How To Move Out Of State: The Ultimate Checklist & Planner

Ever since I made the decision to move out of state, my life has been crazy and hectic. As this will be my second move across the country in two years, I’ve started a list of how I’m preparing to move out of state.

After I moved to Seattle from Florida, I swore I would never drive across the country again. Well, you know what they say about never say never. After 24 months in a new city, I’m moving back to the South and I couldn’t be more excited!

In an effort to be prepared, I’ve gotten a headstart on planning. I really don’t want to leave everything to the last minute and am really making an effort to stay organized!

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Is it worth moving out of state?

Yes! At least for me. Of course, if you’re trying to decide if you should move out of state or not, weigh your pros and cons. Will it be cheaper? Will you be able to get a decent job or income? Do you need to be near family and friends? Are you looking for a specific climate? These are things you need to ask yourself before deciding.

How much money should I save to move out of state?

Well, that depends on where you’re moving from and where you’re moving to. But, experts recommend at least $6,000 for many out-of-state moves.

Here’s how I’m preparing to move out of state

If you’re anything like me, you want to be organized and prepared to move out of state with as few issues as possible. Here’s how I’m doing it.

Sell my furniture

All of my furnishings are courtesy of Ikea, Pier 1, and Craigslist. Because I chose to purposefully purchase inexpensive furnishings, I never had any plan to have these items long-term. This includes furniture, lamps, and other accessories.

Because it costs more money to ship furniture than what my furniture is worth, I plan on selling my items and purchasing new (to me) furniture once I move.

Once I near my 30-day moving date, I plan on selling my furniture through:

  • Craigslist
  • My local apartment complex forum

All of my furniture is in excellent shape. If I am unable to sell an item, I plan on donating it to my local Goodwill.

Get rid of unused items on eBay

I have a ridiculous walk-in closet that is bursting with clothes, shoes, and all sorts of accessories. And I can honestly say I wear about 10% of everything in my closet.

I have already started listing items on eBay. I plan on listing a handful of items each week on eBay until I move. This gives me plenty of time to get organized!

Sell electronics online

I have a couple of old cell phones, a Nook, and all the cords that are tucked away in a box. Sadly, there isn’t anything wrong with these items – I just felt the need for an upgrade.

I also have a fairly new “all in one” printer, copier, and fax machine that needs to go. I’ve been fortunate to live in apartment complexes that include an office with computer and print stations and all the fixings, so mine has been collecting dust for two years. It’s in the way and needs to go!

After a quick search on eBay and Craigslist, my items have a pretty good shot to sell as-is or for parts.

Start shopping online early

One of the best ways I’m preparing to move out of state is by starting my research early. Having an Amazon Prime membership is really convenient.

I plan on purchasing a new mattress and other household items through Amazon and having it arrive at my new address the day after I move in. I am going to be tired after the long drive and will not feel like running around to different shops to stock up on supplies. This will save me time and nothing beats free shipping.

I also plan to use Ibotta, which is another free cell phone app. You use it after you go grocery shopping and use your receipt. It’s basically a rebate app, so you can earn anywhere from 50 cents to $5 off everything you buy.

My favorite part about this app is that it’s not always brand specific, like a lot of coupons are. So you’ll be able to scan “any brand of bread” for 50 cents off, etc. If you do coupon – you can STILL use Ibotta and get a rebate. For the diehard couponers out there, this will often result in getting an item for FREE. Crazy, right?

If you want to grab the Ibotta app and start making money off your grocery receipts, click here to get started. You will receive a cash bonus of $10 when you scan your first item!

Give my car a tune-up

I’ll be adding nearly 2,500 miles to my car over the course of three days, which means I need to make sure my car is in great shape.

I recently took my car in for some major work and she is almost as good as new. Aside from this out-of-the-ordinary maintenance, I am evaluating my tires, getting an oil change, and making sure my car is near perfect. The last thing I want is for a problem to occur while I’m on the road in unfamiliar territory.

Fill my prescriptions

Having all my medication is essential. I plan on making sure all my refills are filled prior to moving. I also plan on researching what pharmacies are in my area prior to moving in case of an emergency.

