A Checklist Guide for Moving Out of State

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Moving to a new state might feel like you are moving to Exile Island, full of dark and gloomy isolation. Certainly, you can look at moving across state lines and into new territory as a grim or even grave proposition, but it can also provide you with an opportunity for a new beginning filled with adventure, positive new challenges, greater hopes, and newfound independence.

Regardless of your mental state going into the move, which can be either dread or excitement, you must prepare yourself for the actual task at hand. The more organized you are through the process, the easier it will be to acclimate yourself to the idea of leaving your old life behind for new surroundings on the other side. In other words, you will have far less accompanying anxiety.

A checklist is the way to go, so that you miss nothing in the details and get safely to your destination with all of your belongings in tow, as well as your partner, kids and pets, and our guide to moving out of state will get you off on the right foot.

Research the Cost of Living, Cost of Housing, and Career Opportunities

Since you are perusing this blog, you must be pretty far along in your thought process and nothing can stop you now from the big move to a new state. Whether you are looking for a new occupational opportunity in a better economical climate or you have already secured a position, you must have a decent idea of what the cost of living will be at your destination address.

Budgeting is a big part of any move, especially to another state, and you do not want to be stranded in another world and strapped for cash. Even if you have secured a job or you are transferring your current position to a new location, you must consider cost of living factors, including housing costs, to ensure that your salary is enough to keep you comfortable. If not, reconsider your options or ask for a raise before you transfer, bringing into the meeting with your boss all of the pertinent information about how your pay does not align with the area’s economy.

The following lists provide some great job, housing, and cost of living resources to help you in your endeavor as you consider your moving options:

Cost of Living Resources

  • The Economic Policy Institute’s “Family Budget Calculator” calculates the income an individual or family needs to maintain a modest and adequate standard of living. The estimate measures community-specific costs for 10 different family types, from one or two adults with zero to four children, in all counties and metro areas in the United States.
  • NerdWallet’s cost of living calculator compares the cost of living in two different cities to help you negotiate your current cities economy with your destination city’s costs.
  • Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index provides a relative indicator of consumer goods prices, including groceries, restaurants, transportation, and utilities, along with an estimation of apartment rental prices, and local purchasing power in buying goods and services in a given city for the average wage of the city.

Job Resources

  • WalletHub’s “2018’s Best Places to Find a Job” helps you with your job-hunt by comparing 180 United States cities across 26 key measures of job market strength, including, employment growth and monthly average starting salary.
  • Indeed’s massive job board is the #1 job site in the world with more than 200 million visitors each month. Free of charge, you can search for jobs, post resumes, and research companies.
  • Monster’s “Moving Without a Job” provides strategies for building a network in your new city, gaining financial stability, and finding a job quickly, if you find yourself having to move with very little notice or no notice at all.

Housing Resources

  • The Balance’s “Relocating and Buying in a New Area” provides great information on beginning your search for a new home, finding a real estate agent, gathering data on inspections and disclosures, and selecting a neighborhood in your new area.
  • Zillow’s “Three Reasons to Rent Before You Buy in a New City” offers three reasons why it is best to rent an apartment or home before buying one for the first year in a new city.
  • Trulia is an all-in-one real estate site that provides information about homes for sale and apartments for rent, as well as neighborhood insights, markets, and trends. You can also find a real estate agent, view prices of recently sold homes, see home values, and research area schools.

Finding the Perfect Interstate Moving Company

The next task, once you find a solid job and home, is to find a great moving company. Finding a professionally licensed and insured mover will relieve immense anxiety from your life. Moving to another state is unlike a simple move across town, and because of the huge difference between interstate and intrastate moves, the regulations differ as well.

Interstate movers are beholden to federal guidelines provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This administration requires interstate movers to obtain and use a U.S. DOT number in any advertising, and provide arbitration if customer complaints cannot be resolved in an amicable fashion after the move. If a dispute does occur without a favorable outcome, consumers can contact the FMCSA, which will launch an investigation on the matter.

Federal regulation also requires interstate movers to give their customers a copy of the “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” brochure, which outlines the way in which to find legitimate movers, and explains moving estimates, the required paperwork involved, and insurance considerations. Additionally, it maps out the pickup and delivery standards and the customer’s responsibilities as well. To help you get started, a copy of the brochure can be found here.

When hiring a top-notch long-distance moving company to transport your possessions to your new residence, find a reliable mover with a reputation to match. Recommendations from friends and families go a long way, but reading reviews on Yelp and Google can be just as helpful. While researching companies, find five movers that you feel meet your early requirements and then interview them all for added security.

