11 Tips That Make Moving Out of State Less Stressful

Americans always have the option of moving out of state for a better life.

Moving out of state is a big undertaking. Not only will you be traveling long distances, you’ll have to adapt to subtle differences in culture and laws. Quite possibly differences in laws are what made you wonder “Should I move to a different state?” in the first place. 

Most people move to different states for economic or family reasons. Whatever your motivations, the big move is going to require lots of planning and budgeting. 

The following information presumes you’ve already researched your destination and must now make a plan for moving to a new state.

1. Research Moving Costs

Moving companies can pack and move your things or just transport your possessions after you pack everything.

Distance and the amount of possessions you wish to keep directly influence your moving costs. You’ll need to decide if you want to rent a moving van or trailer or hire a moving company. 

You can also do the hybrid route where you load and unload the trailer or cargo pod provided by a moving company, but a company does the actual job of transporting your cargo. 

There is also the option of not moving hardly anything and simply traveling to your new home with a couple of suitcases. Of course, you’ll need to buy new things in your new home, but at least you did not have the hassle of moving them. 

To research moving costs:

  • Estimate how much cargo space you need
  • Get moving quotes from moving companies
  • Ask for prices of rental moving vans if you plan to drive your possessions yourself

Once you obtain several quotes for different levels of service, you can see how these prices align with your budget. As you evaluate quotes, scrutinize the fine print and educate yourself about extra fees. 

For example, costs will go up if you end up needing your rental van for two or three days longer than you anticipated. If another company is transporting your possessions, examine their delivery commitments. You could end waiting days for your stuff to arrive while you sit in an empty house or apartment. 

2. Save Money and Then Save More Money

As soon as you think “How do I start to move out of state?” set up a moving fund. Try to constrain your discretionary spending and funnel every dollar that you can to the savings account. 

Long before you move, you need to build a moving fund. Once you commence the move, you can expect to hemorrhage money. There will always be more things to pay for than you expected. A moving van breakdown or bad weather can put you behind schedule. Fuel prices might be high. 

Your income will be disrupted while you move as well even if you have a new job waiting for you. Your bills at your old place and new place will overlap for a time. Your new utility accounts might require setup fees. You’ll have to buy extra groceries at your new home just to get your pantry started because you’ll have to purchase things like salt and ketchup along with actual food. 

3. Gather Your Important Documents

You do not want your birth certificate or tax records to get lost in the shuffle. Get a box specifically for holding your vital identification and financial records. 

Important documents include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Social Security card
  • Birth Certificate 
  • Children’s birth certificates, if applicable
  • Marriage license, if applicable
  • Property deeds, if applicable
  • Tax filings
  • Estate planning documents, like a power of attorney
  • Insurance records
  • Medical records, like current prescriptions and immunization records

A fire-resistant box with a lock is a good choice. You must keep your box of important documents directly with you when you move. Do not entrust it to a moving company. 

4. Shed Excess Possessions

The saying “dumb as a box of rocks” sums up the stupidity of moving things you don’t really need. Rocks are heavy, and there are probably plenty where you’re going anyway. 

The point is to get rid of things that you don’t want anymore and would be stupid to move. 

How you approach this does not matter much. From Marie Kondo to Swedish death cleaning, the point is to evaluate what you need and don’t need. 

Some people more than others have trouble letting go of things. If that describes you, then you might want to enlist some help so that you get a nudge in the right direction. 

Standards ways to slash what needs moving:

  • Go through dressers and closets and remove worn out clothes or those that don’t fit anymore. 
  • Evaluate your furniture. Ask questions like: Do I like it? Is it broken? Is it stained?
  • Get rid of kids’ toys that are broken or that they have outgrown.
  • Weed out sporting goods that are broken or that you have not used for years.
  • Take a long hard look at your exercise equipment and ask yourself if you’re actually ever going to use it.
  • Declutter the kitchen and ditch old dishes and unused cookbooks.

You can throw away your unwanted things, give them to friends, or have a moving sale. As a bonus a moving sale adds extra money to your moving budget, but it is a bunch of work on its own. 

5. Research Health Care Options for Moving Out of State

In the United States, as everyone knows, health care is an irrational nightmare. Moving out of state completely alters your insurance coverage. 

If you are starting a new job, find out when the employer’s health plan coverage will start for you. If it’s not immediately, you can shop for a temporary policy that will protect you from outrageous bills if something terrible happens. 

