Interstate moves require more work and planning than local moves, and all the extra steps can make the process seem daunting. There’s a lot to do, including researching the best moving companies and making travel arrangements.
We at the This Old House Reviews Team can’t pack boxes or set up utilities, but we can help you plan. Use this moving-out-of-state checklist to stay on task and ensure nothing important gets overlooked.
Create a Moving Budget
Rounding up all your anticipated moving expenses is the first step in moving to a new location. Whether you plan to hire movers or move on your own, you should create a moving budget. This should include all one-time moving costs, such as hiring professional movers and fixing up your new home. Include a little extra for unexpected expenses.
Check the FMCSA Website
All interstate movers must register with the federal government and obtain a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains a database of licensed moving carriers and brokers. Before booking your move, ensure the company you choose appears in the FMCSA mover database. You can also review complaints, safety, and contact information for each registered company.
The FMCSA also publishes helpful tips and has a booklet that explains your rights and responsibilities during a move. Interstate movers must provide their customers with a copy of this booklet, but you can also download it from the FMCSA website.
Book Your Move and Travel Arrangements
Research the options available and decide whether to hire a full-service moving company or go the DIY route. Ask family members and friends for recommendations, browse online reviews to narrow your options, and then gather quotes for whatever moving services or equipment you need.
After comparing quotes and choosing an affordable moving company, set your moving date and book your move. The further in advance you book, the lower prices will be. Costs will also vary depending on which month and day of the week you choose. Demand is highest during the summer and on weekends, so you can save money by moving on a weekday during the fall, spring, or winter.
If you’re moving cross-country or across several state lines, you may also need to book a flight or hotel stay. Make any necessary travel arrangements as soon as possible to avoid price hikes and availability issues.
File a Change of Address
As soon as you know your moving date, head to your local post office or the USPS website to fill out a change of address form. You must answer a few questions, provide your old and new addresses, and enter the date you would like the USPS to begin forwarding mail to your new residence. If you file online, you must pay a nominal $1.10 fee via credit or debit card to verify your identity.
When it’s closer to your moving date, update your address with any financial institutions and service providers. This includes your bank accounts, credit cards, and subscriptions.
Set Up Utilities
Contact your current service providers and let them know your move-out date. They may also need to know where to send your final bill. Then, set up accounts with the appropriate service providers for your new house. In addition to utilities like water and electricity, you may need to set up internet, trash pickup, pest control, and other services.
Organize and Downsize
Start sorting through your belongings and decluttering a few weeks before your move. Get rid of anything you no longer want or need and organize everything you plan to keep. As you go, create an inventory for moving insurance purposes. Putting in a little extra work at this stage can save you a lot of time and effort when you’re packing.
At this stage, you should also determine your packing and storage needs. Figure out whether you need a storage unit and what boxes and moving supplies you still need to purchase. For unwanted items, you can hire a junk removal service or plan a day to bring everything to the dump and donation centers.
Update Your ID and Voter Registration
Once you’ve arrived in your new state, head to the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as soon as possible. There, you can apply for a new driver’s license, transfer your vehicle registration, and register to vote. These tasks are especially important if you are moving permanently and must establish residency for tax purposes.
You may also need to call or visit a few other government offices. If you have dogs, research the licensing requirements in your county or city. Also, ensure you are properly registered with whatever office handles personal property taxes.
Explore Your New Neighborhood
Last but certainly not least, spend time exploring your new neighborhood. Familiarize yourself with the area and think through your daily and weekly routines. Where will you shop for groceries? How will you get to work? Are there any parks, playgrounds, or fitness centers nearby?
If you are moving with children, involve them in this process. Note any restaurants or attractions the kids want to visit and plan to do so. Introduce them to their new school before their first day and try to find answers to any questions they may have.
When you move to a new state, you have to adjust to more than just a new home or neighborhood. Everything from tax rates to utility costs differ from one state to another. You will need a new driver’s license and voter registration card and have to budget for any cost-of-living changes. Working through the checklist above will help you remember the most important tasks you need to complete.
A good moving company can make things easier, too. As a general rule, we recommend gathering quotes from at least three long-distance moving companies before booking your move. You might also consider renting a moving truck or moving container from a self-service moving company.
Our Rating Methodology
The This Old House Reviews Team backs up our moving company ratings and recommendations with a detailed rating methodology to objectively score each company. We conduct research by reading through the company websites, analyzing customer reviews, conducting consumer surveys, requesting quotes, and speaking with customer representatives. We then score each moving company against our review standards for services, contents coverage, scheduling, trailer and container options, additional benefits, and reputation to arrive at a final score out of 100.
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