Relocation is a lot of work, especially when moving across state lines. Moving away from familiar neighborhoods, friends, and loved ones is physically and emotionally taxing. On the logistics side, there’s plenty to be done, and it’s easy to forget things when feeling frantic. Stark Movers want to make your upcoming long-distance relocation process as stress-free and efficient as possible.

couple with boxes

Below, we have put together the ultimate checklist for moving to another state. Why a checklist? Because being organized from Day-1 can prevent your brain from feeling overwhelmed and keep you cucumber-cool throughout the process. The following checklist covers everything from packing your belongings to handling taxes.

1. Explore the new city

Take a trip to the new state, and the city at least once before making the move. Get to know its atmosphere, culture, qualities, weather, etc, and assess how you feel about it. Gather brochures, guidebooks, maps, and ask for recommendations for the best place to visit. Your hotel concierge would be a valuable resource to learn about the local scene. So, pick their brains if you can.

Instead of exclusively stopping at the main attractions, spend some time browsing the neighborhoods, parks, cafes, and the local scene of the city.

2. Secure a job

It’s always a great idea to have a job lined up ahead of time. Keep your resume and cover letter updated. Also, research the job opportunities in the city you’re planning to move to. Some cities might have more jobs in a certain industry than others. If you decide to work in a city that’s different from where you reside, make sure the commute isn’t painfully long.

Browse job sites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Monster, and other sites to look for jobs based on your qualification. When searching, don’t forget to change the location settings to your future city.

Also note that, if you secure a job before moving, your future employer may offer to cover some relocation costs. These can include a trip to the city before moving, travel expenses, temporary living arrangement expenses, moving costs, and housing costs.

3. Research the crime rates

This is especially important if you’re moving with a family or plan to have one in the future. Because of the Fair Housing Act, your realtor is forbidden from disclosing an area’s crime rate. So take it upon yourself to do the research.

Use websites like CityProtect, NeighborhoodScout, and AreaVibes to find aggregated crime statistics for your locality. Also, check out Family Watchdog or The National Sex Offender Public Website to assess if/how many sex offenders reside around your new home.

4. Research your neighbors

It’s challenging to change homes once you settle down. So, doing your research up front minimizes the risk of living in an unsafe neighborhood. There are plenty of tools available that will give you a breakdown of your neighbors. For example, Esri’s Zip Lookup Tool lets you view the demographic makeup of neighborhoods based on zip code.

If possible, talk to people who live in your neighborhood. If you know someone who lives in the area, ask their thoughts about the area and if they’d recommend it. If you don’t know any residents, consider using an app like Nextdoor, through which you can directly communicate with your neighbors. Or, you can also join a public Facebook group related to your area.

Try to make your questions specific when asking questions. For example, if you work a busy 12 to 14-hour shift and want to return from work to a quiet home, ask about the neighborhood’s general noise level. If you have a business and are interested in networking, then ask about the local business community.

5. Research school district

If you have school-aged kids, few things are more important than giving them the best education. When evaluating potential schools for your children, here are some areas to focus on:

  1. Academic: test scores, student-to-teacher ratio
  2. Special programs: AP classes, IEP
  3. Dominant learning style: hands-on, lecture driven, or combination
  4. Extracurricular activities: Sports, student government, clubs, theater
  5. Area of focus: STEM, arts
  6. Volunteer opportunities: food banks, book drives, Habitat for Humanity
  7. Parent-teacher relationship: PTA
  8. Other areas: Transportation, school lunch, before-and-after school care

Some websites to gather helpful information to compare schools and school districts are The National Center for Education Statistics, GreatSchools, and RateMyTeachers.

6. Figure out where you want to live

Are you renting or considering buying a house? Either way, you’ll need to decide on a neighborhood. Even if you plan to sign the lease or purchase a home after moving, you should still shortlist some residential neighborhoods based on prices, school, crime rate, property value trends (if buying a home). If you don’t have a car or don’t want driving to be your only option to get to important places, use a tool like WalkScore, to make sure you live in a walkable city.

If you need professional help, consider hiring a real estate agent. With their intimate and expansive knowledge about the area, they’d be able to give you relevant recommendations based on your priorities.

