Considering a relocation? You’re not alone. Nearly one in 10 people relocated last year, whether to a new neighborhood, a new state or even across the country.1 And if you’re not considering a move yourself, you probably know someone who is.
Even just the thought of how to relocate comes with a ton of questions: When it comes to packing up your life and moving, what should you expect? What things should play a role in your decision—and how can you save money on relocation costs? How do you make smart real estate decisions when you don’t know the area you’re moving to?
These relocating tips can help you understand the process so you can make a smooth and confident transition. Let’s get started!
Why Do People Relocate?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the top reason people relocated last year was because they wanted a better home or apartment.2 Other moving motivators included a new job or family reasons.3 If one of those reasons sounds like yours, know you’re not the only one.
Questions to Ask Before Relocating
If you’re thinking about relocating, you want to be sure you’re making the right decision. After all, making a move is a big deal! If you’re moving for a new job, here are some questions to think about:
- Are you excited about the job opportunity? It doesn’t make sense to move for a job you know you’ll hate. So make sure you get a job you love lined up before you move.
- Is the company culture a good fit? Whether or not you’ll enjoy your coworkers and your work culture has a huge impact on your day-to-day life.
- Is there a long-term benefit? Think about your five-year plans for your career and your life. Will this move help you accomplish your goals?
- Does the math make sense? Don’t stop at your compensation. Consider the cost of living in your relocation destination too. If you’re moving to a city with a higher cost of living, will you still be able to make progress on your financial goals with your new compensation?
- If you’re married, is your spouse on board? Making a move can be tough, and it’s important to be on the same page as your spouse. You’ll also want to consider how a move will impact your spouse’s career.
- Do you like the area? Visiting the area before you move could give you a good idea of what it’d be like to live there. Do your homework!
Now, we talk a lot about relocating for a job opportunity offered by an employer or company here. But don’t think that means you business owners or independent contractors have less to consider when moving. Research the local and state business and tax laws that could affect your day-to-day operations. While you’re at it, it’s probably smart to go ahead and look up any traffic, real estate or common laws that might differ from what you’re used to.
Find expert agents to help you buy your home.
All these points just cover the basics. If you own real estate or if you have kids, you may need to consider other things—like the financial implications of selling a home, school and daycare options, etc. Moving isn’t a decision you should take lightly, but sometimes it’s the best thing you can do for your family and your future.
For a step-by-step plan that will walk you through how to answer all these questions about moving and more, check out our free Ramsey Relocation Guide.
What Areas Are Popular Relocation Destinations?
Okay, taking into account the job market, housing prices and salaries, the top relocation cities in 2020 were Myrtle Beach, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Naples and Ocala.4 Did you catch that? Four of the top five city destinations are in Florida, baby!
But if the beach isn’t calling your name and you’re looking for other popular destinations, major cities in these 10 states are also seeing a big relocation boom:
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
To gain even more confidence about moving to the right place, use our Cost of Living Calculator. It’s a handy tool that allows you to see a breakdown of how your city’s monthly expenses compare to another city’s. Once you know the cost differences, you’ll have a better idea if that destination makes sense for you right now.
How Much Does Relocating Cost?
Of course, how much your move costs depends on your specific situation—a move within your state, for instance, will likely be cheaper than moving from Illinois to California.
To give you a ballpark average, data shows that moving out of state costs homeowners anywhere between $700 and $5,000, while moving cross-country can set you back between $4,000 and $10,000 or more.6 Ouch!
Relocating costs can feel like a swift punch in the gut. But don’t worry—if you’re moving for a job, you might not have to pay that much. Over half of companies that offered a lump sum to a relocating employee provided $10,000 or more to cover their entire relocation costs, while almost a quarter of them offered $5,000 to $9,999.7 Cha-ching!
When calculating your moving costs, you’ll have to think about not only the cost of moving your belongings, but also the closing costs for selling your home and buying a new one. Or if you’re a renter, the cost of getting out of your current lease and getting a new rental.
Here are some common expenses to consider:
- Closing costs on a home sale
- Real estate commission
- Cost for breaking your lease
- Packing up your home
- Moving furniture and belongings
- Cost of moving vehicles
- Cost of unpacking furniture and boxes (if you’re hiring someone to do that)
- Security deposits for a rental
- Fees to turn on/off utilities
- Closing costs on a new home purchase
- Repairs/updates to a new home
These are expenses either you or your employer would cover, depending on whether or not your new job offers that helpful relocation assistance.
How to Save Money on Relocation Costs
After calculating all of the moving and housing expenses, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But the great news is that it’s still possible to save money when you relocate, either through getting relocation assistance from your new company or just simplifying your move.
