Here’s How to Move to Another State Without a Hitch

published Jul 20, 2020
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Two friends moving, packing boxes
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Moving to another state can feel overwhelming. Even if you’re excited about the move—for a new job, for love, to be closer to family, to start over—it can still feel like there’s an entire mountain of logistical details to climb.

Packing your belongings is just the beginning of moving to another state. You’ll also need to find a new place to live, get a new job (or get into grad school!), update your address, register your car, set up utilities—the list goes on and on. But moving doesn’t have to be so complicated. Let’s break down how to complete an interstate move without a hitch.

What do I need to do to move to another state?

Before moving, you’ll first need to take care of a few things at home. If you’re renting, carefully review your lease to determine if you’ll have to pay a penalty for moving out early. You may even consider planning your move to coincide with the end of your existing lease, which is usually a lot simpler. If you’re a homeowner, you’ll need to decide what to do with your existing property—sell it ASAP? Rent it out? Use it as a short-term vacation rental?

At the same time, you’ll want to start thinking about a place to live in your new state. Familiarize yourself with different neighborhoods in your new city, then check out as many online home or apartment listings as possible to start budgeting for rent or mortgage payments.

It’s also a good idea to lean into existing local resources created specifically for new residents, says Cynthia Reid, a spokeswoman for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. Take it from the experts who already live there—they really know what they’re talking about and are more than happy to share their expertise. 

“(Our organization) assists potential new residents with information about the city’s neighborhoods, schools, outdoor activities and places to have fun,” she says. “Another essential asset that city chambers, OKC included, typically offer is a cost of living calculator, which is ideally updated throughout the year to reflect real-time costs of living.”

How much money do you need to move to a different state?

And speaking of cost of living: Your budget should be top of mind when moving to a different state. If you’re open to moving anywhere, consider researching cities with lower costs of living, which can help you save money month after month.

Your budget for moving to another state should include:

  • Actual moving expenses. These are the real costs associated with renting a moving truck, hiring movers, renting a storage unit, shipping your belongings, flights, gas, hotels, fast food, and other costs you’ll incur while moving.
  • Apartment application fees. Generally speaking, you’ll pay anywhere from $20 to $50 each time you apply for an apartment or rental property. You may also have to pay other fees, such as a background check fee or a credit check fee.
  • Rental deposit. Your new landlord will likely ask for a security deposit upfront, which helps protect them if you cause damage to the home. Some landlords also ask you to pay first and last month’s rent ahead of time.
  • Pet deposit. If you’re bringing a four-legged friend with you, prepare to pay a pet deposit ranging anywhere from $200 to $500.
  • Utility deposits. When you’re setting up utilities such as gas, electric, water, sewer, trash, and internet, you may be required to pay a deposit upfront.
  • Renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance. You can typically choose to pay this as a lump sum or monthly, though many insurers offer a discount if you pay in advance.
  • New furniture or decor. Your new apartment may be larger or configured differently than your existing home. This means you might need to shell out some money for furniture.

How do I move to another state without a job?

People move to another state without a job all the time. In fact, it may actually be part of your job-hunting strategy. Why? Because employers often prefer to hire candidates with a local address. This signals to the hiring manager that you’ll be available to start working relatively soon and there likely won’t be any unexpected hiccups in bringing you on board.

If you’re planning to move to another state without a job, don’t wait until you arrive to start researching the job market. Before you start packing, do a deep dive into the local job market, including an inventory of reputable companies that align with your skills and expertise. When you arrive, you’ll be able to hit the ground running with applications and networking.

What do I need to change when moving to another state?

Aside from the obvious changes—your home, your job, your grocery store—there are lots of little updates you should remember to make when moving. And don’t stress out. It might seem like a lot, but just keep working through each task on your checklist, one by one.

“Keep a list of things you need to do and check off as you go,” says Tracy Jones, a real estate agent preparing to move her family from Elkhart, Indiana, to Sarasota, Florida. 

A few examples:

  • Your address. If you know your move date and your new address, you can officially change your address with the U.S. Postal Service. You can also ask the postal service to forward mail from your old address so you don’t miss anything.
  • Dental and medical records. Once you’re all settled in your new state, start looking for new doctors and dentists (preferably those covered by your health insurance plan, if you have one!). Then, you’ll want to contact your old doctors and dentists to transfer your health records. Your new medical providers can often help with this, too.
  • Prescriptions. If you take prescription medications, be sure to transfer your prescription to a new local pharmacy or sign up for prescription delivery if possible.
  • Driver’s license. When you arrive in your new city, be sure to visit the local motor vehicle office to update your driver’s license. Most counties want you to do this within 30 days of moving.
  • Vehicle registration. Similarly, be sure to register your vehicle in your new home and update your license plates.
  • Voter registration. Don’t forget to register to vote in your new state and research local voting processes so you’re fully prepared.
  • Insurance. While you may be able to stick with the same car or renter’s insurance company, you’ll need to provide your new address and information. And yes, this could affect your rates.