Every month, we help thousands of people moving out of state. Moving out of state doesn’t have to be a headache; it can be a relatively seamless process if you prepare ahead of time. Our comprehensive checklist below for moving out of state will make you feel like you’re ready to take on this exciting endeavor!
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If you’re moving across state lines, here’s a helpful checklist to ensure you don’t miss a single task leading up to moving day.
1. Get quotes to calculate the cost of your move
A good way to prepare is to crunch the numbers ahead of time to determine what your out-of-state move will cost. Having a realistic estimate will allow you to avoid going over budget.
Mary used our moving cost calculator to compare the prices of different long-distance moving companies and look at moving expenses.
This table summarizes the average cost of moving across state lines, depending on your home size.
|1 bedroom||2 – 3 bedrooms||4 – 5 bedrooms|
|250 miles||$1,012 – $3,213||$2,090 – $5,729||$3,025 – $11,543|
|1,000 miles||$2,090 – $4,670||$3,652 – $11,662||$5,445 – $17,969|
|2,500 miles||$3,190 – $6,902||$4,851 – $15,113||$9,240 – $21,182|
* These price ranges are rough estimates. The actual cost will depend on the time of year, the size of your move, additional services required, market conditions, availability, and more.
2. Consider your moving options
While professional movers are pricey, they can save you time and effort since they do all of the heavy lifting for you. You won’t have to worry about packing or lifting that dresser into a truck. Instead, you can worry about checking off the other tasks of this moving out of state checklist.
If you want to save money, consider using a rental truck, like a U-Haul or one of U-Haul’s competitors. Renting a truck is often the most affordable option, but it also requires a lot more legwork since you do the moving yourself. Don’t forget to consider additional fees like gas, mileage, and tolls that can drive up the cost of your move.
It’s also important to understand interstate transport laws if you choose todo the moving yourself. States regulate what can be transported, and you may encounter issues if you’re transporting things like guns, pets, and plants.
If you don’t want to drive long distances, but want to handle some of the moving yourself to save money, check out our list of the best moving container companies. For this moving method, a company drops off a shipping container, you load it with all of your belongings and a professional driver moves it to your new home.
If you want more help, hire third party labor like HireAHelper to help pack and load your things for a smooth move.
3. Pick a reputable moving company
Finding a good mover can feel overwhelming. So we made a list of the best interstate moving companies to help you determine the best moving company for you. Movers can help with everything from packing and unpacking boxes and furniture to transporting household items to your new location.
When looking for a mover, consider doing the following
- Get multiple free quotes. Moving company pricing varies – get a moving quote. Request a free quote from different moving companies you’re considering hiring.
- Research your mover. Be sure to check licenses, insurance, and the credibility of the moving company you want to use to move out of state. You may also want to look up the moving company name on the website of Better Business Bureau (BBB) to note any potential red flags.
- Read the paperwork. Don’t assume all moving companies offer the same services; thoroughly review the paperwork from the company to understand what they’re offering and what they’re responsible for.
Make sure your moving company consists of reputable movers who are well-regarded within the moving industry. That way, you won’t get stuck with bad movers, moving scams, or one of the worst moving companies.
We’ve asked a number of movers about their experiences with well-known moving companies to help simplify your search. Get an in-depth look at International Van Lines with Mary’s move, or read about Ryan’s experience with Safeway Moving.
4. Take your car with you
How do I move my car out of state? By using a car shipping company if you can!
However, many families drive their cars themselves, as it’s often the easiest and least expensive option. But before hitting the road, you’ll want to factor in the following:
- Safety (weather, crime, health)
- Wear and tear on your vehicle(s)
- Lodging for each night on the road
For these reasons, we recommend having your car shipped by a professional auto transport company with verified customer reviews. The benefits of using an auto transporter include the following:
- Reasonable rates
- Safety and convenience
- Relatively quick delivery times
- The availability of open and enclosed transport
- Multiple insurance options
In addition, if you’re moving to another state with a van line, you may be able to put your car in the trailer with your household goods, or ship it on one of the company’s dedicated car carriers.
