Best Ways to Move to College Out of State

The first time moving to a different state for many is straight out of high school.

Whether you’re moving to a college dorm or living off-campus, you want to make sure arriving to your new home goes smoothly.

That’s why we have gathered all of the ways you should consider when moving to college.

Pick the one that best suits your needs and budget.

But first, here’s a quick tip.

A lot of new college students make the mistake of taking the most scrappy approach in order to save a few bucks.

This may or may not be the best idea. Use the moving cost calculator to compare your moving options quickly and easily.

Now, let’s get into it.

Plan Ahead

Unlike moving to in-state college, moving long-distance requires careful planning.

Once you have your housing arrangements, determine what items you need. On-campus housing provides many of the basics, like a bed, but you’ll need to bring the rest. It’s a good idea to contact your roommates and coordinate who brings what furniture, decorations, and other supplies. It’s important to gather everything and make your plans well in advance.

This includes making sure you have enough boxes, tape, and other moving supplies, as well as enough help moving. If you do this, you won’t be scrambling in the days before you move out.

Organize Your Packing

After gathering your supplies, it’s time to pack.

It’s important to organize your belongings so they’re both accessible and balanced. Small boxes won’t be as heavy as large ones, and they’re easy to stack. Not to mention, you won’t exhaust yourself if you have to carry everything up flights of stairs.

Keep in mind your method of moving to college when packing. You’ll want to make it easy to load up a car, a moving truck, or shipping boxes.

Here’s a college packing list to help you only pack what you need.

How to Move to College Long Distance

When considering how to move to college, take a look at all of your options. Some will be more convenient, fast, or cheap. Examine your own circumstances and needs and choose the best option for you.

Move Yourself

The most inconvenient way to move to college out of state is to do it yourself by either car or plane. If you plan to drive, each of your belongings should fit within your car, even if you have a passenger coming along to help.

Furniture will be difficult to transport. For large items, consider renting a tow-behind trailer. Shop around for the best prices, as well as availability in both your hometown and your college town.

If you travel by plane, you’re restricted to how many checked bags you can take. You’ll have to pack light and leave behind airline-restricted items. With this option, you’ll likely need to either ship additional belongings or buy them when you arrive at your university.

Ask Family to Help

If you want to know how to move to college out of state and save money at the same time, ask family members for help.

Ask a parent or friend to come with you. They can make the long drive more bearable and help you unpack after you check-in at your apartment. On the other hand, you’ll need to figure out how they will travel back home once you arrive.

Rent a Moving Truck

If you’ve got several large items on top of your other belongings to transport to college, rent a moving truck.

There’s a fee for each day you have the truck and typically a mileage limit as well. You’ll provide all the heavy lifting and driving, but it’s worth it if you find a rental truck at a good price.

Use A Moving Container

Perhaps a better option than a truck rental for a cross country move is using a moving container or a pod.

This option allows you to load your items into one container that the company then picks up and drops off to your new city.

This option is especially ideal if you need storage, as the pod easily doubles as a storage container.

The only con to this option is that some campuses or apartment complexes might have regulations that won’t allow for this type of move.

Hire Professionals

If you want to do the least amount of work, hire a professional moving company. There are plenty of reasons that hiring professionals is the golden choice.

  • You don’t have to do any of the driving
  • Estimates are done by weight so the price you pay is proportionate to the size of your move
  • Professionals handling your items reduces the risk of damage
  • They will get the move done quicker than a DIY move

There are actually companies dedicated to college moves.

Dorm Room Movers and Storage Squad will do all the heavy lifting for you. For a flat rate, you’ll receive all the boxes and moving essentials to pack up your belongings. Then, the company will pick them up, store, and ship them to your university. For some locations, they can even deliver your boxes to your dorm room!

Before you dismiss the idea for being too expensive, get a moving estimate and compare that to the implied costs of doing an interstate move yourself.

Opt for Shipping

Another one of the ways to move to college easily is to ship your belongings ahead of you. This makes it so you don’t have to lug everything around yourself. You can ship your boxes via train, bus, or parcel carrier.

Each option has its benefits, so you’ll need to do your own research to pick the best for you. Here’s our detailed post for the cheapest ways to ship moving boxes.

To save money with this option, only ship the essentials. You can buy other, bulkier items once you arrive at your destination.


Do you have a friend from your hometown that’s moving to the same college? You can make both of your lives easier by consolidating your belongings. This is a great way to use the same resources and split costs. Some companies even have policies that encourage this practice!

Pay for Storage

After you finish your first year at college, you don’t have to move everything back home. That can be expensive, not to mention unrealistic. Instead, look to store your belongings over the break.

A great option for college students is An Airbnb-like platform where you find a storage solution near you.

Look at storage units and companies and compare prices.

You’re sure to find a place that’s both safe and offers a good deal.

Remember Move-In Day Restrictions

Before you make solid plans to move long-distance to college, take a look at your university’s move-in day restrictions. Keep a copy with you so you don’t forget any of them, especially on move-in day.

You may have limited space to unload too, so trucks and trailers may be difficult to maneuver around everyone else’s vehicles. Your college likely has designated move-in times, but the earlier you arrive, the better.

This will help you avoid standing in line forever just waiting to check-in and get your key. You can then unpack early in the day and still have time to go out in the evening!

Move to College On Your Terms

Though there are several ways to move to college out of state, you get to decide the best option for you. You can opt for the most convenient option, the cheapest option, or the most hands-on option.

Whatever you choose, make sure you have the budget for it and it complies with university regulations. Once you’re moved in, you’re ready to start your college experience! Remember to be yourself, make friends, and have fun!

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