Moving out of state is an exciting proposition for most people. You may be relocating for an exciting new job opportunity, living alone for the first time, or just seeking out those cozy small-town vibes.
However, moving to a different state can be just as anxiety-inducing as it is enthralling. Starting over with new social connections, fear of the unknown, and, of course, having to pay for your move are all valid reasons to be a bit apprehensive about an upcoming move across state lines. Not to mention each state has its own set of rules, customs, and features that make the possibility of moving there a slightly more complex process than just packing up your stuff and hitting the road.
Related: Top 7 Interstate Mover Companies
Moving Out Of State: How-To Guide & Helpful Tips
With so much to think about, we wanted to break down some common to-do’s you might overlook when moving to a different state. More importantly, we’ll talk about how to move to another state without breaking the bank.
Read on for our complete guide on how to move to a different state with or without money:
What is the first step in moving out of state?
Aside from asking yourself, “what state should I move to,” the first thing to do when moving to a different state is to get organized. Moving out of state is much more difficult than just moving down the road (for obvious reasons). Chances are, you won’t be able to easily come back if you forget something. And with so much to get done, moving day will likely be pretty hectic.
Create a moving binder to get organized
Even if you aren’t an organized person, we highly recommend investing some time in the planning phase before you move to another state. A moving binder is essential for larger-scale moves and relocations because it prevents lapses in communication and keeps dates on track. Knowing what will happen when and having lists to check off will help things run smoothly and significantly reduce the risk of unnecessary stress.
Here are a few key items to include in a moving binder:
- A customized moving checklist
- Copies of medical and school records
- A moving budget with estimated and actual expenses
- Contact information for movers and anyone else who’s helping out
- A moving timeline that details when important events are happening
Find a job or move with your current company
If you have yet to make official plans to move to another state, one of the cheapest ways to do so is to move with your employer’s support. Many larger companies will pay some or all of your moving expenses and may even provide a housing stipend while you relocate.
Even if the company does not help with relocation expenses, having an immediate income you can rely on will help ease the financial stress of moving, which can be very common during this time (especially if you’re moving across the country!). If you can’t plan your move around your current employer, start looking for positions you’d be interested in that are either fully remote or based in the city you’d like to move to. In your interviews, you can even talk about your intentions to move. Bonus points if that would put you closer to the company’s headquarters.
How do I start over in a new city with no job?
Even though moving to another state without a job is not ideal, many people do so and thrive. If you’re looking to start over in a different state with a completely clean slate, here’s how to move when you don’t already have a job lined up:
- If you know you won’t have a job immediately after your move, save enough money to cover at least three months of living expenses. This amount should be on top of any moving expenses you will accrue. That way, you’ll buy yourself some time to look for a new job.
- Research the job market in your new city before moving. Make sure there are ample opportunities in the field you want to work.
- Create a budget with realistic living expenses. For instance, living in a very high-end condo won’t make sense if you are if you make minimum wage.
- Consider making the switch to remote work. If you’ve got the proper space for a desk or a home office and don’t mind being at home during the week, it might be a good idea to check out some job postings for work-from-home positions.
Update the necessary paperwork and records
Part of your moving binder should be designated to all the tasks you’ll have to complete as soon as possible after moving to a new state (or moving anywhere, for that matter!). Things like not notifying your credit card company can seem harmless enough. However, forgetting to pay your bill can cost you money because a statement never arrived at your new address.
Cross these to-do items off your list when changing states:
- Apply for an official change of address at the USPS.
- Head to the nearest DMV to update car registration and driver’s license information.
- Contact recurring billers and update your information directly.
- Update all insurance policies and shop for new ones if needed.
Budget for moving and living expenses
Do you want to know how to move to another state without money? Create a moving budget. Budgets can turn the idea of moving cheaply into a realistic possibility. In this case, instead of only including moving-related expenses in your budget, also be sure to include any living expenses you will incur in the new state. If you need to, start saving up a few months in advance.
