When it comes to moving out of state, there are basically two types of people: Those who just wing it, and those who prefer to prepare and avoid unnecessary problems and stress. 

Congrats! If you’re reading this, you probably fit into the second category. You like to know what you’re dealing with and do what you can to control your own destiny. And if you’re used to winging it and have decided to try something different, you’ll find that when it comes to moving, a little advance work can save you tons of effort and hassle in the end.

Looking for the best companies to work with for your long-distance move? TravelMag has compiled a list of the best interstate movers so you can make your cross-country trek as smooth as possible. Bit of a humblebrag, but take a look at that second spot. 

Let’s face it. No one really loves all the work involved in moving. But if you’re willing to take the time to research and manage the details, you’re much more likely to have a smooth move and begin your new life on a positive note!

So to help you do exactly that, we’ve put together a list of to-dos and how-to tips with everything you need to know about moving out of state. Now let’s get started!

A couple is exploring a city that they're planning to move to.

1. Research your new city

Before moving out of state, it’s important to know more about where you’re moving to. The neighborhood you choose will make or break your experience in a new state. 

Here are a few tips to help with your research:

  • If you have children, check out local schools on websites like GreatSchools.org
  • To look into commute times, open Google Maps during rush hour to see which routes are the most congested, and get estimated travel times for cars and transit.
  • If you can’t visit in person, use Google Street View to explore neighborhoods.
  • Use NeighborhoodScout to research crime rates. 
  • The PODS Blog has tons of living and neighborhood guides for cities across the country. If you’re not sure where to start, we’re here for you.

Once you’ve researched your city and decided on your neighborhood, you can start searching for a place to buy or rent. Another option is to stay in temporary housing or with a friend or relative. You can keep your stuff in portable storage — either at your temporary digs or in a storage center — until you find just the right place to settle down.

Example of a Cost of Living Comparison between New York (Manhattan), NY, and Atlanta, GA
It’s easy to compare the cost of living between cities with a tool like this one from Bankrate.

2. Check cost of living differences

It’s important to know just how much more (or less!) your new life will cost when you’re moving out of state. You can use a cost of living calculator to check out differences in housing, transportation, food, clothes, etc. 

Remember to check up on state taxes, too. Know your new state’s property, sales, and income tax. If you run your own business, you’ll want to research business and payroll taxes, as well as business license expenses. The less blindsided you are by the cost of living differences and taxes, the more you can properly budget for relocating to another state.

3. Find a home

Once you decide on your neighborhood, you’ll need a place to live. (Duh.) 

Research home prices on Zillow if you’re buying, and if you’re renting, check out RentCafe

Look out for any legal idiosyncrasies in either your home state or your destination, like extra taxes or forms you will need to fill out in order to sell or buy a home. California, for example, has stringent disclosure laws for sellers. Then, reach out to a few local real estate agencies to get the ball rolling. And don’t forget to check out our guides for selling a home and, for first-timers, buying a home!

4. Plan a visit

Ideally, you’ll take a trip to your new city and spend some time exploring before making the official move. Long walks or bike rides are a great way to check out neighborhoods, as is popping into a pub or eatery. This is especially important if you think you’ve found the perfect place to live. Of course, it’s best to be able to sign on the dotted line in person, but at the very least, you should do a virtual tour, if you’re not able to visit in person, before showing up with all of your belongings in tow.

A moving truck is parked outside of a residential home, ready to be loaded.

5. Figure out moving and storage options

Moving all your stuff will likely be the biggest expense of moving out of state, not to mention the most difficult. Planning ahead will make this part of relocating a whole lot easier.

Here are a few options for moving and storage for out-of-state moves:

  • Hire professional movers — the most expensive and rigid option in terms of scheduling — to pack up, load, drive, and unload your moving truck.
  • Rent your own moving truck and bribe friends or family members to help you load up, or hire local movers for loading and unloading.
  • Use a portable container for packing, moving, and storage — an affordable option compared to both movers and rental trucks, and the most flexible — especially if you’re moving in stages and using temporary housing. You also have the option of hiring local movers to help with the packing or loading part.
A couple makes a road trip out of their cross-country move, taking a moment to snap a pic at the Grand Canyon.

Make it an adventure! Find out how this couple found creative ways to have fun on their cross-country move — including a stop at the Grand Canyon.