You may consider working with a driveaway company that’ll hire an insured driver to drive your car from your old home to your new home.
If you go this route, don’t forget to ask about background checks, insurance, and guaranteed service dates.
5. Find a high-quality car shipping company
If you’re moving out of state, you need to find a way to get your vehicle there. Many moving companies can give you quotes to ship your car, but it’s a good idea to also get prices from car shipping companies directly. These companies are experts at shipping vehicles — whether it’s an antique car or a motorcycle.
There are two main ways fo shipping your car: enclosed and open transport. Enclosed car shippers move your vehicle in a trailer that completely protects the car from dirt, debris, and weather. It accounts for 10% of the car shipping industry and is really best for people with luxury or classic cars.
For most people, open transport is the best and most affordable option — plus it’s how manufacturers ship their vehicles to dealerships. In general, you can expect to pay about half as much with open car shipping versus enclosed. Be sure to get quotes and do research to find the best option for your vehicle.
6. Get a job in your new state
Many people move long distances because of job opportunities, but what if you don’t already have a new job lined up? Be sure you have a way to earn money or a source of income before moving out of state. If you’re looking to find a job in a new city before you move, that’s a good idea, too.
7. Ask if your employer offers relocation support
If you’re moving for a job, your first question should be if there is relocation assistance. Many companies will offer reimbursement on moving company costs, storage unit expenses, lease termination fees, temporary housing, pre-move visits, and more.
Want to receive $500 towards your move? Check out our Better Moves Project to learn how!
8. Research schools in your new state
If you have children, GreatSchools gives you ratings and comparisons on all the local schools so you can figure out the best areas before buying a new home in your new state.
When finding a school for your children, consider the following:
- Distance from your home (many school require you to live within the district or pay a fee to attend if you don’t)
- Extracurriculars available
- Quality of educational programs
- Review from parents and children at the school
- Accommodations for people with disabilities (such as wheelchair ramps or educational sign language interpreters)
9. Research crime rates and commuting options
Be safe! Use NeighborhoodScout to check local crime rates around your new place and find a safe neighborhood.
Want to know who might be your neighbor? Esri’s Zip Tapestry tool breaks down common demographics by zip code. It’s an excellent tool for understanding the makeup of different neighborhoods.
Factors to consider when choosing a safe neighborhood include:
- Crime rates (such as theft, carjacking, etc.)
- Sex offender registries
- Number of homes for sale (this shows market demand or lack of demand)
Unless you’re moving your office next door, you’ll want to look at typical commute times, traffic issues, and public transportation options to ensure you can get to work on time.
Walkscore.com has a helpful scoring system ranking cities based on walkability, public transit, and biking options.
10. Plan a pet-friendly move
Moving out of state with a pet? Be sure to check if you need any special documentation — especially if you’re moving to Hawaii. Before the trip, get your dog used to riding in a car if you plan on driving or get them used to a crate if you need to fly to your new home. Be sure to book pet-friendly accommodations along the way.
For moves where you can’t bring your pet yourself, contact the best pet shipping companies for help. These companies specialize in pet transportation so your furry friend can make the journey as smoothly as possible. Read reviews from customers like Carrie — who moved with an elderly cat and dogs using 1-800-Pack-Rat — and Janelle, who used U-Haul for her move with a dog and cat, to learn more about what it’s like to move with pets.
Once you’ve arrived at your new home, update your pet identification information so people can contact you if your pet gets lost. Find a new veterinarian that can provide your pet’s basic health services.
11. Find an apartment or house
Before you move, secure a new apartment or a house. Whether you’re renting or buying, it’s important to find a place to live before you arrive in your new state. Maybe you’re staying with family or friends when you first arrive; if that’s the case, use that time to scout out potential new homes.
It’s a good idea to have some neighborhoods and listings picked out so you can visit as soon as you arrive. A realtor can also help give you a local’s perspective on different areas.
