11 Stress-Free Tips for Moving Out of State

Mariel Loveland
Written by Mariel Loveland
Updated August 1, 2022
Mother playing with child while packing
Photo: Marko Geber / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Take charge of your big move with these stress-busting tips

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Moving to a new state can feel heavy—and not just because you need to lift a lot of boxes. It’s an emotional process that can be one of the most stressful life events. 

But don’t panic: There are many ways to make the moving out of state process easier, starting with being organized and prepared. These stress-minimizing tips will show you how to move to another state while keeping your cool.

1. Research Your New City or State

Even though you’re in the same country, different states and parts of the country have different cultures. It’s normal to experience culture shock when moving from a large city to a quiet, rural town, but knowing what to expect will ease the transition. To find the perfect place to live, conduct some online research:

  • Take a virtual walk around different neighborhoods using street view.

  • Take a look at local businesses—from dry cleaners and grocers to restaurants and bars—to get a feel for your new day-to-day life.

  • Check the traffic during rush hour to determine commute times.

  • Research public transportation routes near your intended destination.

  • Parents with school-aged kids should research nearby school districts. 

  • Take a look at the local crime rates and determine the best area to live.

  • Research the cost of living, including state taxes and income taxes.

Once you narrow down your desirable area, you can use local neighborhood apps or online forums to ask residents about their experiences. And when you’re ready, make a visit. Online research can only do so much—it’s helpful to visit your potential new home in person, if possible.

2. Find a New Place to Live

If you’re ready to search for a new home, it’s time to break out the house-hunting checklist. A local real estate agent can recommend properties within your budget and help you schedule viewings and open house appointments. You should also research local listings online to get a feel for the area’s housing market. This step is crucial for setting expectations about how much house you can afford in your desired neighborhood. 

3. Explore Employer Moving Benefits

If you’re still interviewing, it’s smart to negotiate moving expenses like temporary housing, storage, and real estate agent services during the interview process. If you accept an out-of-state job, you may be eligible for relocation services or reimbursement. The details vary widely: You could get a full door-to-door package, a total or partial reimbursement, or a set dollar amount toward moving services. Ask your assigned relocation specialist for more tips for moving out of state, and discuss whether you need to notify your current insurance provider of an address change or sign up for a new plan in your new state. 

4. Book Moving Services Early

If you’re using professional movers or renting moving equipment, get on their schedules ASAP. Having the proper equipment, like a truck with a ramp, dollies, moving blankets, and straps can save your back (and your sanity) come moving day. Booking early can also help you avoid last-minute booking fees or sold-out equipment. 

“If you hire movers, think about booking on a weekday. It’s a great way to keep costs down,” says Mallory Micetich, Angi home care expert. Once you have your movers buttoned up, turn your attention to packing. “I find one of the most stressful parts of moving to be the time pressure,” says Micetich. “To avoid the panic of having too much to do in not enough time, start packing things you rarely use, like holiday decorations, off-season items, and things in guest rooms. Over time, start packing items you use more often, and by the time you get to your moving date, you’ll be all packed and ready to go.”

You’ll also need to answer a few questions related to the key factors of your long-distance move, including:

  • Does your employer provide any moving benefits?

  • Will you hire movers?  

  • For a DIY move: Will you use a portable storage unit or moving truck?  

  • Which items will you pack yourself and keep on hand during the move?

  • Where will you get boxes, bubble wrap, or paper to protect fragile items like large mirrors?

  • When should you stop and start utility and cable services for your old and new homes?

  • What date should you submit a change of address to the postal service?

  • When should you update any subscription services (food, medication, shaving, vitamins, cosmetics) to ensure you don’t miss any packages?

5. Pick the Best Movers

Hand taping box
Photo: fizkes / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Your moving company should be licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and your state if required. Ask friends about their personal experiences with local moving companies and use three of their recommendations to compare prices and services. 

Call a moving company as soon as you know your preferred dates for the best availability. Weekends, especially during the summer months, are in high demand and have premium prices. On the other hand, if you move mid-week, you might score a discount if the moving season is slow. 

