What to Know About Moving Long Distance

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Moving is one of life’s most exciting and stressful times. The thrill of moving to a new location with opportunities to explore and get to know a new community can be quickly chilled by the logistics of a long-distance move.

Whether your next move is across the country or across the globe, here’s what you need to consider during a long-distance move.

Planning for a long-distance move

Proper planning for a long-distance move is the difference between a relatively seamless transition and a total nightmare. It doesn’t matter if you are leaving a small rental property or a luxury home.

Here’s how to plan so your long-distance move goes smoothly. 

Manage your moving timeline

Begin at the end: When do you need to be settled in your new home? Pinpoint that date and then build out a calendar of the major tasks to complete before you can hit the road.

Start by creating a personalized move checklist that includes prioritized tasks (with a timeline for completion).

Long Distance Moving

If you’re a homeowner, make a plan for the home you’re leaving. You can sell it yourself or list it with a realtor. Finding a great realtor can take time,  so keep that in mind as you set up your move timeline. If you are moving out of state as part of a divorce and need to calculate a house buyout, a realtor can help with this, too.

Are you moving for a job? Your new company may be able to help with locating housing and managing the moving process. Check-in with them to see what assistance they offer.

Should you hire long-distance movers?

You’ll need to decide whether to hire a long-distance moving company or to move yourself. The main advantage in hiring a long-distance mover is their experience with complicated logistics. Regardless of the size of your house, a long-distance move is tricky. 

The easiest part is deciding which size van to rent. After that, consider:

  • What would you do if your moving van broke down?
  • How will you move your car?
  • How do you pack for long distances?
  • How many packing supplies do you need?
  • If a van seats two and you have a family of four, how will you move everyone?

And that’s just the beginning. Long-distance movers have the experience and equipment to safely, efficiently, and professionally pack and move your belongings. They also offer various service levels, from packing everything you own and moving it for you to simply loading boxes and furniture into their truck and delivering them to your new home.

Moving yourself can save you money, but in the end, you may find that hiring a long-distance moving company is worth it. Leave plenty of time to get quotes from at least three long-distance movers.

Inventory your stuff

You never know how much stuff you have until it’s time to make a long-distance move. Chances are good; you have way more than you think, so make a detailed assessment of what you’ll take, what you’ll donate or sell, and what needs to head to the trash. 

Now’s a good time to really pare down and decide what’s essential. Consider what you use, what’s sentimentally irreplaceable, and what “sparks joy.” Everything else should find a home elsewhere. 

If you are packing your own belongings:

  • Set up a schedule for packing
  • Gather packing supplies (bubble wrap, padding, moving boxes, etc.)
  • Follow your packing schedule
  • Label boxes clearly (i.e., “open first,” kitchen, kid’s bedroom, etc.)
  • Enlist help (friends and family)

Set aside a box of items you will need on the road. If you are driving over multiple days, make sure each family member has what they need to be comfortable. This includes any prescriptions or medical supplies they might need.

Take care of pets

Our pets are part of the family, and they need long-distance move prep, too. Please make sure all of their shots are up-to-date and have the proper gear they need for moving (e.g., crates, travel food and water bowls, etc.) well before you move.

Some animals require sedation to move — leave time to fill that prescription so your beloved pets can be comfortable.

Cats and dogs should also have a properly fitted collar with identification on it at all times. If you have not already, consider chipping your pets to be returned to you if they run away and lose that collar.

Make sure you plan for plenty of rest stops so that your animals can take breaks if they need them. 

Long-distance move paperwork

As with almost every major transition in life, a long-distance move comes with considerable paperwork. 

Before the move 

Before the move, you’ll handle the following paperwork:

  • Set up utility shut-off dates (and schedule essential utilities for your destination)
  • Cancel delivery services (food kits, newspapers, etc.)
  • Request school records
  • Request health records
  • Empty and cancel safe deposit boxes
  • Cancel local gym memberships and classes

Another major piece of paperwork involves documentation for taxes. Both selling and buying a home come with tax implications.

For example, if you sell a home in Texas and benefit from capital gains, immediately investing that growth in another house is known as a 1031 exchange. This type of transaction — reinvesting capital gains into a similar property instantly — can save you money at tax time, but only if you have proper documentation. 

Don’t forget to have your mail forwarded to your new address. Mail forwarding is a service provided by the USPS for one year. It can forward any critical mail that slips through the cracks as you move.

During the move

As you travel to your destination, keep the professional mover’s estimate, bill of lading, and inventory with you. 

You’ll also keep essential papers and documents with you on the move. These include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Death certificates or divorce papers (plus custody agreements where applicable)
  • Passport
  • Health insurance cards
  • Proof of car insurance
  • Mortgage documents 

Have a system for keeping track of all receipts during the move, as many of these expenses are tax-deductible.

After you arrive

No matter where you go, paperwork follows you. Once you arrive, set up utilities, and transfer your driver’s license, car registration, and insurance to your new home address. Most schools require evidence of residence to enroll students, so a driver’s license is critical.

With a new license and utility bill, you can also register to vote, get a library card, and join a local gym. You’ll also need to find doctors and set up new healthcare.  

Don’t forget to change addresses for: 

  • Credit cards
  • Life insurance
  • Investment accounts

Send copies of your moving receipts to your accountant, or create a file for tax purposes later.

Enjoying your long-distance move

When moving day arrives, proper planning means you should be able to wake the family up, have breakfast, and hit the road.

You’ve picked a tremendous long-distance moving company, and they’ve just hit the road. You’ve packed bags and supplies for everyone, and your route is planned and plugged into your navigation system.  

With all your hard work, it’s time to enjoy the trip to your new home.

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About kristenherhold

Kristen is the PR Editor of Clever Real Estate, the nation's leading real estate education platform for home buyers, sellers, and investors. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cheering on the Denver Broncos and Missouri Tigers.