Tips for Moving Across the Country

In the past 11 months, my husband Tommy and I have not only moved across the country once but we have actually done it twice.

A little background…August of 2018 we decided we wanted to experience something new after living in Wisconsin since birth. So we picked up our lives less than 20 days after our wedding and moved to Denver, Colorado (if you want to read more about why we made this decision click here).

Now here we are, not even a year later and we have made our way back to Wisconsin. You never realize how much you appreciate something until you don’t have it anymore. For us, that was family. It’s not like we lost our family, but they were no longer a “hop in the car for an hour drive away” from them anymore. If moving to Colorado taught us anything it’s that family is truly the most important thing to us. Having a massive support system only a phone call away is one of the most comforting feelings to have.

We do NOT regret moving by any means. We met a ton of amazing people, built up already strong friendships, and had the experience of a lifetime. Starting our married lives together in a completely new state and having to figure everything out on our own was a great test for our marriage. It is something that I personally think all couples should try (maybe not with as quick a turnaround as us ha-ha), but it was an amazing experience!

Now, back to the moving part of my story. I don’t consider myself an expert, BUT I have learned from experience (in 11 months) some cross-country moving tips that I want to share with you guys!

Our first move from Wisconsin to Colorado we did all on our own. We rented a 26-foot U-Haul, packed up our place, loaded the trailer, and drove our car/U-Haul by ourselves. Well, we ended up having a horrible turn of events i.e. Tommy’s car broke down in the middle of Iowa and we ended up having to have his car towed to Nebraska and then shipped to Denver. We went the U-Haul way on the way out because we wanted to save money, and we didn’t have that much stuff. I was leasing my car at the time and the lease was up, so that gave us only one car to deal with. Most of our furniture we either gave away or donated because it was Tommy’s from college.

Going the U-Haul route is probably the most cost effective if you’re looking to make a move cross-country. However for us, we ended up spending WAY more than we had planned because of the car issues we had on the way out.

Fast forward to this year. We have accumulated a TON of big/bulky furniture as well as way more “things” so I knew there was no way in heck Tommy and I would be able to move and load a trailer by ourselves. So here is what we did.

1. Rented a 28’ trailer from U-Pack. This company drops off a trailer at your house based on whatever amount of square footage space that you need. You then load everything in the trailer on your own, call them when you’re done loading, and they come and pick it up. They then drive it across the country in three to five business days and drop it off at your chosen location. They also give you a tracking number so you’re able to track the trailer location at all times.

Tommy and I had no idea how much space we needed so we ended up going with the biggest size they had (28’). The company will give you a refund for any unused space. We ended up having 12’ of unused space, so our refund was based on 12 square feet. Another perk to this company is that you don’t have to be present in order for them to pick it up. We moved right around the July 4th holiday, which meant the company was crazy busy. We left Denver on July 2nd and they picked up our trailer the night of the 3rd. The trailers have deadbolt locks, so you can lock up when you’re done and take off knowing your belongings are secure.  ABF employees have a key to unlock it, but no one else does – so you don’t have to worry about that!

Once the trailer is near the city where you’re having it delivered, they will call you to schedule a time to drop it off and someone over the age of 18 will need to be there to sign. If you’re not available, you can recruit anyone to sign. You will then have three days to unload the trailer. Weekends do not count as days, so it may be smart to have them drop it off on a Friday so you will have Friday – Tuesday to unload it. Once it’s unloaded they come and pick it up and that’s it! I would recommend this company to anyone!

  • Costs: The original cost was $3,054 for the 28’ U-Pack trailer but our refund for unused space brought the cost down to $2,388. For reference, last year we paid $1,325 for the U-Haul, $1,357 for the towing company and shipping company, and then $2,327 to fix the issue on Tommy’s car. So comparing last year to this year, we saved over $2,500.

