How to Prepare for a DIY Cross-Country Move

3500 miles of changing weather and landscapes, too many dog farts to count, and far too much packing and unpacking shenanigans later…we made it! We traded sunny Atlanta for the damp lushness of Eugene, Oregon. As I type this, I am looking at moss-covered trees blanketed in fog. And I kinda like it. A lot.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

Getting here was not easy. It’s not the norm that people just up and move to a place across the country on what *seems* like a whim. Up until this point, I let my job dictate where I live. This time I decided to choose where I live. Because as the youngins say YOLO*!

Seriously though, this kind of untraditional way of moving is super scary. But isn’t anything that’s not the norm scary? Ultimately, this is not a tutorial. Everybody is different and has different needs and financial situations. In this post, I’m gonna share with you some things we did along the way to help us “pull off” a DIY move across the country. Keep in mind that some of these steps are over a very looooong period of time.

How We Prepared for a Cross-Country Move

1. We saved money. This has given me peace of mind and I know that it will act as a security blanket if we need it.

2. Made sure we had dat cash-money flow from a geographically independent source. Think freelancing (Neal) and telecommuting (me). This required Neal to work nearly up to the day we started packing our stuff.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

3. Spent time researching cities to live (helpful sites that we used here and here). Narrowed it down and took a trip out to scope places to live. We got extremely lucky and found a house to rent on our trip out. I think this is partly due to the fact that our move was during an atypical time to move (winter!). Could we have gotten a place to live without traveling out here? Probably. But I felt better having seen the hood and the actual inside of the house.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

4. Set a moving date. We had already built a good rapport with our Atlanta rental company. As such, we were able to break our lease without too much cray-cray.

5. Rented relocubes to pack our stuff and have it transported. This was the cheapest moving option we found. They pick up the packed cubes when you call them and deliver them to your new location. They’ll even send out an extra cube if you ask in case your stuff spilleth over and they won’t charge ya if you don’t use it.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

6. Packed and purged. This one is self-explanatory eh?

We got large cardboard boxes from a retail store for free (craigslist and me are BFFs). These were great because they were all uniform sizes which made packing the cube easier! Grocery stores are also a great source of free boxes, you just have to ask. We got smaller sized boxes from the Atlanta co-op to fill in small spaces in our packing cube.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

The kitchen was the hardest to pack. Yet it was also one of the last rooms to get packed because food. Nearly every non-refrigerated good was brought with us.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

I learned to adapt to the constant transitory state of our house during the days leading up to packing the relocubes. Things got ugly for a few days.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

We had to be okay with sleeping on the floor for a night as well.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

We packed our cubes in ONE day. Had I a chance to do it over again, I would have given ourselves at least two days. It’s challenging and time-consuming to fill in those cubes because we wanted to occupy every inch. This involves some serious tetris skills.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

7. Did our walk-through with our Atlanta place and then hit the road (road post forthcoming)!

After living in Atlanta for so long, we had established some wonderful friendships and had family nearby. So somewhere between #4 and #7 we made sure to find time to say goodbye. The ease of our move was certainly not possible without the extreme generosity and continued support of friends and family.

I don’t think I could have asked for a better moving experience. But if had to do it all over again,  I would trade places with this guy in a heartbeat…

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

Happy Holidays!


*YOLO = You Only Live Once

36 thoughts on “How to Prepare for a DIY Cross-Country Move

  1. ilse singer

    I lived in Eugene (and small town coastal oregon) a long, long, time ago. I adore the lush, briny, mistiness of the Pacific Northwest ..congratz!! A brave and wonderful move.
    One day I’ll move back.

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thank you so much! So far we are loving what we’ve seen of Eugene. Coming from Atlanta, we really appreciate the smaller town feel of it. And yes, the lushness and mistiness is something I adore as well. 🙂

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thank you Becky! I feel like cubes were definitely the best option for us. If money were a non-issue, I would prefer movers of course bc I don’t really enjoy the process of moving all that heavy stuff. These relocubes were also cheaper than the brand “PODS”. The cubes seem small but they hold a lot of stuff if everything is packed from bottom to top. We also maximized space by putting our clothes in heavy duty trash bags and throwing those in small open crevices.

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thank you so much! I’m loving the Pacific NW so far. Everybody has mentioned how doomy and gloomy it is in winter (which I actually don’t mind) but we’ve had 3 or 4 days of fabulous sunshine so far!

  2. acookinthemaking

    I am seriously so impressed that you guys had the foresight and organization to pull off a move like that. I hope you are loving your new home so far, and I can’t wait to read about your road trip!

