A couple using a checklist to prepare for their out-of-state move

Top Tips for Moving Out of State (Plus the Moving-Out-of-State Checklist You Definitely Need)

Moving Tips and Hacks

by LB Gabriel Posted on May 7, 2024

Moving out of state for the first time and experiencing mover’s block? (You know, like writer’s block?) You may be suffering from productivity paralysis — when your brain is moving at warp speed but your body isn’t springing into action. This usually happens when there’s so much to be done that you don’t know where to start. It’s totally understandable. Moving is overwhelming under the best of circumstances. Add some distance to the move, and you’re piling on even more stress. You know what you need? Some foolproof tips for moving out of state.

A moving-out-of-state checklist — which doubles as a cross-country moving checklist, if you’re going that far — will help to get your brain and body in sync. Forget frantically disassembling furniture and haphazardly scheduling things in your calendar. Instead, follow these 14 simple “How to Move Out of State” steps for an easier, breezier move.

If you're looking for options for your long-distance move, learn what PODS can do for you.

14 Things To Do Before Moving Out of State

1. Make a Moving Budget.

One of the first tips for moving out of state is also arguably the most important: You need to get your finances in order. The cost of moving out of state will likely be higher than you realize. But the best way to move out of state isn’t necessarily the most expensive. If you’re moving because of a job opportunity, ask if your new employer offers relocation assistance. If that’s not an option, there are still plenty of ways to save. A good place to start is to decide on a budget and keep track of expenses.

How much should you budget for moving out of state? That depends on several factors, such as how far you’re actually moving and the size of your household. Start by making your own smaller moving-out-of-state checklist by listing everything you’ll personally need to make the move: a moving company, packing supplies, car shipping, transportation, house cleaning services — you get the point. Then, write down the estimated costs for each. 

Need help finding those figures? The PODS Blog has some sample costs you can use. Once you see the expected move price, decide on a comfortable monetary range for your long-distance move. Reference this range any time you receive a quote, but keep in mind the time of year you’re planning to move and the current state of the housing market. Those factors can certainly cause prices to fluctuate.

Q: How much money should you save before moving to another state?
The cost of moving out of state can vary greatly, depending on the distance of your new home and whether you choose to DIY your move or hire professional movers. Prices also depend on the time of year, the company you hire, and extra costs, like shipping your car or investing in packing supplies. If you’re looking for a ballpark, though, MoveBuddha’s moving-out-of-state cost calculator estimates that for a move from New York to Los Angeles in June, full-service movers will cost between $1,500 and $4,000, while moving with PODS will cost $1,500-$2,600, and renting a truck yourself would land you in the range of $2,000-$3,500.

2. Check Out Your New Digs.

If you’re able, visit your new home at least once or twice before you move in. You’ll probably want to buy new furniture and other home goods for the space, and guessing lengths and widths using online pictures isn’t going to be foolproof. To prevent purchasing mistakes, take a closer look at your rooms — and bring along your tape measure — so you can get a better feel for what’s needed in the new space.

If you’re not able to physically visit your new home before your move-in date, ask a friend or realtor to see the home for you. They can send you the necessary details.

A close-up of a hand holding a smartphone. One finger is about to tap on the “Weather” app icon.

Many apps allow you to get to know your new city — even if you’re not living there yet!

3. Get To Know Your New Community.

Even if you’ve already found your new residence, you may not yet be completely familiar with the lay of the land. And though your new home may be too far for a pre-move exploration trip, there are plenty of ways to start getting acquainted from afar using Google, maps, online forums, and your personal network. Whether you’re looking for new schools, new friends, or just a great new coffee spot, here are some ways to get to know your new city:

  • Join a neighborhood social media group.
  • Use an online educational resource like Niche to research school options.
  • Check out the weather. You may find that you need snow tires, hurricane glass for your windows, professional mosquito service, etc.
  • See what stores and shops are nearby. Getting to an empty house and having an empty stomach can be tough. Scout out places where you can get a quick meal and some groceries.
  • Find new medical providers in your area. You may need that doctor, dentist, pediatrician, or vet one day. Have some names ready when the time comes.
  • Note typical traffic patterns. If you’re commuting to a new job, find out how long it will take to get there or if there’s public transit available.

Q: Is it a good idea to move out of state?
Since we don’t know your exact reasons for moving out of state, we can’t say whether it’s a good idea or a bad one. But what we do know is that understanding why you want to move out of state is just as important as knowing how to move out of state. Moving to a new place can mean broadening your horizons, meeting different people, and re-learning what being part of a community means. Going through that experience can certainly be character-building.

