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How to Stay Organized on a Cross-Country Move

Any move has the potential for stress, but a cross-country move much more so. There is no practical option to take things slow and move in chunks, or even bring the most important items to your new place in a few loads. However, the good news is that there are numerous things you can do to remain organized on a cross-country move and make the experience as stress-free as possible.

If you’re looking for a guide on how to stay organized, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for our best tips for making this process as painless as possible.

Decluttering always comes first. Image: Kai Pilger

Start organizing early

The most important part of organizing for your cross-country move is to start planning as soon as you can. The moment you realize that you will be moving a long distance, it’s time to start evaluating what items you actually need to keep. It goes without saying that the fewer items you need to move, the less time and effort it will take.

Go through everything in your home categorically, from clothing to kitchenware to furniture. Evaluate what you actually need and then divide everything else into piles to sell or donate. If you start this early enough, you can tackle a different category each weekend and have time to spare.

Once you’ve decluttered, start making a master to-do list with everything that needs to be done before you go. Include things such updating your address with banks and other accounts, updating your voter registration, finding a new doctor and registering your kids for school. Include when each task must be done, as well as who is responsible for it.

pre-move prep

Take care of as much as possible ahead of time. Image: Twelve Stones Designs

Start crossing off tasks as soon as possible

After you have your to-do list in place, start checking off tasks. In many cases, you can cancel your utilities in your old city and set up the new ones before you move. You can also set up a forwarding address with the USPS in a matter of minutes online.

When in doubt, research. If you’re unsure if a task can be tackled ahead of time, ask the internet or a trusted friend. The key here is to shorten your to-do list as much as possible so that you have less to do while going through the hassle of unpacking your new home.


It’s crucial to stay organized while packing. Image: Rawpixel

Pack wisely

As with any move, keep track of which items you should pack last and open first. Ideally, you’ll have one or two boxes labeled “pack last, open first.” These will have essentials like toilet paper, scissors, tape, markers, pens, paper, paper plates and anything else you will need while getting organized.

As for the rest of your items, pack in an organized fashion. As you pack, think about which items belong to which room of your new house and label the boxes accordingly. To make your life even easier, try color-coding each room; this way, you can use colored stickers on your boxes and tell at a glance which box belongs to which room.

When packing, keep in mind which items should always stay with you. This includes all of your important documents and valuables, medications and the clothes you will need immediately before, during and after the move. Put these items to the side or in your car on moving day, so the movers don’t accidentally take them.

cross-country move

Accept help where you can. Image: Jacob Talbot

Reach out for help

Moving cross-country is a huge task. If possible, try to get a friend, family member or significant other to help you. In addition to splitting up the items on your to-do list, see if one of you can go ahead to the new house while the other stays behind.

For this to work, wait until nearly everything is packed. One person can then head to the new home to take care of cleaning and other preliminary tasks. This way, you can guarantee that one person will be at the old home when the movers pack it up, yet someone will also be at the new place by the time the movers arrive. This allows for some breathing room, as the person who stayed behind doesn’t need to rush to beat the movers.

Have we missed any important tips for a cross-country move? What would you add to this list? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

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