You’ll need to consider both your budget and personal moving needs and preferences when choosing moving and storage options. Moving costs can quickly spiral out of control, especially when you’re going with professional movers.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re planning on moving out of state:

  • What’s my budget?
  • Do I feel comfortable driving a big truck long-distance?
  • Am I going to need to store stuff in my old or new city?
  • Do I want to load and unload at my leisure and have someone else drive the truck?
  • How much time do I have to move from one place to another?
  • How much stuff am I moving?
  • How will my car get to the new destination?
Pro Tip: If you’re relocating for a job, ask your employer if they cover relocation expenses. This could save you tons of money on your move!
A couple is sitting in their living room and figuring out the budget for their upcoming move.

6. Set aside extra money for moving

Moving to a new state can cost a lot of money, so you want to make sure you have some savings to cover unexpected moving expenses.

Here are a few moving expenses you may not have thought about:

  • Gas/diesel expenses of up to several dollars per gallon that can be charged by your moving truck rental company if you don’t return the truck with a full tank
  • Mileage overage surcharges
  • Costs of packing supplies like boxes, bubble cushioning roll, packing tape, etc., that can add up quickly, especially if you aren’t finding used or free boxes
  • Shipping charges to relocate your car across the country
  • Hotel rooms and meals out during your out-of-state move
  • Utility deposits and connection fees
  • Deposits, plus first and last month’s rent on a new apartment or house
  • Products to set up your new home, like shower curtains, rods, bath mats, hand towels, cleaning supplies, and groceries
Want moving supplies delivered to your door? Save time and money with fast, free shipping. Order online now.

7. Downsize and declutter

Before you go, remember to get rid of as much clutter as possible. The less stuff you have to move, the more budget-friendly your move will be. You’re going to be packing everything up anyway, right? Why not purge all of your unwanted or unusable stuff while you’re at it?

A couple changes their mailing address from the comfort of their couch at home by using USPS online.
(Source: @USPS via Facebook)

8. Update your address

Remember to update all your information when moving out of state. You can submit a permanent Change-of-Address form with the USPS that will forward mail from your old address to your new one.

And in the meantime, be sure to go online and change your mailing address for all of your accounts, including your financial institutions, retirement accounts, cell phone, Netflix, etc. Your billing address will need to match your credit card payments on all of your online accounts and subscriptions. And if you’re still using paper checks, you’ll want your new address on those, too.

You’ll also want to share your new address with friends and family members, so they know where to find you. 

Is moving out of state a good idea? Yes! New opportunities, new scenery, and new people. Moving out of state is simply a grand idea. 
A friendly doctor is speaking with her patient while taking notes in her office.

9. Figure out healthcare

Your current healthcare probably won’t be in network if you’re moving out of state. If your job provides health insurance, it’s important to read through your new policy to figure out your deductible and what’s covered. Even if you don’t need to change insurance companies, you’ll need new doctors and a new pharmacy.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to report your move to the health insurance marketplace and search for options in your new state. You can often find a health insurance agent who can assist you.

Take time to call your current doctors’ offices to get copies of your medical records and prescriptions, and plan to go in person to sign for permission and pick up your records. It’s often easier to bring your own copies to a new doctor’s office rather than wait for an electronic transfer. 

Do all of this way ahead of time — you know how busy doctors’ offices can get! 

Important: Be sure to stock up on prescriptions before moving out of state, in case there’s any lag time before booking an appointment with your new doctor. 

Pro Tip: If you’re planning far enough in advance, start using your insurance company’s mail-order prescription option. They usually allow 90-day supplies. Plus, if you’re not changing insurance, all you need to do is change the address for delivery!  

10. Power up your utilities

The last thing you want when moving to another state is to show up and not have your utilities up and running. 

Take the time before you move to set up utilities like water and sewer, power, garbage pickup, and internet access. After a long day of unpacking, you’ll be anxious to have all the comforts of home at the ready.

You should consider packing a box of necessities you’ll need for the first few days — things like toilet paper, paper towels, toothbrushes, towels, and some non-perishable snacks.

Make sure your car is in tip-top shape for the long haul, if you’re planning on driving.

11. Plan out your route

Are you flying to your new state and shipping your car? Or are you hitting the open highway with your own four wheels? Either way, you’re going to need a plan of action. Determine if you’re taking a straight shot to your next home or if you’re going to be smelling the roses along the way. Then, act accordingly. 

For the straight-shot people, the major interstates are your friend. But be aware, depending on the state and the size of your haul, you may be pulling over at weigh stations along the way. 

For those with some time, use MapQuest! You’ll be able to plot out all the things you want to see along the way with ease.

