Moving from the East Coast to the West Coast requires serious strategizing. Without adequate planning, you can quickly find yourself in over your head, and over your budget.

Moving from one coast to the other within the US is the toughest type of residential move (apart from moving overseas of course) that one can undergo in terms of planning, money, stress, and level of complexity.

Here are our 9 tips for moving from the East Coast to the West Coast that will make your move as successful and stress-free as possible.

Btw—are you looking for our tips on moving from the West Coast to the East Coast instead?

1. Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is one of the best things you can do when trying to make a move as complex as going from the East Coast to the West Coast. You need to learn as much about your new city as possible and try to get all of the details in order sooner rather than later.

For example, when you move to a new state, you’re going to have a lot of work to do in terms of your children’s schooling. Try to get on top of this in advance, or else you’ll feel like a chicken with its head cut off trying to deal with it in July, right before they’re supposed to start school.

For the average person, DIY attempts at moving across America can be a bad idea. In the end, hiring a professional moving company could end up saving you a lot of time and hassle. However, if you have a decent van/truck, and not a lot of stuff, it could be a good way to save a few thousand dollars.

At the end of the day, you need to determine for your situation whether a DIY move is a possibility.

2. Assess Your Finances

Assessing what your moving budget is before starting to make any concrete plans is an essential task. Depending on where you have been living on the East Coast, the West Coast may be a cheaper place to live.

If you’ve been living in Manhattan and you plan to move to Oregon, there’s going to be a stark difference in housing/rent prices.

This is obviously something you can’t apply to every city on the West Coast, but if you’re planning to move from New York, the overall consensus is that it is cheaper to live on the West Coast than it is to live in New York City. 

3. Don’t Move with Everything

The cost of moving across the country massively depends on the number of items to be moved. After the initial decision is made to make the trip across the country, you’ll need to make some hard decisions about what should stay and what should go.

Take stock of what you own and assess whether or not you will need it. To help take inventory in your house before you go, you can use the app Move Advisor to help you keep track of what you own.

It can even help you to calculate some of your moving costs too. You can download the app for iPhone here. For Android, you can download it here.

It’s understandable that you may feel sentimentally attached to certain things, but when it comes down to actually making the move, you’ll soon realize that most of your possessions don’t actually need to make the 3,000 mile trip with you.

getting rid of your things before moving

You would be surprised what stuff you’ll actually need and what stuff you don’t. You can sell some of your items on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace and pocket some extra cash to use on other moving costs.

If you find that you just can’t part with the piano or jet ski that you’ve been holding onto for years, you could also place some of your items in storage. Search for local storage businesses in your area and check out their rates.

4. Hire the Right Moving Company

As we mentioned earlier, moving across the country using a rented moving truck is not as cost-effective as it is with a local move. The best and most cost-effective option is to hire a moving company to transport your furniture and other belongings from coast to coast.

As with anything, different companies offer different services at different prices. Before choosing the right moving company for you, you need to get estimates from a variety of them.

As a general rule, you get what you pay for. If the price is incredibly low, it can be an indication of poor services. If the deal seems too good to be true, make sure to check that the company is licensed and registered.

High prices are usually associated with first-class service, but sometimes the moving company could just be trying to take advantage of your situation, or trying to inflate your “service”.

So try to consider other factors apart from price when choosing a moving company. Ask friends and family for recommendations and try and go for a moving company you can trust.

5. Request Multiple Estimates

Many of the East-to-West Coast moving companies are nationwide chains. Sometimes these companies can lowball potential customers on the first estimate. So as previously mentioned, if the price is too low and too good to be true, it probably is.

If you’re moving from the New York area, check out long-distance moving quotes from Imperial Moving & Storage, Oz Moving, or Flat Rate. They all provide moving services from New York to California and other West Coast Cities. If you’re moving from the Boston area, check out quotes from Stairhoppers or Poseidon Moving Company.

When moving from the East Coast to the West Coast, you have to accept the fact that the move will be relatively expensive. Make sure to shop around for a good price, but don’t always take the lowest price possible.

Companies offering super low prices can be sacrificing their quality of service for lower prices. You should only leave your valuables with people you feel are trustworthy—you don’t want to end up with misplaced or damaged items.

6. Consider Shipping Certain Items

Depending on the pricing of a moving company and how many boxes you plan to take with you, shipping some of your belongings may be another option to consider. Try to look at local shipping companies to get an estimate for shipping your items.

Ideally, if you don’t own as much stuff, you may be able to simply fly across the country and have your belongings neatly shipped to your new home on the West Coast.

Of course, this isn’t applicable to everyone, but especially if you decide to move without your furniture, it could definitely be a good option.

7. Consider Selling Your Car

Another major cost to think about when planning a move from the East Coast to the West Coast is the cost of moving your car across the country. The cost of moving a vehicle from one coast to another will vary from one auto transporter to the other. But you may want to consider selling your car so that this cost is not a factor.

If you feel that you can’t let go of your car, make sure to contact a few good coast-to-coast auto movers before narrowing down on one. As always, request quotes, compare them carefully and try to choose a company that will take the best care of your vehicle for a reasonable price too.

8. Arrange Professional Packers

Packing by yourself can save you a lot of money but some moves are just suited better for professional packing services.

In the case of an emergency move (when you have too little time to pack), the presence of heavy items (heavy furniture, a grand piano, a hot tub, large kitchen appliances, etc.) or the existence of high-value items (antique furniture, a priceless art piece, etc.) is not the right time to practice your packing skills as the risk of damage to your items is too great.

Many of the coast-to-coast moving companies will have the option to add a professional packer to your moving package. So ask around for multiple rates from multiple companies. Don’t be afraid to ask about all the additional services they may offer. You might not need all the services they offer you, so try to assess what jobs you’re willing to do.

The professional packers will use stronger cardboard boxes, generous amounts of bubble wrap, packing paper, and strategically use padding materials to guarantee the well-being of your items. Make sure to ask if those supplies are included in the price of packing or not.

Although this cost is something that some people may see as unnecessary, sometimes these things are just better off being left to the professionals.

To allow for better organization during your move and for easy unpacking, make sure to label all boxes as they are packed. Labeling will also help the movers handle the boxes appropriately.

9. Enjoy the Opportunities

Once your monumental move is complete, please remember to enjoy yourself. There are so many advantages to living on the West Coast. Due to the number of major tech companies on the West Coast, the population has access to a large number of potential jobs. This means you’ll have access to unique job and career opportunities.

Generally, the West Coast has a better winter climate than the East Coast. The East Coast winters can be pretty harsh, depending on where you’re moving from of course.

Living on the West Coast also allows for a new opportunity to travel. The West Coast gives you much easier access to travel to Asia. Now Tokyo and Hong Kong will be only one flight away. Overall moving from the East Coast to the West Coast will open all sorts of new and diverse opportunities.

Moving from the East Coast to the West Coast is one of the toughest types of residential moves to make. So congrats on trying to accomplish such a massive task! Hopefully, these 9 tips can make moving from the East Coast to the West Coast a little bit less stressful. Happy moving!