Ask LH: What's The Best Approach To Moving Across The Country?

Dear Lifehacker, I currently live in a rather remote location, and wish to move across the country to a more built-up, urban environment, buying a house in the process. My question is how do I facilitate this? With freight costs and travel expenses so exorbitantly high, I feel trapped here for the most part. Should I be looking at a pre-approved home loan before moving, or would it be best to move, rent and then buy? Thanks, Get Me Outta Here

Moving picture from Shutterstock

Dear GMOH,

Without knowing your current location or financial situation, it's difficult to provide any specific advice. That said, unless you're willing to sell everything you own, it's usually a better idea to move first and buy later.

While this will require more money in the long term, it massively reduces the upfront cost of moving and is also a lot less stressful. Buying a new house and moving interstate are two hugely complex endeavors — attempting to tackle both at the same time will probably take a few years off your life. If you can afford it, start off by renting.

Moving before you buy will also give you more freedom to attend property viewings and check out various neighbourhoods in person. In addition, you'll still have the option of returning home if life in the city isn't everything you hoped for. Once you buy a property, you can't just pack up and leave if things don't work out. Concentrate on moving, then take a few months to scope things out.

You can find plenty of additional advice via our Moving tag. If any readers have been in a similar situation to GMOH let him know which route you went down in the comments section below.

See also: Top 10 Things To Remember When Moving House | How To Set Up A New Home When You're On A Tight Budget | Five Essential Tools for Moving

Cheers Lifehacker

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    I would seriously recommend moving over then renting to start, then find out where you would like to live and consider buying. Interest rates are low at the moment, but this is pushing prices up shame in renting to find out if you like the place then consider buying if and when the time is right for you.

    Good luck!

    If this is due to a new or redeployed job, some employers (esp government) will assist with moving expenses.

    Don't bring over any big furniture unless you're pretty attached to it - it's a lot cheaper to sell your fridge and pick up a second-hand one at the other end than it to move it across the country. If there's anywhere you can store your less-vital stuff (Friends house, etc) you can move over and then get it shipped over to you after you've found somewhere stable.

    Downside: selling your stuff means you'll spend your final weeks in a house gradually emptying of things you use every day. You'll find yourself eating mostly takeaway and sleeping on a mattress in a sleeping bag by the end.

    Upside: if you can make it over there with just a carload of essentials or two suitcases on the plane, you have a lot more flexibility. You can stay in a hotel or hostel or couchsurf or buy a caravan or whatever you want until you find long term accomodation.

    When I moved from Qld to Tas 2 years ago, I bought 2 ten packs of 3kg prepaid satchels, and sent all my DVDs, photos, games, collectables, etc by mail. You should have seen the pile from the post office. They had to take a special trip and they arrived over 2 separate days.

    It was about 50% cheaper than any other backload or bulk shipping I could find.

    If you plan on moving your stuff yourself and have a tow-bar, the U-Haul trailers can be quite good value. We got a waterproof enclosed furniture box for about $600 to drive up from Sydney to Brisbane. With a bit of 3D Tetris skill it fit two queen beds, a lounge, two bikes, a fridge, coffee table and a whole heap of other stuff.

    For the moving interstate part of your dilemma a really hassle free and cheap way to move is using a self pack shipping container. On average the cost is about 50% less than that of a full service removalist and it's a lot more flexible too. If you're ever after a free online quote check out They've got great reviews and a good reputation.

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