Moving even a short distance can be stressful. Interstate moving has the potential to be downright overwhelming. With a long-distance move, it’s difficult to make multiple trips, so everything needs to be packed, loaded, and transported in a single journey. That journey could take days, and once you arrive you have to learn the layout, customs, and weather patterns of an all-new place.
But wait … in some ways, that’s like vacationing to a new destination. Only in the end, you get to stay!
With the right planning and mindset, an interstate move can be an exciting and eye-opening adventure for everyone involved. Check out these tips from others who’ve tackled the challenge of multiple long-distance moves with a spirit of discovery and exploration.
Get Psyched for Your Interstate Moving Adventure
Christopher Columbus, Captain Cook, Lewis and Clark, Neil Armstrong. No great explorer hits the road (or the high seas or the atmosphere, as the case may be) without a well-researched plan. Neither should you. Long before you depart, take advantage of a valuable tool that none of them had -- the Internet -- to find everything you need to know about moving out of state. You can learn a lot about your new location, your travel route, and the best interstate moving companies to help you make the trip.
Victoria Lim, a senior manager for a consumer reporting firm, picked up some tricks after making multiple interstate moves both on her own and with her family. She moved from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Tampa, Florida and then to Columbia, Missouri before making her most recent move to Orange County, California with her husband and their young son.
“Before social media, I contacted friends or people who I knew living in those locations for advice on everything from where to live, what to avoid, what the area is known for by both tourists and locals, tips on where to eat, shop, get cars fixed, places of worship, a review of the airport, weather -- those kinds of things,” Lim says. “In the age of the Internet and social media, joining Facebook community groups has helped me get a feel for the community, and Twitter lets me know what kinds of things make news or conversation there.”
Lim, a sports fan, also recommends following local teams at any level. It can be a good way to get to know the community culture and give the whole family something to connect with before you arrive. If you’re a parent, making the move as easy as possible for your kids will make your experience easier as well. Having a team or mascot to cheer for can be fun and welcoming.
Go sight-seeing! Find out how this couple found creative ways to have fun on their cross-country move, including a stop at the Grand Canyon.
Plan the Ultimate Road Trip
Whether your journey takes one day or one week, try to savor the time. Travel routes for long-distance moves can take you past sites and scenery you may not otherwise have a chance to experience. Following some basic road trip survival tips and taking breaks to stop at state or national parks, museums, and roadside attractions will not only help ease the stress, it can also create lasting memories for everyone.
If you have time to spare and a spirit of spontaneity, plot a general course and let road signs, billboards, and curiosity be your guides along the way. Alternatively, you can use resources like AAA, TripAdvisor and Airbnb to create a more structured itinerary. For kids -- and even some adults -- simply staying at a hotel or rental property can be an adventure. Add a swimming pool, whirlpool, or other amenities, and it’s a real vacation!
Time in the car doesn’t have to be a drag either. Avoid the “Are we there yets?” by using car time to listen, learn and engage. Create a moving themed playlist, or one inspired by your new hometown, including songs about the place, bands from the area, and even tunes that just capture its vibe. Listen to that along the way to get excited about your final destination. As you go, apps like Roadside America and Clio – Your Guide to History can not only lead you to interesting sites and attractions nearby, but also teach you about them. Share your adventure with friends and family by posting photos, fun facts, and updates on social media. You might even create your own travel blog, YouTube channel, or hashtag – think #taylorstakeamerica or #martinsonthemove – to document the experience.
Choose Moving Services That Will Reduce Stress, Not Add to It
Working with an experienced interstate moving company can make a long-distance relocation even easier.
Consumers today have a range of moving support options, from full-service providers to basic packing and loading assistance. Hybrid moving solutions are also worth considering. For example, hiring professional packers and loaders while using a portable moving container service like PODS to transport your belongings can take the heavy lifting off your plate and allow you to take your time settling in. If your new home needs any work – like painting, remodeling, assembling and arranging furniture -- you can tackle it freely without having to navigate around boxes. Just keep stuff stowed out of the way in your container until the space is ready. You can also unpack more gradually, taking time in between rooms or projects to explore your new community.
Before choosing a provider, conduct thorough research and carefully weigh your options. Lim advises checking any company’s credentials to make sure they’re licensed, insured, and ranked highly in customer reviews.
Give Yourself Time for a Staycation
The journey doesn’t need to end once you’ve reached your destination. Many explorers of places and ideas have shared this sentiment. Embracing it during an interstate moving journey can enrich the experience, ease stress, and get you off to a positive start in your new home.
If at all possible, try to move in a month or season when you have the least restrictions on time. For example, can you move when the kids are out of school or negotiate an extra week or two before the start date of your new job, so you have time to explore and settle in? You only get a short time to view your hometown with fresh eyes. Try to maintain a sense of curiosity and wonder as long as you can, and make it feel like an extended vacation.
Zach Turner, a medical sales account manager who moved from Houston to Los Angeles and then to Austin, Texas, highly recommends joining Meetups and Facebook groups to find activities once you arrive. “Participate in local events,” he says. “That will help you make new friends quickly.”
Lim also suggests joining a community sports team if you enjoy athletics. “Everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve joined a soccer league,” she said. “Going to the fields, and eventually playing in tournaments locally and within a day’s drive away with the teams, meeting people who have all sorts of interests and live in different parts of the town helped me get to know the area.”
For more tips on planning your big move, see our Ultimate Long-Distance Moving Timeline.
Jean Valerie Dale is a writer and photographer who has made a number of cross-country moves, living and working in the Golden State, the Sunshine State, and the Deep South.