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      It’s amazing what one can do when they have their mind set on something. There’s still a lot of uncertainty and this whole thing may very well go up in a ball of flames but even if that does happen, at least we tried…at least that is what I keep telling myself 🙂

  3. Produce on Parade

    Whoa, congratulations! Your post made my anxiety skyrocket! Haha. You’re awesome. When I need to move this fall (fingers crossed) I’m going to call you two experts! 🙂 Happy you’re home!

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thank you Katie! And oh noes! I didn’t mean to give anybody anxiety! I was actually hoping to inspire maybe some people with this post. But yes, I definitely had anxiety throughout the whole process. I still do. It will hit me randomly sometimes where I suddenly think to myself—wtf did we just do? ha ha! 🙂

      I hope your move this fall goes as planned! I will be sending positive moving vibes through the universe to you!

  4. Tashina

    Welcome to the Eug! 🙂 I’m from Corvallis and went to college in Eugene, so this post is exciting. I can live vicariously through you to see what new options are there until my next visit! Speaking of, we’ll have to plan to get coffee or lunch when that happens!

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Hi Tashina! We actually checked out Corvallis when we were looking for places to live. It seemed like a very nice town too. So far, I am loving Eugene. We actually were a bit weary because it is considered a “college town” and we are faaaar from college people anymore 🙂 but I haven’t noticed anything too over the top college-y yet if that makes sense. In fact, I think having the college so close gives the city an interesting vibe!

      And yesss! Let’s definitely connect next time you’re in town. Perhaps you can fill me in on the secrets of Eugene. Happy New Year!

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      I would have gone with a Uhaul truck if we didn’t have to worry about transporting the greyhounds because that is actually probably the cheapest route. But I don’t think those trucks have a place for our large pups. Plus that would have meant driving separately and I’m not sure if either of us was up to that :-P. If money were not an issue, I would have gone with movers for sure…maybe one day on our next move… 🙂

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Woweee! That is so cool! What kind of things do you guys print? My partner is self taught and has learned so much in the past two years. If we’re ever in your neck of the woods, we’ll have to stop by your shop!

      1. zeelemons

        Self taught here too! We grew into this from focusing mostly on graphic design but this is much more fun! We have our own line of apparel, cards and posters and this year I’ll be adding napkins, tea towels and children’s pillows into the mix.

  5. ameyfm

    Congratulations on your move!! What an interesting post. I hope you find yourselves happy and content in Eugene. It’s such a beautiful spot, and certainly something new and different from Atlanta. Happy Holidays!

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thank you so much! So far, we are really loving the drastic change from Atlanta to Eugene. Though there is still so much about this city that I need to learn about.

      Have a wonderful New Year!

  6. Katie of Vegan Noms

    So happy you had a pleasant moving experience! What a task… the idea of the cubes is absolutely brilliant. And relatively cheap, you say?! I can see my life trajectory bringing me to the PNW in the future… totally love that part of the country! Can’t wait to see more about your transition and Eugene!

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thank you Katie! Yes, I don’t think our move could have gone any smoother. There were a few snafus, but nothing compared to some horror stories I have heard. The PNW certainly has an appealing draw to it. We were watching something on the news the other day that said that 2013 brought in the most new residents to Oregon from all over the country!

      The cubes were definitely our cheapest option. I think renting a Uhaul truck and driving it ourselves might have been even cheaper but we didn’t think it would accommodate the dogs and neither of us could really stomach the idea of driving 8+ hours a day on our own in separate vehicles.

      Maybe one day our paths will cross in the PNW! Have a wonderful new year!

  7. Andrea

    Glad to hear you made it safely to Eugene. Welcome to the PNW! I’m also glad to hear you like the damp, gloomy weather cause there’s a lot of it! It is green and lush — even in winter. Our lettuce is still growing.

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thank you Andrea! Yes, I actually quite like the damp and gloomy weather right now….ask me again in several months or years though and I might have a different answer 🙂

      We were watching the news last night however and they said that 2013 was the driest they’d seen. I have been quite surprised too. It’s been quite dry here and we’ve had about 3 or 4 days of sunshine (partial days).

      I just joined a CSA here that runs all winter so I’m excited to see what the winter harvest brings…perhaps there will be some lettuce in it!

      Happy New Year!

  8. mrsnikkiv

    Congrats on such a big move! My husband and I both grew up in the LA area and have in the past year or so been considering relocating to the Pacific Northwest. We’ve been looking into Oregon also. Thanks for the post – it will be useful! If you don’t mind saying… how many bedrooms of belongings fit into how many relocubes for you?

