A smooth relocation is possible with a clear plan.

Relocation Guide

before you move

Research your new city

Before moving out of state, it’s important to figure out where you’re moving to. Ideally, you’ll take a trip to your new state and spend some time exploring different cities. Walk around downtown and pop into different eateries, or take a bike ride through neighborhoods to see how they are.

Explore our local guides for the Bay Area, California and Treasure Valley, Idaho for the best local restaurants, shopping, and family-friendly attractions.

Here are a few tips to help with your research:

• If you have children, check out local schools on websites like GreatSchools.org for ratings and comparison on all the schools so you can figure out the best areas before buying a new home.

• To look into commute times, open Google Maps during rush hour to see which routes are the most red, and get estimated travel times for car and transit.

• If you can’t visit in person, use Google Street View to explore neighborhoods and downtowns.

• Be safe! Use NeighborhoodScout to research crime rates to find a safe neighborhood

Research your new city

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Make sure you understand the difference in cost of living, salary, housing, transportation, food, etc. in your new town or city. You can use CNN Money’s cost of living calculator to get a sense of how different your costs will be.

Ask your Realtor about state taxes too, such as property, sales, and income tax. If you run your own business, you’ll want to research business and payroll taxes, as well as business license expenses. 

Understand cost of living differences

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Hiring the right company is one of the most important steps for your out-of-state move. Doing a little research and planning ahead will make relocating a whole lot easier.

Here are a few options for out-of-state moves:

• Hire professional movers to load and drive a moving truck

• Rent your own moving truck and utilize friends & family to help you load it up, or hire local movers for loading and unloading.

• Use a portable container for packing, moving and storage — an affordable option and the most flexible, especially if you’re packing and moving in stages. You also have the option of hiring local movers to help with the packing and/or loading.

Here’s a list of a few moving companies that we recommend:

1. U-Haul
2. Proud American Van Lines
4. U-Pack 


• Get multiple quotes: moving company pricing can vary, so be sure to compare prices.

• Research your mover: check their licenses and insurance

• Read the paperwork: don’t assume all moving companies offer the same services. Make sure you read through everything and understand what the mover is (and is not) responsible for.

Things to ask a moving company:

• Do they plan to subcontract your move to another company during the trip and divide your belongings between two or more trucks?

• Are there 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’re moving out of state. 

• Do they have any references for packing and loading services?

• What is their Federal Motor Carrier Number, so you know your mover is legitimate

• What is their ‘delivery spread’, or timeframe for all of your belongings to arrive? - - This is typically 1-14 days so you will want to plan accordingly

Research moving & storage companies

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Moving costs can quickly spiral out of control, especially when you’re going with professional movers. Create a master spreadsheet of all of your moving-related costs so you’ll be prepared to make the payments when you need to.

How much does it cost to move? 

Prices vary for different home sizes, average weight of the household goods, distance, and the number of hours it takes to load and unload.

For example, the average price for a long-distance move ranges from about $1,050 for a one bedroom apartment to $6,000 for a four-bedroom home.

Get a quick estimate of the cost of your move with this Moving Calculator. 

In addition, here are a few moving expenses you may not have thought about:

• Gas expenses can be charged by your moving truck rental company if you don’t return the truck with a full tank.

• Mileage overage surcharges

• Packing supplies like boxes, bubble wrap, packing paper & tape, etc., can add up quickly.

• The cost to ship your car if you can’t drive it (check out Montaway Auto Transport)

• Travel, hotel rooms and meals out during your out-of-state move

• Housing deposits

• Miscellaneous items for your new home like window coverings, shower curtains & rods, groceries, etc. 

Create a budget

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The more you move, the more you pay - - so don’t move things that you don’t need! When you’re sorting through your things, make 3 piles: Pack - Sell - Donate

Packing always takes longer than you expect, and when moving out of state - things can get a little complicated - so it’s best to start packing early. For a complete timeline and moving tips, download a free copy of our 5 Week Moving Checklist to stay on track with your move. 

If packing up your home yourself, you’re going to want to ensure that everything is secure and protected for the ride. One of the first items to remember in a moving house plan of action is to keep your focus narrow. Don’t think about everything that you need to do, instead, focus on one room at a time.


• Label & color code moving boxes
Label boxes with the room AND what is inside- be specific. For example, if the box says “Kitchen” – add “mixing bowls, glassware, pots and pans, etc”. In addition, color code your boxes by room with different colored tape; then in your new home, use the colored tape to mark each room that corresponds with the color on the boxes, to simplify where things go. This will pay off when it comes to unpacking- trust us.

• Keep a clear bin with essentials
Think about what you’re going to need the first couple of nights so you don’t have to dig into the moving boxes right away. This should include a change of clothes, a toothbrush, must-have stuffed animals or toys for the kids, medications, toiletries, dish soap, clothing, important documents, personal necessities, cleaning products, trash bags, tool kit, food, etc.

• Pay attention to the weight of your boxes.
One mistake a lot of people make when moving is trying to cram all of their belongings into a few cardboard boxes. Use as many boxes as you need to create easy-to-lift loads. Keep your largest boxes to no more than 50 pounds. If you make them too heavy, they become difficult to move and can possibly break. But if you don’t fill them completely, the box can get smashed and fragile items can break.

