7 LESSONS LEARNED FROM MOVING ACROSS THE COUNTRY

I’ve been trying to figure out how to structure this post for a couple weeks now. Tips for an easy move? How to stay sane while packing up your entire life and combining it with your boyfriend’s entire life and remembering everything for the dog too? How not to kill each other on a 1,600 mile drive in a 26-foot truck with a broken radio and lousy air conditioning?

The truth is that our recent move really wasn’t that easy, and that I’m not (nor do I aspire to be) an expert on moving, and that I’d rather stay in our house for 10,000 centuries before even thinking about packing it up all over again in a few years. Everyone says moving is the worst and frankly I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy they’re right. So instead of any sage wisdom, here are seven lessons learned, some things I think we did right, and some things I’d do differently.

design darling moving advice

1. Driving our own truck was an awesome decision, even when it wasn’t.

Will had a relocation bonus from his new job that probably would have covered most of our moving expenses. But after calling a bunch of different moving companies for quotes, we realized two things: 1) it’s exorbitantly expensive to hire people to drive your stuff and 2) apparently they need between two and three weeks for what’s really 24 hours of actual driving. Because we were transporting not only our own belongings but the inventory for my online boutique, having that inventory stuck on the back of a truck somewhere for three weeks while I couldn’t ship a single order wasn’t really an option. So we resolved to drive ourselves down in three days, splitting the drive into three roughly eight-hour driving days and crashing at hotels in Virginia and Tennessee to break up the trip. We tackled the actual moving in parts, hiring movers to empty both of our apartments in the city, to load up the truck at my parents’ house in Connecticut, and to unload everything into my office and our house once we got to Dallas. While there were moments on the drive down that I’d really rather forget, I’m happy knowing we saved thousands of dollars and a ton of time by doing the driving ourselves.

P.S. If you’re curious, I was pretty nervous about driving a truck that big and did a lot of needless googling (kind of the moving version of WebMD-ing) before we left but we really did get the hang of it. If that’s your biggest obstacle to renting and driving your own truck, I promise you’ll figure it out.

moving from new york to dallas

{Somewhere in Tennessee}

2. If you’re driving yourself, book hotels ahead of time.

Two things here (remember I told you I couldn’t figure out how to structure this post). I would have loved to research the hell out of this road trip, pick cute pit stops along the way, take pictures at every new state welcome sign, etc. The second I got inside that truck, though, I really just wanted to get there as soon as possible. (If you want to get fun and plan out activities to look forward to, I really enjoyed messing around on roadtrippers.com.) The one thing I planned ahead of time was booking hotels for the end of each day. I called a bunch of hotels to make sure they could accommodate both our dog and parking for a massive truck. It also gave us a light at the end of the tunnel each day (mapping from Connecticut to the corner of Virginia is infinitely less depressing than mapping from Connecticut all the way to Dallas!).

3. Movers are a godsend.

I moved out of my apartment when my lease was up at the end of February and Will moved out of his apartment at the end of March. In between, we stored my stuff (and inventory) at my parents’ house in Connecticut. When we came back from Europe in early April, we had all of our combined belongings waiting in my parents’ garage for movers to load onto the truck. You could not have paid me all the money in the world to do that heavy lifting ourselves (and it only cost a few hundred dollars each time). Once we got to Dallas, we unpacked my inventory (which they’d packed closest to the door of the truck) into my office space the day we arrived and unloaded the boxes and furniture for our house two days later once we’d shipped most of my pending orders. Having a plan and a team of guys helping us at points A and B really made everything in between worth it.

P.S. We booked our truck on uhaul.com and used movinghelpers.com to reserve the cheapest/highest reviewed movers in each city.

design darling rory

{At a Chipotle on the Arkansas border}

4. Don’t pack things you don’t need.

I mentioned in this post taking serious inventory of everything in my apartment before packing my life into boxes for over a month. For real: do not pack books or clothes or kitchen appliances or dog toys that you have never read, worn, used, or brought to the dog park. For every few boxes I packed bound for Connecticut and ultimately Dallas, I tried to have another box ready to go to the Goodwill around the corner. I bemoaned each and every walk to drop off those boxes during snowy days in the city but I’m sure as hell happy to have that many fewer things to unpack in our new digs. If I were doing it again (please, God, no) I’d like to have purged even more aggressively.

