The Go-To Checklist for Moving Out of State

By: Thomas Curry Last Updated: Jan 01, 2024

  • Share article:

Interstate and cross country moves are overwhelming. There are a lot of details you don’t want to forget and a lot of planning that needs to happen. We created this checklist so you don’t miss a beat preparing everything—not just the moving boxes—before you go.

The Go-To Checklist for Moving Out of State

You’re ready to start over in a new state.

Whether you are moving for work, pleasure, family, or just the desire to cross state borders, moving to a new state can be a complicated process.

It requires a lot of patience and planning, and there are a lot of parts to an interstate move that you don’t want to forget.

Missing one step could mean you have to spend hours and days fixing what you could have completed in just a couple clicks if you had gotten it right the first time.

This checklist was crafted by people who have been there, done that. They know exactly what it is going to take to get you into your new home, whether that’s crossing the entire country or just going to the neighboring state.

This relocation list was intended to help you move quickly without missing a beat. When you’re uncertain about moving somewhere new in the country, rely on the experience of experts and save time.

What should you think about before you hightail it to a new state?

There’s a couple a handful of things you won’t want to forget.

Familiarize yourself with the cost of moving out of state

It helps to calculate what a move from one city to another will cost before you pack boxes or take the next step.
Overestimate the costs and you feel like the move isn’t worth it. Underestimate your costs and you’re stuck on moving day figuring out how the last boxes will get to your new home.

There are many variables that your move will depend on: time of year, how many additional services you need, what you’re moving, and how many miles you need to move everything.

Research employer relocation assistance

Are you moving to work?

Check with your employer to see which costs they will cover and which they won’t.
Many companies are offering employment relocation packages for their employees, and you don’t want to miss some potential savings.

The employer usually covers the cost of relocation for work reasons, and the package is often negotiated.

It is advisable to discuss the relocation package with your employer if you are moving for work as the packages can vary from employer to employer.

Get a feel for your new city before moving

We suggest you go on at least a one-day trip to another town. That way you have the best sense of location and the different neighborhoods you could live in.

Bring along a guidebook, or go to the visitor center in town for brochures, maps, and recommendations.

Guests who stay in hotels can request advice from local concierge staff. We also recommend visiting nearby tourist attractions of the city just to get a feel for your new home.

Research to find an area with good schools

GreatSchools gives you ratings on local schools and compares them to see which one is better for your family.

You want to ensure if you have kids that you are living in an area that has solid schools.

The factors that should be considered when selecting schools include:

  • Annual rankings and test scores
  • Safety record
  • Rating compared to other schools in the area

Find a place to live

Ideally, your goal should be to have a new home before moving. That could mean you have to put your old house up for sale before finding a new place in the new city, or it could mean just finishing the lease of your rental terms.

If you don’t know the new area well, we strongly encourage renting within the first six months so you can understand it and figure out if and where you would want to buy.

If you can’t wait 6 months, take trips ahead of time to scout out the area.

If you are looking for a safe and budget-friendly place, get an experienced real estate agent to help with your search.

A knowledgeable realtor can guide you through your home search process. But don’t just go with any realtor.

Your realtor should have a thorough knowledge of the markets, and the law, and be capable of helping you with the paperwork you may need to fill out ahead of time.

For information on great realtors, visit

Create a moving budget

When moving to another location, the moving costs can add up quickly, depending on how much furniture you need to move. This is why preparing for the move financially, as well as physically, is so important.

When you create a moving budget, it will also help you make big decisions for your move: will you hire movers? Will you rent a truck and haul everything yourself? Will you hire someone to pack for you? Will you do the packing yourself?

A budget helps you understand your options for getting into your new house.

Start budgeting for any cost-of-living changes

New York’s cost of living is a lot more than Idaho’s. So it’s important to make sure you are ready for the changes.

The next part of creating your budget is to calculate the cost of living changes arising from the move.

It’s important for you to consider how your new mortgage, monthly lease, and utility bills will change in your new state.

Other daily cost changes to consider:

  • Car and vehicle insurance
  • Transport Groceries
  • Furnishings

Using a moving cost calculator can provide you with a more accurate estimate of how these expenses will change when you relocate.

It helps to find out what the cost of moving to your new town will be, especially if you are also expecting a new income upon arrival.

Start packing early

Sometimes packing takes more time than expected, especially if you have a lot of irregular items.

But it’s not usually the big items that make packing take longer. It’s the small knick-knacks that have you wondering “keep or toss?”

It is also possible that the moving company will charge you extra for bigger or irregular-sized items.

Get your packing done early, and you’ll reduce the time needed to get into your new home.

Find new doctors and pharmacies for you, your kids, and your pets

Search for the medical specialists you will need at your new location and make all your appointments if you need them.

You want to make sure you can get all of your prescriptions in your new state and not risk running out of your medication if you rely on it.
As pharmacies can differ from state to state, it’s important to talk to your doctor before you move.

Study your new home’s floor plan before ordering furniture

Get a copy of your floor plan before moving. This helps with planning what you will get rid of and what you will move with.

It will also help you figure out where things can go. When buying furniture and other necessities for your household ahead of time, a floor plan helps you know the size couch you may need to buy or where you can hide that pesky trash can.

The delivery of furniture can often take weeks or months so you want to have an idea of what you need ahead of time.

You should buy anything you need before the relocation. The floor plan will give you the correct measurements of your room to help solidify what you need.