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thank you! It was definitely quite a feat to pull off. Oh, you should definitely consider the Pacific NW! We heard on the news the other day that 2013 brought a ton of new residents to Oregon from all over the country, so it is quite a desirable place to live. I imagine it would be quite the change from LA!

      And as far as how much stuff fit in the cube….let’s see…we fit about 2-3 bedrooms worth of stuff, a living room and a “dining” room/kitchen. Keep in mind that most of our furniture is not like grown uppy furniture and we don’t own a lot. So when I say “dining” room, I’m talking about an ikea dining table and chairs which are on the small side. Here’s a general breakdown:

      queen mattress and box springs (we don’t have a headboard)
      large ikea desk (broken down)
      small ikea file drawer
      small 3-drawer thing (like a tupperware type dresser drawer that I keep clothes in)
      all our clothes (most stuffed in heavy duty garbage bags to fill in spaces in the cubes. We threw most of these in at the end or whenever we had that odd space that wouldn’t fit anything else)

      dining room/kitchen:
      small ikea table and two chairs (nothing broken down)
      2-4 BIG boxes of kitchen stuff including plates, dry goods, appliances, cooking utensils

      Neal’s offices:
      3 ikea shelves, the kind that usually hold cds (small and broken down)
      large drafting table (broken down)
      big-ass printer
      all his screen printing supplies (~ 30 medium sized jugs of screen printing paint)
      8 large screen printing screens
      computer and printer
      small drafting table
      ikea 4-cube record holder filled with records
      bass guitar
      ~30 poster tubes
      wooden drying rack with 50 shelves (not broken down)
      large rug
      4 large boxes of records/cds

      Living Room:
      Oversized love seat (we had to get rid of the matching sofa because it was just toooo big)
      coffee table
      small tv stand
      wide screen tv, dvd player, roku player
      ikea cube shelfy thing
      small sewing table
      2 book cases
      all my craft stuff (about 2-3 boxes of yarn, etc)
      3-4 big boxes of books

      2 bikes
      boxes of knick knacks (like gifted pottery, picture frames)
      bathroom stuff/linens/etc
      cleaning supplies
      trash cans
      vacuum cleaner

      I’m sure I’m leaving stuff out…but those were like the bigger items. I think we could have fit more in the second cube if we had had the energy but by the time we finished, it was like 2 or 3 in the morning and our brains were spent. The first cube was packed to the gills though!

      All of stuff survived with minimal to no damage. We used some weird packing “saran” wrap to wrap stuff and blankets to protect other stuff. My poor antique sewing table got a few nicks in the wood so I would definitely recommend padding delicate furniture or anything you can’t stand to see get damaged, but for the most part everything came out pretty unscathed.

      If you have any other specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I didn’t find a lot of information on cubes and how much fit in them when we were researching them either so I hope this helps!

      Have a happy new year!

      PS I wanted to add that we initially were going to try and get everything in one cube and just get rid of everything else and replace it when we got here. But we did the maths and the spillover stuff more than equaled the cost of the 2nd cube so it would have cost more to replace. So far, we’ve only bought an extra side chair and ottoman off craigslist in terms of furniture. And we got rid of one of our office desks, so Neal built me a new one.

      1. mrsnikkiv

        Thanks for the detailed breakdown! We only have a one bedroom, but we have lots of camping gear and stuff in three huge closets (we are extremely lucky to have those walk-ins). We also have a lot of hand-me-down furniture from my grandparents, so it’s sort of bulky and doesn’t break down.

        It would be tempting to just move belongings and get new furniture when we got there but all we could afford to replace our furniture with would be low quality. I’m thinking the cubes would be a great option, we just might have to get more than two. Thanks for the info!

  9. Claire (Eat Well. Party Hard.)

    I’m late on commenting because the internet connection is so wonky here, but CONGRATS on the move! So, so exciting. I’ll be jumping from place to place throughout 2014 before finally settling in one city toward the end, so the year is about saving for that final haul; this post was super helpful. I’d never heard of Relocubes, but they look like THE smartest thing.

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Hey Claire! Thanks! Relocubes are definitely the way to go if you don’t plan on Uhauling it yourself. They are basically the knock off brand of pods. How exciting that you will be living in different places througout 2014! I would one day love to be able to just be a kind of a nomad for a year or two!

  10. Katie

    Yay! Welcome to the PNW! Maybe our paths will cross sometime in the near future. Eugene’s not so far from Seattle. 🙂 I love, love, love the moss that grows everywhere out here. It makes me feel so alive.

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thanks! There are still many things I’m navigating as we settle in, but learning and making mistakes is, though not always apparent at the time, the best part of this adventure!


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