When looking at neighborhoods, consider their proximity to:
- Grocery stores
- Good schools
- Community services
- Public transportation
12. Budget for cost of living differences
The cost of living varies by state. Some states are similar; some are radically different (for instance, California is a far more expensive place to live than Mississippi). Check out CNN Money’s cost of living calculator to get a sense of how different your costs will be in your new town or city.
Having a firm grasp on expenses can help if you’re negotiating salary or a relocation package with your employer. Arm yourself with figures and statistics to help your case, and be sure to check out our moving cost checklist to know what to expect.
13. Research transferring professional licenses
If you work in a profession that requires licensing – like a doctor, lawyer, nurse, etc. – prepare to be licensed in your new state.
14. Start packing early and consider storage options
Packing is time-consuming. Prepare ahead of time and start early. Local movers and a professional moving company appreciate it when movers are on top of packing. This also prevents the professional moving company from charging you if the move is delayed.
Start packing early with your packing materials to prepare for moving out of state, or prepare for sending your belongings to a storage facility, if you are using a storage facility. Review some of our top moving and packing hacks and don’t forget the essentials like moving boxes and packing tape.
Be sure to consider your storage options if you can’t move right into your new home. Many professional movers and moving container companies offer 30-days of storage for free during a move. If you need storage for longer than that, get quotes to compare costs for storing your items until you’re ready to move in. Here are some of the best self-storage companies to help.
15. Keep important valuables and documents on your person
Don’t risk parting with your passport, medications, contact lenses, valuable jewelry, birth certificates, and other high-value items and medical equipment. Take these things with you, on your person, during the move out of state. Create copies of important documents like passports and birth certificates. You might want to put these sensitive items in a backpack that you keep with you.
It’d be a real pain if your phone and computer died mid-move and your charger was in one of your many moving boxes, right? Hold onto your chargers and cords. You may want to place them with important documents, like passports. Additionally, consider purchasing a spare charger as a backup.
16. Sell, donate, or throw away items you don’t need
More stuff equals a more expensive move with a professional moving company or moving brokers. Get rid of things you don’t need!
Declutter your life and reduce the cost of your move by selling, donating, or throwing away items you’re not keeping. Save receipts from donations, as they might be tax-deductible.
17. Create an inventory list
Whether renting a moving truck or hiring a full-service moving company, you’ll want to know how much stuff you’re moving. Most moving services are priced based on the size of your move. The larger the move, the higher the cost. Use our moving cost calculator to get an idea of the cost of your move.
Moving companies like to know which items you plan on moving ahead of time. An inventory list will help keep you organized and ensure you get your moving estimates faster. Just be sure to update your mover with any major changes to the list ahead of time.
18. Read the fine print in your moving contract
Many leases and homeowners associations have move-in and move-out policies. Common requirements include parking restrictions, elevator reservations, and moving company proof of insurance documentation. Get up to speed on what’s required of you to save yourself a headache on moving day.
19. Pick an early moving date
Moving companies occasionally have to reschedule, especially in the busy summer months. Moving out a day or two in advance gives you a cushion in case anything happens.
If you can’t move early, it’s not a bad idea to have a Plan B in case your professional moving company cancels at the last-minute. Saving some alternative moving companies or truck rental options that you have pre-vetted allows for an immediate plan of action in case of an emergency or a cancelation.
20. Have emergency funds for the move
Budgeting for a long-distance move can be challenging. Even if you’ve read every checklist and are thoroughly prepared to move, a major traffic accident or weather event can delay your movers and have you crashing in a hotel for a few nights.
Unexpected costs are a part of moving to another state, so be sure to have emergency funds available if something goes awry.
21. Don’t count on moving-related tax deductions
Since the last tax reform, as of 2018, all moving-related tax deductions have been eliminated unless you’re military. That said, some states may still have exemptions. For example, California provides exceptions if you meet the requirements for distance, times, and deductibles.
