It’s no secret that moving house is an incredibly stressful process. But did you know that it can take an emotional toll equal to, or even greater than, that of divorce? In fact, it is one of the most traumatic life experiences you can endure.

Simply relocating to a different neighborhood or a nearby town is difficult enough; moving out of state adds an entire layer of complexity — not to mention an increased probability of something going wrong.

Although there’s no magic bullet that can make moving a stress-free proposition, there are ways to reduce and manage the upheaval. Keep reading for invaluable tips, tricks, hints, and hacks!

First Things First: Get Organized

Since most folks dislike moving so much and generally want to get it over with as quickly as possible, it makes sense to start throwing belongings into boxes as soon as you know the date of Moving Day. But it will behoove you — and save a lot of hassle, energy, time, and money in the long run — to step back, take stock, and get all your ducks in a row.

Get your hands on a three-ring binder with pockets. This will be your moving manual. Use the pockets to store maps, your lease, estimates from moving companies, and so on. You’ll also need to create a calendar, timeline, and moving checklist. 

This way, everyone involved in the move stays on the same page, and you know exactly what tasks need to be taken care of and when. Having all of your information located in one place will streamline the process and ensure that no moving-related task falls through the cracks.

Secure Your Supplies

Next up is a trip to the local shopping plaza. You’ll want to hit a big-box store for bubble wrap, a couple of wide-tip Sharpies for labeling boxes or maybe even color-coded duct tape. A couple of boxes of large trash bags and gallon-sized zipper bags will come in handy, too.

If there’s a liquor store in that plaza, stop in to inquire about boxes. Liquor boxes are the perfect size for packing heavy objects like books, and they are sturdy enough to transport most of your belongings. However, you will probably have to supplement with a few larger boxes, especially for bulky items like lamps, small appliances, and cookware.

Moving on a shoestring budget? Check Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for gently used boxes before paying full-price for new ones.

Clear Out the Clutter

Particularly with an out-of-state move, and/or if you are hiring a moving company to haul your home’s contents, it’s important to pare down your possessions. The less stuff you have to move, the faster, easier, and cheaper it will be.

Cull your clutter, setting aside items for a yard sale, to donate to charity, or to give away to friends and neighbors. Selling the belongings you no longer need is a good way to bring in a little extra cash, which you can put towards the expenses of moving out of state. 

Many charity organizations will pick up your donations, so be sure to take advantage of this perk. Why add any more errands to your already jam-packed to-do list?

Use It Up, Wear It Out

Similarly, put a moratorium on the purchase of any new personal care products, pantry staples, cleaning supplies, and so on. Use up what you have, so that you don’t have to drag it all across the country. 

There’s a fairly extensive list of items that moving companies won’t accept, so make plans to give away any gasoline or other flammable materials, paint, houseplants, and perishable food. 

In the last week or so before you hit the highway, go ahead and pack up your dishes, flatware, glassware, and other kitchen essentials. You can get by just fine with disposable versions and handheld meals (hello, pizza delivery!).

Do Your Research

No doubt you’ve already done tons of research into the best places to raise a family, get a job in your field and find affordable housing. But the more you know about your future community, the better off you’ll be when you arrive.

Join a Facebook group for residents of your new town, and check to see if you have any friends or acquaintances who live in the area. Check out the highest-rated restaurants, stores and service providers on Yelp. Look into public transportation and be sure you know where the closest emergency room and police station are relative to your home.

Make Sure the Lights Are On

Murphy’s law certainly applies to moving out of state, and the last thing you want at the end of all the trials and tribulations is to walk into your new home and discover there’s no electricity (or possibly even worse, no internet!).

If possible, schedule all utilities to be set up a day or two ahead of your anticipated arrival date. And keep them on at your soon-to-be old residence for a few days, as well, just in case an unexpected delay occurs.

Pack Valuables and Personal Possessions Separately

There are two categories of items that you will need to bring along in your passenger car rather than shipping them in the moving van. First, any irreplaceable items like heirloom jewelry, birth certificates, and other important documents, and valuable electronics should always stay in your possession. (Most moving companies won’t take them, anyway.)

Second, every family member should pack a small bag with all the necessities. These should include one or two changes of clothes; laptops, tablets, and cell phones, and all chargers; any prescription medications; and personal care products like makeup, toothbrush, antiperspirant, etc.

In addition, take with you a box packed with anything you’ll need for the first few days in the new place, such as:

  • Toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues
  • Extension cords, a flashlight, and batteries
  • Garbage bags
  • A tape measure and a small toolbox
  • Scissors or box cutter
  • Pen and paper for jotting down measurements or notes
  • Some all-purpose cleaner 
  • A shower curtain and a few towels
  • Bedding
  • Coffeemaker and supplies
  • Bottled water and snacks

It’s not a bad idea to have some cash on hand, as well, just in case there are any banking snafus or you manage to displace your debit card en route.

You Are Ready for Moving Out of State

While moving out of state certainly seems like a daunting proposition, it’s actually not that difficult to make it through unscathed — that is, as long as you make a checklist and take everything step-by-step. 

Before you know it, you’ll be settled in and ready for the fun part: meeting new friends and exploring your new town!