The time has come—you’re ready for a career pivot, a scenery shift, or a good old-fashioned fresh start.
While your new chapter is sure to be backed with excitement, the reality of moving cross country isn’t quite as simple as the turn of a page. That’s because it can be particularly difficult for middle-income renters, especially those who have only ever moved locally. Plus, it can be hard to find experienced advice—in 2021, only 8% of movers relocated more than 2,000 miles away from their previous homes.1
This guide is here to help. We’ll explore everything you need to know about a cross country move, breaking the process down into three key phases.
We’re here to teach you how to plan for your move, tackle the cross country road trip, and get acquainted with your new, far-flung locale.
Buckle up, movers and shakers—it’s time for a cross-country move.
Part 1: Planning
While moving cross country at the drop of a hat might have been on-brand for you in your early adulthood, you probably have a lot more to consider if you have a steady job, a well-established friend group, or an accumulation of stuff. The planning stage relies more than finding the right cross country moving company or moving services. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the planning phase.
Research the cost of living
Figuring out your cost of living (COL) before you hit the road can help you in two ways:
- If you haven’t picked a destination yet, calculating your COL for multiple cities can help you choose a new place that fits into your income level.
- If you already know where you’re headed, a COL calculation can help you line up an adequately-paying job, narrow down your housing search, or build your transition fund (more on this in the next section).
To calculate COL, consider the following expenses:2
- Education (if applicable)
- Health care
- Additional expenses, like
- Internet access
- Entertainment costs
- Housekeeping and hygiene supplies
Pro-tip: For advice on more specific costs (like clothing, food, and additional expenses), find an online forum of locals in your target city. You may not be able to find the average cost of a loaf of bread in a Google search, but a local can give you an educated ballpark.
Make a plan of attack
Even the best moving company can’t guarantee the moving process goes smoothly and accidents can occur. Planning can be overwhelming. We recommend making your long distance moving plan one step at a time, figuring out each of the following one by one:
- Your moving timeline, including:
- The date you plan to give your two weeks notice at your current job
- A date range for telling family and friends about your move
- Your hard exit date
- Your estimated road trip route
- Your target arrival date
- Your pre-move housekeeping, like
- Canceling your current utilities
- Moving banks, if needed
- Filing change of address forms
- Informing your housing provider of your lease cancellation or non-renewal
- Building a transition fund
A transition fund should account for two major moving cost categories:3
- Estimated moving service costs (e.g., cross country mover, moving boxes, moving container, other packing materials, and moving truck costs)
- A cushion for incidental spending or unexpected expenses
Take note that moving long distance might be costlier as opposed to an interstate move. Also, invest in packing services in case you have fragile valuables.
Find a place to live
Before you start your long distance move, find a place to land once you reach your new home.
- Coliving homes – The future of coliving is finally here.Common coliving homes are private bedrooms in shared suites. All spaces are fully furnished, rent prices are more accessible, utilities and WiFi are included, and we provide all of your household essentials (paper products, dish soap, kitchenware, and more).
- Micro-units – Common micro-units are small studios that typically include a living space, kitchen area, private bathroom, and sleeping area. They’re perfect for people transitioning from roommate life to solitary living.
- Private apartments – Like micro-units, Common private apartments are solo spaces (but you’re more than welcome to share a space with roommates or partners). But they’re not just studios—private apartments sometimes have separate bedrooms, and some units are furnished.
There are a host of benefits to living in a Common home—accessible property services, easy room or unit transfers, and welcoming communities of middle-income renters just like you.
Part 2: Making moves
Once you’re done with the planning phase, it’s time to get moving—pack your stuff, gather your loyal state movers, and hit the road.
Purging and Packing
Packing for a move is a daunting process—to put your mind at ease and become a pro packer, tackle your belongings in a few steps:
- Purge – Moving is an excellent opportunity to downsize. Before you start putting things into boxes, go through your closet, kitchenware, books, and trinkets, tossing or donating things you don’t want to bring.
- Gather supplies – Throughout the planning process, be sure to gather moving supplies. Repurpose storage bins into moving boxes, raid the cardboard recycling at your office, or check out your local thrift store for donated moving supplies.
- Pack piecemeal – Start by packing the non-essentials—items you won’t need until you reach your destination. As you get closer to moving day, progressively pack belongings you have no immediate use for, finishing your packing spree with the items you’ll need on your trip.