Pre-book my lodging

I’m a big fan of hotel reward loyalty points, so I’m planning on booking my hotel stays with a chain that I have points with. And, since I’ll be traveling with pets, I’ve been sure to look for only pet-friendly lodging.

Plus, the earlier the hotel room is booked, the better the savings. I’m in the process of combining cashback sites like Rakuten with different hotel chains to maximize my savings. Rakuten literally pays you cash back when you make a purchase online and then deposits the cash back into your PayPal account.

While I know I haven’t covered everything when it comes to moving, I definitely have a good start. I promised myself that I wouldn’t wait until the last minute to get organized this time around and am feeling more confident with the moving process.

Make sure my savings account is ready to go

Whether you want to start an emergency fund or a vacation fund or a moving fund, you have to start setting some money aside. If you’re like most people and struggle with saving, you should consider using Digit.

I’ve just started using this free program and love it. Digit lets you save money each week from your checking account. What I really like about Digit is that it analyzes my bank account and determines how much I can really save per week. Some weeks it might be $5 and other times it might be $20. You don’t have to worry about overdraft and can contribute less or more if you need to. As of now, I don’t know an easier way to save money! You can learn more about Digit here.

Related reading:

Other (Little Things) I’m Preparing To Do

Although the 7 to-dos listed up top are the most important tasks on my to-do list, there are a few more things I plan on doing as I prepare to move out of state.

Save All the Receipts Related to My Move

It’s never a bad idea to keep receipts. For example, donating a bunch of items (like I plan on doing) can mean a tax write-off. And, keeping track of finances while moving across the country is easier when I know what I’m spending my money on and why.

Forwarding My Mail 

This is something that I’ve forgotten to do until the last minute, and it can become a hassle. You don’t want to miss out on anything important! So make sure your mail is forwarded to your new address asap. If you don’t know what you’ll address will be, get it forwarded to a PO Box, or to someone you trust. Just don’t forget to do it!

A Checklist For You To Help You Move Out Of State

Now that you know how I am moving out of state and doing it easily (well, easier than I have before), let’s talk about what you need to do before you move out of state.

At Least Two Months Before Moving

This is your time to prepare and get yourself organized! Here’s what you need to start two months before:

  • Have a moving binder: This will keep the documents you’ll need in one place. This may include your new place and the rental agreement (or even mortgage paperwork), utility info, insurance info for your car, place, and even yourself, and more!
  • Explore the neighborhood: If you can, explore your new neighborhood! What are the closest schools? Grocery shops? Where can you go out to eat? How are the neighbors? All things you’ll want to know before your move, so you can plan accordingly.
  • Start getting moving supplies: Plan on moving yourself? Time for some supplies! Think boxes, tape, a dolly, markers, and even these nifty little barcodes.
  • Book appointments: This is especially important if you have kids or anything that is important to have an exam for. I’m talking eye exams, mental wellness exams, and even seeing your gynecologist if needed! It may take a while to feel comfortable in a new place, so get it all out of the way now so you’re good for another year.
  • Have a moving budget: How much do you want to spend, and what’s your max budget? It’s important to have this in mind and keep it front and center so you don’t overspend.

Six Weeks Before

Now it’s time to really start checking off the items on your checklist!

  • Schedule your car shipment: If you’ll need to get your car delivered to your new place, now is the time to get that scheduled. Don’t wait until the last minute!
  • Buy your plane ticket: Plan on flying to your new place? Stats show it’s cheaper to book between 6-8 weeks ahead, so now is the time to do it.
  • Rent/Purchase: If you haven’t found a place to stay yet, you’ll want to do that now. Get your security deposit and first month’s rent in order if you’re renting, or put in an offer on a home and get that mortgage approved.
  • Research moving companies: Unless you plan to DIY your move (which is totally okay if you are!), now is the time to also research moving companies. Don’t be afraid to get multiple quotes!
  • Rent a truck: DIYing your move? That’s cool too. Go ahead and schedule a truck rental.
  • Declutter: Don’t wait to do this! The less you have to move, the better. Get rid of old clothes, furniture, and things you really don’t plan on keeping.
  • Schedule meetings/hangouts: If your family, friends, or colleagues want to see you before you move, they can’t wait until the last minute (you’ll be too laser-focused on the move, and they’ll want your attention). Now is the time to schedule that 1:1 time.

