How to Move from One State to Another: Moving Out of State Checklist
Table of Contents
- 1. Plan Your Moving Budget
- 2. Research Moving Companies and Choose a Suitable One
- 3. Explore a New State Remotely or Visit It in Advance
- 4. Check the Difference in the Cost of Living
- 5. Explore Employer Relocation Assistance
- 6. Get Your Documents in Order
- 7. Transfer the Utilities
- 8. Find a Place to Live in Advance
- 9. Calculate Commutes
- 10. Find New Doctors and Pharmacies
- 11. Change Your Driver’s License and Vehicle Registration
- 12. Settle on a Move Date
- 13. Tend to Your Pets
- 14. Transfer Your Professional Licenses
- 15. Go Through Your Belongings
- 16. Pack Your Belongings
- 17. Think About How You’re Going to Meet New People
- 18. Update Your Address
Moving is a laborious undertaking, in every sense of the word. Whether you’re moving a few belongings from your college dorm for the summer holidays, relocating a small apartment down the block, or shifting to a different neck of the woods, most people agree there is little fun in moving house.
Interstate moves in particular are just something else, and anyone who has been involved in one is well aware of the unique set of challenges that come with moving out of state.
If you’re gearing up for your first move out of state, it pays to know in advance what you’re in for. Because as you’ll realize, this type of move requires a bit of more thorough planning on your part since an out-of-state moving checklist comes with more boxes to tick than a local or intrastate move.
That is not to underplay the effort required in the latter, no. The thing about relocating is that generally, the more miles to be covered, the more there is worry about – triple so if there are kids, pets, or plants involved.
It’s easy to overlook some minute yet crucial details when moving out of state, a good number of which we’ll be touching on in this post. This is why you will find a checklist when moving out of state could be your best friend when relocating to a different part of the country.
Helpful Tips for Moving Out of State
We understand moving out of state can be a real pain, enough to make you want to cry.
Considering it’s something that must be done, though, the best thing you can do for yourself is to prepare for it accordingly. As interstate movers with years of experience handling these types of moves, there are two nuggets of wisdom we like to impart on anyone moving to a different state. They touch on planning and the moving timeline.
Out of state moving tips to remember: The earlier you start your preparations, the less stressful the process will be; and the more thorough you are, the easier and more seamless your move out of state will be.
But there is more to moving out of state than that.
We took it upon ourselves to create a comprehensive guide that should prove a goldmine for anyone planning to move out of state. It outlines all the things to do when moving to a new state.
Below is a complete lowdown.
1. Plan Your Moving Budget.
Behind every successful project is a thoughtful budget. Whether you are moving from NYC to Florida, South Carolina to Washington State, or from Colorado to the West Coast, one of the first things you need to do is create your relocation budget as most key decisions will hinge upon it.
- whether to hire a professional moving company or take the DIY route;
- the level of expert service to get from the mover if you’re using a moving company (full-service vs. partial service moving);
- whether to sell off some belongings or carry the whole house;
- whether you’ll be driving or flying to the destination;
- hotels and meals if the journey will take more than a day, etc.
Figure out how much moving out of state will cost you either by requesting a moving estimate from a mover or using a moving cost calculator which you should readily find online.
It’s easier to plan your move with a figure in mind, even if it’s a ballpark. Don’t forget there are extras you might need to plan for on top of the baseline amount – the cost of setting up new utilities, for example, car shipping (if you’re not driving), additional mover costs such as parking and elevator fees, and more.
The more details your budget covers, the better.
2. Research Moving Companies and Choose a Suitable One.
Moving companies are the most convenient moving option available, especially when moving to another state. A good mover can take the stress out of your move, but there are a few things worth remembering before signing up with one.
For starters, keep in mind that not all moving companies handle long-distance or out-of-state moves. Your preferred mover needs to be a registered and licensed interstate moving company, and one quick way to tell is to check the mover’s USDOT number (on the FMCSA portal).
Every licensed interstate mover should have this number, but be careful not to fall prey to questionable characters who might be posing as licensed movers yet in a real sense they are but brokers. That’s why it’s prudent to run a background check on moving companies before signing up, checking for common moving scams.
When choosing a mover, you should also select the level of service you desire, although this will largely depend on your budget. You have the option of full-service or partial moving service. The former might be costlier, but the mover handles most aspects of the relocation for you, packing included.
3. Explore a New State Remotely or Visit It in Advance.
When moving out of state (or even to a new neighborhood) it never hurts to have an idea of the kind of place you’re moving to. Some details are not easy to get a read on from just looking at glossy online ads, especially the vibe of the community.
An in-person visit helps you get a good feel of the place and what you can expect, so if your budget permits, you might want to slot this into your checklist when moving out of state and take some time to scope out the neighborhood by yourself. The downside is that traveling to another state can be costly and inconveniencing – although we advise scheduling a visit at least once if you’re buying a home as opposed to renting one.