2. Hired Movers to load the trailer. We did some research and found a moving company in the Denver area that had good reviews so we decided to go with them. With all of the heavy furniture we accumulated over the past year of living in Denver, I knew that I wouldn’t be of much help to Tommy. They gave use two options, a fixed rate for three men for five hours or an hourly rate. The fixed rate was RIDICULOUSLY expensive, and I knew it wouldn’t take five hours, so we went with the hourly rate. The three men were $150 an hour (total) and it took them exactly three hours, so that ended up costing $450. This was one of the BEST things we did and something I would recommend to anyone. However, although the company had good reviews, they did NOT pack very well and ended up breaking thing and destroying our couch. I recommend watching them or monitoring how they’re packing to ensure they’re doing it good. Also, to make the process go by smoothly and quickly, we pre-packed a lot of stuff – read on to see what we did!

3. Taped/Wrapped/Packed up as much as possible. We packed as much as we possibly could in boxes so that it would be easier to move instead of having random stuff just thrown around – I even put small boxes inside boxes ha-ha! We wrapped up our couch, cushions, mattresses, picture frames, mirrors, headboards, and basically everything that we thought was at risk of becoming damaged. The moving company could have done this for us, but I knew that would waste time. Tommy and I could easily do this ourselves rather then paying movers $150 an hour to do it. Below are the supplies we used:

  1. Dish Foam – this came in hand for packing up plates, bowls, cups, etc. into boxes
  2. Bubble Cushion – we used this for wrapping up mirrors, breakable things, TV’s, etc.
  3. Shipping Packaging Tape – I didn’t realize there was such a difference in tape but there is, so make sure you get the packing kind!
  4. Ready Pack Tapeless Boxes – These are HUGE because wasting your tape on both sides of the boxes is annoying. These just fold together and are very secure. You can tape it up a little if you want to be sure. They also have handles which is CRUCIAL.
  5. Queen Mattress Plastic Covers – These come in all sizes, so get whatever you need for your bed; they’re AMAZING. All you do is slide the mattress right in and tape it up! We actually also used one of these for our Peloton bike.
  6. Couch Covers – These are also amazing, and like the mattress cover, you just slide the couch or loveseat right in and tape up. Make sure to take the cushions off first and wrap those separately, as it will be easier to move the couch.
  7. Plastic Shrink Wrap – This stuff is AWESOME! No tape is needed and all you do is literally wrap stuff up, tear it off and stick it. It will protect your items from dirt or scuff marks.

4. Moved things into the garage. This makes the moving process go much faster, so if you hire a moving company, it will save you lots of $$$. We carried and hauled as many boxes/furniture down as we could, starting five days before the movers were scheduled to arrive. Because we lived in a four story townhouse, it would’ve taken the movers extra time going down all those flights of stairs.

5. Tackled one room/area at a time. Each day we focused on two-three rooms or areas to pack up, and we could tackle those entirely in one day. For example, one day we did the guest bedroom and bathroom and the next day we did our closets and the pantry. This will help you stay focused and get everything done before the movers come.

Last but not least… this may be the most important one…

6. Kept our important stuff with us. KEEP YOUR VALUABLES WITH YOU, NOT on the trailer. Think of things like social security cards, passports, computers, tax return documents, and any other sentimental things. We even brought our Peloton screen and TV with us in our car. There is always a slim chance that something could happen, like maybe the trailer bursting up in flames. Losing all of your extremely important stuff would just add additional stress to your already stressful move. We had backpacks and suitcases that stayed in our cars to ensure those important things were always with us.

Moving cross country is an adventure and it all comes down to your outlook on it. Yes it’s a pain in the butt and moving sucks no matter what, but if you flip your mindset around to make it a fun experience then the whole process will go smoothly, trust me! After moving across the country twice in 11 months, I don’t care to EVER do it again but we did find our two big moves to be quite adventurous!

If you have any other specific questions on how we did things, (what worked, what didn’t) please ask! I’m always here to help 🙂

Until next time.

Peace & Love,

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