I have a few friends that have been pondering whether or not to make a long distance move with their family. As a person that has made four cross-country moves, I have tips to share on this topic.
On a quick side note, I don’t make notes or write up drafts for any of my posts. Everything you read is a stream of consciousness and completely off of the top of my head. So in no particular order, let’s get started.
Moving, in general, can be stressful and most of us try to avoid moving at all. But life happens, sometimes our neighbors suck, our jobs might require a change of scenery, our past continues to haunt us in our current location. We know that there has got to be something better out there, but we may not have the courage to leave and take that first step because all that we know is right here. Our family, friends, and memories are right here.
Moving around town or up to an hour away isn’t so bad. Moving out of state, out of the province, or out of the country (I’ve done them all) and there is much more to consider and prepare before packing up your belongings and moving. In this post, I’ll discuss the out of state and out of province moves and leave the topic of immigration for another post.
Here is a list of things/items you will want to have copies (originals) of before you move.
- Birth Certificate, long form if you have the option. Get copies for each person in your household. There may be a small fee and you may have to go in person to verify your identity. You may get lucky and have to option to get them online or by phone and have it mailed to you.
- Driving Record from your insurance company. Especially if you have a clean record, no accidents or traffic violations. Talk to your insurance agent, let them know that you are planning to move out of the area and that you will require a Letter from them stating that you paid your monthly payments on time, you are in good standing and need a copy of your driving record. Also, if you completed Driver’s Ed and have a certificate, make a copy of that as well. These items will keep you in good standing, in the sense that you will not be treated as a new driver with no experience in your new location.
- Marriage license/certificates, it’s a good idea to have a few copies just in case.
- Vaccination records and Medical history, this applies to everyone in the household. Schools will require it when you’re ready to register your kids. These days your medical history can be transferred online, but it’s good to have the address and contact information from all of the doctors and specialists that you have seen. Don’t forget about the dentist, chiropractor, and veterinarian.
- Pets, make sure they are up to date with their rabies, distemper and any other vaccinations. Most places will require that you register your dog(s) and you should find out if the new location has a limit as to how many dogs you can have.
- Letters of Recommendation, If you are renting and have been a stellar tenant that has paid the rent on time and you’re not a slob, perhaps your landlord will provide a letter of recommendation for you. While this is not required to move, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have. Also having one from your boss, co-worker, a neighbor might help when looking to find a place to rent or come in handy when looking for employment. Again, not a must-have, but definitely good to have if you can acquire it.
- Medications, while this doesn’t fit under the topic of copies, you should try to get a refill of your prescription(s) and have them ready for pick up a few days before you move, as you might not be able to find a new doctor right away. Expect to be put on a waiting list. If you can get a month or two months worth without an issue, get it refilled.
- Tax Returns for the last 7 years, whether you have the original on paper or you can scan it to a USB drive, it’s important that you have this with you when you move.
Let’s move on to discuss things to consider before you move. Not so much about where and when as that is ultimately up to you to decide. Again, in no particular order…
- Job, Career, Self-Employed, Business Owner: I hope that you will do a bit of research on the job market for the area(s) you are considering moving to. It’s time to update your resume’ and update your Linkedin, Indeed, Monster, Workopolis profiles. Are you in a position to be able to transfer from your current job to another location with the same company? If you are a business owner, what is required of you to close/dissolve your business before you leave and what is required for you to restart your business in a new location? If you are self-employed or work from home, are you able to put together a portfolio to showcase your work? Can you continue working seamlessly? Would you benefit from customer reviews/testimonies?
- Bank Account/Funds/Debts: Does your bank have branches in your new location? If not, then you will have to be creative in order to transfer funds in order to pay bills that are set to come out automatically each month. Luckily things have changed, technology gets better and it’s easier to transfer money from one account to another. Out of country money transferring is tricky and I’ll cover that in the immigration post. The point is, make sure that your debts/loans are able to be paid without too much of a disruption. If you suspect that you might have a hard time, contact the company (ies) and let them know and they will be more willing to work with you and they may overlook any late fees or interest payments because you contacted them first. Debt consolidation may be an option and will reduce multiple payments per month down to 1 easy payment per month.
- Change of address/phone number: Changing your address online is easy, especially if you already receive statements online. If you don’t, I recommend that you opt in for that. Yes, it may be time consuming to go through all of the sites but the most important places to focus on are the DMV (Registry of Motor Vehicles) for your driver’s license and vehicle registration, Insurance (home, vehicle, life, boat, RV and health), Loans ( mortgage, student, vehicle), IRS ( Government for tax collection purposes). Lastly, WORK, make sure your employer or human resource manager has your new address on file so they can forward your tax forms and any other paperwork to you.