5. Clean and paint before you move in.

Maybe this falls under the next heading (read: obvious) but this made a massive difference for us. Will’s mom was able to get into the house a few days before we started our road trip and lined all the bathroom and kitchen drawers for us, which was a giant favor and something that Will and I embarrassingly probably would have put off for weeks. She also let in painters to tackle the icky off-white walls before we got there. We had picked out a paint color when we were in New York and, even though it was a risk to make a decision without seeing it on the actual walls, I was so happy to have it done I think they could have painted the walls neon green and I still would have liked knowing we had one less thing to think about. (You can also google your paint colors to see a million examples of them on other people’s walls.) If you don’t have a family member there to take care of some of the cleaning for you, the nice thing about renting your own truck is the generous window of time you have before returning the truck… meaning you could still take the time to clean and paint before you move in as long as you have somewhere to park the truck for a couple days.

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{Our living room the day we got to Dallas}

6. The obvious stuff.

I read probably a dozen articles about moving before we actually started the process and they all gave more or less the same advice, which I’ll summarize here. Pack a bag with all your essentials (clothes, pajamas, toiletries, dog food) that you never let out of your sight. (Take it from me: you will not be able to locate anything you actually need for several days after you get to your destination.) Label your boxes with the room they need to go as well as what’s actually inside them (I would write “MASTER CLOSET” in big letters for the movers, then “summer hanging clothes” in small letters as a note to myself).

design darling moving from new york to dallas

{I spy with my little eye…}

7. Keep things in perspective.

I had a couple mini meltdowns on our road trip (and I don’t think Rory was super thrilled about any of it either) but at the end of a long day of driving, Will and I could look at each other and still get giddy with excitement about being that many miles closer to starting life in this new city together. Similarly, we noticed a handful of chips and scratches on furniture that we’ll have to repair or replace or strategically angle so that the less damaged side is showing but again we’re just happy to be here. And, you know, out of that damn truck.

33 thoughts on “7 LESSONS LEARNED FROM MOVING ACROSS THE COUNTRY

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  1. Thank you for sharing this. Good movers’ calendars fill up fast, especially during heavy move season (June through August). To reserve the mover of your choice and save yourself from last-minute headaches, start planning for your move at least eight weeks in advance.

  2. Thanks for sharing this experience! My husband and I are going to be moving in together in a month, and we have our stuff stored at my grandparents’ house right now. I like your point that movers aren’t very expensive, and that they’re extremely convenient to use. I don’t know how the two of us would be able to load everything, so we’ll definitely look into using movers as well.

  3. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that having movers to load and unload the truck is very convenient. My husband and I are relocating our family in a few months, so we’re trying to figure out all of the logistics of the move. Our kids aren’t really old enough to be helping lift things, and there’s a lot to do, so we’ll definitely look into hiring movers to do that for us. Thanks for the great post!

  4. We’re moving to Austin (from LA) in July, and this was so, SO helpful. We’re really excited to move, but the logistical side of it can feel really intimidating. I think that going through things and getting rid of stuff (big time) is first on the list.

    Also, your puppy is adorable! I can’t get over it!

    Have a good weekend!

    Always, Anita

  5. thank u. for your timely. n comforting post. i too went thru ( and am still in process ) of moving to. sherman , small town north of dallas. i went thru all steps to rent uhaul truck and recommended helpers, but had my meltdown. soon after making all arrangments and realized i absolutely could not orchastrate the packing, take care of all little but necessary things to leave one city and drive. 1,700. mi. to another, so my very kind brothers pitched in and hired moving company to do it all. still stressful. but this choice will give me time to paint and take care of other small but necessary things. on this end ( as u said, moving co. cant give you a delivery date and need a HUGE amount of leeway days! thanx again for sharinf, always nice to know your not alone in your misery!✨

  6. We moved from Texas to NYC via a moving company. It was super convenient to have someone else do the heavy lifting and the truck driving. We moved smaller items and the dog via car trip. The only caution (other than cost, which was covered in the new job) would be the time. Our stuff was here in New York storage on Long Island for more than two weeks after we arrived! We were without most of our stuff for about a month total! At the end of the day it was worth it considering the hassle of driving a moving truck into NYC!

