Relocating is always taxing, especially when it’s across state lines. If you’re worried about getting everything done on time, you can use this handy moving out of state checklist to track your progress in the months and weeks leading up to the move.

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So you’re moving. And not just moving, but moving across state lines – away from your current home, your family and friends, and the life you’ve known for months, probably years.

No matter how cucumber-cool you are in your daily life, it’s bound to be a frantic time. To-do lists get crazy big. Kids go a little wild. You might start to feel just-south-of-sane yourself.

Which is where a moving out of state checklist comes in.

The Moving Out of State Checklist You Can’t Live Without

Laptop computer out of state moving checklist

Why a checklist?

Simple: Because our brains tend to break the more stress we experience. Studies show that we don’t think as clearly when we feel pressured or overwhelmed (not to mention the super-lame long-term consequences of stress).

Moreover, decision-making is one of the most resource-intensive activities we do. The more decisions you have to make in the moment, the more tired you become, and the worse you become at making those decisions.

Ideally, you can avoid the whole dilemma by outlining a list of tasks well ahead of time, paring down any given day’s duties. With a checklist by your side, you won’t have to wonder what task to complete when. You can prepare everything beforehand, then reference it when you wake up that morning to make sure you’re staying on track.

Sounds pretty good, right? And best of all, we’re giving it to you right here, right now, for free.

Two Months Before Moving Out Of State

Making plans moving out of state checklist girl with map

Two months before your move, you’re still working globally. Think of this stage as preparing to prepare. For the next two weeks, you should focus your activity on planning, organizing and prepping, ticking off tasks such as:

  • Preparing a Moving Binder: Organizing all the documents you’ll need in one place – a moving binder – is a great way to relieve stress and clear your brain.
  • Printing Your Checklist: Get your moving out of state checklist printed off and filed away in your binder for easy reference. Pair it with our comprehensive moving checklist for ultimate organization.
  • Explore Your New Neighborhood: Before you start looking for a house to rent, you need to know where you want to live. Check out schools, restaurants, amenities and more.
  • Purchase Moving Supplies: If you’re DIYing your move, get your supplies now.
  • Book Appointments: Need to see anyone in town before you go? Book eye exams, shrink appointments and wellness once-overs now. (Remember, kids need to be up-to-date on vaccines before entering new schools.)
  • Set a Moving Budget: While you still have a clear head, set a budget for how much you’re willing to pay for a house, how much you’ll spend on meals, travel costs and more.

Six Weeks Before the Move

Map out of state move prep

At this point, you should have picked an official date for the move. A date is important, because you’ll need it to hire movers, turn off and turn on utilities, enlist help from friends, and more. If you have not picked a date, do so before turning your attention to any more items on the moving out of state checklist. Now it’s time to:

  • Schedule Car Shipment: Not driving? Schedule a shipper to come get your car before you move out.
  • Buy Plane Tickets: If you’re flying, get your tickets locked down now.
  • Secure Housing: It’s important to know where you’re moving to. If you can’t rent or buy a home in the area before getting there, check out short-term rentals instead.
  • Research Moving Companies: If you’re not moving yourself, it’s time to find a company you want.
  • Declutter: Never declutter after your move; always do it before! Start sorting through your possessions and getting rid of as much as possible through donation or junking.
  • Schedule Favors: Give your friends and family plenty of notice about any necessary help or babysitting.
  • Check with Old Utility Companies: Call your current utilities to tell them your shut-off date. Find out if you have any move-out duties.
  • Schedule Hangouts: Your time will become more valuable and harried as you get closer, so make sure to set aside enough to hang with people you love.
  • Decide If You’ll Sell Your Car: If you’re not taking your car with you, make a plan for selling it … Craigslist, dealership and so forth.

One Month Before an Out of State Move

By now you have most of your big decisions made, and it’s a matter of checking items off your list to see them though. Over the next two weeks, you should:

  • Rent a Storage Unit: If you will need a storage unit, do your research on unit sizes and types and rent it out now.
  • Make a Packing Plan: Packing is a daunting task at best, a nightmare at worst. Make a plan for tackling your pack job like a pro.
  • Contact New Utility Companies: Once you have your new home picked out, research your utility providers and give them your address and move-in date.
  • Collate Records: Collect birth certificates, passports, Social Security cards, deeds, titles, medical records, pet documents and more all in one place to take on your person during the move.
  • Declutter Your Fridge: Start using up perishable items and freezer goods, as well as draining the pantry and eating any emergency supplies you may have laid aside for earthquakes or other natural disasters.
  • Plan Your Route: Time to figure out what route you’ll take to your new home, and where you’ll stay along the way. Book hotels and AirBnBs at each stopping point.
  • Schedule a Cleaning Service: If you’ll use a professional cleaner after you move out, book them now.