22. Plan to pay taxes in multiple states
Unless you’re moving to or from a state without income tax, you’ll likely need to file state tax returns in two different states. Most tax software can guide you through this quickly. But keep this in mind when moving out of state.
Additionally, if you plan on moving a car, some states like California and Georgia will charge you an ad valorem tax to register your vehicle. The tax amount is based on the vehicle’s market value; newer or luxury cars will be more expensive.
23. Know how long the movers will take to deliver
You should ask your mover two questions. How long does delivery usually take? And, what is the maximum number of days allowed for delivery?
Cross-country moves typically take 7-14 days to deliver. However, moving companies legally have up to 21 business days to deliver, which means you can be without your stuff for over a month!
There are factors that can influence delivery time. In Hassan’s review of PODS, he mentions waiting a whopping 40 days to get his things. Conversely, Dumbo Moving and Storage delivered Hitesh’s household items in just 8 days.
24. Declare high-value items
Make sure your moving company is aware of any items like fine art, chandeliers, expensive antiques, or memorabilia. They’ll need to know in order to make sure everything is packed and insured properly.
Choosing how to insure your items is tricky, but you can make it easier by learning about the different moving insurance types. Moving insurance is vital for protecting items and most carriers offer basic liability coverage. if you want better protection, ask for a higher tier plan if the mover offers one or secure third-party insurance to protect against damage and theft.
25. Give your mover multiple contacts
Cell phones can die or get lost. Be sure to give the moving company multiple phone numbers and backup contacts in case something happens and they need to reach you.
Make sure your backup contacts know you’re adding them to your contact list. You don’t want them hanging up or thinking they’re being called by a scammer, which could interfere with your ability to get help!
26. Be mindful of prescriptions
Finding a new doctor can take time. If you have any existing prescription medicines, get them filled prior to moving. If your prescription needs to stay cold, consider purchasing an ice box and taking it with you.
27. Transfer, connect, and disconnect utilities
Contact utility companies to disconnect or transfer services when moving out of state. This includes everything from cable and internet to gas, water, propane, and electricity. Be sure to get any account closures in writing in case an issue comes up later.
28. Forward your mail
USPS mail forwarding is easy! Just be sure to request forwarding a few days before you move so it starts on time to deliver to your new address.
29. Update your subscriptions
Magazines, newspapers, meal subscription boxes… let them know you have a change of address. See our complete change of address guide to help you with this step.
30. Get a new driver’s license and register your vehicle
Most states require you to get a new license within two weeks of relocating after moving out of state. Plan on making a trip to the DMV when you arrive to update your vehicle registration and apply for a new driver’s license.
You may have to do a short vision test while you’re there. Information you’ll need when transferring your driver’s license includes:
- Your current driver’s license
- Social Security number
- Proof of your new residence
- Another form of ID (such as a student ID card or passport)
31. Update any lenders and insurers
If you have student loans or other types of loans, you’ll need to change your address to notify them of your new location. Be sure to notify insurance companies, including homeowners insurance and car insurance agencies, of your big move. Moving to a new house in a new neighborhood in a new area can affect the premiums on these types of policies.
32. Register to vote!
Do your civic duty and rock the vote! Registering to vote depends on the eligibility requirements of your state. Basic requirements include being a citizen of the country, a current resident of your state, and meeting the application deadline.
33. Get out and meet people
There are steps you can take to get the most out of your experience of moving out of state and meeting new, friendly faces. Better yet, choose an event that lines up with your favorite hobbies or current studies.
34. Consider child custody laws and child support
If you have children and you are divorced, this is something you must consider before moving out state.
Typically, when one parent wants to relocate to another state (or within the same state if the distance would prevent the non-moving parent from seeing their kids), they must get permission from either the other parent with custodial rights, or the court that presided over the custody hearing (in some cases).
Parents who move a child without court approval and/or written permission from the other parent can face the following:
- Amended custody agreements
- The forfeiture of custody rights
Not surprisingly, child custody and relocation issues fall under a bevy of state and federal laws. When contemplating a move, it’s wise to contact an experienced attorney.
