Top 11 Tips for Moving Out of State

So, you decided to pack up all of your belongings and start the process of moving out of state. We hate to say it, but choosing to move across state lines was the easy part. Now comes the challenging yet exciting process of hashing out the details and planning for the big move. We have gathered some of the most important steps for moving out of state and sprinkled in a few tips to make your move that much smoother. We will prep you on the best questions to ask your moving company, when to expect your belongings to arrive, and how to plan for hiccups while moving out of state.

Craft a Master Plan for Moving Out of State

Before you begin your moving research process, create a high-level master plan of how you’ll organize your move. Figure out how much money you can spend max while moving out of state. Will you be able to transport any of your belongings in your own car or rental truck, or will you be leaving everything to the movers? Speaking of the car, will you have to ship that too? Make a list of any friends or family members who could help you with moving out of state. If you’re driving some of your belongings yourself, how much time do you have to reach your new home? The key to this first step is to prepare the big plans first so you don't get bogged down in the nitty-gritty details down the line.

Pare Down Your Stuff Before Moving Out of State

Take inventory of everything that you will bring to your new place, being sure to focus on the things you really need, like your dishes and a bed frame. Moving out of state can get very expensive very quickly, so you’ll want to keep costs under control by only moving these necessities.

When paring down, use a pack, purge, or donate system to sift through your stuff. Once you’ve settled on what to bring with you to your new home, sell your used items on Craigslist, host a garage sale, or donate your lightly-used items to charity and claim a tax deduction. Hey, it might even save you a bit of money along the way.

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Know Your Moving Company Before Moving Out of State

Feeling confident that you chose the right moving company will give you peace of mind when you are moving out of state. Before booking them, be sure to ask your moving company in writing whether they plan to subcontract your move to another company during the trip. If they do, your belongings will be divided between two or more trucks, meaning that portions of your things are more likely to arrive at your new place hours or even days apart. This could be an issue if you are starting a job right away and want to avoid taking multiple days off, so it’s best to find this out before moving out of state.

You will also want to ask about any extra charges or fees that could be added to your move. You definitely don’t want to deal with an unexpected bill when you are moving out of state. When you are getting to know your moving company, be sure to ask for references and if they offer any other moving services that could help you move out of state more easily. Packing and loading services, for instance, could save you a lot of time and energy.

Spot Bad Mover Red Flags

Interstate movers are heavily regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which means that they’ll need to provide a few things to stay in compliance:

  • Motor vehicle insurance, liability insurance, and workers' compensation should anything happen to their workers during your move

  • An up-to-date registration (renewed every 2 years)

  • A U.S. Department of Transportation number, or a unique ID that is assigned to moving companies to track things like their inspections and reviews

That’s a lot of jargon, but the good news is that most moving companies clearly list this information on their website (it proves that they are a reputable business, after all). If in doubt, check their reviews online or call them for more information, and check in with FMCSA to ensure they're an accredited business. Additionally, be aware of moving company terminology – what an estimate really means and how to avoid sneaky markups. These tips will help you spot moving scams from a mile away. We can also recommend some of the best moving companies by city, so be sure to search our Moving Tips blog to find a trusted company near you.

Understand Delivery Spread When Moving Out of State

If you’re new to moving long distance or moving out of state, you’re probably imagining the moving truck rolling up to your new home just days after you packed up your old one. That’s how it works, right? Well, not exactly. It’s standard practice in the industry for moving companies to give you a delivery spread, or an interval, of one to 14 days for all of your belongings to arrive.

Why the spread? Moving companies often use one truck to ship multiple customers’ belongings. If they didn’t, moving out of state would be outrageously expensive for both you and the moving company. While you can gauge the delivery spread by setting your loading date, the ultimate length of the delivery spread is subject to other variables including the move distance, time of year, and how much you need to ship (more items mean a shorter delivery spread).

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Prepare to Ship Your Car When Moving Out of State

Particularly if you’re moving across the country, you’ll need to prepare to ship your car before you move. Deciding on a schedule and your car shipping budget are the two most important steps, so you will want to do those first.

Coast-to-coast auto transportation can take 1 to 2 weeks, so you’ll want to plan a way to get around both before you leave and once you reach your new home, should you arrive before your car does. Consider reaching out to a neighbor to ask whether they’re willing to carpool the week or two before you move out of state.

When creating a budget for shipping your car, look at your overall budget and figure out how much you can spend on your car. Take a look at the different variables that affect the price and timeline of sending your car, and choose what works best with your overall plan for moving out of state.

Budget Everything for Moving Out of State

Hey, moving locally is expensive, never mind moving out of state, so you’ll want to save money wherever you can. Whether you’re using recycled packing materials or scheduling your move on a day with lower moving estimates, sticking to a budget will be a big help as you’re moving out of state. To keep track of both your budget and your expenses, create a master spreadsheet of all of your moving-related costs so you’ll be prepared to make the payments when you need to.

Research Different Travel Options for Moving Out of State

Many long-distance movers assume that packing up the family van and driving across the country is the cheapest way to move the family from Point A to Point B. But between rest stops and overnight hotel stays, expenses can pile up quickly and timelines can fluctuate dramatically. Double check whether shipping the car and booking a train or even booking a flight will save you a bit of extra time on your move. If flying looks like a good option for you, you can save money on airfare by selecting the cheapest time to book travel tickets.

Update Your Accounts when Moving Out of State

Nothing’s worse than not having internet access when you move, and chances are you won’t be able to stop by the new house to make sure the water’s running before physically moving out of state. Make life easy on yourself and transfer your utilities and home services with Updater so you can relax in front of your favorite Netflix series after a long day of unpacking.

We can also help you forward all of your mail before moving out of state. You don’t want to miss out on your next magazine delivery or any mail while you move, so it’s best to change your address about a week before you leave.

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Build an Emergency Bag for Moving Out of State

When you’re moving out of state, you may not have the luxury of packing up the back of the station wagon and escorting your possessions safely to your new home. If this is not an option for you, set aside an emergency bag with some essentials to get you through a few days in the event that your belongings take longer than expected to be delivered.

Make sure you keep important documents including your moving documents, tax and insurance documents, and forms of identification with you when moving out of state. Sentimental and valuable items should also be kept off the moving truck when possible. We would also suggest that you pack your “open first” box in your car (if you’re driving yourself to your new home) so that you know you will have it when you need it.

Exchange Contact Info with Your Moving Company

If you’re moving out of state, you’ll want to double (and then triple) check that you’ve exchanged contact information with your moving company. In the event that something goes wrong en route, like one of you gets a flat tire, you’ll want to make sure that you have their cell phone number handy. This is also a good time to ensure that your moving company is delivering your stuff to the right place. It sounds like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how often a town has two streets with the same name.

Now that you know just what to do when you are moving out of state, you can confidently take on the move and have energy left over to celebrate!


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