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How to Move to Another State

Maybe you’ve got a dream job offer, but it’s two states away. Or it could be time to take the “long distance” out of that long-distance relationship. Whatever the reason, you’ve got to move—and it’s not a local move. We’re talking about moving far away—potentially cross-country. So, where do you start?

You need a plan, baby! But don’t sweat it. Here are four steps to help you take control of your move.

1. Research Your New Home

Whether you know exactly where you want to move or you need to narrow down the options, channel your inner detective and do some research to see your expectations line up with reality. Consider things like:

  • Commute times: It might seem minor, but if you know where you’ll be working or spots you’ll be frequenting, figuring out commute times will help narrow down the right neighborhoods for you.
  • Schools: If you’ve got school-aged kids, this is a big one. Check out sites like GreatSchools.org that can give you hyper-local insight into schools and school districts’ ratings and test scores.
  • Crime rates: Yeah, this isn’t exactly a fun one. But even just a quick search of crime stats on a site like FBI.gov can provide some handy guidance—especially if you’re moving to another state.
  • Cost of living: Even if everything else seems perfect, your new city still won’t be a fit for you if you can’t afford it. Use a cost of living calculator to see how your monthly expenses would change and if a move there is possible with your income.

Next, take a visit to your top contender to conclude your research and find out what it will actually be like moving to this new state! Get the lay of the land, talk to locals, and pretend you live there. Even if you’re not ready to start looking at houses, contact a local real estate agent for tips on which neighborhoods to focus your time on. Ask them about the local market and get their insight into how to move to another state from where you’re at.  

How Can I Move to Another State Without a Job?

If you’re moving to a new state and don’t have a job lined up, you’ve got a little more research to do. First, definitely don’t move unless you have enough cash to cover moving expenses and you have an emergency fund of 3–6 months of expenses. Next, keep the research rolling and make sure you’ll be able to find a new job either remotely or in your new city that meets your needs.  

2. Make a Moving Budget . . . and a Plan!

Yay! Starting this step means you’re ready to make the dream of moving to a new state a reality! But before you lose yourself in excitement (or mortal fear if that’s more your speed), let’s pump the brakes. Relocating to another state doesn’t have to be hard, you just need a game plan and a budget. Here are some things to think about:

  • Will you receive a company relocation package?
    Companies often offer a relocation package to cover the cost of relocating a new hire or existing staff member to a new position. We say often because there’s no law that says companies have to provide a relocation deal when moving to a different state. It’s considered a perk, but a lot of companies offer relocation packages to attract top-notch employees from anywhere.

    But here’s the thousand-dollar question: How much will the company help with? Find out how much your company’s relocation package will cover and how they structure it first. That way you can budget the rest of your move.
  • Do you know your tax liabilities?
    While the recent Tax Reform Bill eliminated the tax deduction for moving, you need to be aware of tax filing requirements in your old state and your new one. Depending on where you move, you may need to file a partial-year income tax return. Talk to a tax expert to make sure you don’t miss anything.
  • Will you sell your home or break your lease?
    If you currently own a home, you’ll need to decide if you want to sell the house before moving states. If you rent—do you have time left on your lease? How much will it cost to break your lease? Your current housing situation could affect your moving budget, so think carefully about all the costs of selling a home or breaking a lease.
  • Will you rent or buy a new place to live?
    Are you planning to buy a house right away or rent? Do you have enough savings to cover a down payment and closing costs or a renter’s deposit?

    If you’re getting a mortgage and need help on the 15-year fixed-rate one we recommend, talk to our friends at Churchill Mortgage—and you’ll definitely want to work with a top-notch real estate agent. But if buying a home right away feels like too much to get into, renting for the first six months to a year is a great option. You don’t want to find out that you’re miserable in your new location only to be stuck with a house you can’t sell.
  • What are your moving costs?
    Now it’s time to calculate all your nitty-gritty moving expenses: the cost of transporting your stuff (more about that below), buying new furniture, pet boarding, and anything else specific to your move. After that, you can finalize your budget and know what it will take to get moving. If you’re still coming up short, there are plenty of ways to boost what you’ve got saved so you don’t end up stretching your budget too far during your move.  

