Life Lessons from Cross Country Moving

In 2015, I was one of the 53 million people who move every year in the United States when I made my trek from Topeka, Kansas, to Boise, Idaho.

This journey marked a profound emotional change in my life, as well as a tremendous logistical challenge.

I want to recount what motivated me and what I learned from the experience of cross country moving.

Before I moved, I was stuck at a dead-end job in the middle of nowhere in Topeka.

According to the people around me, I was living the post-college dream: settling down with a nice job that pays the bills and NOT taking too many chances.

I wasn’t happy, though.

The 9-to-5 grind wasn’t satisfying, I didn’t feel very passionate about my work, and I felt like there was NOTHING for me in the American heartland.

The Status Quo Bias

The first challenge I encountered was the mental block that we all have when it comes to making profound changes in our lives.

Change is hard, irreversible changes even more so.

Even though, in retrospect, the choice that I had to make was an obvious one, it seemed easier to NOT do anything.

This predisposition to keep things the way they are is known by psychologists as the status quo bias.

It rears its ugly head whenever we’re forced to make life-changing decisions, and a natural fear of change interferes.

Fighting this bias is not easy.

For me, it came down to trusting myself and my feelings.

I knew that I wanted to move and that I wanted change.

So confronting that natural pull towards the status quo was a matter of recognizing that change was something that I had wanted for a while; I was not feeling some passing fancy.

With this newfound confidence, I was able to do the things that I needed to do.

I put in my two weeks’ notice at work and announced my intention to move to Idaho.

Cross Country Moving Is Harder Than It Looks

The last time I had moved was when I was two years old.

I have to be honest: I didn’t do a whole lot of the heavy lifting back then.

Cross country moving is A LOT harder than anyone tells you.

If I had to do it again, here are some things that I’d do differently to make things run a little more smoothly:

  • De-clutter before you move. Nothing is more of a pain than figuring out what’s junk and what’s not while you’re trying to pack for moving. During your last nights in your old house or apartment, you want things to look like they will in your new home.
  • Deduct your moving expenses on your taxes. Holy cow, cross country moving is expensive! What I didn’t know (and wish I had) is that you can sometimes deduct the cost of your move on your taxes (usually in cases where you’ve moved for work or for your small business).
  • Label your moving boxes and organize them according to location. Pack according to the room layout of your new place, so that boxes destined for the back of the house go into your car last.
  • Be prepared to spruce up your new home. Not every new place comes as advertised, and taking renovations into your own hands is a great way to get to know your new abode. For me, it was a matter of doing some serious work to make my new house more eco-friendly, in accordance with my values.

Making a major change in your life and deciding to do cross country moving can be a serious challenge.

For me, the right way forward was to recognize WHAT I wanted – and be smart about doing it.

Nick Cesare is a violist and writer. When he’s not writing or practicing his instrument he loves to go mountain biking and cook great food. You can reach Nick @cesare_nick with any questions or comments.
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