One Month Before

Alright, you’ve got the big to-do’s out of the way. Now let’s focus on some other action items that you may have forgotten.

  • Rent a storage unit: But only if you need one! If you don’t have a place yet, or plan on traveling for a while before settling down, it may be a good idea to put important items in a storage unit.
  • Contact your new utility companies: Once you have your new home picked out, call around to the utility companies in that area and set appointments to get your items like internet, water, and electricity turned on.
  • Get all your records: You’ll want to have all birth certificates, passports, Social Security cards, deeds, titles, medical records, insurance cards, pet documents, and other important documents in one place and secured for your move. And if you don’t have these items, now is the time to get them!
  • Plan your route: If you plan on driving to your new place (or getting there by train or multiple transport modes), you’ll want to plan your route. Don’t forget to book hotels or Airbnbs at each stopping point, and know where gas and food are going to be nearby.
  • Get a professional cleaner: Trust me, it’s worth it, especially if you’re not single or moving with multiple people. If you want to DIY this, now is the time to make a cleaning list and get working on it (but I really suggest a cleaner).
  • Cancel old utilities: Call your current utility companies to tell them your shut-off date. Also, if you’ll owe them any money, ask them to send your final bill to the new place.

Two Weeks Before

You’re so close! Now it’s time to:

  • Update your information with companies: Give your financial institutions, mailbox, phone service provider, insurance, and other important companies your new address.
  • Transfer your renter’s insurance: If you’re renting, you’ll need to call your insurance company and give them your new location and move-in date.
  • Confirm with your moving company: And note when they’ll start that day!
  • Start Packing: If you haven’t yet, it’s time to start filling boxes. You’ll want to be finished with packing a few days before you actually leave.
  • Declutter Your Fridge: Start eating those perishable items and freezer goods, and don’t buy more than you need. It’s much easier to clean out an almost empty fridge/freezer and pantry than it is to clear out a full one (and waste food).

One Week Before

Almost there! Next, you’ll want to:

  • Set up mail forwarding: Contact your local post office and forward your mail to your new address. You can also do this with your rental company or landlord (if renting) and set up a forwarding address online.
  • Have a “Move in Box”: You’ll want to pack essentials for your first night at your new home, like a first aid kit, food (or a gift card/cash for food and tip), a change of clothes, toothbrush and othe hygiene items, and anything else that will make you comfy on your first night. And don’t forget an air mattress, just in case!
  • Get cash: Emergencies and tolls happen to everyone. Have cash on hand. I suggest at least $100-$200 in smaller bills.
  • Clean and pack your car: If you’re driving, clean your car. Also, pack it with necessities like jumper cables, road flares, a first aid kit, a spare tire, and other items that will keep you safe and warm should you get stranded or need help.
  • Finish packing: You’ll want to have the tape on your final boxes two days before the moving truck arrives.

The Day Before

This is mostly worrying about the finishing touches, as most of the big things should be finished! The day before you move out of state, you’ll want to:

  • Pack snacks: This is especially important if you plan on road-tripping. And don’t forget drinks and a cooler!
  • Have documents/sentimental items: Remember those important documents you were supposed to get? Keep them with you. And don’t forget family jewelry, comfort items, or sentimental items that you don’t want to lose.

Moving Out Day

Congratulations! You’re on to your new place! Here’s what you should do the day you move out:

  • Do a final check: Is everything cleaned and moved out? Did you get your security deposit back? Are you leaving the keys? Did you forget anything in the shed or garage? Now is the time to make sure!
  • Take a moment: Moving can be emotionally draining. And even if you’re proud of yourself, it can be bittersweet to move out of where you called home. Take a moment to cry if you need to, or look around the space one more time.

