When it comes to moving out of state, there are basically two types of people: Those who just wing it, and those who prefer to prepare and avoid unnecessary problems and stress.
Congrats! If you’re reading this, you probably fit into the second category. You like to know what you’re dealing with, and do what you can to control your own destiny. And if you’re used to winging it and have decided to try something different, you’ll find that when it comes to moving, a little advance work can save you tons of effort and hassle in the end.
Let’s face it. No one really loves all the work involved in moving. But if you’re willing to take the time to research and manage the details, you’re much more likely to have a smooth move and begin your new life on a positive note!
To help you do exactly that, we’ve put together a list of to-dos and how-to tips with everything you need to know about moving out of state. Now let’s get started!
1. Research your new city
Before moving out of state, it’s important to know more about where you’re moving to. Ideally, you’ll take a trip to your new city and spend some time exploring. Long walks or bike rides are a great way to check out neighborhoods, as is popping into a pub or eatery. The neighborhood you choose will make or break your experience in a new state.
Here are a few tips to help with your research:
- If you have children, check out local schools on websites like GreatSchools.org.
- To look into commute times, open Google Maps during rush hour to see which routes are the most red, and get estimated travel times for car and transit.
- If you can’t visit in person, use Google Street View to explore neighborhoods.
- Use NeighborhoodScout to research crime rates.
Once you’ve researched your city and found your ideal neighborhood, you can start searching for a place to buy or rent. Another option is to stay in temporary housing or with a friend or relative. You can keep your stuff in portable storage — either at your temporary digs or in a storage center — until you find just the right place to settle down.
2. Check Cost of Living Differences
It’s important to know just how much more (or less!) your new life will cost when you’re moving out of state. You can use a cost of living calculator to check out differences in housing, transportation, food, clothes, etc.
Remember to check up on state taxes, too. Know your new state’s property, sales, and income tax. If you run your own business, you’ll want to research business and payroll taxes, as well as business license expenses. The less blindsided you are by the cost of living differences and taxes, the more you can properly budget for relocating to another state.
3. Figure out Moving and Storage Options
Moving all your stuff will most likely be the biggest expense and most difficult aspect of moving out of state. Planning ahead will make this part of relocating a whole lot easier.
Here are a few options for moving and storage for out-of-state moves:
- Hire professional movers to load and drive a moving truck, the most expensive and rigid option in terms of scheduling.
- Rent your own moving truck and bribe friends or family members to help you load up, or hire local movers for loading and unloading.
- Use a portable container for packing, moving and storage — an affordable option compared to both movers and rental trucks, and the most flexible, especially if you’re moving in stages and using temporary housing. You also have the option of hiring local movers to help with the packing or loading part.
Make it an adventure! Find out how this couple found creative ways to have fun on their cross-country move — including a stop at the Grand Canyon.
You’ll need to consider both your budget and personal moving needs and preferences when choosing moving and storage options. Moving costs can quickly spiral out of control, especially when you’re going with professional movers.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re planning on moving out of state:
- What’s my budget?
- Do I want contactless moving to reduce risks of spreading COVID-19 or other viruses?
- Do I feel comfortable driving a big truck long-distance?
- Am I going to need to store stuff in my old or new city?
- Do I want to load and unload at my leisure and have someone else drive the truck?
- How much time do I have to move from one place to another?
- How much stuff am I moving?
Before you go, remember to get rid of as much clutter as possible. The less stuff you have to move, the more budget-friendly your move will be.
PRO TIP: If you’re relocating for a job, ask your employer if they cover relocation expenses. This could save you tons of money on your move!
4. Set Aside Extra Money for Moving
Speaking of budgets, moving to a new state can cost a lot of money, so you want to make sure you have some savings to cover unexpected moving expenses.
Here are a few moving expenses you may not have thought about:
- Gas/diesel expenses of up to $8.00 per gallon can be charged by your moving truck rental company if you don’t return the truck with a full tank.
- Mileage overage surcharges
- Packing supplies like boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape, etc., can add up quickly, especially if you aren’t finding used or free boxes
- You may need to ship your car cross-country
- Hotel rooms and meals out during your out-of-state move
- Utility deposits and connection fees
- Deposits, plus first and last month’s rent on a new apartment or house
- Products to set up your new home like shower curtains, rods, bath mats, hand towels, cleaning supplies, and groceries
|Want moving supplies delivered to your door? Save time and money with fast, free shipping. Order online now.|
5. Power Up Your Utilities
The last thing you want when moving to another state is to show up and not have your utilities up and running.
