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How to move to another state

7 tips for moving out of state

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    Moving boxes in a house

    Moving out of state poses several financial and logistical challenges. Ideally, you have at least a few months to plan for your move so you can get organized and do most of the work ahead of time. If you’re crunched for time, though, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.


    Key insights

    • Get a good sense of how much your move will cost and the cost of living in your new location.
    • If you plan to hire movers, remember that you’ll have to transport your pets and your plants yourself — movers won’t do this for you.
    • Make sure to forward important records — school, medical, veterinary, etc. — to your new location before you move.

    1. Learn about where you’re moving

    Whether you’re moving for a new job, to be closer to family or just for a change of scenery, it’s important to be financially, socially and physically prepared for a move to your new state. Is your new location more expensive? Will you need a car?

    Cost of living

    The costs of housing, food, car maintenance, taxes and other expenses depend largely on your location. Check out the cost of living in your new city and choose housing you can afford. If you’re relocating for a job, make sure your salary can handle any potential increases in living expenses.

    Local taxes

    When you move to a new state, familiarize yourself with the different tax requirements — statewide and locally. Check out the local property taxes if you’re thinking of buying a home and research your new state income tax (some states don’t tax income). Make sure you can afford any new tax burdens before you move.

    Daily life

    Learn about public transportation, look for doctors and veterinarians in your new area, choose schools and day care and look into any local groups or clubs that are important to you. If you’ll be using a car, how are the roads? Is your vehicle snow-ready if needed?

    2. Decide how and what you’re moving

    Planning ahead is the biggest advantage you can have when preparing to move out of state. The earlier you can start, the better.

    • Set a moving budget: Figure out how much you can afford to spend on your move by determining a realistic moving budget. Once you have your budget, you’ll be able to determine whether hiring professional movers, using a portable storage company or taking on the move yourself makes the most financial sense.
    • Clean out your house: The easiest and cheapest way to move is to move with less stuff. Throw away, donate or sell what you don’t need or want. Getting rid of clutter will help you cut down on moving expenses and make your move less stressful.
    • Finalize a lease or new home contract: Don’t wait until the last minute to finalize your lease, contract, move-in date or any other details of your new home.
    • Have records forwarded: This includes school records if you have kids and medical and dental records for everyone in your household. Don’t forget veterinary records if you have a pet.
    • Research moving or self-packing container companies: You’ll need to spend some time comparing your options and getting in-person estimates, so start looking for the best movers or portable storage companies as soon as you know your moving date. If you’re relocating for work, find out if your employer will cover some (or all) of your moving costs.
    • Get a folder for important documents: Centralize birth certificates, Social Security cards, financial documents, your moving company contract, and receipts and any other important documents in a special folder to keep with you.

    3. Finalize the details with your movers

    It’s time to make your move official. If you’re going the DIY route, you can disregard these steps.

    • Hire professional movers or self-packing container company: Once you research the top moving and portable storage companies in your area, decide which one you want to use, get a moving quote and schedule your move.
    • Complete an inventory of your items: Be sure to include all your valuables, electronics and anything that would be hard to replace. This helps both you and the moving company prepare for transport.
    • Make a plan for pets and plants: Pets and indoor plants can be difficult to move, so your moving company probably won’t move them for you. Make a plan to transport them yourself.

    4. Start packing

    Everyone’s favorite part of moving: packing. It’s important to have a plan so it goes as smoothly as possible.

    Set aside the things you need

    Imagine you’re packing for a two-week trip: How many sets of clothing will you need between now and moving day? Leave out toiletries, food and any personal items you use every day, like your laptop and chargers.

    Pack everything you don’t need

    Anything you haven’t set aside for the last two weeks before your move should be packed up and labeled. Staying organized when you pack for a move will make moving in a whole lot easier.

    Donate excess food

    Use up your frozen and perishable foods by the move date — or give them away. Try to plan mealsthat won’t use pots and pans for the last few weeks before your move so you can pack up most of your kitchen items.

