What to Expect When Moving to a Higher Elevation

High-altitude living: 5 things to help with the transition

No matter where you decide to move, you’ll likely need to make some adjustments to your daily life. This is especially true when the destination is a mountainous place like Colorado, Wyoming or Utah. Moving to cities located more than 3,000 feet above sea level can impact packing processes, health, vehicles and more. Learn more about what can be affected by high elevation and 5 things you can do to adjust.

View of Colorado mountains, seen after moving to a higher elevation.


1. Take care of health concerns

Before making the move, it makes sense to visit your doctor for a checkup to prepare for the journey. Acclimation — the body’s process of adjusting to the new altitude — takes some time, but don’t worry! You can pull it off without a hitch with a little preparation. 

The CDC recommends: 

Easing the transition

Make stops along the way to increase elevation slowly, and if you’re able to, stay for a couple of days at the halfway point while making the trip to help with acclimation. Be sure to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and avoid alcohol and caffeine while you adjust.

Evaluating medications

People who take medications for chronic conditions (especially heart or lung diseases) might need the dosages adjusted for the change in elevation.

Watching for signs of illness 

While getting used to living in a new city closer to the sky, you’ll also want to be on the lookout for symptoms of altitude sickness, which can include: 

  • Shortness of breath 
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting  

Mild cases can usually be treated with prescriptions at home, but people with severe illnesses might need to go to a hospital, so it’s a good idea to establish care with a new doctor as soon as possible. 

Moisturizing and hydrating

The dryer air at high altitudes can zap the moisture out of your body, so use a good lotion and drink plenty of water. Don’t neglect your nostrils — using a product like plain petroleum jelly can help keep nasal passages in good shape and prevent nosebleeds. Also, no matter what time of year it is, use sunscreen. Being closer to the sun’s rays can lead to sunburns and skin damage.

2. Modify the packing and moving process

Taking care while packing for a move is important anytime, but you’ll want to be especially careful when taking belongings from low elevations to higher ones. Sealed bags or containers might burst due to the difference in air pressure. It’s best to take precautions like packing shampoo, body wash and similar items separately so they won’t damage other things if the bottles leak. You might also consider waiting to purchase toiletries and groceries after reaching the destination.  

If you’re using a rental truck, driving could take longer than usual because of decreased gas mileage of the vehicle combined with slower traveling speeds. Allow plenty of extra time during the winter in case of icy road conditions, which are more common in the mountains.  

Choose the right moving company 

It’s often easier to move to higher elevations with a company like U-Pack® where you do the packing, loading, and unloading, and we take care of driving. We serve all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico so you’re free to travel in a personal vehicle or fly to your destination! Get a free quote online or call 844-362-5303844-594-3077 to speak to a moving consultant. 

3. Care for pets 

When relocating from lower to higher elevations, it’s possible for pets to suffer from altitude sickness just like their human companions. Keep furry friends well hydrated and visit a veterinarian for a checkup before and after moving. Look for signs like excessive thirst or coughing, which can indicate pets are struggling to acclimate. Pets with existing heart or lung conditions might have a harder time adjusting than animals in good health.

4. Plan for extra car maintenance 

It’s not just animals and people who need time to adjust to a higher altitude; cars do too! The difference in air pressure can affect tire inflation and the life of air filters. Just after moving is a good time to schedule a tune-up for your vehicle to keep it in tip-top shape. 

5. Adjust cooking methods 

The last thing you want to do is burn your first meal at the new place. To continue (or improve!) your chef skills, there are some adjustments for cooking at high elevations.  

According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, at 3,000 feet above sea level (or more): 

  • Water and other liquids will boil at lower temperatures and evaporate faster 
  • Stovetop cooking times might increase 
  • Microwave cooking might take less time 
  • Foods can dry out faster (meats, casseroles, etc.) 
  • Leavening agents in baked goods will expand more 

Follow recipe instructions for high-altitude cooking and make sure to use a thermometer to ensure foods reach the proper internal temperature before serving. Look online or visit a local library for information about cooking in your new town. 


U-Pack can help you make the most of moving to a higher elevation. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments. We’re always happy to help!