Moving across the nation? If so, you’re probably undergoing more stress than anyone knows.
Moving cross-country is a tough ordeal, and you’re dealing with headaches that people who move a mere few-hours-drive-away just don’t experience.
And most likely, you don’t have many people to share your pain with. Of the 26.8 million people over 16 who moved between 2014 and 2015, less than 2.3 million moved more than 500 miles—according to the US Census Bureau.
Here are eight problems that only people who move cross-country would understand.
Finding a place to live.
If you’re moving to a nearby city – let’s say, from Cincinnati to Columbus – you can cruise to your new city on Friday after work, spend the weekend looking for housing, and return home for Sunday dinner.
If you’re moving cross-country, however, this ability disappears. Crossing the nation requires several hundred dollars for an airline ticket, which means you’ll only visit your new state once or twice before the big move.
As a result, you’ll need to research homes from your couch. You’ll need to rely on a friend (or hire someone on Taskrabbit) to tour housing on your behalf – just to make sure it’s not seedy. You may need to sign a lease sight-unseen.
If you’re not comfortable with this, you’ll need to rent a space through Airbnb or move into an extended-stay hotel for the first few weeks in your new state.
Either way, finding a home from the other side of the nation is a hassle.
Finding a job without a local address.
Guess what’s even worse than looking for a home?
Step 1: Apply for a job in California or Oregon.
Step 2: List a mailing address in Maine or Florida.
Step 3: Wait for the interviewer or HR representative to say the inevitable: “Please re-submit your application after you move here.”
Unfortunately, many companies prefer local candidates. That means your job prospects dim … precisely at the moment when your moving expenses skyrocket. Congratulations, you’re going to be broke for a while.
Selling your stuff
Even if you rent a moving truck, there’s a limit to how much you can pack.
You’ll need to get rid of a ton of your stuff – old clothes, books, kitchenware, childhood momentos and furniture – before you make the move.
Your time and energy during your final few months at home will be consumed by two things: first, making decisions about what to keep and what to axe, and second, listing items on Craigslist and eBay and hosting yard sales.
Before you move, you’ll want to make final visits with your friends and family. You might not see them again for months or years.
In addition, you’ll want to wrap up final appointments with doctors, dentists, your CPA, and anyone else with whom you handle personal business.
Add this together with all problems mentioned above and the result is clear: your spare time is nonexistent.
Phone calls at odd hours
You’ve just moved cross-country. It’s 6 a.m. Pacific Time when your cell phone rings. You grab it, fearing that a loved one has been in an accident.
Nope. It’s a routine call from your former dentist, reminding you that it’s time to schedule your biannual checkup.
Unfortunately, many people in your contact list will assume you’re still in the same time zone.
If you’re moving East to West, be prepared for 6 a.m. wakeup calls from businesses who think they’re calling at 9 a.m. If you’re moving West to East, be prepared for acquaintances to wake you up at midnight.
Kim Ehardt, a firefighter, says she started using the “Do Not Disturb” feature on her iPhone after moving from Michigan to Washington state. This automatically silences her phone for certain hours.
“If I’m woken up in the middle of the night, I have a hard time going back to sleep,” she says.
Bringing everything at once
You’re not making the cross-country drive multiple times. If you leave an item back at home, you’re not going to retrieve it. There’s no such thing as “returning to my storage locker” or “coming back for a second load.” All decisions are final.
That means the pressure is on. Are you bringing that dining room set? That king-sized mattress?
You’ll need to load your belongings into a moving truck, drive it across the nation, unload it into a storage unit, find a place to live, and then move your storage unit into your new home.
Dealing with newbie fatigue
When William Sisk moved to Las Vegas, local residents instantly started asking if he’s visited their favorite haunts.
“Lots of people said, ‘Have you been to this bar? Have you tried that restaurant?’,” said Sisk, an operations manager at a software company.
The answer that ran through his mind was, “I’m too busy finding a place to live, adjusting to a new work schedule, adjusting time zones, and living out of a suitcase. I’m not really in the mood to see a Cirque de Soleil show right now.”
Moving cross-country can feel like an isolating experience. People who haven’t experienced it – or even those who haven’t endured it recently – forget how stressful and disruptive it feels.
Choosing new providers
When Ehardt moved across the nation, she realized she needed a completely new set of providers: a new car mechanic. A new hairstylist. A new doctor and dentist.
She couldn’t ask for references; her contacts were on the other side of the country. So she had to shoot blind.
“I used Groupon to test out a few people, until I found one that I really liked,” she said.
You could also read Yelp reviews, check out Angie’s List, or talk to your new colleagues. If nothing else, it’s a nice icebreaker that can help you make new friends.