How to Move Out of State: A 15 Step Checklist (2024 Updated!)

Young,Couple,In,New,Apartment,With,Small,DogMoving to a different state is a mountain of a task, as I’m sure you know. There are a lot of moving parts, and it’s easy to get confused or overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information and responsibilities you need to consider at one time.

Luckily, whether you’re moving to the East Coast, West Coast, or somewhere in between, the process is essentially the same! It’s best to lay out each part and figure out a specific order you want to get things done. That’s why we’ve created this checklist to help. In this guide, we’ll tell you how to move out of state, what you’ll need to plan, and some helpful tips to get things done. 

How to get started with your out-of-state move

Step 1: Get to know your new home 

Young,African,Woman,Holding,Home,Keys,While,Hugging,Boyfriend,InFirst, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with your new area as much as possible. This starts by doing your research. Begin by looking up your city on Google Maps or Zillow and checking out what’s around: stores, restaurants, parks, etc. If you have children, research local schools on a site like GreatSchools and crime rates on a site like NeighborhoodScout. If you want an in-depth look into the neighborhood, use Google Street View. Also, Nextdoor is a great resource for what locals really think.

It’s best to plan out a weekend trip to go explore the area in person. Plan out some long walks or bike rides around to get a feel for it. Stop into some bars or restaurants to get to know the local flavor. Take note of fun shops and places to buy furniture for your new home. Many recommend seeing what your neighborhood is like on busy evenings. Are there big crowds and a lot of noise? Does it seem safe? 

During your visit, research the things that are important to you. Check out the schools in person and test your work commute by driving there during the time you’d typically go. 

Step 2: Find your new place! 

Happy,Family,With,Cardboard,Boxes,In,New,House,At,MovingIf you’ve nailed down a neighborhood that you’re happy with, it’s time to find a home. Before anything, you should list down the criteria you have for your home: bedrooms, bathrooms, location, garage space, etc.

You can start by using resources like Zillow if you’re buying or Trulia if you’re renting. You’ll be able to get a gauge on the average listing prices for the type of home you want. You may even find some local agents or agencies that you want to do business with! 

Create a list of homes that check your boxes. Contact the agents on those properties and get a feel for how they work. Even if none of those homes works out, you’ll probably find an agent that you like working with, and they can open your eyes to homes that fit all of your criteria. Take a trip out there a few times to tour until you land on the perfect spot.

This process can take a while, usually around 50 to 60 days, but you want to ensure you’re happy with the place before you make the long trek out there. 

Step 3: Create a moving timeline

Happy,African,American,Young,Family,Bought,New,House.,Mom,,Dad,Now that you have a home to move to, it’s a good idea to create a moving timeline. This helps pace your move so you’re not handling every single detail a week before you need to get out of your old place. Moving out of state is already an overwhelming task, so work smarter not harder!

First, give your boss and landlord notice that you’re leaving. If you own your home, get in contact with sellers or a real estate investor to figure out how your home can be sold in conjunction with your move. Determine when you need to be out and how soon you can be in your new place. 

Also, plan out things like when you’ll move over larger items like furniture, when you’ll switch over your internet and utilities, and when your kids will have their last day at their current school. 

Step 4: Money matters

Cardboard,Boxes,,Potted,Plants,And,Household,Stuff,Indoors.,Moving,DayIt’s time to figure out dollars and cents. Moving out of state can be very expensive, and it can cause a strain on your finances if not properly managed. Plus, if you already own a home, you don’t want to be paying for two houses at an already stressful time. Moving out of state can cost thousands of dollars, so you should have savings lined up long beforehand.

Budget out the move and start making estimates of how things will cost. This includes figuring out the best long distance movers, what you’ll need to buy for your new place, truck rentals, and more. If you need some extra funds, you might want to hold a yard sale to get rid of things you don’t want to carry along with you to the new spot.

Hiring professional movers will can be a big strain. If you are looking for the cheapest way to move, you’ll likely still have to save money for a truck rental, moving supplies, packing tape, and even temporary housing or a hotel along the way if you plan to do it all on your own.

Step 5: Research employer relocation assistance

If you are moving for a job, be sure to check out whether or not your employer plans to cover your moving expenses in any way. Though it’s not a requirement, many companies offer some sort of job relocation package to employees. A job relocation package typically covers part of if not all of an employee’s moving expenses when moving for work-related reasons.

These packages can be negotiated in many situations. Whether you’re a new employee moving for the job or an existing employee who’s being transferred to a new location, it’s in your best interest to negotiate a job relocation package right away. To start the process, ask your HR rep whether they are willing to offer you one. Be aware that many companies won’t provide the check or resources until after you move, so you’ll often have to pay for the moving services up front and get reimbursed once you’ve made the move.

Step 6: Figure out how your lifestyle will change

Happy,Family,Couple,Watching,Movers,Unload,Boxes,From,TruckSpeaking of costs, you need to figure out how your lifestyle will need to adjust when it comes to living in a new state or city. Check out the cost of living in the new area and see how that compares to your current place. If it’s more expensive there, factor that into your budget. You’ll also want to look into your wage or salary differences. Where you’re living now might be a lot more affordable than where you’ll be, so changes might need to be made in the way you live your life. 

