4 Tips for Moving Across Country

Moving, whether near or far, is truly an experience that can be exciting and exhilarating.  Uprooting one’s life and belongings to start someplace new can also be a trying process. In early September, I officially relocated to California to begin a new job post graduate school. Completing my program at Washington University in St. Louis in August, I had been prepping for my move throughout the summer leading up to September.  From locating a place to live, coordinating the shipment of my belongings, to setting myself off on the right foot in my career; organization and strategy were the key tools in my arsenal.  With my relocation, I learned a great deal in planning and coordinating the logistics behind my move to navigating the crazy real estate market that is the San Francisco Bay Area. Below, I have laid out a few tips and advice for my experience that can be used for any move or change, whether they be big cross country moves, or from one neighboring town to another.


Lists bring peace of mind…

Organization was the key to my peace of mind throughout my move.  Lists were the biggest portion of this and they started with organizing my belongings.  For starters, every item that was being moved had a place and a spot on a list.  I generated a list that organized what items were in each box that was being shipped to my new residence.  While the process took countless hours over the span of a few days, it was truly the best decision looking back.

Each box was numbered and that number corresponded to a number on the list. Every item that was placed in a certain box was also listed under that number.  Items in boxes were all coordinated by category/room of the house.  When all of my boxes arrived in California, I had a current list of what was in each box so I could unpack what was crucial first and miscellaneous later.  Unpacking ended up taking a few hours over the course of one weekend.  Looking back, the hours spent packing over days in the midwest made moving in a breeze in California.

Craigslist and PadMapper are your friends.

When I began looking for a place in the Bay Area, I was using a variety of different apps and websites.  Eventually, I narrowed down my search to Craigslist and PadMapper and ended up finding my apartment and roommate on Craigslist.  I began my search remotely in Missouri but then quickly realized that I needed to be out in the Bay Area to find a place.  With the crazy Bay Area real estate market, apartment listings were up in the morning and gone by mid-day.  With my limited budget and time, I flew out to San Francisco and gave myself three days to find a place.  I spent hours and hours late into the night prior to my departure sending out emails with bios of myself in response to postings.

The best advice I can give is to prepare a list of criteria you want out of an apartment, as well as criteria of what you want out of your potential roommate and don’t settle.  By the time I arrived in San Francisco, I had about 10 different viewings set up and began making my rounds.  I eventually found the apartment and roommate I wanted by the last day and signed a lease before flying back to the Midwest to officially move.  Out of all of this I would advise to stay positive and embrace the hustle mentality in getting a space.  Come prepared with a resume, credit report, background check, and character references. Treat your roommate/apartment search like a job search.

Overall, like you would with anything else you come across online, get savvy at filtering out bogus postings on Craigslist.  If the price seems too good to be true, it’s probably not a legitimate posting.  If the post has now photos of the apartment or space, or very few, be weary of that posting.  Lastly, the more throughough the posting is in its description, the better the odds you will have a good viewing and potential roommate.

Spend the time (and possibly money) to find a reputable moving company and/or vehicle transporter.

I definitely had personal lessons learned through this tip.  I shipped my furniture and personal items along with my car to California. Both experiences were stressful teaching moments for me.  As more of a rookie mistake, I booked both my car and furniture transport through two separate moving brokers.  I ended up being very fortunate with the vehicle move and not so lucky with the furniture and personal belonging move.  My car arrived in great condition and within just four days of it’s departure.  My furniture and personal belongings however took nearly four weeks with a few damaged items in the mix.

The best advice I can give is spend the extra time and possibly money in researching and hiring a true moving company rather than working through a broker. Essentially, brokers gather the information regarding your move, distance, quantity of items, estimated weight, and then post them on a board and  bid your “job” out to independent truck drivers and transport companies. Drivers from all over the country bid on your “job” and then it is awarded to the lowest bidder. Brokers serves as the front man who take your deposit for their “service” and in my case, dropped their interaction with me once my move was in the driver or independent companies court.  Looking back, I would have used a larger national company who cost a little more, but would have had more in place to safeguard my belongings.

Enjoy the process.

While the saying may be over used, you only live once.  Moving to a new city, for whatever reason, is a new experience and chapter in your life.  Take the time to enjoy the moment and the process of something new.

Thanks for reading!  I’d love for you all to share your comments and advice on your moves. I can always keep it in mind for the next move!