There’s a bit more to moving to a different state than simply hiring interstate moving companies. Moving can be an emotionally and financially draining experience. This can be painfully true when you move to a new state, especially one that’s culturally different from your own.
To make things a little bit easier, we compiled a checklist of what to do before you move to a different state:
Image by Aimee Cozza
1.) Read up on the area you plan to move to
The first step before you move to a new state should be to learn all you can about it. While looking up a place’s culture and history can be important, you might find it more helpful to prioritize looking at data comparisons between the state that you plan to move to and your home state.
Comparing states can give you a general frame of reference when it comes to assessing important factors such as median income, employment opportunities, the ease of doing business, crime rate, educational opportunities, and healthcare, among others.
Your research shouldn’t stop there. Some states are incredibly large and diverse, which means state-to-state comparisons aren’t always that useful. It’s also important to look up data for the town or city you’re planning to move to, as well as possible alternatives within or outside of the state. Take some time to study the current comparative costs of living and housing costs in those areas as well, as these will be important when you start budgeting for your move.
2.) Take time to reflect on your reasons for moving
It’s normal to have doubts about moving. But it’s important to know if you are moving for a good reason or just acting on a whim. Regardless of whether reflecting takes you a decade or an hour, you must be committed to the move and are prepared to deal with the potential consequences.
3.) Visit the state you want to move to
For most people, moving to a new state isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. No matter how much research or introspection one does, there are bound to be at least a few things that will, for better or worse, surprise you about your prospective home.
If you haven’t done so recently, try to see if you can find the time to visit and explore your future home state, particularly the area you’re planning to move to. This will help give you a more realistic idea of what to expect if you finally decide to move. Have a local guide take you to haunts away from the usual tourist traps to get a better feel for what the place is really like.
4.) Create a budget
When you have a general idea of how much it costs to live in the state, you can start saving up and creating a realistic budget for the move.
Moving anywhere can be expensive, and this is truer when you move out of state. The median cost of hiring full-service movers for moving out of state is a little over $4,000. It can get much pricier from there, depending on how far away you’re moving and how much stuff you need to be moved.
The cost of hiring movers is only part of what makes moving so expensive. In many cases, you’ll also have to deal with building and renovation fees for your new home. You’ll all need to deal with the cost of having basic utilities hooked up just before you move in. You may also have to order in or eat out more in your first few weeks because you may not have the time to unpack your kitchen equipment yet.
What’s more, you might not have access to a job or a regular income at this time. This makes it especially important that you not only have a realistic budget, but you also have sufficient savings or credit to get you through the initial moving-in period.
5.) Learn about the hidden costs of housing
Regardless of whether you’re going to rent or own your new home, housing costs are likely to be the most expensive running expense you will have. In most cases, there are several hidden or overlooked expenses that can make a seemingly affordable home more expensive than it first appears to be.
Some of these costs include insurance, HOA dues, home repairs, assessments, and administrative costs, to name a few. If you choose a home in the suburbs or an area far from your place of work, car ownership costs such as fuel and maintenance will also be a factor for virtually every activity outside your home. If you have to spend hours commuting each day, that can also be considered to be a hidden time expense as it can impact your quality of life directly.
6.) Look at your moving options
To save money, you can always go DIY. However, this is usually only feasible if you don’t own a lot of stuff. If you want to make sure your prized possessions make it to your next home safely, take some time to look for interstate moving companies that have good reviews.
7.) Submit a change-of-address request to USPS
You’ll want to make sure that your mail is sent to your new address. Thankfully, the USPS makes this simple. All you need to do is visit the official USPS Change-of-Address website to get started on your request.
8.) Alert important parties
The municipal, state, and federal tax bureaus, the Social Security Administration, City/County Assessor, and other important local, state, and federal government offices should be made aware of your move. Your creditors, home service providers, subscription services, banks, and any financiers should also be contacted about your move. Be sure to leave your forwarding address with a neighbor, just in case someone tries to contact you at your old address.
9.) Contact your utility providers
Get in touch with the utility providers for your current home as well as the one that you’re planning to move to. Arrange for your current home’s utilities to be cut right on the day that you’re leaving so that you aren’t saddled with unnecessary expenses just as you’re getting settled elsewhere.
You’ll also want to arrange to have utilities at your new home hooked up at least a day before you move in. This is to ensure that you won’t have to spend your first night in the dark or you’re not unable to take a shower. If you have a telecommuting job, be sure to arrange for the ISP to hook you up as soon as you move in.
10.) Get in touch with a legal expert to sort out your tax status
You certainly don’t want to get in trouble with the IRS because you forgot to take care of a few details. Most US states define your tax residency based on your “domicile” or permanent home. Individuals, regardless of citizenship, are only entitled to one domicile at a time. Get in touch with your lawyer to help your change your domicile for tax purposes and to learn what other possible options you might have.
11.) Compile all your important documents
Make sure all important papers and electronic documents and records are accounted for. Back up your electronic files on the cloud or an external storage device.
Obtain your medical records as well as those of your family members before you make the move. If possible, arrange for these records to be transferred to your new physician. If you have pets, make sure to obtain their records as well from their vet, if you haven’t already.
12.) See if your employer can assist you with your move
If you’re moving to a new state because your current employer assigned you there, try to see what kind of assistance they could offer. This can make a huge difference in how comfortable your transition period is.
13.) Notify your children’s schools
If you have school-age children, notify their school administration about your move so that they can prepare your children’s paperwork. This will help simplify their transition to their new school.
14.) Learn how to get the necessary licenses and permits
Some states may require you to switch over to a new driver’s license within a set amount of time after you move in. If you have pets or own firearms and other equipment that requires a special license, you may have to declare these before you move and obtain the necessary permits. Requirements vary between states, so make sure you take time to research these thoroughly well before you start moving.
15.) Stock up on critical supplies
You might not have time to go to the pharmacy or do the laundry right after you move. For this reason, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have enough prescription medicines, phone and laptop chargers, toiletries, cash, pet food, and clothes to last the first couple of days. You might also want to consider taking along some canned food, bottled water, and other nonperishable food items to tide you over until you can start buying groceries.
16.) Purge your house of unneeded items
Sell or donate anything and everything you don’t plan on taking with you. Start throwing out or eating food items that won’t make the trip. If you have dangerous chemicals lying around, ask whoever is in charge of waste management in your area to help you dispose of them safely.
17.) Update your insurance
Your current insurance plan may not cover you or your family out of state. Be sure to talk to your agent about updating plans so that you’re covered after the move. You could also consider ending your current plan and getting a new one that’s a better fit for your new lifestyle.
18.) Go over the details with the movers
You can prevent unnecessary delays and miscommunication simply by talking with the movers. Going over the details with them can help ensure they pick up and drop off your possessions in the right places, at the right times. Make sure to have the mover in charge sign the inventory sheet and to get a copy for reference.
Hopefully, this checklist will help you save time, money, and aggravation when you move to a new state. If you found this list helpful, be sure to drop us a line and let us know in the comments. If we missed something important, be sure to tell us as well.