Moving to another state is complicated, so we put together a check to show you how to move to another state without missing the biggest steps.
Moving to another state checklist
Before you move
Research your new state
When you’re moving to another state, make sure you look before you leap. Gather plenty of information about your new state so you can make a well-informed move.
If you haven’t decided on a state, spend some time looking at the states other people move to. Researching popular and affordable states may help you find a place you hadn’t considered.
Once you’ve decided on a specific state, research areas within that state. Maybe you can find much cheaper housing if you live 20 minutes outside a big city rather than downtown. Or maybe the big city has top-notch public transportation, which makes it better for your car-free lifestyle.
If you have family or friends in the area, ask for their recommendations on neighborhoods and apartment complexes. Sites like Niche can suggest underlooked areas to consider in your new state.
Here are some other factors you might want to consider before you move to a new state:
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Finding housing can add lots of stress, whether you’re renting or buying. Websites like Zillow can help you see what’s available in the area. But once you get closer to actually making a decision, a local realtor can help you find the right housing, even if you’re far away.
We recommend visiting your new housing in person, if possible. Seeing your potential new space in person might show you problems first-hand, which could save you lots of time and money. If you can’t make the trip out of state, a trusted friend or realtor can visit for you. And lots of realtors offer virtual tours.
If you’re one of the many people getting priced out of the housing market, check out government housing programs in your state at NCHSA.org. You can find out more about local programs that help make both renting and buying more affordable.
You should also look at federal programs for first-time homebuyers or other specific groups of people:
- FHA loans
- Housing Choice Voucher
- Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program
- USDA loans
- VA loans
Plan your budget
Once you know exactly where you’re moving, you can start planning the logistics of your move ― like your budget for moving from state to state. Our recent survey showed that over 30% of Americans didn’t budget correctly for their move. Take the time and do the math so you’re not one of them.
Calculate the cost of the move itself. Add up how much you’ll have to pay to rent a truck or hire a moving company. Legitimate moving companies will provide you with a written quote for your move. We recommend getting at least two to three quotes so you can compare your options. Then add in additional costs, like fuel, travel accommodations, and food as you move to a new state.
Calculate the cost of moving in. Find out how much your rental deposit or down payment will be. Then add in costs like internet installation, potential repairs, and even home basics like a plunger and trash bags.
Calculate ongoing costs at your new place. Add up your rental or mortgage payments, along with any HOA fees. Then add up your new state’s sales tax, property tax, and utilities. Make a new budget reflecting all these costs before you move.
Book a mover
If you can afford it, we highly recommend booking one of the best long-distance moving companies to handle your move for you. Movers take a lot off your plate. They save you the effort of loading up a big truck and the stress of driving that truck to your new state.
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We suggest booking at least one month in advance when moving to another state. And if you’re moving during the busy summer months, try to book even further ahead (around two months in advance).
Moving companies like Bellhop Movers let you get a quote and book your move completely online, so you don’t even have to find time for a lengthy call or home visit.
If hiring a full-service moving company doesn’t fit your budget, you can always rent a U-Haul or a similar moving truck. Truck rentals cost less than full-service movers (sometimes thousands of dollars less). But you’ll pay in time and effort — and you also have to pay for gas.
You can always hire labor-only movers to help you load the truck. It’s more expensive to hire a labor-only team, but it often costs less than full-service movers while saving you from the physical labor.
The cheapest way to move to a new state is to pack your things in your own vehicle. This only works if you have a small amount of stuff and a large vehicle, but it is the cheapest way to move to a new state.
Plan your travel
In many cases, driving to your new state will cost less than flying. But you’ll probably need to pay for more hotels and restaurants when you drive, especially if you’re doing a cross-country move like California to Florida. You can keep those costs down by staying with family or friends and by packing your own food.
Use an app like Google Maps to plan your driving route in advance, and download it so you can still have access to the map even if you don’t have service. Taking a direct route without sightseeing is the best way to save on gas.
Check your route for tolls and keep some change on hand. Look out for road closures or traffic jams on the day you depart, too.
If you have pets or children, you’ll want to factor that into your route. Make sure you factor in bathroom breaks and meal stops. After all, you’d hate to have hungry children crying in the back seat while driving through a long, barren stretch of interstate.
Make sure you research any state-specific requirements for your animals. Many states have strict laws about bringing birds (even backyard chickens) or exotic animals across borders.
To avoid a nasty surprise ― including losing your pet ― use the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service site to check requirements in your new state (as well as states you’re driving through).
When you arrive
Hook up utilities
Whether you’re renting or buying, you’ll need to arrange for your utilities to get turned on. Previous tenants usually cancel service before moving out.
