Moving Out of State: Ultimate Guide

I’ve helped thousands of people successfully move to another state and moved over 10 times myself.
moving out of state

Needless to say, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about moving.

Moving to a new state is tough. From finding a place to live, to packing and getting everything shipped, there is a lot to consider.

Moving is also expensive.

Depending on how much you’re moving and the distance, costs for an interstate move can range anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000+.

There are two things people who have painless moves do very well:

First, they plan their move well in advance.

Second, they expect things to go wrong and plan for those scenarios.

Not really groundbreaking advice, but it’s really that simple, sort of…

Our primary goal at moveBuddha is to make sure you have a successful move. So, we put together this massive guide of tips to help cover all the bases when it comes to moving out of state.

Some readers may be further along in the process than others, so here’s a list of the major topics in this guide. Feel free to jump around.

Quick Reference

Should you move?

For those debating whether or not to make a move to a new state, let’s consider a few things.

First off, can you afford to move out of state?

No, we aren’t just talking about the cost of shipping your stuff from point A to point B. There are a lot of factors to consider when thinking about the cost of a move.

For starters, things like rent, groceries, gas, income & sales tax will likely all be different in your new state. If you plan on moving to a more expensive state, but making the same salary that could be a problem.

CNN cost of living calculator

You can use CNN Money’s cost of living calculator to get a sense of just how different your costs will be in your new town or city. Getting an idea of how your costs will change can also help if you’re negotiating salary or a relocation package with your employer.

If you’re a lawyer, doctor, nurse, or any other profession requiring a state license, you’ll certainly want to look into obtaining a new license prior to moving.

Healthcare is also important. Here’s a great map, presented by Wallethub ranking every state based on the quality of care and overall cost.

WalletHub


Another question you’ll want to ask is whether or not you’re moving to a prospering or at least economically stable area. A good indicator would be checking unemployment rates, especially if you don’t have a job lined up.

Speaking of not having a job lined up… Did I mention we put together a guide how to find a job in a new city before moving. Be sure to check it out!

Beyond jobs, regional issues are important too. As of publishing this article, Southern California is experiencing a major drought and Flint Michigan is still reeling from a terrible lead poisoning scandal. Unless you like surprises, be sure to research the economics and social issues facing your desired region.

Lastly, have you asked yourself whether or not this new location fits with your lifestyle, hobbies, morals, etc.?

meanwhile in kansas

If you’re the type of person who loves the ocean or hiking, would you be okay with the plains of Kansas? If you’re a sheltered midwesterner, you might be in for some culture shock moving to West Hollywood.

Obviously, sometimes the circumstances of life dictate where we move rather than personal preference.

A new place can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. But even if you ultimately don’t end up staying, you’ll be better off at least having had the adventure.

Finding a place to live

Long distance home buying or apartment hunting can be tricky. While a complete discussion would require a whole nother guide (we’re working on it) let’s highlight a few things here.

You’ve heard it many times. It’s all about, location, location, location.

But, if you’ve never lived in the area, it can be a challenge just determining where the good locations are.

No problem, here’s a list of the best resources when searching from afar.

  • WalkScore is an amazing website to figure out how close or walkable your desired location is from things like groceries, restaurants, retail shops, etc.
  • CityData can give you all the demographics and census data you’ll ever need.
  • Use NeighborhoodScout to check the crime rates.
  • google street view Philadelphia

  • If you’ve got kids, GreatSchools gives you ratings and comparison on all the local schools.
  • Use Google Street view to take a virtual walk around the neighborhood.
  • Tap your social networks to try and find a friend or acquaintance who is familiar with the area.

Once you’ve identified a great neighborhood, you’ll need to find available apartments for rent or homes for sale. Some of our favorites places to search include:

Apartment Hunting

livelovely screenshot

If you’re planning on buying a house, learn how to avoid these first time home buyer regets.

And a few sites to check out listings.

House Hunting

Next up, actually moving all your stuff.

Finding an interstate moving company

Most people are typically debating whether to rent a truck or hire a moving company when I first talk to them.

Here’s the deal—There are actually a lot more options to ship long distance than most people realize. To make the best decision, you really need to compare all of them.

Rest assured, we’re going to break it all down for you in this post.

But before you start calling companies, there are a few things you should prepare:

  • Pick a move-out date. If you can avoid moving at the end of the month, on the weekend or on a holiday you’ll likely get a better price. Also, May to September is busy season for the moving industry.
  • Pick a move-in date. Can you move in right away or do you need storage?
  • Build an inventory list. It’s going to be hard to get prices and compare services if you don’t know how much you’re actually moving.
  • Read your move policies. Does your apartment or homeowners association have requirements when it comes to moving? Parking restrictions, elevator reservations, insurance requirements…talk to your landlord or a neighbor.