3. Know Your Moving Options

Should you hire a moving company or should you pack up a truck and do it yourself? Maybe you need one of those pod things that get dropped off in your driveway and then picked up once you’ve loaded it. Whether you want to go easy on your budget or easy on your back, you’ve got options when figuring out how to move your stuff to another state. Let’s take a look:

Professional Movers

This is the most expensive option for your long-distance move. Hiring a company to move a three-bedroom house from San Francisco to New York can cost up to $10,000.1 That’s a lot of money! You really want to do your research before you choose a moving company. With some sketchy companies, it’s not unheard of to get a moving estimate of, say, $2,500. Then, on moving day, it actually costs $5,000. To avoid a situation like this, make sure you ask these questions:

  • Is the quote binding? Try to get a “not to exceed” quote so there are no surprises come moving day.
  • How much is insurance? Your homeowners or renters insurance typically provides some coverage for your stuff while it’s on the way to your new home or a storage facility. It may cover theft, but it usually doesn’t cover damage caused by rough handling during packing or shipping. Talk to your insurance pro to make sure you have the right coverage for your needs.
  • Will your stuff stay on one truck? The more your things get moved around, the more likely they’ll end up getting broken or lost. Try to find out if the company plans to transfer your items (or container—see below) to another truck during transit.
  • What’s the ETA? How long will it take for your stuff to get to your new digs? Can you track the progress of the shipment? It always helps to be able to keep an eye on your things in transit.

Also, give your movers a tip—around 10–20% is a good guideline. It’s hard work, so, as with anything else, show your appreciation for a job well done.

Moving Containers

These are the big pods a company drops off at your place, and you load it up with all your stuff. Simple concept, right? Once it’s loaded, they pick up the box, put it on a truck, and then drop it off at your new address. These are full-service companies, and their fees can run about $5,000 for a long-distance move.2 The same as with a moving company, you’ll want to ask them the questions listed above before you trust them to relocate your things to a new state.

Do-It-Yourself Move

The least expensive moving option is to rent a truck, load it yourself (or with a little help from your friends) and drive it to your new house in your new city. But that doesn’t mean it’s cheap when you’re moving to a new state: Long-range DIY moves can cost upwards of $2,000!3 Some of the things that determine the costs are:

  • How big of a truck you’ll need
  • How far you’re moving
  • How many days you’ll need the truck
  • How much gas you’ll need
  • How much you’ll spend on lodging during your trip

Keep in mind that moving on your own can get complicated if you don’t have anyone to drive your car (or cars) for you. You can tow one of them behind your truck—but some people aren’t comfortable driving a big truck, let alone one with a car hitched to the back. You can pay to ship your car but be sure to budget for it. It’ll boost your moving costs $700–1,200 or more.4

Find expert agents to help you buy your home.

Remember: There are a lot of moving options out there, but the best way to move out of state is the way that’s right for your budget and your peace of mind.

4. Don’t Forget the Details

At this point in the process of moving to another state, you’re juggling a lot—home or lease contracts, negotiations with movers, and what feels like a million other details. Not to mention, you still need to transfer your utilities, get your mail forwarded to your new address, and find time to say goodbye to family and friends!

If you’re wondering how all the particulars and important dates will ever come together, don’t panic. The first thing you need to do when moving to another state is to start organizing your move with a week-to-week timeline. First, list out all the tasks you need to get done before moving day. Then, assign each task to a week. Pretty simple, right? To help you out, we've put together our own moving checklist that can get you started so you can savor the last moments in your old home stress-free.

Ready to Move to Another State?

There’s no way around it: Moving to another state is a handful. But one surefire way to take control of your move is to put the right people on your team—and our RamseyTrusted Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) real estate agents are here to help. Set yourself up to find exactly what you’re looking for by putting a trusted agent in your corner who not only cares about your financial goals (or else Ramsey wouldn’t endorse them), but also is a bona fide expert in the area you’re moving to.

Find your real estate pro today!

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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