7. Hire a reputable moving company

Hiring the services of a full-scale moving company can single-handedly make your relocation process 90 percent less stressful. Many companies, like Stark Movers, can take care of packing, loading, and transportation of all your belongings.

moving company

Be sure to get quotes from multiple companies and read the reviews for each website like Yelp, Google Reviews, etc. With professional movers by your side, you don’t have to worry about convincing friends and families to give you a hand for moving bulky furniture or worry about properly packing your clothes, books, mugs, plates, paintings, mirrors, and other items.

8. Choose a Moving Date

Having a hard-set moving date gives everyone a clear idea of when everything needs to get done. If you’re working with a limited budget, know that your moving date affects the moving quote you receive. If you want to know the best time to move, check out our article on moving tips and tricks.

Consider booking a moving date that’s a day or two early from when you need to be there. These extra days will give you enough cushion to tackle unforeseen challenges, like a bad storm.

9. Know how long it will take for your items to be delivered

Whether you’re handling the move yourself or having a company doing it for you, you need to know how long it will take for everything to be delivered to your new home. For interstate moves, delivery can take a few days (if moving to a neighboring state) to several weeks. The exact length of time will differ based on your location.

But, when you hire a moving company, you should have a contract that specifies the time frame for deliveries. The movers are contractually obliged to bring you all your stuff before the mentioned deadline.

10. Work on a packing plan

The packing process may seem like one major task, but it’s made up of several mini components. Each requires decluttering, gathering moving supplies, packing room by room, and loading things correctly, so nothing gets damaged during the drive.

We always recommend enlisting professional help, so you don’t have to go through the strenuous process of packing yourself. But if you do decide to D-I-Y, here are some points to remember:

  1. Start by decluttering each room. Make different piles for items you’d like to donate, throw, and keep.
  2. Pack the most unused or non-essential items first.
  3. Pack heavier items (like books and records) in a smaller box and lighter items in a larger box.
  4. Use dish and cardboard separators to keep your breakable utensils protected.
  5. Use color-code labels on all boxes to keep things visually organized. Place the label on the side that’s most visible.
  6. Keep the clothes in drawers. And use large wardrobe boxes to help your hanging clothes in the closet.

11. Buy the necessary moving supplies

You will need to purchase packing tapes, bubble wraps, bins, different size boxes, strapping tape, sticker labels, colored stickers, permanent markers, packing paper, blankets, ropes, felt pads, and other supplies required for moving. Ask your friends and families, or check out Craigslist or recycling centers to find boxes for free.

boxes for moving

If you hire a moving company, they will bring all the supplies with them. So you won’t need to worry about spending money or time finding boxes.

12. Pack an essentials bag for each member

Pack an emergency box and overnight bag for each member in your family, including pets. These should get you through the first few nights in your new home till everything gets unpacked and set up. It should contain essentials like laptop, chargers, medication, toiletries, spare socks, clothing, pet toys, pet food, a few books, and any other thing you’d absolutely need. This way, even if your items take an extra few days to arrive or unpack, you won’t have to stress about anything.

Also, think about your sleeping arrangement for the first few nights you move in. Since your bed won’t be set up, would you be sleeping on mattresses? You must store bedding or sleeping bags and pillows somewhere easily accessible.

13. Make all travel reservations

How will you be traveling to your new city? Plane or car? Will you need to rent a vehicle? Once there, would you need to stay at a hotel for a few days/weeks? If yes, then you should start making the necessary reservations in advance.

Since moving companies will need several days or weeks for transportation, you may need to find temporary accommodation.

14. Transfer your child’s education records

When transferring to a new school, your children will likely need an official transcript, report cards, standardized test results, and immunization records. Notify your child’s current school or the move and have them transfer all the necessary materials.

Other paperwork the new school may require includes letters of recommendation, a list of academic awards, extracurricular activities, and work samples.

15. Hire reputable auto-movers

Unless you plan to drive yourself to your new home in your vehicle(s) or sell them before moving, you will need to hire auto-movers to transport all your cars.

The cost for this will depend on various factors, such as distance of the move, make/model of the car, operating condition, weight and size, and insurance provided by the company. Also, note that the auto-transport may ship your car in an open-air trailer or an enclosed truck. The latter costs more than the former, but if you’re concerned about weather conditions and road debris damaging your car, then shipping it via enclosed truck is the way to go.

