The dust has settled and it’s been officially a week since my cross country move to California! What an absolute whirlwind it’s been. From wrapping up the school year, saying my goodbyes (or “see you laters”), to packing up my entire apartment and selling all my furniture, and to making the trek across the country…it was quite the task, to say the least.
I’m still adjusting to life in California–mostly adjusting to the fact that I’m not constantly on the go and that my life is just much slower here. It’s a good change of pace, though. I’m not waking up at 5:30am every day, rushing to catch the bus, or in front of 90 hormonal teenagers every day. (As much as I love teaching, summer breaks are just SO necessary, y’all. Teachers, I know you feel me on this!) I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family, reacquainting myself with the landscape of southern California, and honestly…just taking time to relax, unpack, and get settled back home. It feels amazing to know that my time here in California doesn’t have an end date where I’ll have to pack my bags up again and start up the grind back in NY. It feels good to know that I am home and am home for good.
As I’m transitioning back to life in California, I thought it’d be a great opportunity to share with you 5 tips for moving out of state, or in my case, across the country! I definitely learned a few things this time around and thought they could be helpful for anyone looking to do the same.
For context, I have moved out of state or across the country 3 times at this point in the last 6 years and I did it all on my own.
I moved from CA to Washington D.C. two days after graduating from undergrad.
After 2 years in D.C., I then moved to New York. (And drove a u-haul ALL ON MY OWN. *pats myself on the back*)
And my latest move was from New York to California.
I have no family on the east coast and I knew ONE person from college who was out in D.C. before I made the move, but that was it. My tips and advice come from direct experience and from my desire to help anyone who may be considering the move! It’s been one of the most growing and wonderful experiences I’ve had, and I highly recommend getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing a new city. You’ll be surprised at how much you learn about yourself and all of the lessons you take away by simply jumping in!
Here are my top 5 pieces of advice for anyone looking to make a big move out of state or across the country!
1. Donate, sell, recycle, or trash as much as you can before you move.
I used my moving experience as an opportunity to cleanse and declutter my life! It’s insane how much stuff you accrue over a few years! I had a ridiculous amount of clothing that I rarely wore, so many miscellaneous items hanging out in “the drawer” (you know you have a drawer in your house, too, where everything ends up there), and a ton of furniture I obviously was not going to be taking with me from New York to California.
To sell my clothes, handbags, and accessories, I took bags on bags on bags to Crossroads Trading Company, which was my favorite consignment store in Brooklyn. This place is similar to Buffalo Exchange where you can bring in new or gently used clothing in which they will buy from you. You can either get 50% of your trade in store credit or 33% of your trade in cash. These stores will buy items that are in season and on trend and also look for the labels of your clothing, so if you have designer items or name brands, this is a good place to part ways with old clothes and make a few extra bucks while you’re at it. Anything I didn’t sell, I donated to either friends or the Salvation Army!
2. Move and pack with you as little as possible–buy everything when you get there!
I cannot emphasize this one enough. You’ll be starting fresh in a new city and honestly, it feels amazing not to have a million things you’re taking with you. Take the essentials–your closet staples, shoes, and maybe a few pictures with you. Everything else can be bought when you land in your new city! When I moved from California to DC, I only took 3 suitcases with me. Two with clothes and one with shoes! And when I moved back to California, I essentially did the same…only this time around, I had more clothes and shoes that I ended up shipping because the luggage costs were an exorbitant amount.
To sell your furniture, household appliances, and anything really, I had amazing success on Facebook marketplace! It’s super easy to use because all you need to do is snap a few photos of the items on your phone, upload them and say a few words about what you’re selling. I always included information about the condition, where it was bought, what my items were used for, and how I would accept payment. I looked at the average price of what items were sold for similar things on marketplace and priced mine a tad lower because I needed to sell my items fast, otherwise I’d just lose out and have to put it on the curb.This certainly helped me sell
I gave buyers either the address of the coffee shop down the block or the address next door so that they could meet me outside to complete the transaction just to be safe. Or if you have a friend or roommate that can be present with you, that’s another option if you want people to go directly to your house/apartment. I never had any issues with sketchy buyers–almost everyone who I coordinated with came to meet me and were all very normal people looking to find cheap items!
3. Create a list of memberships/subscriptions/accounts and be sure to change your address ASAP, update/cancel your account.
This is often the after-thought because you’re so worried about your physical items! Don’t forget to cancel your internet service and return the router, change your address for banking and any accounts you may have, tie any loose ends up with subscription services. I personally had to cancel my gym membership (they don’t have any of the gyms I was a part of in the area I relocated to) and cancel some grocery delivering services. Lastly, always have your mail forwarded to your new address by using the mail forwarding services on USPS. It only costs $1 and is super easy to do!
4. For all the things you absolutely must take with you, ship most of it and only fly with what will fit in your suitcases.
Folks, learn from my experience! I made the mistake of only checking how many bags were allowed to be checked in, but did not check how much each bag cost. I made the assumption that each bag was $25 and thought to myself, well that’s cheaper than shipping so I’ll just check them in! BIG MISTAKE.
Since I had 10 bags with me, it would have cost me around $1200 to check them in. Thank GOODNESS I got to the airport 3 hours early on the day of my flight and was able to create a game plan to save money. I ended up catching an Uber to the nearest FedEx, took out 8 bags and suitcases worth of CLOTHES and stuffed it into 3 large boxes. I shipped the boxes home and then only checked in two large suitcases.
If I could do it all over again, I would have pre-shipped most of my clothes and shoes, and then stuff whatever I could into 2 suitcases to avoid the enormous checked luggage fees. I had already shipped about 4 boxes worth of purses, books, and keepsakes prior, but definitely didn’t do the best job with all my clothes and shoes. It ends up being cheaper to ship and you can STUFF your boxes to the brim.
5. Start the packing process as early as possible.
And of course, the golden rule here is: START EARLY. I thought I did a pretty good job with this and started the packing, selling, donating process about a month before the move. As someone who is pretty organized, I still wish I had started earlier and got it together with shipping my clothes so that I could have avoided the stress of almost missing my flight because of my emergency Fedex trip. I personally felt like it helped to start by sorting first and identifying the stuff I wanted to donate or trash. Once I got those items out of the house, it felt more manageable so that I could then organize how I wanted to ship or pack the stuff I knew I wanted to keep.
I made lists of all the things I needed to sell, pack, and donate, and then set goals for each day with what I needed to accomplish. This helped me stay sane and not be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff I accumulated over the last 6 years of living on the East Coast!
Moving anywhere, let alone out of state or across the country, is stressful. It IS absolutely possible and can be done so long as you stay on top of all the different moving pieces. Are you considering a move? What’s your game plan? Or have you done a move like this before? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear how your move went or if you’re currently in the process of doing it!
As always, thank you for reading, sweet friends!
What I’m wearing:
Petite Ruched Ruffle Top from ASOS
- This top is so light, flattering, and goes with everything! Only $23 and I bought it when ASOS was having a 20% off sale.
Striped Culottes from Zara (old)
My culottes are old from Zara but here are a few options!
- Striped Culottes from ASOS ($62)
- Striped Culottes with ruffle detail from ASOS (On sale for $30)
- Striped and belted culottes from Forever 21 ($22.90)
Black Espadrille Wedge from Payless Shoes (old)
I bought these shoes several years ago, but here are some other similar options!
- Steve Madden Espadrille Wedge Sandals
- Espadrille Wedges from Target
- Strap Espadrille Flat Sandals from Target