- Utilities/Services: Water, Electricity (Hydro), Propane, Natural gas, Phone, Cable, Internet, Septic/Sewer. If these services are not set up online, I suggest that you do for easy automatic payments until you cancel your service(s). Don’t forget to notify all of them to let them know to either shut off the service or when to transfer the service to the new tenant. If the same company is available in your new location, you may have the option of transferring service out there when you are ready. On a quick note, if you require an internet connection (work from home, for example) do yourself a favor and make sure that you can get a good reliable connection with the speed that you require.
- Moving Company/PODS/U-HAUL or Minimalistic: I suppose this depends on your funds and how much you intend to take with you. I won’t lie, moving can be very expensive, especially if your employer isn’t offering to cover the cost. There are pros and cons to each option, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.
- Air Miles/Travel Points/AAA or CAA: Utilizing the benefits from any or all of these will save you a bit of stress. If you have credit cards that earn points/perks for gas or hotel lodging great! Are you a member of AAA/CAA the auto club that can assist if you get a flat tire, need a bit of gas, need a tow? Great! Use your memberships to your advantage if you need to book a hotel while you are driving to your new location or while you are finding a rental. Many people overlook these perks. I’ve used them to save money and earn free lodging during my long distance moves.
Please keep in mind that the lists above just cover the basics. Cities, States, Provinces, and your families needs will vary from my experience (no kids to consider or health requirements). I trust that you will do the research and make the best choice for you and your family.
My cross country moves were from Massachusetts to Florida then back after two years. I went with the minimalistic approach and packed whatever could fit in the bed of my truck and drove. I was young (late teens early 20’s) and didn’t require anything more where I was staying. I did the same thing when I moved back two years later.
I’ve moved internationally from Massachusetts to Alberta, Canada (as a legal immigrant/permanent resident). I was in my late 20’s early 30’s living in a one bedroom tiny apartment, sold/donated the big items. I packed the important papers, photos, clothes, some towels/bedding. Basically whatever could fit in my Saturn SL2 while still allowing me to see out of all the windows and use the rear view mirror was brought over the border with me. That will be 5 days of driving that I won’t soon forget. For those of you planning that same drive, do it before the snow falls.
My move from Alberta to Ontario was a bit different. I upgraded the Saturn SL2 to a Dodge Caliber with a bit more room. While we opted to drive the entire way (again) that meant we had to downsize (again). This time it wasn’t just my belongings it was also my husband’s things and he insisted that we keep the 42″ LG flatscreen TV that we bought less than 6 months ago (at the time). We sold items on Kijiji, we donated items to the Goodwill down the street, we packed smaller boxes and shipped them (Purolator) to Ontario because we had a family connection and my husband spent the night before planning exactly how to pack the rest into the Caliber to ensure the TV was coming with us on the 5 day journey.
During our two years in Alberta, we acquired many air miles that we used to book our nights at various Best Westerns between Alberta and Ontario. I worked at a dealership and some of the associates got together to start a collection (knowing how expensive it is to move) and the money they gifted us paid for the gas for the 5 day drive across Canada. I think we even had enough in air miles to get a gift card for Shell worth $25 which also helped. We had family in the area (Ontario) that helped us acquire an apartment and secured it for us to ensure we had a place to move into when we arrived. We were smarter this time and made the journey in the summer, not the middle of Alberta Clipper season.
Our last few moves have been more local, a few minutes down the road to 30 minutes out of town. Both moves we opted to use a moving company. We have since upgraded from a 2-bedroom highrise apartment to a 3-bedroom townhouse, to a 2-bedroom +1/ 2 bathroom house. My point is, that while it will take time to refurnish and buy things to make your home feel like YOUR home, don’t be discouraged if you have to downsize. Keep the important things, the things that you can’t replace and take that with you because the rest is just stuff, unimportant stuff.
If you have to downsize it’s worth looking into the community buy/sell pages online to find what you need. Tag sales, yard sales, garage sales, flea markets, Salvation Army and other thrift stores are your new best friend if you are low on funds. It’s worth shopping at the Dollar stores for canned goods, pasta, sauces, snacks until you can get back on your feet. There are many great deals out there, you just have to open your mind and look for them.
Just know that one day a year or two from now, you will be a in a position to donate many of the items that you bought from the thrift stores. You will be helping folks in the same manner that others have helped you (indirectly). It’s all a matter of perspective. I’m happy to think that the countless items that I donated have helped others to get back on their feet. Maybe one of my items brought a sense of comfort to a young girl that is having a hard time adjusting to her first move, she spots the pretty unicorn lamp that I donated, turn out she needs a lamp next to her bed and now it brings a smile to her face each time she turns it on.
I can see that I’ve gone on for over 2,200 words at this point. As a self-proclaimed professional long distance mover, I am happy to answer any questions on this matter.
Just keep in mind that the family and friends that really do care, they will make an effort to visit you. As for the rest of them, there is Skype, Facebook and Facetime.
Good Luck future movers! ~ Hannah