With the economic and health impact of COVID-19, many companies are allowing remote employees to work-from-home indefinitely. This leaves both homeowners and renters with many options. For example, you may not have to live within easy commuting distance of your job if you no longer need to commute! Maybe remote working allows you to move somewhere that’s closer to family or friends. Or even across town to a less expensive situation.
Even in the best of times, relocating to a new state — or even a new city in the same state — can be an overwhelming undertaking. Before packing up all your things and hunting around for a cost-effective way to relocate, consider the 10 tips in our “moving to another state” checklist.
1 – Research, research, research
First things first, you owe it to yourself to thoroughly research your intended destination before you go. Open your laptop and search for the cost of living, public safety stats, transportation options, retail offerings, traffic congestion, as well as the type of culture the area is known for. And if you have children, or plan to down the road, research the schools and the quality of local education. This is especially important if you plan to send your child to public schools as the neighborhood you live in typically determines the school district available to you.
2 – Follow-up with a visit
But there’s only so much you can learn online. The best way to get a feel for the place is by walking the streets and picturing yourself there. When you’ve narrowed down your choices, make a plan to visit the new area. You’re going to live in and spend a reasonable amount of time in this new location, so you’ll want to get a good feel for the neighborhood. Our tip here is to stay in an Airbnb rather than a hotel, as it’ll give you more of a feeling of what it’s like to live as a local.
3 – Stick to a budget
Moving can be expensive. It’s a good idea to save at least a month’s worth of cushion (six months if you’re moving and looking for work at the same time). Meanwhile, create a realistic moving budget ahead of time and stick to it. A spreadsheet will give you a bird’s eye view of your finances and an easy way to reprioritize expenditures like groceries, utilities, internet, car payments, gasoline, gym membership and other necessities. The same spreadsheet can be used as a checklist of things to get in order when you move to your new place.
4 – Purge before packing
There’s no better excuse to go through your stuff and delete anything you no longer use or need. If you’re moving somewhere warmer, dump the winter coats. If you haven’t kayaked since college, sell it on eBay. Once the excess is out of sight, get to packing. Marking empty boxes by room (kitchen, bedroom, office) is a great way to eliminate the stress of unpacking later. And if you’ve already purged, you won’t have to worry about getting rid of stuff in your new place! Then, when you’ve settled in, we’ve got furnishing tips for that too!
5 – Splurge on Pro Movers…
When relocating long distance, consider professional movers. For starters, movers will pack for you. Not only is this convenient, it’s necessary. They don’t want to be responsible for damaged items packed incorrectly. But beyond that, a reputable moving company just makes the entire process simpler. Get quotes from at least three different movers to be sure you’re getting the best deal. And ask for the following bits of information (if they won’t share, that’s a red flag to look elsewhere):
- A U.S. Department of Transportation identification number
- Proof worker’s comp, liability insurance, and motor vehicle insurance
- Up-to-date vehicle registration
6 – …unless you’ve got it covered
If you’re a renter or a first-time homebuyer without a house-full of belongings, you’ll save money by going the DIY route. Renting a “moving pod” allows you to pack at your own pace and avoid the costs of a full-service moving company. Or rent a moving truck and drive your belongings to the new city or state yourself. Lastly, if you are relocating long distance, consider renting part of a large freight moving trailer. You load and unload the truck yourself, and it’s driven to your new location for you, so this solution is also a stress reducer.
7 – Be forward-thinking
Before moving, you’ll want to cancel your utilities, including water, gas, electric, cable, and internet. If you already know your new address, you may be able to transfer services so they will be active and ready for you when you get there (especially important for remote workers who won’t want to miss too much time away. You’ll also want to forward your mail to your new address. It’s a simple process you can do right at USPS.com.
8 – New address? New you.
Most states require new residents to get a local new driver’s license soon after you settle in — often within 30 days. Even if you’re moving to a new city within the same state, you should update your driver’s license with your new address. You’ll need to present your current driver’s license, proof of your new residency (like a utility bill), your social security number, and possibly another government-issued form of ID, like a passport. Requirements for transferring a license also vary state to state, so be sure to look up the info on your new state’s DMV.
9 – Legalize it — your domicile, that is!
If you’re a remote worker looking to keep as much of your paycheck as possible, move to Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington or Wyoming. These states have no income tax. Similarly, Tennessee and New Hampshire tax investment income but not earned income. You may need to fill out an official “Declaration of Domicile” document declaring that your new residence is now your permanent home, or that you intend to live there at least 183 days of the year. Again, each state is different, so be sure to read up.
10 – Paws for the pets
You may need to register your pet within your new city or county to ensure they are vaccinated against rabies. Remember, your new home is not familiar to your pet. They might accidentally flee if given a chance, so it’s a good idea to change Fido’s collar tags to your new contact info and update the details of Fluffy’s microchip, if applicable. Like a driver’s license, each state has a specific window in which to register your pet, so Google it.
Putting down new roots is easier with a little help
Leaving one home for another can be stressful, especially when you’re unfamiliar with what’s in store. It’s ok to not feel totally at home right away. To take some pressure off, try a short-term rental for a few months before making a more permanent move. That’ll give you time to explore your new surroundings and get to know neighborhoods that are more suited to your lifestyle.
You’ll also have time to connect with a local expert — a real estate agent who’ll be familiar with the best areas and what’s in the market in your price range. If you’re a first-time homebuyer moving out of state, it’s especially important to work with an accomplished agent and an experienced lender. We have mortgage professionals across the country who can help with financing when you’re ready.
Hopefully, these tips for relocating make your move a much more seamless and exciting process. May we be the first to welcome you to your new home!