Moving to a new state is a lot of work and is usually pretty 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 huge list of moving tips and resources to help you prepare to move to a new state.
The number one moving tip is always to hire the right company for your move. Here are a few quick links to help you with this:
- Moving Cost Calculator: Get a free, personalized, and instant estimate of your move. Just enter the date, size, and where you’re moving to/from and we’ll instantly tell you how much your move should cost.
- Best Moving Companies: Avoid the horror stories of shady movers by hiring verified and reputable moving companies. These are our picks.
- Best Moving Containers (PODS): Sometimes handling the move yourself is the way to go, you take care of the packing and loading, these companies manage the driving. Here are the top options.
- Best Car Shippers: Finding good car shippers is essential but hard to do, we found them for you.
1. See if your employer offers relocation assistance
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 costs, lease termination fees, temporary housing, pre-move visits, and more.
Want to receive $500 towards your move? Check out the Better Moves Project by moveBuddha to learn how!
2. Research to find good schools
If you have children, GreatSchools gives you ratings and comparison on all the local schools so you can figure out the best areas before buying a new home.
3. Check out crime rates
Be safe! Use NeighborhoodScout to check local crime rates around your new place and find a safe neighborhood.
4. Research your neighbors
Want to know who might be your neighbor? Esri’s Zip Tapestry tool breaks down common demographics by zip code. It’s a great tool for understanding the makeup of different neighborhoods.
5. Know how to get around
Unless you’re moving next door to work, you’ll want to take a look at typical commute times, traffic issues, and public transportation options to make sure you can get to work on time.
Walkscore.com has a nifty scoring system ranking cities based on walkability, public transit, and biking options.
Our Top 5 Long Distance Movers of 2022
500 interstate moving companies, 3 months of research, cross-referenced reviews, license data, insurance data, and federal complaint records.
2022 Best Moving Containers & Storage Companies
We spent 260 hours researching moving container and storage companies to find the best prices, best customer service, and fastest deliveries so you don't have to.
6. Have a job lined up
Many people move long distance because of a job, but what if you don’t already have a new job lined up?
That’s why we put together a complete guide: How do I get a job before I move out of state? Be sure to check it out!
We also created a tool to help you decide if you should move for work!
7. Find an apartment or home
While not everyone will be able to sign a lease or buy a home prior to moving, it’s a good idea to at least have some neighborhoods and listings picked out so you can visit as soon you arrive. A realtor can also be helpful to give you a local’s perspective on different areas.
8. Use google street view to check things out
Don’t have time to visit? Use Google Street view to take a virtual walk around the neighborhood.
9. Research transferring professional licenses
Doctor, lawyer, nurse, teacher, realtor…? Every state has different professional licensing requirements or license transfer policies. Be sure to check this out well in advance of moving.
10. Budget for cost of living differences
Be sure to check out 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.
11. Start packing early
Packing always takes longer than you expect and nothing frustrates a moving company more than customers who aren’t ready on moving day. Not to mention, the mover will likely charge you for the delay. Save yourself the hassle and start packing early.
See some of our top moving and packing hacks.
12. Sell, donate, trash
Generally, the more you move the more you pay. So don’t move things you don’t need.
When you’re emptying out closets and drawers make 3 piles. A sell pile for items with some value, a donate pile for items that can still be used (some organizations will pick these up for free!), and a trash pile for the dump.
13. Keep receipts if you donate
Moving is expensive. Save receipts from donations as they might be tax-deductible.
14. Create an inventory list
Most moving services are priced based on the size of your move. The larger the move, the higher the cost.
Get a good idea of what your move will cost.
Moving companies especially like to know ahead of time which items you plan on moving. An inventory list will help keep you organized and make getting moving estimates faster. Just be sure to update your mover with any major changes to the list.
15. Read your move policies
Many leases and homeowners associations have move-in/out policies. Parking restrictions, elevator reservations, and moving company proof of insurance documentation are common requirements.
16. 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 backup plan if the moving company falls through. Saving some alternative moving companies or truck rental options that you have already prevetted allows for an immediate plan of action in case of emergency.
17. Have emergency funds set aside
Budgeting for a long-distance move can be tricky. Even if you’ve read every checklist and 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.
18. Pick a reputable moving company
Finding a good mover is hard, but fear not! We made a list of the best interstate moving companies.
A few pieces of advice about finding a mover:
- Get multiple quotes: moving company pricing can vary drastically so be sure to compare prices.
- Research your mover: check licenses, insurance, and a lot more.
- Read the paperwork: don’t assume all moving companies offer the same services. Make sure you read every quote thoroughly and understand what the mover is responsible for.
19. 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. Bummer!
20. 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! Roughing it for 2-3 weeks in an empty new house ain’t fun.
21. Check out “ad valorem” taxes
If you plan on moving a car some states like California and Georgia will charge you a tax to register your vehicle.
