Whether you’re moving for work, retirement, or simply for a change of scenery, moving out of state comes with a good amount of headache if you aren’t organized. We’ve highlighted some things to consider as you’re starting the planning process for your out-of-state move.
Make a Plan
The first step in taking on a move to another state is to plan early. Moving from state-to-state takes time, money, and organizational skills. Making a detailed plan helps you know how to budget which, in turn, lets you know how much you can expect the move to cost. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Will you be moving household items yourself or will you need to hire a long-distance moving company?
- Do you need to rent a moving truck if you DIY?
- Can you recruit family and friends to help with the move?
- Will you be driving your car or will you need to ship it to your new destination?
- If you are driving, how long will it take to drive from your current residence to your new home?
Consider the Costs of Moving to Another State
The cost of living varies widely from state to state, even from city to city. Before you relocate, use a cost of living calculator to see how your current salary will fare in your new city. Type in the city you are moving from, the city you are moving to, and your current income. The online calculator indicates the amount of income required to maintain your current standard of living in your new destination. If you are moving for an employer, a discussion concerning salary may be in order.
Miscellaneous costs such as long-distance moving security deposits, shipping fragile household items, storage fees, moving insurance, and hotel stays during the move can add up quickly so plan ahead.
Are you Moving Out-of-State for Work?
If your employer directs your move, check with a human resources representative or moving coordinator to see what costs the company will cover. Many mid-sized to large companies will cover ‘relocation costs’ but it’s important to know exactly what that means. Some employers reimburse employees for shipping services, transportation, and travel expenses, but not temporary housing or realtor assistance –find out.
If your employer is reimbursing you for moving expenses, save all receipts, order confirmations and documents you get from the long-distance moving company. If your move is reimbursed, your company will have the proper taxes withheld and it will be reported on your W-2. Common expenses employers can reimburse you for include:
- Commercial moving company
- Packing, mailing, shipping household items
- Miscellaneous packing supplies you won’t end up keeping
- Optional insurance
- Rental truck
- In-transit storage for up to 30 days
Dos and Don’ts of Moving Out of State
Besides moving household items from one place to another, professional moving companies offer additional services such as packing and unpacking. If you choose the full-service option, the company will pack, load, ship, and unpack all of your belongings at your new home. Some movers offer boxes and packing supplies as well. Here are a few dos and not-to-dos when hiring a moving service.
Get a written estimate from several companies – three or more is best. Estimates are usually based on time, the number of employees required, who does the packing (you or them), and the number of ‘rooms’ to be moved.
Make sure a company representative visits your home to do a visual inspection and provide a written quote.
Make sure the moving company is insured. This means you will be covered in the event your belongings are damaged during the move.
Ask for the moving service’s U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number. Utilize the FMCSA database to ensure the company is registered.
Contact your local, county, or state consumer affairs agency or state attorney general, or the Better Business Bureau to check for any complaints on file.
Don’t accept a ‘ballpark’ estimate over the phone. Ask a representative to visit your home.
Read the contract thoroughly. Do not sign a contract that looks incomplete or is blank.
Don’t pay in full before the move or use cash as payment. A reputable mover will accept a partial payment to initiate services.
Immediately before the move – Do not allow moving employees to start the move until you re-review the contract and estimate with the company representative.
Changing Utility Companies and Starting New Service
When moving from state-to-state, you may need to set up utility services such as gas, electricity, or water at your new residence. You can arrange for utility services by phone, in person or in some cities, online.
City or county governments usually oversee utilities such as water, sewage, and garbage pick-up. In some states, you can also choose your phone, gas, and electricity service as well. Your state utility commission may provide a list of service providers. If you a have poor credit story, the utility company may require:
- A security deposit
- A letter of guarantee from someone other than you, who will agree to pay the bill if you fail to do so. (Similar to a co-signer).
Once your new service starts it’s a good idea to review your initial bill. If you see fees or charges listed that you do not understand, contact the utility provider.
Change Your Postal Address
Notify the post office of your change of address and have your mail forwarded.
Visit the USPS website to change your address online. There will be a $1 fee, charged to your debit or credit card, for identity verification. You will receive an email from USPS confirming the change.
A free Mover’s Guide packet is available at your local post office. Drop by and request one. The packet contains PS Form 3575. Fill out the change of address form and hand it to the postal employee, or drop it in the mail slot inside the post office. You will receive a confirmation letter at your new residence within five business days.