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The process of moving from one state to another can be hard to navigate—from knowing where to start, to finally settling into your new home. Whether you’re relocating for a job in a big city or making a major life transition, this handy moving-out-of-state checklist will help guide you through the entire process!

Set a Moving Budget

One of the first things you should do to prepare for an out-of-state move is make a moving budget. There are several moving costs to consider, such as professional moving and car shipping services, packing supplies, as well as how much you’ll spend on meals, travel, and other personal expenses. A general rule of thumb is to keep three to six months of expenses saved up before you move to help your household transition comfortably into your new home. Keep in mind that living expenses in your destination state and plans to move in with a roommate may affect your budget.

Prepare a Moving Binder

Organizing your financial documents and other important files in one place is a great way to relieve stress and clear your brain when planning an out-of-state move. By preparing a moving binder, you’ll know exactly where everything is right when you need it, instead of rifling through scattered piles of paperwork. Gather and file away personal documents such as medical records, birth certificates, passports, social security cards, and more. This is also a great place to store your comprehensive moving checklist for ultimate organization!

Consider State Differences

Knowing the differences between your current state and a new one is essential. Analyze the costs of living by state by comparing average mortgage or rent costs and the prices of utilities like electricity, water, and heating. See how public transit fees and city and state taxes compare to your current state. Research the job market and evaluate the availability of positions within your field, and be sure to note if the state has any additional requirements of any professional licenses or certificates you need for work (i.e., nursing, education, etc.). Some states have time-restricted requirements for new residents moving with pets, so you may need to consider licensing ahead of time.

Look Into Local Amenities

Before renting or buying a home in another state, you’ll want to get familiar with its cities and their offerings. Navigate different cities you’re interested in on Google Maps, and find neighborhoods near amenities that are important to you. See which areas offer good walkability and access to public transportation. If you have kids, think about what schools they’ll attend, and if you’re moving for work, figure out what neighborhoods are near your potential or new places of employment. Be sure to also consider outdoor recreation, nightlife, and other opportunities for fun.

Decide On a Neighborhood

When relocating to a new state, it can be helpful to work with a Realtor or real estate agent or even someone you know in the area to help you assess potential neighborhoods. Properly researching your neighborhood can help you save time, energy, and money on driving—to to mention stress, if you need to visit these places in a hurry. Keep your research on amenities in mind, and consider how close your chosen neighborhood(s) are to services you need. Locate nearby grocery stores and locations of medical or emergency centers, pharmacies, grocery stores, and veterinary offices for pets.

Choose a Home

After you decide what neighborhoods you like, take a trip out to tour apartments in the area or use use virtual tours to get a clearer idea of your new home’s dimensions. If you have pets, make sure any space you’re considering is pet-friendly, and look into breed/weight restrictions and required vaccinations. If you’re unfamiliar with the city, a great cross-country move tip is to rent for the first six months to get a feel for the area and ensure it’s right for you in the long term. This way, you’re able to relocate to a different neighborhood or home if you end up finding something that fits you better.

Think About Employment

Unless you’re relocating to another state for your current job, an important step to ensuring a smooth transition when moving to a new city is solidifying your employment situation before you move—you might even be able to get employer relocation assistance. Not only does having a job lined up provide a sense of security and time-sensitive but reliable stream of income—but it can also help you accurately budget your money and time after moving.

Make Leaving Plans

After getting things in place for your new city, you’ll want to prepare to leave your current home. If you’re moving out of an apartment or rental property, review your lease and see how far in advance you need to give notice to your landlord or leasing company. Make a move-out checklist of everything you need to take care of, such as changing the renters insurance or repairing any damages. Get your security deposit back by taking time to thoroughly clean your space. And in the midst of all the preparation to move, don’t forget to touch base with friends, family, and others close to you so you can say proper goodbyes before you go.

Research Moving Companies

While it’s possible to DIY your move, out-of-state moves require significant effort over long distances, so you may want to find a reputable moving company to help you. Seek and read honest reviews, ask for referrals for interstate movers, and check the registered mover database on Protect Your Move. Once you’ve found three or four top moving companies, compare their services and request in-person estimates so you can assess conduct while they assess your moving needs. After making your decision, get everything in writing to ensure you understand the terms of your contract. If you ultimately decide to move without a professional company, be sure to rent, load, and drive a moving truck yourself.

