What To Know When Moving to Another State

Moving to another state can be a daunting task. Between choosing different moving options, finding a new job, researching cost of living, and much more, moving to another state brings many challenges. However, planning your move and preparing for the worst can save you a lot of time, money, and frustration.

To help, we’re sharing our top tips for moving to a new home in another state.

Research Your New Cost of Living

Different areas will have varying costs of living, which can impact how much your food, rent, utilities, insurance, transportation, and much more costs.

Before selecting a new city to live in, research the area’s cost of living. Is it higher or lower than your current area? Are you prepared to look for a higher-paying job if you want to maintain the same quality of life but are moving to a more expensive area? 

NerdWallet’s cost of living calculator makes comparing different cities’ costs of living based on your current pre-tax household income easy. It will even populate a percentage to show the difference in how much more or less living in a new area will cost you to maintain approximately the same lifestyle habits.

In addition to this, prepare yourself for changes in tax amounts. Some states have no income tax, while others have a high income tax. Taxes on goods and services can also vary dramatically from state to state.

Ask for Employer Relocation Assistance

If you’re relocating for work, ask your employer about job relocation packages. Job relocation packages cover part or all of an employee’s moving expenses when relocating for work reasons. These packages can pay for a professional moving company, time off work, storage costs, staying in a hotel while you’re house-hunting, and much more.

Often, you can negotiate these packages with your employer, so don’t be shy about bringing up other moving expenses that aren’t covered in the package. For example, you may have to break your lease or pay more for closing costs on your house. These can be negotiated as moving expenses related to work.

Line Up a Job

If you haven’t already, line up a job before you take the plunge. Job hunting remotely can be stressful, but it’s less stressful than watching your dwindling savings while you’re hunting for jobs and have already relocated.

Save yourself time and money by hunting for jobs and networking online. A temporary position is better than no job and can keep financial stress at bay while you look for that dream job in your new home.

Build an Emergency Fund

Long-distance moves are expensive. There’s no way around some costs, even if you DIY most of your big move.

An emergency fund can provide a financial buffer if you turn in your U-Haul late and incur fees or the moving company’s estimate is inaccurate. It can also help if you’re still in the process of looking for work or need to make necessary repairs to your new place that you weren’t previously aware of.

Find New Doctors Ahead of Time

Even if you’re in perfect health, we recommend researching doctors in your new area and setting up new patient appointments with them shortly after you arrive. This ensures you won’t be in a pinch if you get sick and haven’t found a new doctor.

If you’re currently on prescription medications, speak with your current doctor and see if they’ll provide you with a prescription for longer than normal to hold you over during the move. Schedule appointments with doctors ahead of time so you can continue receiving necessary care and an up-to-date prescription. Research pharmacists in the area and decide in advance where you plan on filling prescriptions.

If you have a pet, look into veterinarians and set up an initial appointment, so your pet will have a doctor established too.

Forward Your Mail

Don’t lose track of essential bills, tax information, and mail during your move. Set up USPS mail forwarding before you go so that USPS can forward your mail to your new address.

Request the forwarding to happen a few days before your move, so you’ll have your mail waiting for you when you arrive at your new place.

Get a New Driver’s License

Legally, you’re obligated to tell the government about any address changes, typically within two weeks. Plan a time to visit the DMV in your new state within the first two weeks of arriving in your new town.

After receiving your new driver’s license, you can begin to update other businesses, like your insurance provider, about your move.

While you’re at the DMV, take a moment to register to vote in your area so that you receive the correct ballot in the mail.

Consider Your Benefits

When planning your move, consider what effect this may have on your benefits.

Consider the following:

  • Medicare coverage
  • Social Security benefits
  • Child support
  • Disability or survivor benefits

By law, most of these benefits should remain the same regardless of what state you’re living in. However, you’ll need to contact the appropriate offices to inform them about your move. We recommend getting in touch with your local office before moving so that it can connect you with the proper resources in your new state.

Plan Your Move Day

Consider the logistics of moving. Moving to another state means you’re unlikely to take your vehicle and move all your belongings. You’ll likely need to rent a moving truck or U-Haul, hire professional movers, or look into other moving services, such as shipping your belongings by mail or train.

Depending on gas prices and your comfort driving a bulky moving truck, you may actually save money by hiring a moving company to transport your belongings to your new place.

Start by researching your mover’s insurance, licenses, and customer reviews. Is it a reputable service with an excellent Better Business Bureau rating? Do any of your local friends or family have recommendations for an excellent moving service? 