When creating a moving budget, differentiate one–time expenses from ongoing ones. The more details you can add to the list up front, the less unexpected costs you’ll face along the way. That’s vital when money is tight. Also, once you’ve solidified a realistic budget, you can look for ways to cut current and future expenses.
Clever ways to save money before moving:
- Cancel any non-needed recurring expenses like the cable bill or Netflix subscription in the months prior to the move. Transfer that saved money into a separate moving fund so you’re not tempted to spend it elsewhere.
- Brainstorm ways to minimize your material footprint and sell any unused belongings.
- Rent an existing room using a service like Airbnb. However, check with your landlord and local laws first to be sure this is a legal possibility.
- If you’ve got some extra time on your hands, pick up a seasonal or temporary weekend job that you can do part-time. You’d be surprised how quickly a few hours a week can add up!
Get rid of belongings that don’t make sense to move
As mentioned, one way to save money when moving is to sell belongings. This strategy will save you money in two ways. Not only does it instantly put money in your pocket, but you also won’t have to pay your movers to take care of it on moving day. It’s a win-win!
Moving to a different state will be a much more seamless process if you can fit all your belongings into one smaller-sized moving truck. Worried that you might miss something if you get rid of it? Save for precious family heirlooms and other irreplaceable valuables, you can always purchase something again once you’re settled in your new home. You might even find that you don’t need it at all anymore!
Items to consider selling instead of moving:
- A car if you’re moving to a walkable city
- Extra furniture that won’t fit in the new space
- Excess electronics you’re no longer using
- Valuable collectibles that don’t have sentimental value
Pick a reputable interstate moving company
You’ll save yourself a lot of stress if you can afford to hire a moving company to coordinate your long-distance move. However, nothing strains a move more than a moving company that drops the ball mid-relocation. A lot of these headaches can be avoided by taking the time to pick a reputable company.
So what makes a moving company reputable? First, you want to hire a company with prior experience tackling interstate moves. It may seem counter-intuitive, but these larger companies cost less than smaller local companies that might not have the resources for such a long-distance move.
How to evaluate a moving company:
- Find out when the company was established. A good indicator of reliability is how long a business has had its doors open. If they didn’t stand behind their work, they likely wouldn’t be in business very long.
- Search out customer reviews from reputable third-party sites like The Better Business Bureau and Yelp. Be wary of reviews on the business’ website. These reviews can be edited, or they could only be showing the best reviews and hiding the negative ones.
- For interstate moves, search for a company that ideally has locations in the starting and ending destination. The more locations a moving company has, the more flexible they can be with moving terms.
Have a plan for making social connections
This underrated moving tip is especially important if you tend to isolate yourself under stress. It might feel easy to keep to yourself in a brand new city where you don’t know anyone, but over time, it could detrimentally impact your quality of life. When you move to another state alone, loneliness or homesickness might set in sooner or later.
Before the stress of moving to another state sets in, create a plan for how you will forge new social connections. Will you join a local book club, check out a new fitness class you’re interested in, or meet some new coworkers for a night out? It might seem silly to set small friendship goals for yourself ahead of time. However, after a long and stressful move, you’ll be thankful for the added motivation when already have a plan.
How to make new friends in a new state:
- Join groups that specifically relate to your interests. It won’t make sense for someone who dislikes bowling to join a bowling league. By picking activities you already know you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to put yourself out there in an unfamiliar place.
- Don’t underestimate the power of social media for making real-life connections. Start engaging with people with similar interests who have tagged themselves publicly in your new city on Instagram. A virtual friendship could evolve into a real one in no time.
- If possible, move during warmer weather. If you’re moving to a four-season state, moving in the winter might not be the best time to recreate a social life. In the spring and summer, people are out and about in parks, local shops, etc.
Moving to A Different State Doesn’t Have to Be So Stressful
We hope this guide helped you wrap your head around certain aspects of moving to a different state. If you have yet to decide on a particular destination, check out some of our moving-to guides to learn more about various cities in the US.
Update: This post was originally published on August 8, 2019, by Lauren Thomann and was revised on March 29th, 2023, with further information from Emily Malkowski.