Moving Out of State: Tips for Going the Distance

Mar 31, 2023 / Alyssa Duranty

When it came time to retire, moving out of state was easier said than done for Dennis Foley. But thanks to lots of planning and decluttering, he and his wife, two cats and one dog made the 2,441-mile journey from Southern California to Florida without hitting too many bumps in the road.

“We figured we’d give ourselves the summer to take our time packing and visiting with friends, and then we’d be super ready to move,”; he said. “It worked out just fine.”;

If you’re planning on moving out of state and need a few tips, keep reading to learn how the Foley’s made the journey across multiple states to their new home. We also talked to a professional organizer who successfully moves clients out of Houston. With their tips, you’ll be ready to change zip codes in no time!

Declutter Before a Long-Distance Move to Save Money

To save money on moving costs, the Foley’s donated, sold or gave away most of their stuff before moving out of state.

“Downsizing was important,”; Dennis Foley said. “Ultimately, we just shipped 95 boxes of stuff. We had yard sales and parties to clear things from our liquor cabinet and to give away things to friends that we didn’t need, like camping gear.”;

When professional organizer Mary Jo Contello of Organized by MJ helps her clients move – whether it’s down the street or out of state – she always starts the process by decluttering their current home.

“A lot of people have the mentality that they’ll get rid of stuff on the other end,”; she said. “But if they do that, they’re paying to pack and move something they don’t want and then spend the time to unpack it. That’s a lot of money for something they don’t want.”;

Declutter early and take stock of items you do want but that are difficult to move. Think about each one and whether it’s going to cost more to move it or to buy it new on the other end. You may end up with a new living room set for less than the cost of keeping an old one. Foley did!

Moving Out of State with Heavy-Duty Moving Materials

Once you’ve pared down your belongings, make sure to invest in good packing materials to keep your stuff in one piece during the long journey.

“Buy new boxes that have less risk of collapsing, and look into having professionals crate large, expensive items,”; said Contello. “One of my clients wanted to move a chandelier, and didn’t think she could. She found a crating company that came to the house and packed it for her.”;

Foley bought same-size boxes at a hardware store, so they were easily stackable in a moving truck. He also called a local bicycle shop to see if they gave away large, long boxes that would fit his framed artwork.

“You never think of those oversize, odd objects,”; he said. “And you can get a lot of pictures in a bicycle box, even after wrapping them in towels for padding. It would also be good for mirrors.”;

Research Moving Companies Before Choosing One

Save time, money and possible hassle by researching moving companies early and getting quotes from at least three of them before committing to one.

“We looked into moving companies, storage containers, and trucks that move multiple households during the same trip, which is the one we chose,”; said Foley. “We called three companies and chatted them up before we chose one with a reasonable price. If we had fragile stuff, we perhaps would have been more throughout and careful and pay a little more. But we just moved a bunch of boxes and stuff with no emotional attachment.”;

Check with your neighborhoods and ask people on your social networks for moving company recommendations, advised Contello.

“I would never pick a mover without talking to at least three, and I never talk to someone that wasn’t referred,”; she said. “Ask your friends: 'Why are you recommending them?’ and 'Did anything negative happen?'”;

Pack a Suitcase with Extra Necessities Before Moving

If you’re not moving your stuff yourself, make sure to pack extra everyday essentials in a suitcase. Your stuff may take longer than expected to arrive at your new home, and you want to be prepared.

The Foleys moved during Hurricane Irma, and their stuff showed up a week later than expected. Thankfully, they had enough packed in their minivan to hold them over until it arrived.

“We spent several days assembling new furniture while we waited,”; he said.

When Contello helped clients move from Houston to Boston, their moving company also showed up late. So those extra essentials were quite helpful in the meantime!

“Don’t anticipate you’ll have your stuff in a week,”; she said. “Prepare and overestimate.”;

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