Employee Guest Post: 8 Tips for a Cross-Country Move

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Although my co-workers will probably disagree, I am one of the world’s biggest procrastinators. When it comes to planning ahead and being prepared I could probably take the gold medal. So naturally, you’d think that after moving to Houston in the spring of 2014, I should have learned my lesson and been totally prepared and ready for the move back to Minnesota in the spring of 2015. Wrong. I was not. At all. I swore up and down that I had a month worth of time left when I was on my way to get the moving truck that I didn’t even reserve until 3 days before I needed it.

The most common questions I hear in my work day are usually along the lines of: “Where are the best places to eat around here?”, “How close is public transportation?”, and my favorite one to answer: “I’m moving from ________, do you have any tips on how to make the move easier?”. The answer is “YES! Yes I do!” But do as I say. Not as I did… twice.

Moving across the country is easy if you have all your p’s and q’s in a row. The most common thing I hear when it comes to people moving from out of state is that their employer has only given them 30-60 or whatnot days’ notice that they will be moving to Minneapolis. Can you say #STRESSFUL?

With such short notice, it’s easy to get frazzled and realize all the things that need to be done. But of course, this revelation almost always happens when you are lying in bed at 2 a.m. and now all of a sudden you are a super human and need to pack all your belongings, balance the checkbooks you forgot about 6 years ago, and while you’re at it, you might as well clean the freezer out with a toothbrush and some 409. But let’s be real here – you’re not going to do any of those things. Instead, you’re going to lay there staring up at the ceiling, panicking.

Give yourself plenty of time

There is no humanly force on the planet that can make everything go perfectly. It’s kind of like finding the perfect tree for the Holidays; it’s just not going to happen. But you can definitely make the drive a lot easier if you do one thing and one thing only: Plan ahead.

First, figure out your projected move date and plan to be at your destination at least 3-5 days before you need to be. Trust me on this one. Both times I’ve moved from one end of the United States to the other, I arrived at my destination a day before I started my new job and it was a STRUGGLE. There’s nothing worse than waking up for a new job after traveling in a vehicle for two days and you can’t find any of your underwear because it’s lost in a sea of boxes that you forgot to label the night before you left because: “I’ll remember which box it’s in!”

No. Stop lying to yourself. You won’t remember which box anything is in. And now you’re late for your first day and you still can’t find your underwear – but what you have found is your favorite jeans from high school and an assortment of bathroom toiletries. Which leads me to my next (but small) piece of advice.

Label your boxes by priority

Even though you keep losing the sharpie, find a way to label your boxes. Half way through packing my things to move back to Minnesota, I convinced myself that I didn’t need to re-open the box I sealed my precious sharpie in. Apparently I thought would remember what was in which box – wrong again.

Believe me when I say that when you arrive, all the boxes will all of a sudden be the same size, shape, color, and weight. You’ll frantically try to find your things and tear through boxes of blankets, pillows, more blankets, some shoes you thought you lost four year ago, and toilet paper…. (Who even packs toilet paper?).

Defeated, you’ll end up in an avalanche of stuff you didn’t even need to bring and it will take you five times as long to actually get organized and ready to take over the world (I mean not literally, but you’ll feel that way if you just label your freaking boxes!).

Mentally prepare for (what will seem like) the longest drive ever

It’s not easy to sit in a moving truck for hours on end. Especially when you have to move from coast to coast (JK Minnesota doesn’t even have a coast #nocoast). Google map how long of a drive it is, then map it again, and then add another 5-6 hours on to that time because you’re in a huge moving truck that accelerates excruciatingly slow and requires you to fill up every 2-3 hours.

Wear something comfortable that you can sit in without compromising the capacity of your bladder. You are already going to have to stop for gas a billion times, so try not to wear pants that make you have to stop for a potty break every hour. Also, layer. A blanket in the cab of the truck is the most annoying thing to have to maneuver around every single time stopping becomes necessary. Somewhere in Kansas, I tried to step down from the truck and somehow a blanket was wrapped around my leg. I never thought I would know what the door handle of a Budget moving truck tastes like, but I do, and it sucks.

Pack a small bag that is easy to get in and out of that has all the essentials in it: chapstick, mouth wash, toothbrush, some more underwear, socks, A PHONE CHARGER and a change or two of clothes. You’re going to be driving through Podunk-nowhere, so you’re probably still going to be the best dressed cat around. Pack lightly and only what you need. Everything else can go in the truck.

My best advice for the drive: download Spotify and make all your playlists available offline. You’re going to be driving through some of the most rural areas of the country and your new best friends are going to be fields of corn and maybe the oil rig back at mile marker 36 that you’ve decided to name Thomas. You’re going to want to listen to music and you probably won’t have service. Pro tip: Don’t force yourself to settle for the radio, it is not an option.

