5 Mistakes to Avoid When Moving Cross-Country


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I’m writing this article prior to moving from Washington State to Vermont. I experienced a steep learning curve, not having started out with cross-country moving experience. I watched countless videos of people who moved via shipping containers, Relo Cubes, U-Haul trucks, and some folks even shipped their belongings via train.

But even with watching all those videos I still skirted scams and I didn’t make full use out of resources available to me. I’m saying all this from hindsight so I need to forgive myself and pun intended, move on. However, here are 5 mistakes you want to avoid.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to your research for how to get yourself from one place to another one or two years prior to your move (if you have that luxury). Do this when you are in the dreaming phase. Look up websites for rideshares, look up potential scams, and plan your travel route. Look up hotels and other alternatives on that route (although prices will increase unless you book accommodations way in advance).

A Moving Cube is Much Larger Than You Think

I made the mistake of shipping 13 boxes ranging in sizes via post because I thought that the boxes wouldn’t fit into the Relo-Cube. My brother and I completely stuffed a 9-foot moving van and we still only filled half of the smallest cube (5 x 7 x 7).

Granted, I’m not good with figuring out space or organizing goods within a space. However, I recommend actually visiting a facility with the shipping containers and cubes and checking out the size before determining what to ship by post or UPS or other methods. If you can get it all in the cube then go for it.

But on the downside, if there are items you need immediately upon reaching your new home, a shipping container or cube can take up to three weeks to reach you. And then, there could be problems with the delivery of your cube to your location. There are both disadvantages and advantages to going with the do-it-yourself route. I mean, how long do you want to go without your pots, pans, spoons, forks, bedding…

Watch out for Scammers

Fortunately, I have savvy friends who warned me about certain situations. The first scammer I encountered was a moving broker. They are middlemen and not actual moving companies. They also have been known to rip people off, hold your belongings hostage (since they raised the moving fee). And if you think you can look them up on the Better Business Bureau, take it from one expert I spoke with, the BBB rating means nothing these days. Any business can join it seems.

You would be better off looking at Attorney General websites for the state where the business is located. And you can look up complaints and reviews with Trusted Pilot. Or you could listen to your gut, which is what I did.

Book Transportation Months in Advance

If you don’t plan on driving you have the option of taking a bus, a train, a plane, or hiring a professional driver. If you have cash to burn hiring the professional driver would be the best option. However, some of those them are scammers so beware.

You could hire a friend or colleague to drive you which would cost less because they don’t make their living off driving people. Or you could ship your belongings ahead of you and take a plane or train. Take a bus only if you are moving a shorter distance.

If you book a train, don’t go with the vacation planners. You’re not going on a holiday, you are moving yourself across a country and you don’t want to drag out that move. It’s exhausting at best and time-consuming at worst. Book the train in advance so you get the best rate and same for the plane. However, you can carry more on a train than you can a plane. (And during this era, you have to wear a mask for the entire plane ride).

Ask for Help

While no one wants to help with packing, moving, and cleaning, there are people who want the best for you and they will make the sacrifice of time and energy. I’ve even met some folks who enjoy moving people. As one friend said, it’s better than going to the gym. She’s a rare breed.

Another friend said that during the past month, I was doing the work of five people. I didn’t wait until the last minute, but I didn’t have a solid plan. I tried different approaches which all seemed dubious, with the exception of the relocation cube (too bad they didn’t deliver it to my door). While I don’t want to take a train for 66 hours, it’s safer than riding in a car with a stranger.

If you are fortunate to move with a partner or your family you still could enlist the help of friends or new friends at your next location. I know it feels uncomfortable and even narcissistic these days to ask for help. However, as the saying goes, no human is an island unto themselves. And you can always return the favor at another time. If you feel guilty asking for help then volunteer in your community or donate to a charity to balance the moving karma.

I hope your moving plans and actual move go better than mine has. I also hope you learn from my mistakes just like I learned from the mistakes of YouTubers and bloggers who moved across country. In a way, this is how we help each other.

Feels free to leave comments if you have any tips for relocation.