Research transferring professional licenses

Are you a doctor, lawyer, nurse, or real estate professional? Or are you in a profession where licensing varies from state to state?

Different states require different qualifications, so make sure you can transfer your licensing (and know how to) before you show up in your new state.

Business owners should also be very careful about operating an unlicensed enterprise, resulting in an additional court penalty or fees, depending upon the state.

Make sure certifications and businesses alike can be transferred to your new state.

Plan to pay taxes in multiple states

If you moved from one state that didn’t have income taxes, your state will probably have two separate tax return requirements, especially if you moved in the middle of the year.

Most tax software will help you figure this out fairly quickly. But it is important that you stay vigilant when crossing states and note that there could be differences.

In addition, some states require that drivers re-register their automobiles in the new state once you arrive.

Make the necessary travel arrangements

Moving far away usually requires travel.

Make a plan for your travels before moving forward. For example, you may need to take into consideration booking the flight ticket, renting a vehicle, booking accommodation, shipping your car, or other nightly accommodations if necessary.

Something else to keep in mind is that moving companies will sometimes take up to 3-5 weeks before making a delivery.

Ensure your plans include temporary residences for instances where your house isn’t ready or you don’t have any of your belongings delivered yet.

You need to consider how and where you can live in a pre-furnished living space while you wait for your things to arrive.

Schedule and transfer your utilities

Make sure the utility company of your old house is notified of your move before you go.

You have to cancel all of your services. Usually, you won’t be able to transfer them to a new state, but ask if the provider is in your new state just to be sure.

Common utilities to schedule to transfer or cancel:

  • Wireless broadband Internet
  • Water and sewerage
  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Satellite
  • Security

When you have the new address in your new state, make an installation date for your transfer so you ensure you show up with electricity and water.

Get familiar with the job market and the overall economy

Many of our cities have stronger job opportunities because they offer more options for startups.

Before you show up in the new state look at career opportunities, employment expansion, starting salary, unemployment rates, median annual income, and commute time.

AreaVibes and Glassdoor are excellent places to start. WalletHub regularly provides reviews for top career sites, the best job spots, and other employment opportunities in the USA.

Figure out child custody laws and child support in a new state

For a parent whose child is under joint custody, the court’s approval must be obtained from the other parent before the move. If not, then you may be thrown into jail or face restitution for the crime.

The best way to know before you go is to consult your child relocation lawyer and learn about the laws very carefully. If parents move outside of the state, their obligations do not change.

Criminal prosecution of a person who fails to comply with any rules and regulations may result in imprisonment, a suspended driving license, or the revocation of the passport.

Hold onto high-value items and important documents

A few boxes may be left out of transport when the product ships out, and that’s a good thing.

Use the boxes for things like jewelry or your birth certificate. You should create duplicates if you fear they will get lost somehow.

Notify schools of the move and transfer records

If you are moving with kids, you must tell them about the new school before you go so you can transfer the records you need to enroll.

Upon registering children in their new school, you should transfer their school data.

Other important documents that can be sent to an alternative school include recommendation letters, medical documents, and evidence of immunization.

Ask the new school if they have any books required as well as extra-curricular activities so you can be sure your kid can get in before they show up for their first day.

Pack a suitcase and essentials to take with you

If you move far, you are likely to have no possessions for at least one week from your departure. But you are still going to need clothes and your toothbrush.

Even with a DIY move, almost everything you move is contained in a box, and it can be hard to find what is required during or immediately after the move.

We suggest packing a bag that includes everything you need, like clothing, footwear, and hygiene products. When in doubt, pack like you are going on a vacation.

Forward mail right before you move & update your address

The United States Postal Service (USPS) can re-route your mail fast.
Submit your new address to the USPS so you can start receiving your mail at your new house, not your old one.

If you are not completing this step, you might have mail that gets lost at your old address like important bills or medical records.

Arrange a car shipping service for your automobile

In some cases, you’ll need an auto transport company to get you there.

It’s possible to ship your car via Amticrak’s Auto trains, hire an expert to drive it or use an auto transport service to transport your car.

The auto transport companies that offer transport vehicles have a choice of open-air transport or enclosed transport. It can hold multiple vehicles and is cheaper than alternatives to traditional airlines.

Register to vote in your new state

You will have 30 days to register for a new driver’s license once you arrive in your new home.

When you go to the DMV in your new hometown, you can also register to vote at your new address. This is the easiest way to get done two important things at once.

Registering for voting is a key component of civic engagement in your new state. You are free to participate in voter registrations online too if you don’t want to wait to go to the DMV.

If it is preferable to register by telephone, you could call an election agency in the local state or local government, too. But typically the DMV is the easiest, especially when you are getting a new driver’s license anyways.

Confirm moving date and arrival time with movers

A few days before your moving day, confirm your moving date and arrival time with your long distance movers.

Most likely a moving agency will contact you within a week prior to moving to figure out all the logistics.

It is recommended to follow up during this period of the move to ensure they have the correct location and dates.

Expedite your move with the help of experts

Moving from one state to another is tricky, no matter how you look at it. There’s a lot to get done on top of your normal daily tasks.

When things get complex, we often burden ourselves with figuring it out and getting it done. But you don’t have to do it all. Outsource help when you can and rely on industry experts to offer their expertise when the task is too much.

This checklist should get you started on the don’t-forgets without missing a beat.

Happy moving!