4. Book Those Final Appointments.

If you like your current physician, dentist, eye doctor, hairdresser, etc., schedule some time to see them before you leave town. This is a good time to get that annual check-up and trim (and get any physical copies of medical records). You’ll be looking and feeling your best for moving day. 

5. Research the Best Out-of-State Moving Companies.

When trying to lower the cost of moving out of state, it can be tempting to explore DIY options. These options save time and add flexibility, since you control the schedule. But while this may seem like the cheapest way to move out of state, the money you save on the front end might be spent on the back end, making up for damaged goods, car issues, and other unexpected costs.

If you’re not an experienced truck driver, you’re not great at lifting heavy objects, or you’re simply not comfortable personally transporting your things across state lines — just for starters! — you may find yourself in a bind. Sometimes, spending money on professional moving help can actually save you money in the long run.

Plus, not all professional movers have strict timeline requirements. Choosing a flexible moving company like PODS can make all the difference. You can have your container delivered right to your driveway weeks before you make your move, allowing you to pack and load at your own pace — and avoid the stress of a rushed move. And you won’t have to worry about driving an unwieldy moving truck along unfamiliar highways. PODS will pick up the container and deliver it to your new home, whether that’s two states away or across the Pacific in Hawaii. Wherever your move takes you, PODS has you covered.

Insider Tip: Need tips for moving out of state for the first time? Check out this article on the PODS Blog. It covers things to do before moving and offers advice on how to prepare for a move out of state.

Close-up of a man’s arm holding a smartphone with the PODS Boxes website pulled up on the screen. Through the window in the background, a PODS portable moving and storage container can be seen in the driveway.

Moving takes boxes — and lots of them. PODS Boxes can ship them right to your door.

6. Order Moving Supplies.

Figuring out how to move to another state includes finding the perfect moving-out-of-state checklist (which you now have) and the right amount and type of packing supplies. You’ll need boxes — lots and lots of boxes — plus tape, markers, blankets, and bubble cushioning roll. Before you spend a mint, though, check your local neighborhood social media groups to see if anyone has recently made a move and can spare some extra supplies. 

Then save yourself a trip to the store and the convoluted calculation of how many boxes you actually need by taking advantage of PODS Boxes. Simply pick the kit that suits the size of your move and have the right amount of boxes (a mix of small, medium, and large), plus a marker and roll of tape, delivered to your doorstep. Shipping is fast and free, making “get boxes” an easy item to check off your to-do list.

Q: How do I know how to prepare for a move out of state?
The idea of moving out of state — even just moving out of town! — can spark stress and uncertainty. So here’s how to prepare for an out-of-state move: Make a detailed plan and execute that plan. Things to do before moving out of state include making a budget, finding the right moving services provider, decluttering your home, packing, and researching your new city.

7. Cut the Clutter.

Packing isn’t the most enjoyable activity — we can relate. But what’s worse is loading something up only to get it to your new home and never use it — or maybe never even unpack it. With that in mind, one of the best things to do before moving out of state is a major home cleanout. Remember: Figuring out how to move out of state is much easier when you know what you need (and don’t need) to pack.

Uh oh! Is productivity paralysis kicking in again? Use this simple decluttering guide to snap out of it. Avoid being overwhelmed by starting small — instead of going through your entire office immediately, focus on just the desk drawer. If you’re dreading the mountain of clothes in your bedroom or pots and pans in your kitchen, the bathroom can be a satisfying place to start your decluttering process. It’s typically smaller and less filled with sentimental clutter than other spaces. Once you polish off the bathroom, you can keep that inertia going throughout your home. 

Q: How much stuff should I get rid of when moving out of state?
There’s no golden ratio for how much donating and decluttering to do before a big move, but chances are, you don’t need to pack up everything you currently own. Whether you’re moving to a new climate or a smaller home or simply have accumulated a lot of stuff in your current place, you likely have some decluttering to do. Carefully comb through all your drawers and closets and toss anything you no longer need: clothes that don’t fit anymore, knickknacks that don’t spark joy, excess plastic food containers, bulky single-purpose furniture, expired medicine — the list goes on.

8. Rent a Storage Unit.

In addition to having a portable storage container delivered to your driveway while you’re packing, you may need a place to store your things after moving out of state. If you’re renting in your new city while looking for a home, consider keeping your stuff safe and sound in a secure storage facility. That way, you can keep your belongings accessible without having the stress of unpacking them in your rental and packing them back up again when you’ve made more permanent arrangements. 