Take the time before you move to set up utilities like water and sewer, power, garbage pickup, and internet access. After a long day of unpacking, you’ll be anxious to have all the comforts of home at the ready.
You should consider packing a box of necessities you’ll need for the first few days — things like toilet paper, paper towels, toothbrushes, towels, and some non-perishable snacks.
6. Figure Out Healthcare
Your current healthcare won’t work if you’re moving out of state. If your job provides health insurance, it’s important to read through your new policy to figure out your deductible and what’s covered. Even if you don’t need to change insurance companies, you’ll need new doctors and a new pharmacy.
If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to report your move to the health insurance marketplace and search for options in your new state. You can often find a health insurance agent who can assist you.
Take time to call your current doctor’s office to get copies of your medical records and prescriptions, and plan to go in person to sign for permission and pick up your records. It’s often easier to bring your own copies to a new doctor’s office rather than wait for an electronic transfer.
Do all of this way ahead of time — you know how busy doctor’s offices can get!
Be sure to stock up on prescriptions before moving out of state in case there’s any lag time booking an appointment with your new doctor.
PRO TIP: If you’re planning far enough in advance, start using your insurance company’s mail-order prescription option. They usually allow 90-day supplies. Plus, if you’re not changing insurance, all you need to do is change the address for delivery!
7. Change Your Driver’s License and Vehicle Registration
One of the first things you’ll want to do when moving out of state is get a new driver’s license and vehicle registration. Each state has different rules for how quickly you’ll need to change this information; it can range anywhere from 10 to 30 days.
We highly recommend making an appointment in advance if you can — this will speed up the process and get you out of a long, boring wait at the DMV. Be sure to check what documents are required, and whether you’ll need a vision or driving test. Some states require U.S. citizens to provide proof of citizenship — like an original birth certificate or U.S. passport — as well as proof of residence, and Social Security, like a social security card or W-2 form. Non-citizens will need other types of documentation. There’s nothing worse than going to the DMV, waiting, and then finding out you don’t have the right documents!
Don’t forget to change the address on your auto insurance policy. You may end up paying less or more for insurance (fingers crossed for less!), depending on where you move.
8. Update Your Address
Remember to update all your information when moving out of state. You can submit a permanent Change-of-Address form with the USPS that will forward mail from your old address to your new one.
In the meantime, be sure to go online and change your mailing address for all your accounts, including your financial institutions, retirement accounts, cell phone, Netflix, etc. Your billing address will need to match your credit card payments on all your online accounts and subscriptions. And if you’re still using paper checks, you’ll want your new address on those, too.
You’ll also want to share your new address with friends and family members so they know where to find you.
9. Register to Vote in Your New State
Registering to vote is an important part of getting involved in your new city and state. In 40 states plus the District of Columbia, you can register to vote online. If you prefer registering in person, you can sign up at a local or state elections office.
Often, when you change your address with the USPS you’ll have the option to register to vote in your new state. You can sometimes do this at the DMV as well.
In order to register to vote, you’ll typically need a driver’s license or identification card, which proves you’re a resident of your new state!
10. Get Informed About Your New State’s Risks of Natural Disaster
Whether you’re moving to earthquake country, tornado alley, or lowlands prone to flooding, knowing the risks in your new area will help you choose housing and homeowners insurance options wisely. For example, if you’re moving to Florida from the Midwest, it’s better to learn about hurricanes before there’s one making a beeline for the state.
Disaster preparedness is an important, but often overlooked, part of moving to a new state. You’ll arrive at your destination in the know, ready to tackle any issues that could leave you vulnerable to natural disasters.
11. Explore Your New Neighborhood!
After the move is over and you’re settled into your new home, it’s time to meet people and get to know your neighborhood. Here are a few tips for making new friends:
- Find your local neighborhood association and go to a meeting or event
- Join meetup, hiking, or walking groups in your area
- Knock on your neighbor’s doors and introduce yourself
- Visit the local park with your children and/or your dog — this is a great way to meet people!
- Check out the coffee shops, pubs and restaurants in your neighborhood
- Hop on public transit and tour your new town
- Go on long walks or bike rides through your neighborhood — you never know what hidden gems you might find!
While moving out of state can be stressful, remember to enjoy the process. Soon, you’ll be living in a new home, making new friends, and exploring a whole new world.
Kristin Hanes is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in SF Gate, Marie Claire, and Realtor.com, among other publications.