12. Get ready to roll

Speaking of hitting the highway, you’ll want to make sure your car is in tip-top shape for the long haul, if you’re planning on driving it. Your best bet? Take it to get a full check-up in advance, to ensure your tires are in good shape, your oil is fresh, and your windshield wipers are ready for any kind of rain challenge, for example. After all, hanging out with a mechanic in the middle of nowhere is loads of fun… said no one.

13. Make a plan for your pets

Is Fido flying with you? Or is Rocky rolling down the highway with you? Regardless, you’ll need a plan to make your pet(s) as comfortable as possible along the way. This major change can have a major impact on their nerves, so you may want to visit your vet beforehand to see what your options are for keeping them calm in the short-term.

Three people are sitting in the waiting area of their local DMV.

14. Change your driver’s license and vehicle registration

One of the first things you’ll want to do when moving out of state is get a new driver’s license and vehicle registration. Each state has different rules for how quickly you’ll need to change this information.

We highly recommend making an appointment in advance, if you can, to speed up the process and get you out of a long, boring wait at the DMV. Be sure to check what documents are required and whether you’ll need a vision or driving test first, though. Some states require U.S. citizens to provide proof of citizenship — like an original birth certificate or U.S. passport — as well as proof of residence and Social Security, like a social security card or W-2 form. Non-citizens will need other types of documentation. And similarly, some states require that you take your car through an emissions test before they’ll issue registration. There’s nothing worse than going to the DMV, waiting, and then finding out you don’t have the right documents!   

Don’t forget to change the address on your auto insurance policy, too. You may end up paying a different amount for insurance (fingers crossed for less!), depending on where you move.

A row of voting booths set up to receive voters. Each booth is decorated with the image of an American flag and the word "VOTE."
(Source: @NPVote via Facebook)

15. Register to vote in your new state

Registering to vote is an important part of getting involved in your new city and state. In 42 states plus the District of Columbia, you can register to vote online. If you prefer registering in person, you can sign up at a local or state elections office. 

Often, when you change your address with the USPS, you’ll have the option to register to vote in your new state. You can sometimes do this at the DMV, as well. Be sure to bring some kind of identification that you’re a resident of your new state, whether that’s a bill, ID card, or another form of proof.

16. Switch banks, if necessary

Sure, online and mobile banking are the bees knees. But there will likely be a time when you need to be able to visit your local branch, and if your bank doesn’t have locations in your new state, well… you’ll be out of luck. It may seem like a pain, but you may actually end up making a little money in the process, since a lot of financial institutions offer bonuses for opening new accounts.

Cars drive along a road marked with a hurricane evacuation route sign as dark storm clouds loom in the distance.

17. Get informed about your new state’s risks of natural disaster

Whether you’re moving to earthquake country, tornado alley, or lowlands prone to flooding, knowing the risks in your new area will help you choose housing and homeowners insurance options wisely. For example, if you’re moving to Florida from the Midwest, it’s better to learn about hurricanes before there’s one making a beeline for the state.

Disaster preparedness is an important, but often overlooked, part of moving to a new state. You’ll arrive at your destination in the know, ready to tackle any issues that could leave you vulnerable to natural disasters. 

18. Get familiar with the nearest stores

Sure, you’ll want to know where the outlets are for a post-move shopping spree, but find these places first, so moving day is a breeze:

  • Grocery stores
  • Hardware stores
  • Home goods stores
  • Self storage
  • Department stores

You’ll likely need more than one of these places on moving day, especially since you’re coming from out of state. A little research ahead of time will get you a stocked fridge, a decorated wall, a clean home, and a decluttered space lickety-split.

19. Plot your commute

Your commute to work or school is a sneaky big deal. Forty-five minutes may not seem like a big deal at first, but when you have to make that trip two times a day, every day, you’ll realize how much time you lose. 

If possible, see how far work is from your next home before you arrive. Consider if you’re driving, walking, taking a train, or otherwise, and plug those addresses into Google Maps or Waze. Even better, make the trip before Day 1 to see what it will actually be like.

How hard is it to move to a different state? It’s not simple, but you have resources to help. By getting ready early, booking a moving and storage company like PODS, and doing a little research about your new town, you’ll be done in a cinch.
A happy couple is walking their bikes along a park trail as they leave a neighborhood market.