Two Weeks Before Moving

Black dog in moving box

It’s getting close! You should now make more specific plans about Moving Day, with tasks including:

  • Update Banks and Cell Phones: Give your financial institutions, accountants, cell phone providers and anyone else whose services you will continue to use your new address.
  • Transfer Renter’s Insurance: If you’re renting, call your insurance company and transfer the insurance from your current home to your new, effective as of your move-in date.
  • Set Up Trash/Recycling: Call these companies and set them up now so they can deliver bins before you arrive.
  • Confirm with Moving Company: Confirm all final details with your moving company.
  • Start Packing: If you haven’t yet, it’s time to start filling boxes with all your worldly possessions. Plan to finish packing two days before the move for maximum sanity.

One Week Before Crossing State Lines

Almost ready! Keep on track by making sure to:

  • Set Up Mail Forwarding: Contact the post office and begin forwarding your mail to your new address.
  • Pack a “Move in Box”: In this box, place easy snacks, one-pot meals, a pot and a wooden spoon, durable cups, plates and silverware, napkins, paper towels, a first aid kit, toiletries and Kleenex.
  • Start the Dirty Jobs: If you’re not using a cleaning service, it’s time to defrost your freezer, clean your oven, scrub the baseboards, clean behind the toilet and so on.
  • Get Cash: Take out several hundred dollars for every adult who is part of the moving process. Give teenagers a few twenties for emergencies.
  • Clean Your Car: If you’re driving, clean your car. If it’s getting picked up for shipment, clean your car. If you’re selling it, clean your car. Basically, clean your car.
  • Sell Your Car: If you’ve planned to sell your car, transact now and schedule pickup for later.
  • Finish Packing: Put the final tape on your boxes two days before the moving truck arrives.

The Day Before Your Big Move

As you wind down to the end of your moving out of state checklist, it’s all about those finishing touches that will make moving out of your old home and into your new a breeze. The day before, make sure that you:

  • Pack Snacks: Make sure no one goes hungry on moving day or during the drive.
  • Set Aside Special Items: Put out jewelry, blankies, beloved stuffies, documents and other important or sentimental items so you can take them in your car or suitcase.
  • Hand Off Your Vehicle: Time to give your keys to the lucky new owner.
  • Drain Oil and Gas from Outdoor Equipment: Taking any mowers, weed whackers or other fueled-up machines? Drain them now.

Moving Out Day

Congratulations! You’re nearly done with your moving out of state checklist and on your way out the door to new adventures! Before you celebrate, though, make sure you complete these last day-of tasks for a perfectly seamless move:

  • Clear a Pathway: Prop your front door open with a box or brick. Move all boxes out of the way so you have a clean path from inside to the truck outside.
  • Do a Final Check: After you’ve packed everything into the van and car, do a final walkthrough of the entire house, basement, attic, garage and yard. Open closets and cupboards and check all the nooks and crannies.
  • Give Yourself a Minute: Moving out is hard and emotionally draining. Once all is packed and ready to go, sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee or perhaps a cry. You’ve earned it!

Moving In Day

Frequently, with out of state moves, you will move out of your current home and take up residence in your new one on separate days. Perhaps you stay in motels along the way or drive through the night, but whatever the case, it’s helpful to separate the two milestones on your moving out of state checklist. When you take those final steps into your new home, wrap up your tasks over the next few weeks by taking care to:

  • Whip Out That Move In Box: Once you arrive, all you have to do is eat some macaroni and cheese, snuggle little ones, and crash. Then you can …
  • Update Your Voter Registration: You can do this any time in the first few months of moving.
  • Update Your Car Docs: You have 30 days to update plates, tags and insurance after moving.
  • Notify Government Institutions: Change your address with the IRS and other applicable government institutions, such as Social Security or the VA. Confirm mail forwarding with the post office.

And that’s it! With this checklist in hand, you’re much likelier to address all your needs on time and on budget. Get ready for a seamless move! But first, one more task:

Find the Right Storage Well Before Your Move

Self storage for out of state moving

If you will need storage, it’s smart to get this out of the way well ahead of time. Finding and renting out a storage unit the week of your move is a guaranteed route to a nervous breakdown, so don’t wait until the last minute.

Instead, spend some time thinking about whether you need storage or not. Reasons to get it include moving only temporarily (such as a one-year corporate relocation) or moving to a small home for a few years and coming back to your hometown later on. If you decide on a storage unit, pick a reputable company and:

  • Rent the unit
  • Give an extra key to someone staying in town whom you trust (such as a parent or sibling)
  • Move your possessions in at least two weeks ahead of time
  • Check on your storage unit before leaving town

Once you complete these steps, you can rest assured that your storage unit will keep your stuff safe, and turn your attention to the rest of your moving out of state checklist – and to your new life!

About the Author

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Sarah Moore

Sarah Beth Moore is a professional writer and published author who earned her master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. A moving and relocation expert, Sarah has even moved internationally to Belize in Central America. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband, two kids and two dogs. When she’s not contributing to the Life Storage blog, Sarah shares her thoughts on writing and location independence on her personal blog, New Leaf Writing.

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