nearest location for them to take a look and give you a price.

Take time upon arrival

All moves are exhausting and might steal some of the energy or excitement you felt going into the process.  First and foremost, give yourself some time to rest when everything has arrived and you’re finally in your new place. Then, you can start thinking about unpacking and setting up your new space.  Starting at a new school, especially one in a different time zone, won’t leave you much time to do this later on.

Once you’re set up, take a few days to explore your new city.  Find a coffee shop you enjoy, locate your nearest grocery store and talk to people in your community to find out what’s going on around town.  If you take a few days to do these tasks before jumping into your new role, you’ll thank yourself later.