20. Get to know your new neighborhood!

How long does it take to adjust to moving out of state? That depends on how open you are to getting out and exploring your new home. Join a local art collective or running club. Take a little time to find a great coffee house, trivia night, or brunch spot soon after arriving. Picking a spot you love in your new town will help you adjust quicker and give you the opportunity to meet other locals. Here are a few additional tips for making new friends:

  • Find your local neighborhood association and go to a meeting or event
  • Join meetup, hiking, or walking groups in your area
  • Knock on your neighbors’ doors and introduce yourself
  • Visit the local park with your children and/or your dog — this is a great way to meet people!
  • Check out the bakeries, pubs, and restaurants in your neighborhood
  • Hop on public transit and tour your new town
  • Go on long walks or bike rides through your neighborhood — you never know what hidden gems you might find! 

While moving out of state can be stressful, remember to enjoy the process. Soon, you’ll be living in a new home, making new friends, and exploring a whole new world. 

Kristin Hanes is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in SF Gate, Marie Claire, and Realtor.com, among other publications.

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  1. Although I am moving from one state to another, I feel nervous. I don’t know if there is ever really a way to mentally prepare for it. It feels exciting, both in a good way and bad way.

    1. We got you! When you can, call (888) 314-5136 to connect with one of our moving and storage experts. We can help you plan everything down to the smallest detail!

      1. What would be the price to rent another small Pod
        I have one already and moved to new State NH waiting to get unloaded when I arrive there!!!
        Not much stuff to move, only took last minute stuff left!!!
        But I need a ride also!!!

    2. I feel the same way. I’m excited, but also overwhelmed. I moved last Sunday so this Sunday will make it a week in my new place. But I’m feeling so many different emotions…happy, sad, scared, peaceful, restless lol. Needless to say, I’m a mess. Questioning if I made the right decision and knowing this is exactly what I need…smh. I wish you all the best with your move. I wish we could stay in touch as we embark on our new journeys…be well and be safe.

      1. My name is Rhonda nice to meet you. Where did you move to? The feelings your having are normal. Don’t doubt yourself.

  2. So glad I found this article. Thanks for all the great information. You have me so much to think about before the move.

  3. Thanks so much🌸 I’m really nervous about moving but with reading this an taking notes I feel a lot better💗🪐

    1. Hi Indiah! 🙂 We’re so happy this post was helpful and you enjoyed reading it enough to leave such a nice comment. Good luck with your move! 🙂

  4. If you aren’t buying a home, how do you secure an apartment in another state? I worry that the landlord would take advantage of the situation and rip me off by giving the apartment to a local and take my money.

    1. Hi Julia,

      This is a tricky one. You’ll want to put on your detective cap and do some sleuthing remotely. You could start on Google looking up the neighborhoods or areas you’re interested in.

      As to avoid having the deal fall through in favor of a local, you’ll want to sign as fast as you can once you find a place you like, especially with the market as hot as it is. A few of us on the PODS Blog team have taken virtual tours of apartments where a leasing agent took us through a unit over Zoom or FaceTime. While it’s not the same as an in-person tour, it’s the next best thing. You can always say you’re out of town on business if you’re not comfortable saying you’re moving from out of state, but most landlords should be understanding if you’re moving a long way.

      When you get the lease, read it carefully and ensure that by signing you are guaranteed to get the unit you signed for. If a clause like that is not there, talk to the property manager and ask if they can ensure your unit won’t be given away. We hope this has been helpful! Good luck in your search!

    2. I just moved to another state on Sunday. I found my apartment on Zillow Rentals, and things went smoothly.

  5. Thanks for pep talk ..
    Trust and believe I’m so very nervous and excited at the same time..
    Your list will help me so much

    1. Hi Katha,

      Thanks so much for reading the article! We definitely understand that moving out of state can be exciting and nerve-wracking all at once and are thrilled that this list helped you on your way.

  6. We are moving from California to North Carolina! We are supper duper nervous but excited at the same time. I want to make this move as smooth as possible. Eliminating unnecessary stuff is on top of my list, but I have so much, I don’t have a clue as to what is truly necessary. I am beyond scared and nervous. I appreciate the advice. I had an idea of purchasing a fifth wheel and living out of it to save money for the move.

    1. Hi Isabel,

      We are so excited to hear about your cross-country move! A great way to make your move as smooth as possible is to start early with a PODS container. You can load it up with the absolute essentials first, and then decide from there what’s worth bringing. Plus, if you go the fifth wheel route, you won’t have to worry about having a place to keep your stuff after you sell your home — it’s all in the container. We have a ton of resources on PODS.com, give us a visit at https://www.pods.com/moving-services/long-distance-moving or call at (855) 706-4758.

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