After narrowing down your list, collect free quotes from several moving companies. Pricing can vary dramatically from company to company. However, some companies may be willing to price match, so don’t be afraid to tell one company about some of the lower prices you’ve been quoted.

After choosing a company, take your time reading all the paperwork and ask for a firm estimate for the move so that you’re not surprised by a larger total. Schedule your move as early in advance as possible because a company may need to reschedule, especially if you choose to move during a busy season. Call a few days before your move date to confirm that your reservation is still available and have a backup plan in place should anything fall through. You don’t want to be left with no moving truck and piles of boxes.

Find Your New Home

If you can’t physically check out apartments or homes before moving, it’s a good idea to research the area and place as thoroughly as possible. Many rental and real estate websites offer 3D virtual home tours, which can give you a better idea of what the place really looks like.

You can also use Google Street View to get a closer look at the outside of the place and the surrounding neighborhood. Researching the crime rate in the area isn’t a bad idea either.

If you know anyone in the area, ask their opinion about the different neighborhoods you’re looking at. A good realtor can also give you perspective on other areas and if they fit your criteria.

Build a Moving File

Moving creates a lot of paper clutter between estimates from the movers, inventory documentation, a moving checklist, personal identification, and much more.

Creating an organized moving binder saves you the hassle of searching for missing important documents.

Include the following at minimum:

  • Inventory documentation of all your belongings
  • Moving estimate
  • Change of address paperwork
  • Information about updating your driver’s license and voting registration
  • School records
  • Pet health records
  • Medical records
  • Mail forwarding information
  • Rental or mortgage paperwork
  • Job market research
  • Truck rental information
  • Closing paperwork for your old home
  • Temporary housing information
  • Moving supplies list
  • New residence information

Organize your binder by category and color-code your paperwork with colored Post-its to indicate where you’re at in the process. For example, green could indicate that you’ve completed everything related to this document, while pink means you still need to take action, like making a phone call or submitting a document.

Calculate Your Commute Time

Spend some time on Google Maps generating how long it will take to drive, walk, or commute from your new house to work, the grocery store, gas station, and other frequently visited areas.

Locate your nearest grocery store, pharmacy, and big-box store so you’ll know where to stop to purchase food, medication, and cleaning supplies when you arrive.

If you plan on using public transportation, research different routes in the area and make sure that the commute times are reasonable for your lifestyle.

Get Involved in the Community

Moving to an entirely new area can be lonely.

Spend time researching clubs, groups, churches or religious organizations, and other social events you’d like to attend. Consider signing up for a class or reaching out to a local church, library, or meetup space about some events you’d like to attend.

Before your move, book a few social events to ensure you get out and meet new friends.

Create an “Update List”

Moving to another state means you’ll have a slew of companies that you’ll need to update about your change of address. You’ll need to update your billing address, cancel irrelevant memberships, and sign up for new utilities.

Consider the following and start making calls as soon as possible:

  • Car insurance company
  • Healthcare
  • Cable
  • WiFi
  • Utilities
  • Gym memberships
  • Pet registration
  • Professional licenses or registration fees (i.e., a doctor or lawyer may need to update their license in a different state.)
  • Driver’s license
  • Credit cards
  • Cellphone company
  • Renters insurance

Pack Smart

Packing your belongings is probably the most obvious part of moving. However, packing smartly can save you time, money, and energy, especially during a cross-country or long-distance move.

As a general rule of thumb, you can never start packing too early. Go through your home room by room, starting with the least essential items, such as holiday decorations, chinaware, books, etc.

Pick each item up as you go and ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” If you can’t remember the last time you used something or it doesn’t bring you joy, this is an excellent time to part with it. Keep in mind that the fewer items you have during your move, the more painless it’ll be.

Sort your belongings into the following categories as you go:

  • Keep
  • Sell – Consider how you’re going to sell the items. eBay? Garage sale? Facebook Marketplace?
  • Donate – Plan drop-off times or schedule a donation pickup.
  • Trash – If something is too old or unusable, throw it away or recycle it.
  • Give away – Do you have anyone in your life that could use your extra blender? Consider giving family heirlooms or keepsakes away to family members that would appreciate them now rather than later.

Closing Thoughts

Moving to another state is a significant undertaking. However, planning can make the difference between a painless and disastrous move.

Take time to outline a moving checklist, start your moving binder, and create a plan for how you’ll tackle necessary research and scheduling.

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