    5. Update your location information

    About a week before the move, you can finally take care of some last-minute tasks, including updating your IDs and forwarding your mail.

    • Fill out a change of address form: Register a change of address so the post office will forward mail to your new address. You can pick up a change of address form at the local post office or fill it out online. Be sure to specify on the form the day you’ll be moving. It typically takes three to 10 business days for the change to take effect.
    • Set utility turn-on and shut-off dates: Call your current and future electric, gas, water, trash and cable companies to let them know when you’ll be moving.
    It takes about three to 10 business days for a USPS change of address to take effect.
    • Notify other accounts of your move: Cancel or update your accounts with your local bank, insurance providers, credit card company, lenders, subscription services, gym, lawn care service and cleaning crew.
    • Make plans to update your driver’s license or state ID: Most states require residents to update their driver’s license within the first 30 to 90 days of arriving. Check these requirements in your new state, call to set appointments at the local office, and make sure everyone in your household plans to get their state ID updated within the required time frame. Often, you have to update your driver’s license from your old state to your new one before you can purchase car insurance at your new address.

    6. Make final preparations before moving day

    The day before the moving truck or company arrives is a great time for some final prep work.

    • Take your car in for a tuneup: If you’ll be driving to your new home, make sure you have your vehicle's oil and fluid levels checked before moving day. Check the tire pressure and tread depth to avoid a flat or blown-out tire.
    • Refill prescriptions: You don’t want to run out of a prescription in the midst of moving. You may need to call your doctor or your insurance company if your prescription isn’t due for a refill yet.
    • Defrost the freezer and unplug the fridge: The freezer will need up to 24 hours to fully defrost. Discard or give away any perishables. If you’ll need something perishable, like milk, for the day of the move, pack it in an ice chest.
    • Prep your home for movers: Clear a path through your home and consider laying plastic or carpet scraps if you have carpeting. You can put frame protectors around your doorways to avoid dings from large furniture.
    • Pack your clothes and essentials: Pack up the last of the clothes and personal items you won’t need to carry with you. Pack a separate bag for what you’ll need while you’re on the road.
    • Do a final deep clean: On the actual moving day, you may need to clean your home again. But, for now, take care of any extensive cleaning projects, like the stove or windows. You may want to hire a cleaning service to make this process easier.

    7. Move out of your house

    Double-checking IDs, doing last-minute cleaning and taking some pictures can all help prevent problems after your move. Make sure you take care of these tasks before professional movers load your belongings and you leave for your new home.

    • Check the mover’s ID: When the movers show up, make sure they're with the company you hired. Ask your moving company for the name of the movers and then confirm their identity by asking to see ID when they arrive — moving scams are common, so double-checking is smart.
    • Sign the bill of lading: Before the movers leave your home with your cargo, sign the bill of lading, which serves as a receipt for your items and makes them the company’s responsibility.
    • Do a walk-through: Once everything is loaded on the moving truck, go through your home and check that nothing has been damaged by the moving company. Also, check every drawer and closet to make sure you haven’t left any property or trash behind.
    • Clean as needed: If you’re moving out of a rental, you may need to clean to get your deposit back. This might include dusting, cleaning windows, wiping out sinks and tubs, mopping and vacuuming.
    • Lock up: Before you leave, lock all the doors and windows. Turn off all the lights as well as the thermostat.
    • Take pictures of your new place: Before everything is unloaded in your new home, take photos of the empty rooms. Be sure to get pictures of any damage that wasn’t there before, especially if the damage would affect the home inspection results.
    • Get settled into your new home: Once you’ve moved in, you can take a little break. But there’s still more to do to get fully settled — getting these important tasks done as quickly as possible when moving into a new house will help.

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      Bottom line

      Moving always takes a lot of time and energy, but moving to a whole new state means there’s even more to think about and do for your relocation. The most important thing is to find quality movers (or plan well if you’re moving things yourself) and make sure you research your new location so you know what to expect from your home-to-be.

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