  7. Girl… I’m moving from Houston to Massachusetts in two weeks, and this was SO HELPFUL. Lucky for me, I’m just going for a summer internship and will be living in a furnished apartment, but still… This post put so much in perspective, which is seriously easing my anxiety about making such a big trip in just my little car. Welcome to the great state of Texas! 🙂

  8. I have only ever moved a few miles away but since I am hopefully going to have my big cross-country move this winter, I am saving your tips.

  9. I’ve moved so many times, and this is really useful advice. You nailed the structure!
    I’ve really been enjoying your blog lately – it seems like the move is providing plenty of inspiration and I’m loving the glimpses into your life as opposed to just shopping lists!

    Girl for Granted

  10. Great post! I’m so impressed you drove the truck. We are planning a cross country move, and I just assumed I could never drive one….but maybe I could after all! Congrats on the big move!

  11. I have moved so many times in my life it is kinda crazy and most of it happened before I was in high school then a few more times during college. But we have always had help except when I moved in and out of my dorm because you don’t have any furniture than hahaha. These tips are great for anyone who is about to do their first big move! I did learn about the whole saving money by driving your own truck. I hope your liking dallas, I love it and I am excited to be back for some time during the summer!!

    xoxo
    Brooke

    http://www.inaworldofbees.com

  12. Thank you for these tips! They’re actually very helpful. 🙂 so glad you’ve made it to your new home and that drive is finally over. Always love reading your posts!

  13. I have been really loving your blog lately! My boyfriend and I are in the beginning stages of a similar transition- finishing grad school, hunting for our first house, moving to a new city (Nashville!)- and following along with y’all’s move has made me even more excited, if that’s possible. I would love to hear about the process you went through to buy a house in a different city than you were living in and see pictures of the new place!

  14. I also recently made a cross-country trip and concur with all of your points. I’d add one thing for people making a more typical move (i.e., who don’t need to have access to their inventory the entire time): we used http://www.pods.com/ instead of renting a uhaul. Pods dropped off the shipping pod to our driveway, we packed it up over the course of a couple days, then Pods picked it up and drove it to our final destination, which took about the same amount of time as if we drove a uhaul It was so easy and way less stressful/cheaper than other alternatives we looked into!

  15. I moved about two months ago just a few blocks over in my neighborhood, and this advice would have still come in handy! Biggest regret: NOT hiring movers. My Husband insisted he could do it with friends, and what could have taken just a few hours, took FOUR days. (I definitely had my “I told you so!” moment loud and proud.)

    But as much work as it was doing all by ourselves, we love our new place so much more than we ever liked our old one, and I’m trying to convince the Husband that we should stay for two years instead of one, I can’t bear to think about doing it all over again so soon!

  16. Way to go on handling that move so well! We had flexibility with our move in date so we flew straight to Omaha and had our movers drive our stuff from Pennsylvania. You are right though, no matter how you do it moving is NOT fun! We’re actually looking at moving this summer from our apartment to the one down the street that has some nice upgrades (and is owned by the same property) and I’m wondering if I’m crazy for even considering it!

    Her Heartland Soul
    http://herheartlandsoul.com

  17. This was such a great post! Your recent posts about moving and life changes have all been enjoyable, well done, and refreshing. It’s nice to see a 20-something blogger with maturity and interesting content. Plus you have great taste and I like seeing your picks for clothing and home decor! I can’t wait to see more of your new house!

  18. Movers and purging as you pack are the two most important things in my book! It’s so much easier to get rid of things BEFORE you get to your final destination than once you’re already there and just want to be unpacked and settled!

  19. I loved this post! Mostly because you were so candid… moving is hard work and there’s just no way around that. My husband and I moved from Oklahoma to Waco, Texas for grad school last year and it was totally doable, just not something I’d like to do again any time soon.

    Also, what paint color did y’all end up choosing? We currently live in apartment with the horrible, off white, kind of looks like butter on your walls paint color and I regularly daydream of painting them any other color.