Be financially prepared

I don’t care how many times you check gas prices and try to budget for how much this trip is going to cost you. It will 100% absolutely cost you more than you think it will. That’s all I have to say about that.

Compare the costs of your moving truck

Moving truck companies will always claim to have the lowest prices all the time and blah blah blah. It’s a load of bologna. Moving truck companies adjust their rates based upon their inventory in the area you are traveling to. So for example: I was moving to Minneapolis from Houston in March – high peak moving season no matter where you are in the country. So I just couldn’t wrap my head around why Uhaul wanted to charge me $550.00 for a truck, but Budget was only asking $200.00. Penske wasn’t even in the picture at $1,000.00 for a truck so I won’t even factor that in. Remember that I waited until 3 days before my move to even reserve a truck? Lucky for me, I stumbled across a travel blog that gave me the holy grail of answers to this question I just didn’t understand. You pay to move the company’s inventory and if you take a chance and wait as long as you can, your rate will definitely be lower. Talk about cost efficient labor! Touché moving truck companies. Touché.

Do your research and look at all the different companies and compare rates on different dates. If you’ve given yourself time like I’ve suggested, you’ll have plenty of wiggle room to play around with the dates you need the truck and get the best rate.

Check the weather (more than once)

If by some chance you are going to travel during the winter (if you’re moving to Minnesota, basically any time it’s not June, July or August) check the weather every day. And if there is a chance of snow, wait it out. I’m a big fan of haunted houses and rollercoasters – but driving a moving truck that is pulling a dolly with a car on it in the worst ice storm of the year, is not something I suggest anyone try and do. Do yourself (and your anxiety) a favor. Check the freaking weather.

Treat yourself to a nice hotel

It’s normal to want to cut many financial corners as possible when moving, I totally understand. But if you’re going to spend the night in a hotel (I’ve heard some people just sleep in the truck at a rest stop and NOOO thank you) I highly suggest treating yourself to a nice, comfy, and clean hotel. On my way down to Houston, my partner decided that on our first night we would stay in BFE Missouri in a Motel 6 – I decided sleeping on top of all the covers and freezing my behind off was a significantly better idea than catching who knows what. Needless to say, that will never happen again. Be good to yourself and sleep somewhere that you’ll get a good night’s rest. You’ll thank me in the morning.

Look outside

There’s nothing more exciting on the drive than realizing you’re only a few hours away, and if you’re me, you’re running on 2 hours of sleep and way too much burnt coffee from the broken down gas stations on your way.

I’m being honest when I say that my favorite part of the whole thing was getting to drive the Kansa Turnpike. Twice. People look at me like I’ve lost my mind because, well, Kansas. Maybe it’s because I have never seen the rolling hills of Montana or the towering heights of the Rockies, but what I did see was endless fields of green and rolling hills filled with golden grasses. I’ve never seen the sky so blue or felt the air so clean. I mean, not that I plan on visiting Kansas again any time soon. I didn’t ever plan on visiting in the first place. But I did (twice), and it was definitely the very best part.

A lot of people ask me why I didn’t just hire movers to move my stuff from one place to the other and fly home. ESPECIALLY the second time that I had to move. It’s usually easy to laugh it off and go on and on about how expensive it is to do that, but now that some time has passed (and I’ve written this blog!) I can look back on both 2,000 mile trips and happily say that I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

Give me ice storms, give me bad coffee, give me dirty hotel rooms and give me way more fast food than I’ve eaten in my life. Give me all the things that made the whole thing so difficult because in the end (trust me) it’s all worth it. It all becomes worth it when you are standing in the middle of a field of wildflowers and all you can see around you is an endless ocean colored sky (and probably your moving truck, just play along here) and a road leading you to your next destination in life. Take in all the moments you will experience during your move. Stop and appreciate the world around you because you never know which places you’ve already visited for the last time.
Marriah Palestino

About the Author:
Marriah is an Assistant Manager at our community, VÉLO, in Minneapolis, MN. She started working in the multifamily industry in August 2015 after working in retail for 10 years. She loves the industry, the people she works with, and writing! She has cultivated her favorite hobby, writing, over the course of her life and has recently started writing a fiction novel! In the rest of her free time, she enjoys painting, playing with her dog, Chief, and relaxing in her apartment with her partner.

About VÉLO:
VÉLO is the ultimate hub for those seeking a balanced living experience right in the heart of America’s premier bike city, Minneapolis. With only 101 units on the property, VÉLO fuses together a sense of community, inspiring design, and a sustainable lifestyle for our residents. Located right in the heart of the North Loop (the hottest neighborhood in the Twin Cities) VÉLO boasts tons of great shopping, entertainment, and dining just steps out the front door.