Find out if your new employer offers relocation assistance.
Should you expect to foot the bill for your moving costs on your own? Probably not. According to an annual survey by Atlas Van Lines, nearly 90% of transferees (employees moving from one company location to another) and new hires received some kind of reimbursement for their relocation costs in 2020.8 New hires were slightly less likely to get full reimbursement of their costs compared to transferees.9
Keep in mind that how much your company is willing to reimburse you for your move may depend on your position. In general, companies are more likely to reimburse costs for executive or mid-level positions than entry-level jobs.10
Depending on your relocation assistance package, you could be reimbursed for costs like home-finding trips, temporary housing, closing costs and real estate commission on the sale or purchase of a home, security deposits, transportation of vehicles, and packing and unpacking.11
While some companies will cover all of your costs, others offer a lump sum. It’s important to know exactly what your new employer will and will not pay for, so you know how to estimate your out-of-pocket expenses.
Consider downsizing your personal possessions.
Another way to save money on relocation costs is to sell some stuff! We’re talking about that armoire you never found the right place for or the bookcase that’s still in your garage. Now’s the perfect time to get rid of that junk.
There are two benefits to selling bulky furniture you don’t need or clearing out clutter in your garage before moving. First of all, you’ll save on moving costs. Second, you could potentially make some extra cash to put toward your move. It’s a win-win!
How to Sell Your House Quickly When Relocating
Owning a home adds an extra step to your relocation process. It’s not as simple as just giving your landlord a 30-day notice—you need to work with top-notch real estate agents to sell your home quickly and find the right place for you in your new city.
A quality real estate agent is an extremely helpful resource for homeowners looking to move. Since they’ve done this same thing a bazillion times, they know exactly how to guide you through the process so you price your home competitively, show off its best features, and get the best price. If you need to sell your house quickly, follow these steps:
Step #1: Get your home ready by focusing on small tweaks with a big impact.
If you really want your home to stand out in the crowd, you may need to make some changes. Switch out your couch throw pillows for fresh prints, add lamps to dark corners, declutter your closets and counters, and take an honest look at your home’s curb appeal. Remember, little updates can go a long way.
Step #2: Work with an expert real estate agent to get the price right.
If you’re selling your home on a tight timeline, you don’t have time to mess around. So make sure you know how to find a good real estate agent, and then work with your agent to settle on a competitive price that brings as many potential buyers through your doors as possible.
Here’s the great news: When you’re working with a top-notch real estate agent, they’ll know exactly how your home compares to others that have recently sold in your area. You can lean on them to know what price will make you the most money but also close quickly.
Step #3: Sell your house before you buy a new one.
It may be tempting to buy a new place before your current house sells, but it’s a bad idea. You don’t need the financial risk of having two mortgages. It’s simply not an option if you want to make a good financial move. But no worries. With the right plan, it’s totally possible to buy and sell a home at the same time.
How to Buy a House When Relocating
Once you have your current home under contract, it’s time to start thinking about where you’re going to live once you relocate. If those plans include buying a new house, here’s what to do:
Step #1: Find a real estate agent who’s a market expert.
Chances are, you’re relocating to an area you don’t know very well. That’s why it’s so important to partner with a real estate agent who you can trust and is an expert in that area. They’ll help you know what neighborhood to look at and what kind of home you can afford that fits your budget.
Step #2: Know your housing budget.
Before you start house hunting, make sure you know what you can afford. If you’re getting a mortgage, stick to a 15-year fixed-rate option with a monthly payment that’s no more than 25% of your take-home pay—including private mortgage insurance (PMI), property taxes and insurance.
Put down at least 10% on your new place, but a down payment of 20% is even better. Then you can avoid paying that pesky PMI altogether. Use our free mortgage calculator to estimate your monthly payment.
Knowing how much you can afford will help you target your home search to the neighborhoods and areas of town that fit your budget.
Step #3: Target your home search.
If you want to avoid renting and move straight into your new home, you’ll need to squeeze house hunting into a few weekend visits. That means you don’t have time to drive through every neighborhood or see every home on the market.
But that’s okay! When you work with an expert real estate agent, you can trust them to help you narrow down your target areas so you can maximize your house-hunting trips.
Step #4: Negotiate the contract and close on your new home!
There’s nothing like finding a home you love that’s in your budget! And once you do, your agent will help you finalize the contract, clear any contingencies like the home inspection and appraisal, and coordinate closing details.
How to Find Real Estate Pros
There’s a lot to juggle when you relocate, but don’t worry. Working with rock-star real estate agents can help things go smoothly when it comes to handling the biggest part of your move: your housing. And remember, a true pro will have helped people just like you before, so they’ll know exactly how to guide you through the process.