Planning to hop state lines and relocate to another part of the country? Whether you’re chasing better weather, job opportunities, or just need a bit of a refresh, moving to a new state is a big moment in anyone’s life.
If you’re getting ready to pack up your life and ship it off to a new locale, you may realize there’s a lot that needs to be done. Where do you begin? We’ve put together a checklist to help you make sure everything is in order before you hit the road.
Research your new hometown
Did you choose your new city? Or did your employer choose for you? Whatever the reason for your relocation, it’s great to understand a bit about where you’re headed before you get there.
Ideally, you’ll have spent some time in your new hometown. If you haven’t and you have the chance, make a visit and explore a little. Going for long walks and popping into local bars or restaurants are great ways of getting a feel for the place.
Start by researching different neighborhoods so you have a shortlist of locations to explore while you’re local. Keep in mind your lifestyle and how you prefer to spend your time. Will you be driving or taking public transport? Do you have a daily commute to factor in? Do you have school-aged kids? Are you a bustling downtown city type, or a slower-paced quiet neighborhood sort?
Whether or not you’re able to visit your new city ahead of time, there’s likely a lot of information online that will help you get an understanding of the neighborhoods. Then, start looking for rentals or real estate.
Oftentimes, it can help to move your things into storage and get a more temporary accommodation option while you search in person.
Compare the cost of living
Moving long distances obviously brings a lot of changes, whether it’s the weather, the cuisines, or even the accent. One often not accounted for is the cost of living.
Before you move, check the cost of living on the other side. It’s crucial to know how much more (or less, of course!) it will cost you to live in your new state. Important factors include rent or housing, transportation, gas, utilities, groceries, and even healthcare.
Remember to also look at tax and income calculators so you understand what you’re getting into. Check into your new state’s property, sales, income taxes, and payroll taxes if you’re a business owner. If you’re moving due to a corporate relocation, you may be able to claim back some of your moving expenses on your tax return, so keep your receipts and records! Of course, it never hurts to ask your employer if they’ll cover the moving expenses themselves.
Confirm moving and storage arrangements
As far as moving expenses go, the majority will probably be devoted to the move itself. Planning ahead will reduce a lot of the stress in moving, and you’ll be able to coordinate all of the details with your mover along the way.
Hiring a professional mover means you’ll have someone on your side to help you with timelines and make sure you’ve thought of everything. You’ll also have a much more stress-free relocation, knowing your most precious items are in the hands of the experts.
It’s best to allow yourself the time to sort through your belongings and purge the unnecessary items that have gathered in your current home. After all, why pack and move (and unpack) things you don’t want, need, or use?
If you’ll be in transition once you arrive and aren’t unloading directly into your new home, make arrangements to put your things in storage. Make sure you understand the climate and whether you’ll need a climate-controlled unit. Confirm your storage unit before booking your mover so you can make the right arrangements for the truck to deliver your things directly.
Budget for the move
Don’t save the “moving and storage” step until the last minute. You’ll need to understand what the cost of the move will be so you can set a budget. Hire a moving company with a guaranteed price so you don’t need to worry about surprise fees on the other side. Make sure you and your mover discuss all of the details, including transporting your car or other vehicles, whether you need moving supplies, and the estimated cost of gas.
Of course, you’ll also have other expenses of your own. If you’re driving your car yourself, you’ll need to pay for gas, food, and lodging along the way. You may need to pay disconnection or reconnection fees with your utility companies. If you’re renting, don’t forget to factor in your deposit. And when you arrive, you’ll inevitably need to restock on things like groceries and cleaning supplies.
Set up utilities
If you’re arriving straight to your new home, make sure it’s ready for you when you get there. The last thing you need after a long journey is to arrive at home without electricity or water. Take the time to set up electricity, gas, water, sewer, garbage collection, internet, cable, and any other utilities you’ll need.
Find new healthcare providers
There are bound to be some changes to your healthcare coverage when you move out of state. If your health insurance comes from your employer, read through your new policy to understand any changes in coverage and claims.
Call your current healthcare providers and get copies of your medical records and prescriptions. It’s easier – and quicker – to have these documents on hand when you find a new doctor than to rely on electronic transfers.
Handle this step well in advance of your move. Doctor’s offices can get busy and you may need to go in person to receive your records.
Update your driver’s license and registration
One of the first things you should do after you arrive is to update your driver’s license and vehicle registration. Don’t delay – each state has its own requirements for when this must be done, and it ranges between 10 and 30 days.
Head over to the website for your new local DMV, and check to see which documents and forms of identification you need to bring. Check to see if you can book an appointment to save you some time. Make sure you also change the address on your auto insurance policy, while you’re at it.
Change your address
Remember to update your address before you move. You don’t want to miss out on any important communication while you’re off establishing your life in a new state!
Start by forwarding your mail by alerting the USPS. You don’t need to go in person anymore – there’s an online form that you can fill out. Forwarding your mail means any updates you miss won’t result in lost letters or documents.
Then, go down the list of people and companies who need your new address as well. Cellphone company, insurance providers, HR at your place of employment, banking institutions and card issuers, investment and retirement accounts, Netflix, Amazon, and any others we may have missed. Don’t forget to update your friends and family, too. You don’t want to start missing Grandma’s holiday cards, do you?
Register to vote
Now that you’re in a new state, you’ll need to register to vote again. In more than 40 states, it’s possible to update your voter registration online. If showing up in person is better for you, look for the local or state elections office. Check to see if the USPS or DMV offers you the opportunity to register when you change your address. If not, you’ll have to update your driver’s license or ID card first, as you’ll need proof of residency in your new state before you can register to vote.
Depending on where you’re moving from and to, you may have new natural disasters to consider. Making the leap from California to Florida? Goodbye earthquakes and wildfires… Hello, hurricane season! Make sure you understand the natural risks in your new locale so you can be prepared.
Whether you’re renting or buying your new home, don’t skip out on renters or homeowners insurance. Not only will you be protected in natural disasters, but also in times of theft, fires, or water damage. We all like to hope for the best, of course, but sometimes things happen. Make sure you and your belongings are covered.