Alternatively, you can take advantage of online resources to dig up more info about the neighborhood:
- Google Street View can be handy for a virtual neighborhood tour;
- NeighborhoodScout can shed more light on the crime rate;
- Google Maps can provide more info about the commute patterns in the area;
- GreatSchools.Org can be useful if you have kids and want to research about schools.
Other useful resources you can turn to for some 411 include Yelp reviews or the town’s or city’s social media accounts.
4. Check the Difference in the Cost of Living.
A checklist for moving out of state would be incomplete without researching the cost of living in your destination city. Just like when traveling to a different country, it’s good to have an idea about the living costs in your destination city when moving out of state.
Look at everything from rental prices to the cost of groceries, monthly utilities, childcare, and how much it costs to eat out. Find out how much you’ll be forking out on transport, car insurance, and homeowner’s insurance if you’re buying a house; not forgetting property insurance, and repair and maintenance costs.
Juxtapose the cost of living against your current city’s to see how the two stack up, factoring in your expected income (and taxes).
Knowing what to expect in terms of costs helps remove some of the doubt associated with an interstate move, which should bring you some peace of mind at a time when you most need it.
5. Explore Employer Relocation Assistance.
If you’re salaried or moving out of state for a new job, find out if the employer provides relocation assistance. A job relocation package can be a huge boon when moving to another state as it helps you cover your relocation costs if you’re moving for job-related reasons.
Depending on the policy, the relocation assistance package may cover your moving costs fully or partly. Not every employer offers this perk, so find out if it’s part of the company policy, how much is provided (if offered), and what it entails.
Keep in mind that employer relocation assistance is negotiable, so be sure to check the details of the package. Then, negotiate it with your employer in a way that suits your situation considering most relocation packages are generic in nature.
6. Get Your Documents in Order.
When moving to another state, you might want to set some time aside to organize your paperwork. Most people either forget this little detail or treat it as a by-the-way, but it’s super-important, so make sure to include it in your checklist to move out of state.
The paperwork in question includes documents such as credit cards, driver’s license, insurance, birth and professional certificates, and more.
This is the part where you transfer or cancel any existing memberships, update billing addresses, sort out school records and pet documentation, update your driver’s license and voter’s details, transfer utilities, and so on.
Some of these details should be handled before the move while others will have to wait until you put down roots in your new state.
Speaking of utilities…
7. Transfer the Utilities.
No one wants to move into a new house only to be greeted by a house with no power, gas, or water running. It’s easy to forget this small but vital detail, which is why you want to include it in your checklist moving out of state.
You will need to reach out to the utility companies in the destination city and arrange for the connection of these essentials. As far as the best time to do that goes, we recommend checking this off your to-do at least one week before moving in.
Don’t forget other services such as the Internet, phone, or cable, although these can be done post-move.
8. Find a Place to Live in Advance.
One of the first things you should do when moving from state to state is to get the housing issue sorted out before the move. While some people swear by the figure-it-out-as-you-go-along mantra, having an idea of where to stay ahead of your anticipated relocation can remove some of the uncertainty from the move.
The downside to interstate moves, though, is that a physical visit might not be very feasible when moving from one state to another as far as time and expenses are concerned.
Fortunately, you can take advantage of the many available online resources to not only do a house search but also scope out the neighborhood while you are at it. The alternative is to hire a realtor to do the legwork for you, although this only works best if you’re dealing with a reliable agent.
Whatever you do, avoid committing to a long-term lease before you get a feel of the area to establish if it’s the right fit for you. If you’re not sure, consider a short-term stay at an Airbnb, Vrbo, or hotel as you look for something more permanent following your move out of state.
9. Calculate Commutes.
Moving around a new city can be a headache before you properly get your bearings. If you’ll be doing daily commutes to work, it is imperative that you know the best ways to get around before you start work so that you have an idea of what to expect.
In an ideal world, you should have a few days to orient yourself with the commute route before you start work. Getting details such as the rush hour and convenience of public transit vs. car, biking, or walking ahead of time can only work to your advantage. Pick on other details such as coffee spots along the route, as well as grocery stores or takeout joints for grabbing dinner on your way home.
The more prepared you are, the easier you will find it to fit in.
10. Find New Doctors and Pharmacies.
Something else you might want to include in your checklist when moving out of state is looking up physicians and specialty doctors in the area, particularly if you have a family – and a vet for your pets.
Preferably, this should be done ahead of the move especially if you plan to schedule any appointments for you, your family, or pets. Changing doctors or vets can take time, and you don’t want to wait until the last minute to start looking for well-rated practitioners. That rarely turns out well.
Ideally, schedule any necessary appointments for the kids and pets before moving out of state so this doesn’t have to be a priority immediately following your move.