16. Vacate your storage unit

If you’re temporarily relocating to a new state for a job assignment or education, you don’t have to worry about emptying your storage unit. But if you’re moving for good, you must notify your storage company about the move to cancel your contract.

They might ask you to clean the unit before vacating, so informing them in advance will give you ample time to do the cleaning.

17. Be cognizant of your new home’s floor plan

Knowing the shape, size, and placement of each room will give you an accurate idea of what furniture will fit where. If you’re buying new furniture or taking your current one, it’s always good to know that everything will go.

Also, knowing the floor measurements allows you to buy furniture in advance since they often take weeks to ship. And if you find that your new space is smaller than your current residence, you’ll know that you will need to leave behind some items.

18. Forward your mail

Whether temporary or permanent relocation, you should opt to forward your mail to your new location. Doing this means you won’t lose any critical correspondence from family or government after you move.

Forwarding mail is easy; you just have to fill out an official USPS change of address form in person or online. Once you’re done, all your mail will be redirected to your new address.

19. Transfer your utilities

You need to start the transfer process at least two to four weeks before getting to your new home. This will give you ample time to handle any in-person appointments that come up.

To make the transfer process easier, have your account number for all the utility providers you’re signed up with. These include electricity, gas, water, internet/TV provider, and waste removal service. If your current provider only serves local customers, you will have to cancel your account and find a new one in your new city.

If they provide coverage in your new city, transferring might be as simple as changing addresses online.

20. Change IRS address and update Social Security Administration

To receive a tax refund and to not miss out on important communication from the IRS, change your address with them using Form 8822. Also, if you’re enrolled in Medicare or receive Social Security disability benefits, you will need to update your address at SSA to continue receiving payments.

21. Get a new driver’s license

If you’re planning to drive in your new city, you’ll need to update your license with the new address. Check out the state’s DMV to be aware of documentation requirements for the new license. You’ll likely need your existing license, proof of residency, and social security card.

22. Update your voter registration address

Don’t forget to change your voting address on your voter registration card after your move. You can do this by contacting your state election office.

23. Know the laws if you’re moving with pets

The state you’re relocating to may have a distinct set of licensing and vaccination requirements for pets. If your pet is flying, you’ll need to visit the veterinarian for a signed health certificate. Also, get a copy of updated health records for future use.

Even if your pet is traveling with you in a car, have them checked by the veterinarian to ensure they’re up for all vaccinations. This will make sure your pet isn’t affected by regional health risks.

Also, know that most states will require you to register your pet within a month.

24. Call for an update

If you haven’t heard from the movers in a while and you haven’t received your stuff, give them a call and ask them for an ETA. This way, you know what time to be at your new home to receive all the items.

Some companies, like Stark Movers, will handle the reassembly and unpacking process too. So it’s good to be present to let the movers know what to place in which location.

25. Be aware of tax implications

When you move from one state to another, you likely won’t have to pay any extra tax unless you move to a state with a higher tax rate. Federal tax, in most cases, won’t change.

But, you will have to file a part-year resident tax return for the former state you resided in and the new one.

Also, note that filing taxes in both states doesn’t mean you have to pay taxes on the same income twice. Instead, you will likely pay taxes on the income in the state where you earned and claim a tax credit in your new state for the taxes you paid in the other.

26. Let everyone know you’re moving

Let your family, friends, and neighbors know you’re moving away. Try to do this as early as possible, so if anyone wants to meet up to hang out one last time before the move, there will be enough time to do so.

Also, if you’re renting an apartment, let your landlord know about the move in advance. This way, there will be enough time for repairs and deep cleaning.

27. Focus on making new friends

Part of what makes a new place feel like home is having friends. So start connecting with your neighbors and coworkers. Join the gym, take some classes, volunteer, and go to other community events to meet new people.

We hope this checklist makes your relocation stress-free. Need a professional relocation company? Consider hiring Stark Moving and Storage. Our team has handled thousands of moving projects all over the nation. We will be delighted to assist you with all aspects of your move. Good luck and happy moving!

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