• Take photos & use zip lock bags for cables/screws
When packing up electronics or furniture, take a photo of the configuration so you remember which cord/screw goes where. Label cables, drawers, doors, and anything you need to remove so you know where it goes when you put it back together. Put screws and bolts into plastic zip lock bags and tape these to the back of the item.

• Packing breakables
Pack plates vertically, like records so they'll be less likely to break. Use socks and kitchen linens to wrap around glassware and other delicate items, and don't leave any empty space in the box. Be sure to mark your boxes with FRAGILE tape for movers!

• Keep your valuables with you
Set aside any valuables that you don’t want to pack, and keep them with you on your person. Belongings to take with you include legal and financial documents, moving paperwork, medications, family heirlooms, and other precious items you hold close.

• Plan to move specialty items
The movers you hire may not be qualified to move some items such as guns, pianos, fine art, pool tables, safes, etc., so you may need to hire a specialty mover. Dispose of hazardous and flammable items that you won't be bringing with you such as paint, aerosols, fertilizers, propane tanks, fire extinguishers, gasoline, fireworks and pool chemicals.

• Use up food in your fridge and pantry
It's smart to use up the contents of your fridge and pantry before moving. You can also donate non-perishables by bringing them to your local food bank.

Pair down your stuff & start packing

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Housing is essential to secure before moving out of state— whether you’re planning to rent long term, short term, or purchase a new home, locking in a place to live should be top priority. Utilize a local Realtor for insights and tours on different neighborhoods and areas!

While it might not always be possible, having a job lined up in your new state will ease your mind. You can use job sites to find openings in your new state, and don’t forget to leverage your own network. If you don’t have a job lined up yet, that’s okay. Just be sure you’ve saved up at least 6 months’ worth of living expenses to cover you in the meantime.

Secure housing & employment

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Not only do you need to cancel the utilities at your old home to be turned off when you move out, but nothing’s worse when moving to another state than showing up and not having your utilities up and running in your new home. Take the time before you move to research and set up utilities in you new home like water and sewer, power, garbage pickup, and internet access so you can relax in front of your favorite Netflix series after a long day of unpacking.

Power up utilities & home services

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For a full list of services and places to update, check out our 5 Week Moving Checklist so you don’t miss out on any final bills or notifications after your move.

Here are a few places to check-off:

• Request mail forwarding to deliver to your new address a few days before you move with USPS mail forwarding.

• Change your driver's license, vehicle registration & insurance

• Update your banking and financial accounts

• Update or transfer medical records

• Update all of your subscriptions, memberships & automated payments

• Employer- HR/payroll

• Update any lenders and insurers

• Notify friends & family

• Update any pet records

Update your address & accounts

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Those enrolled in Original Medicare Parts A and B aren’t required to make changes to their coverage when moving out of state. Since there aren’t any provider networks, Medicare recipients are free to use participating doctors and hospitals across the country regardless of their location.

Typically, you current healthcare won’t work if you’re moving out of state. If your job provides health insurance, it’s important to read through your new policy to find out what’s covered and what doctors and pharmacies you can see.

However if you’re self-employed, you’ll need to search for options in your new state— You can often find a health insurance agent who can assist you.

Take time to call your current doctor’s office to get copies of your medical records and prescriptions, and plan to go in person to sign for permission and pick up your records if need be; and be sure to stock up on prescriptions before moving in case there’s any lag time booking an appointment with your new doctor. 

Figure out healthcare

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Whether you’re moving to earthquake country, tornado alley, or lowlands prone to flooding, knowing the risks in your new area will help you choose housing and homeowners insurance options wisely. 

Disaster preparedness is an important, but often overlooked, part of moving to a new state. Have an emergency kit, make a plan, and stay informed by taking a few minutes to sign up for emergency alerts from your local government and other reliable sources such as FEMA or Red Cross. You’ll arrive at your destination in the know, ready to tackle any issues that could leave you vulnerable to natural disasters. 

Get informed & prepared

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After the move is over and you’re settled into your new home, it’s time to meet people and get to know your new city. 

Here are a few tips:

• Find your local neighborhood association and go to a meeting or event

• Join meetup, hiking, or walking groups in your area

• Visit the local park with your children and/or your dog — this is a great way to meet people!

• Visit nearby coffee shops, pubs and restaurants

• Go on long walks or bike rides through your neighborhood — you never know what hidden gems you might find! 

Explore your new neighborhood

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While moving out of state can be stressful, remember to enjoy the process, and your new home! 

Don’t forget to do these things after you move in:

• Do a quick clean of the new house

• Unpack your essentials first and put your bed together

• Put boxes and furniture in corresponding rooms to unpack (thanks to your color coded labels!)

• Change the locks and make copies of keys

• Figure out trash pick up days at your new residence

• Make sure your address is updated everywhere

• Check smoke and co2 detectors

• Set up your new home's security system

• Leave a review for your Realtor and moving company

• Aim to unpack all your stuff within two weeks of moving in

• Relax and start settling in to your new home sweet home

Phew! We’re out of breath. But congrats, you survived!

Settle in & enjoy your new home

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Moving Checklist

free download

Moving to the Treasure Valley, Idaho? Grab our guide to help prepare you for your move to the Gem state!

Boise Relocation Guide

free download


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