If you are relocating but remaining employed by the same company, expect to have a new health insurance policy. The transition should be seamless for you, but you will still have to find new doctors in the health plan network at your new location. 

If you are self-employed, you need to start shopping for a new plan because health plans are almost always different from state to state and even region to region. 

Give yourself months to sort out this situation, especially if you need to manage ongoing medical treatments and prescriptions. 

6. List Everything That Will Require an Address Change

Closing out your life in one state and starting it in another takes time. In the weeks or months leading up to your move, start a “Change of Address” list. Monitor your mail for companies and organizations that will need to know where you are. 

When you actually move, complete a Change of Address form at the U.S. Postal Service. On the effective date that you give, this form will forward all mail to your new location. It is essential that you do this. Forwarded mail gives you time to catch up with changing addresses.

Places that will need your new address include:

  • Former employer so that you can get your end-of-year tax information.
  • All utility companies
  • County or municipality
  • Schools
  • Credit card companies
  • Banks
  • Other lenders, like for your auto payment
  • Insurers
  • Magazine subscriptions

7. Look for a New Bank or Credit Union

You probably won’t keep using the same bank once you move. They likely won’t be in your new location. If your bank is in your new state, find out where the branches and ATMs are.

An online banking platform might work because it is not as dependent on your location. It could receive your direct deposits, but you’ll want to see if it provides access at any ATMs near your new home. 

If you want a brick-and-mortar bank, look up which ones are near your new home. Compare what they have to offer and be prepared to open a new account soon after you arrive. 

8. Find Out How to Contact the Utilities at Your New Home

Whether you rent or buy when moving out of state, you’ll still need to turn on the utilities in your name. It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out the gas, electric, and water providers at your new place because there will probably only be one for each service. 

Write down their contact numbers. Shortly before your move, you can call them to start new accounts and have them active when you move in. You might need to pay a deposit because you are a new customer. 

As for internet service, you might have a choice of two or three companies if you’re lucky. Compare their rates and speeds to decide which one to pick. Most will have introductory offers, but you need to pay attention to what they charge after the promotional price expires. 

9. Get New Auto Insurance Quotes

Moving out of state affects auto insurance rates. Where you’re headed might be cheaper or more expensive. 

Before moving ask your current insurer what impact the relocation will have on your insurance premiums. If you don’t like the answer, you could shop for a lower rate, but if the cost is higher in your new state, your budget will have to take that into account. 

You might end up staying with your current insurer or buying a policy from a different company. 

Regardless of whether you stay with the same company or change, you’ll need to register your vehicle in the new state once you get there. Once again registration fees might be higher or lower depending on where you move. 

Some states also require smog checks or other vehicle inspections, so be prepared to comply with different rules. The cost changes for insuring or registering your vehicle might be positive or negative but unlikely to alter your decision to move. 

10. Plan for Weather Differences

Moving out of state means you have to learn how to deal with different weather.

The United States encompasses many climate zones. Climate often influences people’s decision to move out of state. 

You might be moving from a cold wet region to a hot and dry or hot and wet region. 

You might be moving from a hot place to a cooler place. 

Either way, you’ll need to be ready to adapt. At a minimum, you’ll need to update your wardrobe. You may need more cold or hot weather clothes. If transitioning to a hot climate, pay attention to hydration. You’ll need to take in more fluids and eat more fresh fruit to keep yourself hydrated and protected from heat exhaustion or worse.

The shift to a climate with winter conditions can be a shock as well. You’ll need coats, boots, hats, and gloves. 

You’ll also need to learn how to drive on slippery roads. Approach your first few times driving in ice and snow with caution. Take some time to practice on empty streets or parking lots. 

Lastly, educate yourself about the common severe weather or disaster threats in your new home. These could include tornadoes, flash floods, freezing rain, hurricanes, wildfires, or extreme heat. This information will serve you well because many of these issues can happen suddenly. You need to know what to do to protect yourself. 

11. Prepare for Emotional Ups and Downs

Most people experience some level of homesickness after moving to a new state. This is normal. You long for familiar and favorite things from your old home. 

Accept that there could be times when you feel sadness or even regret. On the whole, the positive reasons that motivated you to relocate to a different state should balance out your negative feelings. 

To help yourself adjust:

  • Have a going away party before you move to say goodbye.
  • Try to get consistently good sleep. Moving is exhausting, and proper rest helps you cope with strong emotions.
  • Celebrate, at least in some small way, when you arrive at your new home.
  • Be gentle with yourself and others. People’s tempers get short during moves.