Moving services will take a large chunk of your budget. You're paying for supplies and labor, so don’t forget to factor these costs into your overall moving budget. Long-distance moves cost between $4,000 to $10,000, depending on distance and amount of belongings.After the company previews your household items (either in person or virtually), they’ll present you with a binding or non-binding estimate. A binding estimate includes an exact list of services provided and the total cost based on the estimate. A non-binding estimate is the company’s best guess of the costs and services, but the final charges are calculated based on the shipment’s weight and required services. 

Money-saving tip: Ask if the moving company has a “guaranteed-not-to-exceed” estimate. In this case, you’ll only pay the binding estimate or the actual cost, whichever is lower.

6. Consider Your DIY Options

Many people go the DIY route to cut costs, but you still have to stay vigilant and protect fragile items. Also, don’t forget you’ll need to up your friends’ bribes (pizza and beer won’t cut it to move a whole house) if you want to convince them to help you pack and load. Ask them for tips for moving out of state, too—they’ll be glad to share their advice.

If you want a DIY move across state lines, you have several options. You can box and drive everything yourself in a rented moving truck or fill a portable storage unit for delivery to your new address. You can also hire professional movers to do some of the work, including driving the moving truck or loading and move heavy and awkward furniture. For the most affordable DIY move, compare the costs of moving trucks, trailers, and rental items against the cost of outsourcing the entire move.

7. Forward Your Mail and Submit Change of Address

As soon as you get a new home, it’s time to change your address. You can forward your mail and file an address change on the USPS website. You should also notify other important entities of your change of address, including your bank, credit card company, student loan office, and anywhere else that regularly sends you mail. Once you change your address, you’ll be able to file taxes in the state (yes, your local tax burden will likely change).

Keep in mind that changing your address will also impact the price of your car insurance. Additionally, you’ll need to get in contact with your home or renter’s insurance to discuss a new plan for your new property. 

8. Cancel Your Old Utilities and Set Up New Ones

Before you move, don’t forget to cancel your old utilities and set up new ones. You don’t want to get stuck paying a gas bill for an old home or not be able to turn on the lights at your new place. Different states have different providers, so you’ll need to research and contact local companies. The main utilities should include:

  • Water and sewer service

  • Electricity and gas

  • Cable, phone, and internet access

  • Garbage pickup

9. Get Your Licenses Squared Away

Licenses extend beyond your driver's license. You can change your license and car registration at your new state’s DMV. Most of the time, state laws allow you 10 to 30 days to change your address. If you’re a professional running a business or working in a specialized field that requires a local license, you’ll need to contact your local licensing agency.

10. Purge Before You Pack

Couple packing moving boxes
Photo: Roberto Westbrook / Getty Images

Let’s be real. Everyone has stuff that sits unused and takes up space. If it’s not being used in your current home, don’t pay to move it across state lines. “Be selective with what you decide to bring into your new home. Every item you move leads to more effort and stress on your end, so get rid of any belongings you don’t love as you’re packing,” says Mallory Micetich, Angi home care expert. “Aside from making the moving process quicker, easier and less expensive, decluttering will also help your new space feel fresh, clean and organized.”

Donate or dispose of your unwanted items.  If you have the time, plan for one or two epic moving sales to help fund your moving truck or buy new furniture instead of shipping the basement sofa to your new home. You could also earn more money selling items and furniture online, but it’s more of a time commitment.

11. Keep the Essentials With You

Plan to keep irreplaceable items—like jewelry and important documents—with you. You should also pack a small bag filled with essentials, such as medication, toiletries, and other everyday items you’ll need during the move.

Here’s a list of items that should make the move with you:  

  • Pet food, water, bowls, and any medications

  • Important records like a will, trust, and social security cards

  • High-value items, such as jewelry, electronics, and family photos 

  • Essential items like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and utensils

  • Packing tape, box cutters, and the hardware for rebuilding bed frames

  • Chargers for phones, computers, fitness trackers, and tablets 

Moving may not exactly be fun, but it doesn’t have to be stressful either. With some advance planning, you can prepare for moving costs, change your address, vet moving companies, and pack essential items to ensure a smooth move into your new home.

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