Moving In Day

Now that you’ve made it to your new home, you’ll want to:

  • Bring in your “Move In Box”: See, that can really come in handy.
  • Update your voter registration: You can do this any time in the first few months of moving, and don’t forget if you’re registered in a different state!
  • Update car and insurance documents: You’ll need new tags, registration, updated insurance documents, a new ID, and much more. Now is the time to get that done, or at least make a plan to do it in 30 days.
  • Notify the government and other companies: You’ll want to make sure that you change your address with the IRS, your job (if keeping your job), social security, the VA, and other government entities if needed.

Moving Out Of State: Making It All Work

While moving is always stressful, having priorities and knowing what to do makes it all easier. Now that I have a plan, and know what to do, I can make sure everything is (at least mostly) done before I leave. That takes a huge weight off my shoulders. It also keeps me accountable, because I don’t want to be stressed out!

Have you ever moved out of state? If so, how did you manage? Was it stressful or did you plan ahead to make sure it wasn’t?

What other tips can you give for preparing to move out of state?

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20 Comments

  1. Neissah Rene says:

    Nice post!! One great way to stay on budget is using sites like furnishr.com. I am moving to the US right now and they are helping me design my new home and they will deliver and set everything up for me. Its waaay cheaper than doing everything else on your own!

  2. THanks for the post! So smart with the Amazon prime. Did you have a job already lined up before you moved? OR DID you just rely on savings?

  3. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful blog. Having a realistic moving out of state budget at your disposal will enable you to monitor how your money is being spent during the different stages of your interstate move.

  4. This is such a great post and I’m so glad I stumbled upon it because I am currently planning on moving out of California within the next year! Not sure where I’m going yet but the whole idea and adventure is a blast (since I have never left the state!) Good luck to you and your move! In my opinion, that is why working from home is the best! You can move anywhere you’d like with no hassle of getting a job situated in the new location.

    1. Thanks Taylor! Now that I’ve moved across the country twice in 2 years – never again, lol!

  5. Kristin, high five to another planner type person! I could totally see myself planning out every detail just like this when I move next. I would have never though about using Amazon to restock your house (and have everything delivered as soon as you arrive), smart! Hey, have you written a post about selling on ebay yet? I need some tips from an expert, please and thank you:-)!

    1. Ha, I’m all about the lists and planners! I feel like I’ve moved so much, but still always forget about something!

  6. It’s great that you’re getting organized earlier rather than later. I’ve never moved out of state before myself, but I think it’s a good idea that you’re not taking your furniture if it will be extremely expensive to transport it. Selling some of your furniture and other items is a great way to make some extra money for the move.

    1. I’m hoping to put my furniture sales towards future furniture purchases!

  7. Wow, good for you. Sounds like you really have this under control. It’s amazing how much there is to do with a move, I can only imagine how much more there is with a move across country (something I have never done). I hope everything sells quickly and easily for you!

  8. Sounds like you’ve got a great plan. Moving is super stressful, particularly long distances, but being organized helps. Our move abroad was probably the most stressful period of my life (by far!), and I think that I did kind of fall to pieces more than once (but then I kept going). You have experience moving cross-country, and it sounds like you’re handling everything really well. Best of luck with making all of the arrangements for your move!

    1. Thanks Jennifer! I can’t imagine doing a move like you did πŸ™‚

  9. Nicely planned! We had an expensive bed and a couch I really liked, so when we moved from Seattle to Phoenix, we rented a ReLo cube. 6′ by 7′ by 9′.

    We fit two dressers, a nightstand, the mattress, the couch, clothes (except for a few in a suitcase), some artwork, dinner/flat/glassware (not that we had anything especially nice, we just didn’t want to have to restock) and miscellaneous stuff. It was like 3D Tetris. But I was amazed by how much I was suddenly willing to get rid of when I realized just how little space we had left.

    1. I have thought about getting one of those Pods, but the cost far exceeded the contents. 3d Tetris is so true, ha!

  10. You sound super organized! Moving is really stressful so that is pretty key to staying sane. It must feel pretty freeing to get rid of stuff as well so it’s just you and the open road!

    1. I would rank it as one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done. I’m really, really trying to be organized and am hoping I don’t fall to pieces as the date gets closer πŸ™‚

  11. These are all great tips for those who are planning to move. Selling your things in advanced would be a good thing to do.

    1. Thanks! I’m hoping everything sells πŸ™‚

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