Lifestyle changes aren’t all about money, though. You’ll want to figure out how your personal life and social activity will change. Moving to a new state can be very lonely, especially if you don’t know many people in your new area. 

Also, there may be cultural shifts to consider. For example, people are a lot different in California than they are in the Midwest. You might also be moving from an urban area to a rural area for the first time.

Step 7: Plan your move 

Close,Up,Young,Husband,In,Jeans,Lift,Wife,Surrounded,ByThe time has come to prepare for your move. This is arguably the hardest part, as a move comes with a lot of surprises. However, the longer you plan, the more you’ll be able to handle it. Start by packing your things and deciding what you want to bring. Again, purge anything you don’t need anymore. This takes a while, so don’t do it days before your move!

Getting your things to a new state is a lot. Are you going to rent a moving truck and drive them out yourself, or are you going to hire long-distance movers? If so, find the moving company, get their estimate, and figure out the day. If you’re moving before your lease or closing date, you’ll want to look into storage options for your larger items. 

If you have the luxury, it’s recommended to move over time rather than all at once. This makes the move a lot less stressful than it would be otherwise, and it makes unpacking way easier. 

Make sure you have a detailed copy of your new home’s floor plan before the move. Not only will this make it easier to plan what goes where, but it will also help when ordering furniture and other household items. The last thing you want is to buy an expensive couch that doesn’t fit your new space. Furniture can take weeks (sometimes even months) to arrive, so you’ll want to order any necessary items before the move to have the timing work out. Having a detailed floor plan with the correct measurements will make this easier to do and will ensure that what you order will fit in the home when you arrive.

Step 8: Get your records in order

Happy,African,American,Father,Playing,With,Children,Sitting,In,CartonAlong with planning, you’ll want to get all of your affairs in order. Gather your kids’ school transcripts and work with their school on your move. Cancel any local memberships, like gyms or libraries. If you use a local bank, close your account and transfer your money to a new bank. Pay any outstanding fines, settle accounts, and gather the necessary documents to start somewhere new. 

When it comes to documents, put together a collection of secured online documents in a folder or dropbox can you can share with the appropriate parties. Keep any paper records on file in a fireproof safe or sturdy box so they don’t get damaged during the move. You never know what could happen!

You’ll also want to get your new state driver’s license or ID. If your job involves a state license, like a nurse or a teacher, you’ll need to figure out how to get your new license so you don’t have any issues starting work as soon as you can.

Lastly, you’ll want to change your mailing address. If you’re making a permanent move, you can update your address using the form on the USPS website. After you select the date to forward your mail, all mail will be redirected to your new address, even if it’s in another state. You’ll even receive a packet of coupons that help you cut done on moving costs!

Step 9: Arrange for cleaners to conduct a move-out cleaning

Unless you plan on cleaning the house yourself, you’re going to need to hire someone to conduct a deep cleaning of your home. If your stuff is already packed away, it could be difficult to find the right materials to do a deep clean before handing over the keys.

If you’re renting, you’ll also need to make sure that all repairs have been completed before the move so that they don’t charge you or withhold your deposit check. Oftentimes, landlords want walls repainted and holes repaired before the tenant moves out. Those expectations should be noted in the rental agreement you signed before moving in. Make sure to check with your landlord about what needs cleaning and changing before moving away to avoid pesky fees.

Step 10: Start important services and utilities 

Moving,Boxes,And,Household,Stuff,In,Kitchen.,Space,For,TextNow, you’ll want to figure out how to start services and utilities in your new home.

If you’re renting, you’ll want to find out what utilities you’re responsible for. Also, your new area likely has a different electricity and gas provider than your current one. Get in touch with electric, gas, water, and sewer utilities to see what the process is like.

Find out how to stop services for your old address and start service for your new one. Contact your internet and cable providers to transfer services. This can take a day or two to start, so make sure you plan this well ahead of time, especially if you need a meter read. You don’t want to be spending your first evening at your new place in the pitch dark. 

Step 11: Register your car

Young,Smiling,Happy,African-american,Family,Unpacking,During,Move.,New,Home.No one wants to start their move with a ticket! You might’ve transferred your driver’s license, but don’t forget to register your car with the new state. Vehicle registration is handled on the state level, not the federal level. Each state has its own rules about how quickly you need to register your vehicle before being able to drive, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Visit your DMV with the required documentation, which is usually proof of address and your social security card or W-2. This is going to suck, no doubt about that, so don’t rush things last minute. You’ll want to change your insurance policy to the new address. This might even be a good time to upgrade or downgrade your policy based on the amount of driving you’ll be doing in your new city. 

Step 12: Find your new network 

Moving,Boxes,And,Furniture,In,New,HomeSo you’ve planned your move, transferred over records, and gotten a solid budget going. It’s time to start figuring out who to go to for services in your new state. You’ll need to find new doctors, dentists, vets, lawyers, and more. You can always work this out after your move, but depending on your health circumstances, you may want to solve these issues early. 

