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Moving to a new home can be a major undertaking, especially when you’re relocating hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Renting a truck and having some friends and family help out often suffices for a local move down the street or to the next town over, but you’ll likely want to hire professionals to handle the heavy lifting, transit and other logistics of a cross-country move.

If you’re relocating across the country, North American Van Lines offers the following five steps to help you prepare for a successful move:

1. Declutter. The price of your cross-country relocation will largely depend on the amount of belongings you need moved. About six to eight weeks before you move, go through your clothing, books and other items to decide if some can be sold or donated. Furniture you don’t want can be listed on websites such as Craigslist, with the added bonus that someone will pay you for something you don’t need–and haul it away in the bargain. The cash you make can help defray your moving costs.

2. Itemize and Organize. Take stock of what you can go ahead and start packing in advance of your cross-country move, such as books, small kitchen appliances you won’t need prior to moving day, knickknacks and other items. Label every box clearly with the room and its contents. Also, taking photos of valuable items is a good idea. This is also a good time to order any additional packing boxes and materials you’ll need.

3. Prepare for Your New Home. About four weeks before your move date, make the arrangements to have the utilities and cable turned off at your old home and on at the new home. If you’ve been renting your current home, clean it as you pack so you have the best chance of getting your full deposit back.

4. Close, Cancel and Transfer. About two weeks before moving day, fill out a change-of-address form at the post office (or online). Have your car serviced if you plan to drive it across the country to your new home. Cancel your local memberships.

5. Keep Your Valuables and Necessary Items Close. As safe and conscientious as professional movers and drivers are, you’ll probably still want to carry valuables such as jewelry, fragile items and small antiques with you in the car for your cross-country move–as well as suitcases packed with what your family will need while on the road.

By working with professionals and following these tips, you’ll be well on your way toward a successful, less stressful cross-country move!

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