11. Change Your Driver’s License and Vehicle Registration.
If you plan to be driving in your new state, you will need to re-apply for a new driver’s license in the destination state. You will also need to register your vehicle with the DMV and transfer your policy within a specific timeframe.
The latter can be done online, but license and registration updates might need you to visit the DMV, complete with your proof of residency, current license, proof of SSN, and another extra form of identification.
The requirements will vary from one state to the next, so make sure you know what is required of you in your destination state.
12. Settle on a Move Date.
You probably have an idea of when you intend to relocate when you come up with the plan to move out of state. Now, what you need to do is decide on the month and lock in a date for moving, factoring in your work schedule, family concerns (school for the kids, for example), as well as things such as the availability of movers and the weather around the time of the move.
Unknown to many people, the date of moving can have a bearing on the cost of moving. The summer and holiday months tend to be the busiest and most expensive time to relocate as moving services are in higher demand at this time. The same goes for weekends and end months.
Therefore, if circumstances permit, opt for late fall, winter (which is the cheapest time to move), or even early spring – that is, from the end of September through April. Also worth remembering is that relocating in the middle of the week or middle of the month is likely to cost you less.
Make sure to book your mover in advance – at least 4 weeks ahead of your projected moving date – as the closer to the date of moving your book, the more it’s likely to cost you, particularly during peak moving season.
13. Tend to Your Pets.
Moving long-distance with pets is always a tricky proposition, regardless of the animal in question. While some cats and dogs don’t mind getting on the road, travel is stressful for most animals (birds and fish included).
When moving out of state, it’s worth noting that interstate movers are not permitted by law to transport pets. That leaves you with the option of pet shipping service or transporting the pet in the same car as you (and that does not apply to the bus or train).
Thus, you need to figure out how best to transport the pet, knowing too well that a dog, in particular, will feel most comfortable with you.
14. Transfer Your Professional Licenses.
This particular tidbit applies to certified professionals – teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, realtors, and so on. Make it a point of transferring your licenses to avoid employment gaps as you are required to have them before you can officially dispense your services in your new city.
The requirements and transfer policies vary from one state to the other, so brush up on the criteria in the destination state so you know what steps you need to take.
15. Go Through Your Belongings.
When creating your checklist for moving out of state, this should be one of the top things on your to-do as it will influence some of the key decisions you will be making.
By going through your belongings we mean sorting out your possessions and determining what to carry and what to leave behind.
One best practice when moving out of state is to move as lean as practically possible. Long-distance moving costs are steep, whether you’re moving to a small studio or an 8-bedroom house. However, purging your belongings can help you trim your moving bill to reasonable levels, and how reasonable exactly will depend on how much stuff you can get rid of.
Approach the house room-by-room and eliminate anything worth donating, reselling, gifting, or disposing, whether it’s clothing, kitchenware, books or toys, electronics and other appliances, furniture, [insert item here].
16. Pack Your Belongings.
Obviously, packing is one of the central aspects of every move, whether you are moving out of state or moving intrastate.
It’s incredible, however, just how many people underestimate the time and effort that goes into it, only to find themselves having to rush through their packing as moving day draws nigh. That’s not a mistake you want to make, as what it does is only add to the stress of moving – what you’re trying to avoid in the first place by putting together your moving out-of-state checklist.
Source your moving supplies in advance (at least a month beforehand, if not earlier) and come up with an approach for packing that works. You could, for instance, decide to tackle it room-by-room. The earlier you start packing for your move out of state, the better.
Also Read: 14 Moving Terms to Know Before Your Move
17. Think About How You’re Going to Meet New People.
Humans are social creatures, and as much as you may not be one for crowds, getting to know a few people when moving to another state can make life more bearable in what is probably a completely new territory.
New people could be anyone from neighbors, to colleagues at work, acquaintances you encounter at places of worship or social spots, people you share common interests with that you meet at say, an art gallery, historical museum, performing arts center, you name it.
18. Update Your Address.
When moving out of state, you’re literally swapping your physical address so by extension that means changing your postal address.
This will involve registering your new address with the USPS in the new state, so don’t forget to include this in your moving-out state checklist.
However, you don’t have to wait until after moving to kick-start the process. If anything, the best time to request the change of address is a few weeks prior to the date of moving. You can opt to do this either online, by phone, in person, or through mail; whichever you prefer better.
As you can see, there is some work to be done when moving out of state. While ticking these items off your checklist might not be the idea of fun, there is power in doing so and in this case, it helps you avoid the stress of moving which is known to lead even to depression.
To reiterate a point we made earlier, the better prepared you are, the less worried you will be about the transition. That’s when what could potentially be moving stress turns into excitement, and you start looking forward to what is a huge change in your life. Just as it should be.
Keep this out of state moving checklist close when moving out of state and thank us later.
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