Some valuables are just too hard to pack on your own. For large or more fragile belongings, consider hiring packing services.
Assemble your team
While you may opt to purge and pack alone, you might need some help with the heavy lifting—especially if you plan to move with furniture, appliances, or your TV. Here are our pro tips for making the most of your moving team:
- Lock in professionals ASAP – Need to ship your car, hire local movers, find moving resources, or rent a vehicle? Secure these as far in advance as possible to ensure availability and keep your costs down.
- Delegate – Plan which tasks you’ll assign to your team. While you might need to handle fragile collections, family heirlooms, or musical instruments yourself, assign more menial tasks—packing the car, disassembling furniture, and cleaning—to your supporters.
- Incentivize – Budget for a pizza delivery, a couple of bottles of wine, or snacks to reward your helpers for their hard work. Most importantly, don’t forget to tip the movers. How much to tip movers? The answer depends on the hours, distance, number of movers, etc. Tipping them is one way of showing to the professional mover gratitude for a smooth move.
Make the trip
Once you’re packed and ready to roll, it’s time to hit the road—or the skies. If you’re driving to your new home, try your best to:
- Stick to your travel schedule
- Keep your family and friends posted on your whereabouts
- Conserve your cash
Save money during your trip by packing your own snacks, using an app to find the best gas prices, and minimizing hotel costs by staying with friends who may live along the route.
If your new home is just a plane ride (or two) away, remember to:
- Pack a toothbrush and makeup wipes to freshen up throughout the journey
- Dress for comfort and security checkpoint ease
- Bring an emergency phone charger
Trust us—fresh breath and a cleansed face can be a life-changer after a nine-hour flight.
Part 3: Getting settled
You can breathe a sigh of relief when you reach your destination—the hard part’s over, and it’s time to make your new city home.
Set up your living space
Like packing, unpacking can be a major task. We have two big tips for making cross countrying moving more fun:
- Unpack as soon as you arrive. It’s the hardest part, and tackling it first will give you the dopamine boost you need for the next steps.4
- Add some fun to the docket.
We know what you’re thinking—how could moving in possibly be fun? Once your boxes are unpacked, reward yourself:
- Budget for dinner out at a local restaurant to celebrate your arrival.
- Pick up some locally-made artwork or trinkets for home decor.
- Take a soothing bath or pick up a facemask from the local pharmacy.
The sooner you unpack and start to relax in your new space, the sooner it’ll start to feel like home.
Explore and acquaint
Getting to know your new city is one of the most exciting parts of moving cross country. Here are some tips for finding your bearings:
- Learn how to use the public transit system—combine joyriding and sightseeing.
- Peek in a few grocery stores, bodegas, or coffee shops to start finding your favorites.
- Take a free walking tour or a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
- Test-drive your commute—try a few different methods and routes to get acquainted.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to just wander. Keep a running list of restaurants or bars you want to check out, museums you want to explore, or parks that look perfect for your morning jog.
Find your people
Making friends in a new city can be tough. But if you’re brave enough to leave your former home behind and build a new life across the country, you can certainly handle a few conversations with strangers.
Scout out potential friends by:
- Participating in a regular event, like a yoga class, trivia night, or wine tasting
- Asking your current network to set you up with people they know in your new city
- Attending a community event, like a mixer at your apartment complex
One of the biggest advantages of Common living is the easy connection with your neighbors. Our communal spaces are ideal for movie nights, book clubs, and potlucks, and our home communities are full of residents just like you—people thriving and seeking connection, even at home.
Common: Move cross country with confidence
Moving cross country can be a huge transition—but, with the right planning, traveling, and settling strategies, you can find a home anywhere.
That’s what Common is all about—helping you find a home in a new city or your own backyard. With housing available in major cities nationwide, we provide middle-income renters from all walks of life with comfortable housing, top-tier amenities, and vibrant communities.
Whether you’re looking for a fully-furnished, all-inclusive home or a blank canvas, finding a home, making new friends, and loving where you live has never been easier.
- Move.org. State of Moving in 2021: Moving Trends and the Lasting Effects of COVID-19. https://www.move.org/moving-stats-facts/
- Indeed. Cost of Living Definition and Factors to Measure. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/cost-of-living-definition
- Forbes. How to Create a Moving Budget. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/how-to-create-a-moving-budget/
- Psychology Today. The Science of Accomplishing Your Goals. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-truisms-wellness/201610/the-science-accomplishing-your-goals