Configure Home Utilities

One of the many things you should put on your moving out of state checklist is to transfer your utilities, which often includes electricity, gas, water, internet, trash, and recycling. Roughly a month before moving between states, contact your current providers to tell them your shut-off date. Once your new home is picked out, contact your new utility providers and give them your address and move-in date. If you’re moving during winter or summer, in particular, it can be a relief to walk inside to a comfortable temperature.

Purchase Moving Supplies

If you’re DIYing your move, now’s the time to get moving supplies. One way to save money during a move is to look into local resources offering free moving boxes. However, if efficiency and quality are your priorities, you can buy sturdy moving boxes in bulk in different sizes for all types of items. Don’t forget essentials like packing tape, bubble wrap, and markers for labeling. If you’d like added security for traveling long distances, you may also want to consider investing in covers for furniture, dish and glass kits, and other protective moving supplies.

Declutter Your Home

It might seem like an extra step, but decluttering your home before packing your belongings is a moving hack to save time and energy. By parting ways with old, unused, or even broken items means you’ll have less items to pack, transport, and unpack—not to mention, you’ll save money on packing supplies! Sort through your possessions and purge by room to rid yourself of things you no longer need, such as old toys, games, books, and clothing. Selling discards at a yard sale, on resale apps, or through a tax-deductible donation is a great way to save money while moving, as well.

Pack Your Belongings

After decluttering, you’re ready to start packing moving boxes with your remaining possessions. It’s best to start packing at least one to two weeks in advance of your moving date to give yourself plenty of time and keep things as low-stress as possible. Follow practical packing tips for moving, such as bundling breakables, wrapping china or glass properly, protecting your furniture, taking care of electronics, and filling any empty space in boxes. And be sure to leave out moving day essentials so you don’t need to worry about where necessities are while traveling!

Determine Travel Plans

When moving out of state, you’ll need to consider both transportation and accommodations. Those shipping their belongings and flying should lock down plane tickets as soon as possible, secure a rental car, and arrange car shipping services well in advance. If you’re hitting the road, plan your route to include gas stations that accommodate and fuel moving trucks. Prepare your pets for the moving journey by getting them used to their crates and even taking short car rides in the crate—and be sure you’ve researched how to move with pets. Additionally, determine whether or not you’ll need overnight accommodations or temporary housing until your new home is ready to move in to.

Prepare for Inclement Weather

As you get closer to your out-of-state move, be sure to check the weather in all of the areas you’ll be traveling through. While the truck will protect your items from the weather, you can take precautions for moving in the rain by wrapping delicate items, setting up a pop-up tent while loading or unloading the truck, and managing moisture. Schedule your drives during non-peak travel times to minimize stress, and pull over if the wind picks up or visibility gets low from fog, rain, or snow.

Settle In to Your New Home

Some of the first things to do when moving in are deep-cleaning, painting, and changing filters because your home is empty. Once you’re ready to unpack, construct your furniture and unpack essential items like cleaning supplies, bedding, and clothing first. Then, take as much time as you’d like to unpack the rest of your items and make your space feel like home.

Meet Your Neighbors

Moving to another state where you don’t know anyone can be intimidating, so it’s normal to feel a little lonely at first. After settling into your new environment, try to make connections with those around you. Take time to knock on your neighbors’ doors and introduce yourself. If you’re moving with kids and you find out your neighbors have children, offer to set up a playdate to break the ice and help your little one feel comfortable in their new home. Participating in local events or joining community groups can also help you meet people and foster a sense of belonging in your new neighborhood. You can also browse through online sites like Nextdoor or join your neighborhood’s social media pages!

Update Personal Information

Within the first few weeks of moving in, be sure to update personal information—your financial institutions, accountants, cell phone providers, and post offices are just a few services to notify when moving to a new address. In terms of finances, you’ll want to update your credit card, loan, and personal insurance information, plus any memberships and subscriptions. Also remember to update car documents, including your license, plates, tags, and insurance. Then, change your home address with the IRS, U.S. Veterans Affairs agency, and other applicable government institutions, in addition to updating your voter registration. Don’t forget to forward mail to your new address online or in-person at your local post office, as well!

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Preparing for an out-of-state move? Life Storage has facilities throughout the country with affordable storage solutions to support your move to another state. Rent a storage unit today!

This post was originally published 07/11/2023, and last revised on 06/13/2024 with updated information.

About the Authors

Emily Malkowski

Emily Malkowski is a writer and SEO strategist with over 5 years experience, in Buffalo, New York. Having graduated from University at Buffalo with a Bachelor's degree in Communications, her work has appeared in outlets like The American Prospect, Roadtrippers Magazine, Step Out Buffalo, and more.

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