Would you believe me if I told you I’ve moved my family across the country on more than one occasion? Well I have and I’m here to give you all the tips for moving out of state with your family. Easily, I might add. No matter if you have one child or five. Check out these options to keep your move organized, stress free, and dare I say it. A little bit of fun too!
My 18-Step Checklist for Moving Out of State
As someone who has done this a few times, what can I say, I’m a little indecisive. I’ve failed enough times to know what does and does not work. Especially when it comes to moving out of state for the first time with your family. Whether you are gearing up to move within the next few months or just putting it on your radar, with these tips for moving out of state for the first time you’ll be prepared no matter the situation.
1. Determine Housing Before You Move
Hi, I’m Jazmyne and the first time I moved my family across the country we had no housing lined up. Don’t be like Jazmyne.
I know, you probably read that and immediately thought, well of course not. Which is the same thought I had the second time we decided to move. But I’m willing to admit that the first time, not so much. Oh, to be young and optimistic again, lol.
I just knew we’d get to our new home state and instantly find a home. And if not, staying in a hotel for a few weeks couldn’t hurt. Boy was I wrong. Moving my family of five to the state with the highest cost of living, the largest population of homeless people, and the highest rate of housing scams thinking I’d be able to find the perfect home was definitely partly insane. Well most of that is due to poor planning and an insane amount of naiveness on my part. But you live and you learn, nonetheless.
One of the challenges of moving to a new state is not being completely informed about everything. I mean, no matter how much research you do, there are just some things you aren’t going to know, until well, you’re smack dead in a situation you didn’t plan for. So it’s always best to plan ahead as much as you can. To somewhat mitigate the chances of any super stressful situations from occurring.
2. Research Cost of Living Differences and Plan Accordingly
This is definitely something that can be a shocker to your system if you’re aren’t ready for it. When we first moved to California, well I had a pretty good idea there would be a difference, it wasn’t until I got there that it truly hit me. I mean they have a bottle tax for crying out loud. They literally charge you a tax everytime you purchase any plastic bottles. Now this can be recouped by recycling, but with that being the main way a lot of the homeless population makes money, lets just say the lines can get pretty lengthy.
Either way, my advice for moving out of state is to make a spreadsheet. Compare the gas prices, the housing prices, shoot the grocery prices while you’re at it. Then calculate how much you spend on those items now (weekly, monthly and yearly) and compare it to what it will be (for those same increments) in your new state. I suggest doing this prior to nailing down any salaries or employment if you can. As it will give you a better picture of what you truly need to be making to live comfortably once you’ve relocated.
3. Visit the Location Before Moving if Possible
If you are moving family out of state, then this is key. Our latest move to North Carolina actually sparked because of a visit we did prior to moving. Our intentions at the time were just to spend the week there for our ten year olds birthday. But we loved it so much we decided to move. Even more important, our children loved it so much they wanted to move too!
4. Book Your Moving Company and Supplies Early
On our move back to Indiana from California, we learned this the hard way. Look, when I said I’d made ALL the mistakes, I meant it. We booked our movers about two weeks before our actual move in date and it was by far the worst experience I’ve ever had.
The movers did a bait and switch on us. (if you are unfamiliar with that, it’s where they give you one rate over the phone or initially and then show up and double, if not triple it, in hopes that you’ll just pay it out of fear of losing all your stuff.)
But I’m one to learn from my mistakes, so for our move from Indiana to North Carolina, I booked with U-Haul. From having all the supplies we needed, to multiple options on how to actually move our belongings, Uhual made the moving process that much easier.
U-Haul offers a variety of options for families looking to move. And you don’t have to do everything yourself if you don’t want to. Outside of their moving kits (which consist of everything you may need to get your place packed based on the size of your home) they also offer containers that they can ship to your current home so you can pack at your leisure. Deliver to your new address or store while you get adjusted to your new home. U-Haul also offers truck rentals, if you’re a do it yourself mover, like my husband. Their site can also recommend professional movers, if you’re more like me and not looking to pack and move everything on your own.
The U-Haul Moving Supplies That Made Our Out-of-State Move Easier
One of my favorite things about using U-Haul for our most recent move was how easy everything was. Looking over moving supplies I had no idea how many boxes I would need, nor was I sure if we’d need shrink wrap, peanuts, or wrapping paper. But with U-Hauls moving kits (based on the size of home you are packing) all of that was figured out for me. All I had to do was choose the size of my house and bam I was sent more than enough supplies for our move. Which brings me to another great point, if you get too many boxes, they buy them back!
For this move we decided to pack our own items. Previously we hired movers to pack and it was clear they weren’t handling our items how we would have. So with this being our first time packing, I had no clue what I was doing. Luckily U-Haul even makes that easy. They offer boxes of all shapes and sizes to fit your needs. Some of my supplies were their book boxes, the wardrobe boxes, and all the supplies that provide a variety of ways to pack your dishes / fragile things. Like, they even have an insert just for dishes, like cups / mugs. And while this may all seem like common sense to some, I was blown away by it all. U-Haul truly does make moving as easy as possible, no matter your level of experience.