Moving Cost Calculator

Once you’ve collected this information, it’s time to start researching the different options for interstate moving. We recommend using our moving cost calculator to get a quick idea on different moving services and pricing.

If you’re only shipping boxes, check out our box shipping guide to find the best options.

For those who have more than just boxes, you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to moving your furniture and personal items.

Rent a moving truck

moving truck rental
How it Works
Moving truck rental is pretty straightforward. You get the truck for up to a certain number of days and usually some mileage limit. You’ll be required to do all the driving and heavy lifting yourself.

Renting a truck is typically considered the default option to move cheaply. But when you factor in gas, hotels, meals, etc.

A Few Tips

  • Penske, Budget and U-Haul all will price match against each other, so get quotes from all 3 even if you prefer a particular company.
  • Make sure to account for fuel costs! Diesel trucks get better gas mileage.
  • Always try and get the newest truck available, assuming it’s the right size.
  • Always call the day before to confirm your reservation. Have a backup option if they don’t have a truck for you on moving day.

Check out our complete guide to rental trucks for more tips and use the moving cost calculator to check truck rental prices.

Rent a freight trailer

freight trailer for moving

How it Works
This is the, “You load, they drive” option. A number of freight companies offer to drop off a 28’ trailer at your house. You have up to 3 days to load, then they drive it to your destination and another 3 days to unload. Pretty sweet deal.

A Few Tips

  • Freight is especially good for moving from rural areas or moves where you need your items delivered quickly.
  • Some companies will let you put a car in the trailer as well.
  • The trailer needs about 40’ of space to park, so you need to make sure there is room for it to be parked.
  • Storage is typically expensive and limited to a few months with freight companies.

Check out our complete guide to freight for more tips and use the moving cost calculator to check freight prices.

Rent a moving container

moving pods
How it Works
Container companies will deliver an 8’ to 20’ container(s) to your house, you can load it up at your leisure and then have it shipped or stored.

A Few Tips

  • Great if you don’t have a place to live yet and need indefinite storage.
  • PODS Moving & Storage started the craze back in ‘97, but many new companies have come to compete.
  • Prices can vary a lot between companies. It’s best to collect at least 3-4 quotes. Learn more about PODS cost
  • The cheapest container rates for shipping long distance are usually going to come from the companies with locations close to you on both ends of your move. If a company is close by locally, but doesn’t have a location nearby in the state you’re moving to, that will add a lot to your cost.

Check out our complete guide to moving containers for more tips and use the moving cost calculator to check container prices.

Hiring a professional moving company

professional moving company

How it Works
If you have the means and aren’t interested in doing any of the heavy lifting, movers are your best bet. Full-service moving companies will handle all the loading, driving, and unloading. They can even go as far as to pack your boxes for you, but most people opt to do it themselves.

moveBuddha Tips
Professional movers make moving easy, but the hard part is finding a good company. The industry is fraught with shady moving companies and scammers.

I could write a book on how to find a good mover, but I’ll just list some simple red flags:

  • They refuse to provide an in-home estimate and only provide an estimate over the phone.
  • A simple google search of the company name turns up very few or no results.
  • The company isn’t listed in any directories or on any review sites (BBB, Yelp, etc.).
  • A large deposit is required to make your reservation.
  • They don’t have their MC or DOT number prominently placed on their paperwork.
  • They won’t give you any licensure information at all.
  • They aren’t associated with any professional organizations (AMSA, IAM, state moving associations, Chamber of Commerce, etc.).

These are typical signs of an outright moving scam. Even if a mover meets all these requirements, you still want to do further due diligence to find a great moving company. Referrals from friends tend to be the best way to go.

Check out our complete guide to full service moving companies for more tips and use the moving cost calculator to check moving company prices.

Tow behind trailer

Uhaul tow behind trailer
How it Works
You can either rent or buy a tow behind trailer to hitch behind your car or truck. This is a great option if your vehicle has the towing capacity. A lot of people suggest this as the most frugal way to move and I agree, it’s definitely one of them.

A Few Tips

  • Trailers can be dangerous. If you don’t have experience hitching and driving with a trailer, I wouldn’t learn on a 1500+ mile moving adventure. Trailers are responsible for a lot of accidents.
  • Good safety tips for driving with a trailer
  • Rent a tow behind trailer from UHaul
  • The ultimate frugal move – buy a tow behind trailer on Craigslist and then sell it on the other end.

Moving labor services

moving labor bellhops

If you just want to hire some moving muscle, there’s an app for that…

HireaHelper is a marketplace where you can hire movers to help you on an hourly basis. This is a great option if you’re just looking for some extra hands to load a rental truck or pack a moving container.


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If you’ve made it this far, you likely have a really solid plan put together for your move. If you still have some questions about interstate moves, submit your move to us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our enlightened Move Guides.