How does moving out of state affect child support?
According to LegalZoom, when child support orders are finalized by family law courts, they’re immediately valid and enforceable until being officially modified or the child turns 18. This means that even if a parent moves to another state, they are still required to abide by the terms of the order.
Penalties for non-payment include:
- Having an arrest warrant issued (and being arrested)
- Being found in contempt of court
- Interest added to the missed payments
- Suspension of driver’s license
- Wage garnishment
- Cancellation or denial of passport
35. Make moving with kids simpler
Moving is a big undertaking and moving with kids can be even more overwhelming. To keep things stress-free as a friend or family member if they can take the kids on an adventure on moving day. That way, they aren’t underfoot and you can focus on monitoring the professional movers or packing up the truck. Once you get to your new home, look for a new pediatrician and find local activities to get the kids excited about their new home.
36. Update unemployment information
How does leaving a state affect unemployment benefits?
Those receiving payments from one state but deciding to move to another state looking for work should continue to get benefits without interruption, at least in the short term.
Unemployment benefits are paid by the state in which the worker lived and worked, and they’re typically calculated based on the following:
- Wages, tips, and salary
- Duration of employment and residence in the state
Likewise, eligibility and disqualification criteria are determined by the laws of the state in which the worker worked, not where they reside after the fact. Laws regarding eligibility for and payment of unemployment benefits vary, but most states offer benefits for between 26 and 30 weeks.
37. Save before your move out of state
Families with two or three kids may need to save $10,000 or more before moving out of state, especially if one or both parents will need to find work when they get there.
Recent college graduates and young adults venturing out on their own for the first time may be able to live comfortably on $2,000 for a few months while looking for work.
Always err on the high side when deciding how much of a nest egg you’ll need before moving.
38. Consider your Medicare coverage
Curious about what to do with Medicare when moving out of state?
Thankfully, those enrolled in Original Medicare Parts A and B aren’t required to change their coverage when moving.
Since there aren’t any provider networks, Medicare recipients are free to use participating doctors and hospitals across the country regardless of location.
Click here for answers to more FAQS from the Social Security Administration on Medicare support.
39. Keep in mind your social security benefits
How do state-to-state moves impact social security benefits?
If you’re on Social Security and are worried about your benefits, don’t be. According to AARP, whether you live in California, Colorado, Maryland, or Missouri, your disability, retirement, family, and survivor benefits don’t change.
In addition, the same is true for American citizens residing in Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other territories.
40. Participate in our Better Moves Project
Need a little extra cash to help with moving costs? Our moveBuddah Better Moves Project offers movers a $500 moving stipend in exchange for documenting their personal moving experiences with various companies. You can apply for this exciting moving grant here.
How much does moving out of state cost?
The cost to move out of state depends on how much stuff you have, where you’re going and what type of mover you choose. The cost of a long-distance move can range from $2,300 to more than $14,000. To get an accurate estimate of the cost of your move, get at least three quotes from different movers.
Is moving to another state hard?
it’s no secret that moving can be stressful, but with this moving out of state checklist and insider tips, your move can be easier than you may think. Stay organized, read the fine print, and be ready to adapt if issues arise.
What’s the cheapest way to move to another state?
The cheapest way to move depends again on how and where you’re moving. In general, the cheapest options — like a rental truck or moving container — involve some DIY work.
How do I save money when moving out of state?
There are many ways you can cut costs during a move. Look for free packing materials from big box stores to pack up your items. Compare quotes from different moving companies to get the best pricing. In most cases, doing some of the work yourself, whether it’s packing or driving a rental truck, will help save money during your move.
How do I make friends when I move out of state?
Most cities have local organizations designed to build deeper ties in the community. Reach out to these organizations to learn more about how you can get involved and connect with your new neighbors. You can also join classes at the local gym or community college to find people who enjoy similar activities as you do.
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