5. Keep All Your Moving Documents and Receipts in One Place
This will definitely come in handy should any issues arise. Remember how I mentioned those “professional movers” we worked with one of the many times we moved, tried to bait and switch us on the rate? Well, not only did they try to double our rate once they arrived at our home, but because we refused to pay anything additional than what was quoted to us we were made to leave MOST of our belongings. Being that we had originally paid for them to pack all of our items, load the trucks and then unpack once they arrived at our new place they ran into some issues.
Since we had to leave behind essentially everything but major pieces of furniture they owed us about half of what we paid back. Well, of course they tried to deny it. But good thing I took photos of everything on the truck, as well as them loading everything. If I hadn’t had those along with my receipts it would have been an even bigger nightmare then that situation had already turned out to be. So the moral to that story is, document and keep everything. No matter how professional the person you are working with seems to be.
6. Save Up Extra Money for Moving
Moving is a costly experience no matter if you’re moving from one state to another or even just down the street. And from experience I can say, you never really know what can happen so having some sort of an emergency fund is necessary. Exactly how much money you should save before moving to another state depends on a number of factors.
Are you renting a truck and handling everything yourself with friends and family? Or do you plan to have professionals handle it who can guarantee the safety of your items and back it up with their insurance? And even in those types of scenarios you just never know. Expect something to go wrong and plan for it. Our most recent move resulted in our king bed frame being cracked and unusable. Having done this a few times I had some money set aside as a contingency fund and was able to purchase a new one that same day.
These are the types of things you want to account for when saving up for your move. Maybe you won’t have to replace furniture but the truck you rent runs out of gas. Or the washer falls and gets cracked as it’s being unloaded. And yes, any reputable moving company will have insurance to cover these things, but that can take months to get reimbursed. Not to mention, they often give you the deprecated value and I have yet to be able to buy anything brand new for what they give. It’s just always better to be safe than sorry.
7. Don’t Forget to Budget the Travel Costs
When moving out of state, the travel portion of the trip can get pretty costly. Especially if you are driving the truck yourself. We rented a U-Haul truck (the 26 footer) with our most recent move and unbeknownst to us, tolls are doubled based on the size of the vehicle. So we ended up paying almost $40 total in tolls between our two cars and the U-Haul.
Depending on where you are moving to tolls may be something you need to consider. In addition, make sure to budget for gas, hotels (if its a longer trip and you may need to stop), food and anything else you may want to stop and get or do along the way. With it being just us, we stopped a few times along the way to allow our kiddos to see some sights, get souvenirs and other fun things to make the trip a little more enjoyable.
8. Plan the Trip Early (6 Months Before Moving if Possible)
On the list of things to do 6 months before moving, planning should definitely be at the top. Don’t be like us and randomly decide to move out of state two weeks before your lease is up. I mean, while it is very doable, the earlier you plan the smoother things will go. Trust me, I know from experience. Exactly how long you should plan will depend on how much time you can / want to devote to it.
If you can spend most of your free time on planning your move, 6 months is a great time frame. If you have a life, like most people, that will probably give you a good idea of the basics and help you become mentally prepared for the move. You won’t be taking a shot in the dark for sure, but I wouldn’t say you’d be an expert on your new state in that amount of time either.
During your planning make sure you do more than just research the cost of living and all the boring stuff. Look up Youtube videos of others who’ve made the same journey. What were some of their reactions? What’s something they wish they’d known. Before we moved to North Carolina I spent a lot of time watching videos about all the different bugs / pests residents of NC find in their homes on a daily basis. Being someone who is deathly afraid of bugs of any kind, this was the type of thing I needed to know.
Join all the Facebook groups. The Moms of insert new city group, the insert new city garage sale group, shoot even the insert new city group. Join as many as you can and then just read. Read what people complain about, the types of questions they ask. Look at the things they are selling. This will give you a front row seat into your new state and you’ll learn stuff no google search or youtube video could ever teach you.
9. Pack in Small Chunks to Avoid Overwhelm
Whether you have children or not, but especially if you do, take your time packing. Which is another reason why you should start planning your move as early as possible. I spent about a month just packing the bottom floor of our home. Doing it one room at a time, making sure to leave out anything of necessity or items I knew would help me children feel more comfortable once we arrive at our new home.
If you have children, pack their rooms last. This is one of those packing tips for moving out of state that can make or break your move. For the children anyway. It was my goal to ensure they did not feel overwhelmed, or as if their entire world was about to change drastically. I wanted things to be as normal as possible up until the very last minute.
And once it came time to actually pack their rooms, I gave each one of my children their very own U Haul small box and allowed them to pack what was the most important for them. We then labeled the box and used a different color tape from every other box so it would stand out in the truck. We also made sure these boxes were packed last. This allowed the kids to have their items as soon as we got to the new house and help alleviate some of the stress of the move.
10. Label Every Box with Room Name and Primary Contents
Seems super easy, but I can tell you from experience that not everyone thinks this way. Remember how I said those movers were not’ really taking care of our items during packing as we would. This was another issue we ran into. Which meant when we got to our new destination it was complete chaos trying to unpack. You’d open a box with dishes, shoes, and kids toys all in one and most of the time wasn’t labeled. A complete disaster.