While interviewing potential moving companies ask the following questions:

  • Does the moving company use staff employees or use freelance workers for their long-distance moves, or subcontract any portion of the work? Try to find fully employed moving crews because moving companies hold their own employees to a higher standard and are held accountable for their actions. Furthermore, employed staff usually receives background checks and drug tests.
  • What training and experience do the movers have with interstate moves? This should not be your moving crew’s first rodeo. The crew should be highly trained and have some experience.
  • What does the moving company do to protect fragile items properly? Your moving company should not stumble over this simple question because of its basic nature.
  • What options are available for basic insurance and additional insurance? Your goods should be covered in case of accidental damage or theft and more than one option should be made available to you to boost coverage if you feel the need to do so.

After interviewing your potential candidates, narrow your choices further to three companies. From there, you will want to get in-person estimates. A reputable moving company understands the importance of an in-person estimate for such a huge move. Once you have received three bids in writing, you are set to make your decision on the best moving company option coupled with what is best for your budget.

Finally, for most interstate moves, you will have an estimated window of time your chosen moving company picks up your possessions and delivers them, which is termed a “delivery spread.” Interstate moving companies use large trailers, and they pack more than one customer’s set of belongings in it in order to cut costs. While the moving company passes those savings on to you, there is a catch. Typically, there is no guarantee on the exact time and day that the mover pick ups and delivers your belongings. Instead, you receive a “delivery spread”, which is a period of time when the mover is estimated to arrive, and that window can be long as several days.

The moving company attempts to reduce the number of days in the window as they get closer to your spread dates, but they cannot account for the numerous things that could occur as they move from customer to customer, loading and unloading trucks. Once you are within the delivery spread window, the mover will narrow the time of the pick up and delivery, as they get closer to your destination. Therefore, be prepared to take some time off from work and wait for the arrival of the mover at both your old and new residence. Moreover, get the contact information of the supervisor on the moving crew, so that you can call to get an update as often as you find it necessary.

Interstate Moving with Children and Pets

It is time get moving. Everything is in place to get your possessions into your new residence in your cross-country hop, but what about your children? If you have one or more, the task of getting them to another state can be an unpleasant experience for you and the kids if you do not prepare properly.

There are two options for getting your family to your new city: one by ground and one by air. If traveling by car, plan for numerous stops to stretch your children’s legs and get them some fresh air. Find parks along the route, or even better, interesting attractions to make it memorable trip that helps to reduce their overall anxiety and spend some energy.

Play gentle and relaxing music along the way to soothe your children into a comfortable state of being, and ideally, send them to sleep for a few hours between stops for entertainment and food. Bring books, DVD players, paper, pencils, writing tablets, and games as well, to keep them busy when they are awake. Additionally, do not leave home on any long road trip without a survival kit, a car jack, a spare tire, and the knowledge to change it.

This care survival kit, especially suited for people with small children, should include the following in order to be ready for any situation that might occur on the road:

  • Toilet paper
  • Baby wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bar of soap
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Comb and brush
  • Towel
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic bags for carsickness incidents
  • Protein bars and granola bars
  • Trail mix
  • Small cans of food, such as fruit or ravioli with ring-pull tops
  • Hard candies
  • Bottled water
  • Flavored packets for water
  • Plastic forks, spoons (or sporks) and knives
  • Ibuprofen (liquid if required)
  • Earplugs
  • Emergency blankets
  • Flashlight
  • Rain ponchos
  • Knife
  • Battery-powered emergency radio
  • Ground cover for changing a tire
  • Work gloves
  • Extra batteries
  • Umbrella
  • Waterproof matches
  • Whistle
  • Water purification tablets
  • Small portable water filter
  • Mirror for signaling
  • Trash bag
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Thermometer
  • Sunblock
  • Additional medical supplies according to the needs of your family, which includes prescription medication
  • Ziploc-style bags  
  • Cash

Another solution to move your family to another state if an open-road adventure does not suit you and your family is to have your vehicle transported by any one of numerous reputable companies that can do it for you, and then, get on a plane. Of course, this kills budgets if you are on a tight one, but the experience might prove better for everyone involved.

If you have pets, they might be traumatized by the transition to a new home more than any human in your family. They need the same love and care as the children. If taking the open road, pack a travel bag that includes your pet’s favorite blanket, foods and treats, and toys, along with a water bowl and plenty of water. Stop frequently for dogs because they will get restless and need to unwind and take care of personal business. Expect that there will be an accident, so bring cleaning towels and cleaner.

You might need a transportation carrier for you dog, and you will definitely need one for you cat. Many cats will leap from your car and disappear from your life if you do not contain them. Ensure that the container is secure and will not topple over in any situation. Do not leave animals in closed and hot vehicles because all pets overheat and die quickly.

Certainly, the anxiety of an interstate move can be huge, but the rewards are great if you plan well, stay organized, and execute your move with purpose. Good luck on your new adventure.

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