The tax amount is based on the market value of the vehicle and can be quite a bit of money for newer or luxury cars.
22. Find a high-quality auto shipper
Moving companies may give you quotes to ship your car but it’s a good idea to also get prices from auto shippers directly. Often, they’re able to offer more affordable rates. Just be careful to find a good auto shipping company.
23. Consider cheaper moving company alternatives
Hiring a moving company is almost always the most expensive option to move.
24. Hold onto high-value items and important documents
Sometimes boxes can get lost during shipping. Consider taking items like jewelry, birth certificates, car titles, prescription medicines, and any other important things with you.
25. 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 to make sure everything is packed and insured properly.
26. 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 just in case something happens and they need to reach you.
27. Be mindful of prescriptions
Finding a new doctor can take time. If you have any existing prescription medicines, be sure to get them filled prior to moving.
28. Hold onto chargers and important cords
Because if your phone or computer dies mid-move and you packed your charger that would stink.
29. Forward mail right before you move
USPS mail forwarding is easy and awesome! Just be sure to request forwarding a few days before you move so it starts on time to deliver to your new address.
30. Update all your subscriptions
Magazines, newspapers, meal subscription boxes… let them know you have a change of address. See our full change of address guide to help you with this step.
31. Plan on getting a new driver’s license
Most states require you to get a new license within 2 weeks of relocating. So plan on a joyous trip to the DMV when you arrive.
32. Update any lenders and insurers
Yes, you’ll need to change your address with all 8 different student loan lenders, ugh! Don’t forget your auto lender, car insurer, and renters or homeowners insurance.
33. Register to vote!!!!
Do your civic duty! Rock the vote! etc. etc. But seriously, do this!
34. Plan to pay taxes in multiple states
Unless you’re moving to or from a state without income tax, it’s likely you’ll need to file state tax returns in 2 different states. Most tax software can guide you through this fairly easily, but still something to keep in mind when crossing state lines.
35. Get out and meet people
36. Consider Child Custody Laws
How does moving out of state affect child custody?
After a breakup or divorce when parents have been granted joint custody, moving out of state with children can be tricky.
Generally, when one parent wishes to relocate to another state (or within the same state if the distance would prevent the non-moving parent from seeing their kids), he or she must get permission from –
- The other parent with custodial rights
- The court that presided over the custody hearing (in some cases)
Parents who move a child (or children) without court approval and/or written permission from the other parent can face –
- 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.
37. Update unemployment information
How does moving out of state affect unemployment benefits?
Those receiving payments from one state, but who move to another state looking for work should continue to get benefits without interruption, at least in the short-term.
Remember, unemployment benefits are paid by the state in which the worker lived and worked, and they’re typically calculated based on –
- 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 he or she resides after the fact.
Laws regarding eligibility for and payment of unemployment benefits vary, but most states offer benefits for between 26 and 30 weeks.
Due to economic hardships brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, however, some states have expanded coverage indefinitely.
If you move out of state any time during your defined benefits period, you’ll continue to receive benefits for the maximum time allowed by state law.
38. Save money beforehand
How much money should you save before moving out of state?
Since everyone’s situation is different, there’s no universal answer to this commonly asked question.
That said, 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 once they get there.
On the other hand, recent college graduates and young adults striking 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.
39. Consider how moving impacts child support
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 (or children) turn 18.
This means that even if a parent moves to another state, he or she is 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
40. Consider your Medicare coverage
What to do with Medicare when moving out of state?
Thankfully, those enrolled in Original Medicare Parts A and B aren’t required to make changes to their coverage when moving out of state.
Since there aren’t any provider networks, Medicare recipients are free to use participating doctors and hospitals across the country regardless of their location.
But there’s a catch…
Those enrolled in Medicare Advantage generally have four months (two before moving and two after moving) to select new Part D coverage.
Due to the added hassle of moving with Medicare Advantage, it may be a good time to switch to Original Medicare.
Click here for answers to more FAQS from the Social Security Administration.
41. Take your car with you
How do I move my car out of state?
When moving out of state, most families drive their cars themselves.
It’s often the easiest and least expensive option, but before hitting the road you’ll want to factor in –
- Safety (weather, crime, health)
- Wear and tear on your vehicle(s)
- Lodging for each night on the road
For these reasons and others, we always recommend having your car shipped by a professional auto transport company with verified customer reviews.
The benefits of using an auto transporter include –
- 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.
And last, you may want to consider working with a driveaway company that’ll hire an insured driver to drive your car from your old home or apartment to your new one.
If you go this route, don’t forget to ask about background checks, insurance, and guaranteed service dates.
Also, think about if you’ll be comfortable having a total stranger drive your car.
42. Keep in mind your social security benefits
How does moving out of state impact social security benefits?
If you’re on Social Security, considering moving out of state 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 US Virgin Islands and other territories as well.
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