Take this a step further and use different colored tape for each room. Such as blue tape for the bathroom, pink for the kitchen and orange for the kids rooms. Then when you are unpacking the truck it’s that much easier to put things where they belong.
11. Take This Opportunity to Declutter if Needed
This was one of the best tips for moving out of state that I received. You never really know what all you have until it’s time to move. A rule of thumb is; if you haven’t used it in over a year, you probably won’t. Make piles of things you absolutely need, things you can do without, and a may be pile. Then sleep on it. Don’t make any decisions that day on those maybes. A lot of times we make rash decisions based on an emotion associated with an item. Instead of if we actually need it. Once you’ve slept on it, get rid of the items in your maybe pile that you know you truly don’t need.
12. Host a Massive Garage Sale Before You Move
I grew up on garage sales so I am always a fan. My mom would take all of us to garage saling every weekend in the summer. It was like a treasure hunt. She’d be looking for something she needed around the house and we’d be looking for a cool toy.
Garage sales are a great way to declutter without trashing everything. This way you know your stuff is getting a second chance. It’ll be being used by someone else instead of sitting in a closet collecting dust at your new place. Additionally, the things you sell at the garage sale could help offset some of the moving expenses.
13. Have Your New Utilities Turned On the Day Before You Arrive
This last time we moved over the fourth of July holiday and I completely forgot to do this. Which means we were without utilities for a fews days due to the holiday. Another reason why planning is key here people. Most utilities services have websites or an app where you can connect everything based on a certain date. You can even pay your deposit (if you have one) and set up your automatic payments all in one place. P.S. if you’re reached this level of adulthood I salute you. Show me your ways, lol.
Let me mention that I recently found out there are companies that can help with this type of thing for you. You provide them with your address and they provide you with all the information necessary to switch utilities over. These services mean no Googling the name of the power company in your new state. Or trying to find what internet provide services in your area. They have this all at their fingertips and send everything you need (with links and coupon codes) to your email.
14. Make the Move on a Weekday if Possible
Everybody works during the week, so this may not be doable. But again, everybody works during the week which is why I’m mentioning it as one of my tips for moving to a new state. Traffic is always heavier on the weekend. Especially from others going to visit family, go to their lake home, or coming home from some random convention that you had no idea about. Our recent move involved us driving through Tennessee during a convention that meant there were no vacant hotels and the roads were packed.
15. Pack an Essentials Bag to Keep Handy While You Travel
Pack things like clothes, diapers, wipes, favorite toys etc in a bag or tote and keep it with you. If you’re like me and like to clean before you begin unpacking don’t forget cleaning supplies. Things you may also want to include are toilet paper, paper towels, lightbulbs, toothbrushes and toothpaste, tools such as a screwdriver, drill or allen wrench for the furniture and trash bags. Having these in reach as opposed to searching through your truck and boxes for them is a huge time saver.
16. Submit a Change of Address Form at the Post Office and Forward Your Mail
Additional tips for relocating to another state include making sure you submit a change of address. This can be done online for $1.10 (according to the USPS site this fee is to verify your identity), or in person. Mailpersons will typically have the forms with them in their trucks. But if not, you can always make a stop at your local post office to complete one.
The post office now has what is called Informed Delivery which I recommended signing up for. It is a free service that provides you with daily emails about the mail you’ll be receiving that day. Which is especially helpful after moving to a new state. Mail gets lost all the time, so having a record of what you should have received can help in that recovery process.
17. Don’t Forget to Update All Your Documents
Moving to a new state can be such a whirlwind that we can often forgot certain steps. Things like drivers licenses, shipping address for any subscriptions you may have, registering to vote in your new state, etc all need to be done once you’ve moved. Most states have an allotted amount of time to complete these things, including switching your plates over, before they charge a penalty. Make sure to look that up for your new state prior to moving so you have an idea of your timeline. In addition to knowing what is required to get a license, register to vote or register your car. Most states will give you 30 days, but I’ve seen some that only allow 10 days before late fees and other penalties kick in.
18. Register for School (if You Have Children)
Moving out of state can be stressful on kids, especially the thought of changing schools and leaving their friends. Having them already enrolled in school can help calm some of these nerves. If this is something you do well enough in advance, once you get settled in your new home drive past the school. Let them watch videos / look at pictures on the schools (or districts) social media pages. There’s nothing like walking in blind into a new place. The more your children can know about their new school the more comfortable they will feel when the first day of school arrives.
Make sure you also request their medical records, school records and immunization records from the appropriate places before moving. Having a few copies of these readily available will help with the entire process go a lot smoother.
Moving to a new state can be a scary situation. No matter how much you’ve planned something is bound to happen. It’s important to go into it with an open mind set. Be as prepared as you can by using the tips I give above to make it a little easier. Have you ever moved to a new state before? If so, what are some of your tips for moving out of state? Share them below to help a fellow mover out!