You’ll probably need to set up these services:
- Garbage and recycling
Sometimes, you’ll have choices for your utility providers (especially for cable). Other times, you may have to use the only local provider. It depends on what’s available in your region, so plan to do some research.
Schedule the turn-on for water and electricity for a time you’re at home. That way, you can spot any problems right away. Otherwise, you could come home to a flooded bathroom.
Update your insurance
When you move in, you should also make sure to update your insurance.
If you bought a house, you likely had to show proof of insurance as part of your closing. If you rent, though, you may need to update your renter’s insurance to your new address. In either case, if you have extra property insurance (like for valuables), make sure you’ve got the right address.
If you have a car, update your auto policy with your new address. Keep in mind that moving to another state (or even another city) can dramatically change your insurance premiums. If your price goes way up, it may be a good time to shop around for a new auto insurance policy.
Get ready to drive
Along with updating your auto insurance, you’ll also need to update your car registration and driver’s license.
Different states have different rules about registration and license renewal, and even license plate placement. For example, some states, like Alaska, make you pass a written test before you can get a license.
So read up on the rules on your state’s DMV site before you head to your local office. You don’t want to get pulled over for failing to display both front and rear plates, after all (a possibility in Massachusetts).
Since we all know how slow and unpleasant DMV offices can be, you may also want to see if your new state has third-party DMV providers.
States like Arizona and New Mexico let third parties run authorized DMV offices. These third-party offices usually charge additional fees, but they also get you in and out much quicker than a traditional DMV does.
Update your voter registration
Vote.gov can help you register to vote in your new state. Voting in local and state elections is a great way to participate in your new community. Most states require you to register before showing up at the polls.
Register your pets and find a vet
Find out the registration requirements in your area for your pet. For example, check out dog license requirements in your state to keep your best friend safe and legal.
For pets with microchips, update their chip info with your new address. That way, if your pet gets lost, they’ll make it home more easily. (And if your pet isn’t microchipped, now could be a good time to fix that.)
Find a new vet now so you don’t have to scramble to find care when your pet faces an emergency. This is especially true if you have an exotic pet, like a lizard, or a large animal, like a horse.
You can also ask your new vet about pet healthcare recommendations for your new place. After all, if you’ve just moved to Texas from Montana, you may not realize that your dog now needs year-round flea protection.
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Find a state to move to
Know you want to leave but don’t know where you’re going? Here’s where other people are moving, along with the most affordable states.
Most popular states to move to
According to our moving survey, people tend to move to Florida, Texas, and North Carolina. All of those states have affordable places to live, lots of jobs in tech and other high-paying industries, and big cities with plenty to do.
We also asked survey participants about where they most want to move (rather than where they’re actually moving). The five favorites were California, Florida, Hawaii, New York, and Colorado. These states are more expensive than the states people actually move to.
Only Florida appears on both lists. So if you don’t know where to move yet, your fellow Americans think the Sunshine State is a great choice.
Most affordable states
If you’re one of the 23% of movers looking to save money by moving, you may want to pick one of these 10 most affordable states. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center calculated average costs for groceries, healthcare, housing, utilities, and transportation to find the cheapest states in the nation.
The most affordable states tend to be in the Midwest and the South (and the most expensive are on the West Coast and in New England). That said, affordability varies from city to city. You can find expensive areas in Georgia and cheaper areas in Washington. So as you plan your big move, think about cities and neighborhoods ― not just states.
You should also think about which expenses matter most to you. If you can stay rent-free with family in a more expensive state, for instance, you may find it’s worth moving to the West Coast after all. Or if you expect to need lots of healthcare, you may want to prioritize a state that has low healthcare costs over a state with low grocery costs.
Top state-to-state movers
Avg. customer rating
Bellhop is fast and reliable. It’s also one of the few moving companies that lets you book your move online. Bellhop offers top-notch services for reasonable prices. And it has thousands of five-star reviews on Trustpilot.
Bellhop Movers is active in 27 states (see the full list).
Two Men and a Truck
Two Men And a TruckReview
Avg. customer rating
Even though Two Men and A Truck is a full-service moving carrier, it still lets you mix and match the services you want so you can save money. For example, you don’t have to pay for packing if you don’t want to. Two Men and a Truck usually gets positive reviews, but it’s worth looking up reviews for your location.
46 states (not available in Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire or West Viginia)
- Phone: (877) 720-0411
- Website: www.twomenandatruck.com
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Mayflower Moving contracts out some local moves, but it handles long-distance moves itself. Mayflower has a unique dashboard that helps you manage your move and pay your bill online.
46 states (not available in Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island or West Virginia)
- Phone: (877) 720-4066
- Website: www.mayflower.com
» MORE: Best Long-Distance Movers