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Moving Out Of State: What You Need To Know

Katie Ziraldo6-minute read
January 19, 2022

No matter the distance, moving is often a long and complicated process. It’s not quite as simple as packing up your life and driving to a new location. Without the proper research and groundwork, you can easily find yourself feeling overwhelmed and unprepared. And if you’re considering moving out of state, there’s even more to consider.

In this article, we’ll explore the key steps involved in moving to a new state and what you need to know to set yourself up for success.

1. Estimate Your New Cost Of Living

The cost of living of a given area refers to the amount of money needed to cover living expenses in that location. Cost of living typically includes housing costs, health care, transportation, food prices, taxes and other miscellaneous necessities.

Before you make the decision to move to a new state, it’s important to understand how your cost of living will change. There are multiple cost of living calculators available online to help you compare two locations, but you can also do these calculations yourself. To compare the cost of living between your current and future city, use the following formula:

[(City B – City A)/City A] x 100

Research the cost of living index for your current city and the city you’re considering moving to. Subtract the index of your current city from the index of the city you want to move to, then divide the result by the index in your current city. Multiply the resulting quotient by 100 to get a percentage. This percentage represents the increase you would need in your income to live comfortably in your city of choice.

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2. Explore Natural Disaster Insurance Policy Options

For your safety and the safety of your family, it’s crucial to understand what natural disasters could potentially affect your new home ahead of time. While a traditional homeowners insurance policy protects against some damages, depending on the location and type of disaster, you may require additional coverage to protect your home.

From floods to earthquakes, tornadoes to hurricanes and everything in between, natural disaster insurance policies offer supplemental coverage based on the disasters that affect each state. For example, standard homeowners insurance typically covers tornado related damages, but if you’re moving to a state in Tornado Alley, you may require additional windstorm coverage.

3. Research Your New City

Getting a new start in a new city or suburb is exciting, but don’t forget to do your research before jumping in headfirst. Moving across town can already be a huge adjustment, so just imagine the adjustment you’ll be facing when you move across states. Researching your new city can also be a great way to meet your neighbors.

You want to feel confident that this move makes sense for your entire family, so consider the following factors before you settle on a location.

Crime Rates

Neighborhood safety should be one of your highest priorities. In addition to keeping your family safe, studies have shown that violent crime can lead to lower home prices, so you’ll have an easier time reselling your property in the future if it’s in a relatively safe area.

Before buying a house, take the time to research crime rates in the cities you’re considering. Sites like CityProtect and SpotCrime offer crime mapping, breaking down the types of crime that have been committed in the area and the dates they occurred. We recommend researching your current area first to set a baseline of what you’re comfortable with before researching your new address.

Local Schools

Families should also make sure to research local schools for their children or future children. Sites like GreatSchools offer insight into parent ratings, reviews and test scores for both public and private K-12 schools across the country. High-performing school districts have also been proven to result in higher home values overtime.

Transportation Options

If you rely on public transit to get around, consider which transportation options will be available in your new location. These options will vary drastically between locations and may be different from what you’ve experienced where you current live. For example, if you’re moving from a suburb to a city, you’ll probably need to utilize public transit more often than you’re currently used to.

Local Traffic

Moving out of state can also bring on new types of traffic concerns, from frequent accidents to busier highways, so don’t forget to consider the commute time you’ll be facing.

You can get an idea of what local traffic looks like in your new city through Google Maps. Simply pull up the map during rush hour and pay attention to which routes are the most red. Check estimated travel times for cars and public transit and factor this into your planned commute times.

Entertainment And Activities

Last but certainly not least, you want to ensure you will actually enjoy living in your new neighborhood, so don’t forget to research the activities that will be available to you.

Malls, movie theaters, restaurants, beaches and theme parks are all good things to look for, but you know what your family enjoys better than anyone, so look into what entertainment options you’ll have at your disposal. Leverage Google Maps to check the distance between your home and the activities you’re interested in. If your family tradition is seeing a movie every weekend but the closest theater is an hour away, it might not be the best location to choose.

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4. Create A Moving Budget And Plan

Once you’ve settled on a location, it’s time to get ready to move. First, this means finding a house to rent or buy, unless you have temporary housing lined up. But in addition to the costs of buying a home, you’ll also need to prepare for the costs of moving.

How Much Money To Set Aside For Moving Out Of State

Moving out of state is a big financial undertaking, so building and sticking to a moving budget is important. According to MyMovingReviews, the national average cost of a long-distance move is between $2,200 and $5,700, depending on the exact distance and the amount of personal belongings that need to be relocated.

Get started by finding estimates for the factors on your moving list – including the cost of the moving truck, professional movers, gas prices, packing supplies, insurance and travel, just to name a few.

Remember there will also be costs associated with getting set up in your new home, from setting up utilities to internet service, so we recommend leaving extra buffer in your budget to cover these costs.

How To Create A Moving Plan

Creating and sharing a clear and concise moving plan with all those involved, whether that is family and friends or a professional moving company, can help to minimize confusion and avoid miscommunication.

Your moving plan should include important dates, times, forms of payment and insurance details, if applicable. We also recommend creating a checklist to help you keep track of what has been completed as you move through the process.

5. Schedule An Appointment To Change Your Driver’s License And Vehicle Registration

One of the many tasks involved in moving to a new state is obtaining a new driver’s license and vehicle registration. Most states require this to happen within 10 – 30 days, but you should look into the deadline for your new state ahead of time to be prepared.

If possible, make an appointment at the local Secretary of State in advance to avoid spending unnecessary time in line. Be sure to also research what documents are required, as it may differ between states. For example, some states may require proof of citizenship, such as a passport or birth certificate, plus a social security card and proof of residence.

6. Set Up Your New Home Utilities

Before you pack up and move, some house utilities like electricity, natural gas and water/sewage should be up and running. You can contact local utility providers ahead of time to set up your services so they’re ready to go when you move in.

7. Update Your Mailing Address

As you’re settling into your home, don’t forget to formally update your mailing address. Depending on the state, you may be able to do this online or using a mail-in change of address form, but you can also choose to do this while you’re at Secretary of State to get a new driver’s license.

And remember to update your address on all other important accounts as well, such as student loans, bills and insurance.

The Bottom Line: Follow These Necessary Steps When Moving Out Of State

Whether you’re moving to be closer to family, chasing a new work opportunity, or retiring in your favorite vacation destination, moving to a new state is an exciting life event. But don’t let your excitement be diminished by uncertainty – take the time to follow these steps for a successful move.

Ready to take the next step toward your new beginning? Learn more about buying a home out of state!

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Check your local market.

Katie Ziraldo

Katie Ziraldo is a financial writer and data journalist focused on creating accurate, accessible and educational content for future generations of home buyers. Her portfolio of work also includes The Detroit Free Press and The Huffington Post.