You can start by asking people you know in your new area who they recommend. Referrals are often the best way of finding qualified professionals. You can also look through online recommendations and reviews to find the best providers in your area. You can even ask your doctor from back home if they happen to know anyone in that area. Your insurance provider can also give you lists based on location. 

Step 13: Hire a handyman

Moving to a new home often involves hanging art, curtains, hooks, and other items on the walls. It also might mean making simple repairs or switching out light fixtures. Make sure to find a reputable and reliable handyman once you finally move, so that you can get these to-dos taken care of as soon as possible without the hassle. The less that’s on your plate after you finally get the keys to your new place, the less headache you’ll have.

Step 14: Register to vote

Update your voter registration as soon as you move. If you don’t do it right away, you might forget by the time the next election comes up. There are usually multiple ways to register to vote, including in-person voter registration, mail-in registration and online registration. Any of those are good options, and you can usually knock it out in just a few minutes.

Step 15: Make your new state home! 

When,Preparing,The,Cargo,Box,,Cargo,Box,,Natural,Shooting,BackgroundOnce all is said and done, and your move is completed, you’ll want to create a life there. As said, it’s hard to create a social circle in a new area, so it’s important to get involved! Start by saying hello to your neighbors and introducing yourself and your family. They may even be able to offer recommendations on nearby stores, services, or restaurants.

Join local organizations and volunteer groups to meet like-minded people. Join your child’s school’s PTA. Sign up for fitness classes. Look for activities on local blogs, bulletin boards, county calendars, and forums. Any opportunity to make new friends, acquaintances, and connections in a new, strange place will make the move a lot less overwhelming and lonely. 

Important things to consider when moving to another state

Here are just a few very important things to think about when you’re considering a move to a new state.

Weather-related challenges and risks

Disaster preparedness should be part of your immediate moving plan. Weather can affect your everyday lifestyle and mood, not to mention your utility bills and more. Make sure to research the place you’re moving to in terms of climate, and whether it’s prone to any natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes. If you know the risks, you can choose the best homeowners insurance that will help cover the costs in case a natural disaster strikes. You can also factor in the costs of making your home less vulnerable by adding in sealable windows, storm shelters, etc.

Difference in cost of living

The cost of living varies greatly from state to state. What can buy you a lavish lifestyle in one metro won’t even cover your mortgage in another. To see how far your money will stretch in your new chosen city, compare the cost to see how yours stacks up compared to the national average score of 100. Research this before your move so that aren’t blindsided by the cost differences in things like housing, transportation, food and clothes. It can be scary if you aren’t prepared and immediately need to stock up on groceries and back to school clothes.

Healthcare quality

The quality of healthcare is one of the most important factors to look at when deciding where you want to move. From the healthcare providers (quality of the doctors and practitioners) to the healthcare facilities (hospitals and medical offices), all aspects of healthcare should be evaluated before moving to a new city or state.

Be sure to also consider your specific healthcare needs if you have them. Does your condition require a certain type of medication? Does your family need pediatric care on speed dial? Is there a quality hospital nearby for emergencies? These are the types of questions to consider before making a big move. There are many resources online that rank and rate the quality of healthcare per state or city.

Housing market and real estate prices

While someone making $60,000 a year can possibly afford a three-bedroom home in Greenville, NC, they may have to settle for a small walkup apartment (and even several roommates) in Los Angeles. Research home prices before moving to avoid sticker shock. Check Zillow or for real estate prices in your new area. You can break it down by property type, median listing home prices, median days on the market, the median price per square foot, and median rent cost. You’ll also want to consider interest rates.

The job market and overall economy

Some cities make for a better fresh start than others just based on their job markets and available opportunities. Find out how your new city ranks, especially if you don’t have a job lined up already. These include job opportunities, employment growth, starting salaries, unemployment rate, median annual income, commute time and real estate affordability, among others factors.

The right real estate agent can help you every step of the way

We hope this checklist has helped you plan your out-of-state move. These steps will surely help keep everything in order during this Herculian task.

Moving is difficult, no doubt about it, but it doesn’t have to be. It starts with finding the right home, which begins with the right realtor. Your agent can help make the most of a new situation, and they may even be able to act as your accomplice in finding your network. They have the right tools to help themselves help you.

Agent Advice knows what you need from your realtor. We research so you don’t have to. If you’re looking for more advice on real estate, check out our other articles and reviews!

About the Author

Jim Gray got licensed in 2013 and sold 57 houses in his first year. Over the next 6 1/2 years he went on to sell 437 homes with a small team. He went on to manage the lead generation department of the 13th largest expansion team at Keller Williams and designed lead generation and conversion systems for 60 agents in 7 locations in 4 states that drove 600 home sales in a 2 year period. Jim currently does real estate team development and coaching for some of the largest real estate teams in the country. 

Last Updated: 12/29/2023