9. Pack Early and Often.

It’s tough to know where to begin when packing for an out-of-state move. While it’s tempting to start with the easy items, like clothing or books, that may not be the best strategy. Having a plan helps you fight packing fatigue and burnout.

The PODS Blog has some packing recommendations for turning this burdensome chore into a task you can easily (ok, somewhat easily) tackle. Make a packing checklist (lists are hugely useful to help you stay organized during an out-of-state move) that details all the rooms and categories that need boxing up, and work your way through methodically.

Keep in mind that there are some items that shouldn’t be packed into boxes. Besides getting rid of broken, unused, or unwanted items, it’s a good rule of thumb not to pack perishable goods, papers that contain important information, used toiletries, expired medications, outdated electronics, and old cleaning supplies. 

Pro Tip: Keep your clothing on the hangers and in the dresser drawers. You’ll arrive with mostly unwrinkled garb and save yourself the job of refolding on the other end of the move.

A man is sitting at a make-shift desk (i.e., a cardboard box) with his laptop and some papers in front of him. He’s on the phone setting up the utilities at his new place. There’s a step-ladder and several other moving boxes behind him.

Switch your utilities, other recurring services, and subscriptions now to prevent a big headache later.

10. Set Up Utilities, Mail Delivery, and Other Key Services.

Many moving-out-of-state checklists leave off an important detail: switching over your utilities and updating your mailing address. Not only will you need to schedule a disconnection date for your current utilities, internet, cable, and other services, but you’ll also need to set them up at your new home. And don’t forget to file a change of address with the U.S. Postal Service.

  • Insurance
  • Car titles
  • Driver’s license
  • Credit cards and other non-electronic billing
  • Voter registration

Pro Tip: For more logistical moving help, download the PODS printable moving checklist.

11. Confirm Details With Your Moving Company.

As you get closer to your move date, check in with your moving company to confirm timing and other important information. Make sure you have everything prepared for the actual move day, including making space for the truck and pathways for moving large pieces of furniture. The more prep you can do beforehand, the less frantic things will feel on moving day.

12. Make Long-Distance Travel Plans.

If you’re moving a considerable distance, the best way to move out of state may involve flying to your destination and having your car professionally shipped versus making a long road trip yourself. Professional car shipping saves time and cuts stress. Calculate whether you need to make plans for temporary accommodations if your home won’t be ready for you to move in when you arrive (particularly for renters — getting leases to match up exactly can be tricky).

Make a reservation for a hotel or longer-term homestay as far in advance as possible to avoid last-minute price surges, or, better yet, tap your network to see if you have a friend or family member you can stay with for a short time.

13. Practice Self-Care.

Once that productivity paralysis is gone and you’re flying through your to-do list, it can be tough to slow things back down and take a break, but working non-stop eventually leads to an energy crash and mental fatigue.

Remember to take some time for yourself during this moving-out-of-state process. Whether it’s pausing on packing for a long walk or making dinner dates with friends, find ways to take care of yourself along the way. Remember: It’s a journey. Make yours one to remember in the best way possible.

Friends are smiling and laughing around the dinner table, saying their final farewells before one of them makes a long-distance move to another city.

Saying goodbye is never easy, but you’ll be glad that you did it.

14. Say Your Farewells.

While it may seem low on the list of priorities alongside all of the packing and scheduling you have to do, one of the most important tips for moving out of state is to give a proper sendoff to the people and places you’ve loved. You’ll thank yourself for putting this on your moving-out-of-state checklist.

Think about the things you’ve enjoyed most about living in the state, in this neighborhood, and in this home. Is it the local park, coffee shop, the public library, or the window seat in your living room? Take a trip to those places specifically to say your goodbyes, whether that means sitting on a park bench and really appreciating the view one last time or tipping your barista extra well and letting them know you’re moving.

Though you’re likely to see friends or family close to your move date (they may even be the ones helping you pack up), as it gets down to the wire, you’ll want to make sure to have some quality time with the people in your life. If you’d rather say all your goodbyes at once and with some flair, you can even throw a final dinner party — with pizza and paper plates to avoid undoing any packing, of course. 

LB Gabriel is a freelance writer who lives with her husband, daughter, and Golden Retriever in Memphis, TN. A frequent PODS Blog contributor, she's a sucker for any tip she can find on downsizing, cutting clutter, or minimalist living. When she's not on a deadline, you can find her on a tennis court or golf course.

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