The Complete Guide to Moving Out of State

How To Move Out of State Alone

Planning a move out of state can be daunting, whether you're moving for work, family, or other reasons. Our Complete Guide to Moving Out of State answers all your biggest questions about moving out of state, from creating to-do lists, planning, and budgeting for your move to downsizing, packing your belongings, and settling into your new home.

Moving out of state alone with no partners, children, or other family to consider can simplify the moving process, but it comes at a price: moving solo means you’re in charge of all the details, from planning logistics to packing up your life and unpacking at your new home. 

In this section of the Complete Guide to Moving Out of State, we’ll provide you with a simple 10-step guide to how to move out of state alone, including:

  1. Decide whether you’ll hire movers
  2. Get your packing supplies
  3. Start packing!
  4. Transfer or cancel services
  5. Make travel arrangements
  6. Tackle repairs and clean up
  7. Pack for moving day
  8. Unpack when you arrive
  9. Update your address
  10. Explore your new city

Let’s get started.

1. Decide whether you’ll hire movers

Whether you’re moving out of state alone or with a small army of helpers, you have three options when it comes to moving services:

  1. Doing it all yourself—renting a truck, driving, and loading and unloading your belongings
  2. Getting some help, such as hiring labor to help you load and unload or hiring a consolidated shipper to transport furniture or packed boxes
  3. Hiring professional movers to handle the whole process

Let’s take a closer look at these options so you can figure out the best way to move out of state alone.

Doing it all yourself

Among the cheaper options, a DIY out of state move requires you do all of the heavy lifting yourself—both figuratively and literally—including:

  • Coordinating truck and equipment rental
  • Picking up packing and moving supplies
  • Packing
  • Driving
  • Loading and unloading your belongings

This option works best if you don’t have a lot of stuff, are physically fit, and are comfortable driving larger vehicles long distances.

Getting some help

This is a popular choice for anyone moving out of state alone, allowing you to pay for the help you need without the costs of a full-service move. For example, if you’re okay with packing up your stuff and driving the truck but need some help with the heavy lifting, you can hire labor on both ends to help you load and unload. 

If you have some large items to move, such as furniture or large boxes, you might want to consider using a consolidated shipping service such as TSI to transport some of your belongings. When you work with a consolidated shipper, your belongings will share space on a truck with other cargo heading in the same direction. This helps reduce your costs and also saves you the stress of transporting these belongings yourself. 

Most consolidated shippers, including TSI, include furniture preparation services. However, you will have to pack your own boxes unless you pay extra for that service as well. 

This option works best for people who are transporting a few items of furniture or packed boxes. Consolidated shipping is typically ideal for moving smaller homes or apartments (around 1-2 bedrooms) or if you’re moving on a budget and if you have flexible timelines. If you are only shipping boxes via freight, it takes approximately 5 days to deliver after pickup. If you’re using White Glove shipping to transport furniture, delivery can take 15-20 business days after pickup. 

Hire Professional Movers

Depending on the service level you choose, the professional movers can handle everything, including packing your belongings, loading them onto the truck, driving to your new home, and unloading upon arrival. Most professional movers will prepare your furniture on moving day, but will not pack boxes unless you pay extra for the service. 

This option is ideal if you’re moving for work and you can expense the costs. If you are covering your own moving costs, professional movers may also make sense for those who are physically unable to move out of state alone, or for anyone willing to pay for convenience.

2. Gather your packing supplies 

Once you’ve nailed down your moving date and you’ve decided on the level of help you need to make the move, you can start packing. No matter how much or how little you’re packing, you’ll need these supplies:

  • Boxes (various sizes and strengths)
  • Packing paper, newspapers, and/or bubble wrap
  • Tape (and a tape gun to make it easier)
  • Labels and markers
  • Rope, zip ties, and/or bungee cords
  • Moving blankets
  • Shrink wrap

3. Start packing!

When you’re moving alone, it’s important to start packing as soon as you can. As with any move, start with non-essentials first. Don’t be afraid to let items go if they are no longer serving you or sparking joy—the less you have to move, the cheaper your move will be. 

For the items you do decide to bring to your new home, these packing tips can help you get everything boxed up on your own:

  • Pack heavy items into smaller boxes so they’re easier to carry. Larger boxes, on the other hand, are ideal for light or bulky items like clothes or bedding. 
  • Label boxes clearly so it’s easier to unpack what you need. With only one person on the job, unpacking can take much longer and knowing where to find certain items can help streamline the process. 
  • Use equipment such as furniture sliders, lifting straps, dollies, or hand trucks to move heavy items. Don’t try to move these things yourself—lifting something too heavy could lead to injuries that complicate your entire move, and sliding them along the floor without proper furniture sliders could cause damage to your old or new home. 

Check out our Room-by-Room Guide to Packing your Home for helpful tips and advice.

4. Transfer or cancel services

Make a list of all the memberships and services you have. Find out which ones are transferable to your new home, and which ones need to be cancelled. Your list might include: 

  • Gym memberships
  • Community and country clubs
  • Children’s extracurriculars
  • Cable, satellite, home phone, and internet
  • Water
  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Security system

And, of course, don’t forget to forward your mail. (We’ll remind you later, don’t worry.)

5. Make your travel arrangements

Now that you know how your belongings will get to your new home and you’ve tackled some of the early planning and logistics, you can make plans for how you’ll get yourself there, too. 

If you’re driving to your new home, take some time to figure out which route makes the most sense. If you’re driving a rented moving truck, you may wish to avoid congested areas or busy highways. You should also confirm that you can park your truck wherever you plan to stay along the way. 

If you’re not driving to your new home but you have a vehicle, you’ll need to choose a reliable auto transporter to make sure it’ll be there when you arrive.

If you need to buy travel tickets, rent a car, or book a hotel, do it as early as possible to make sure all your moving dates are aligned. 

Check out our Moving Out of State Checklist for more tips.

6. Tackle repairs and clean up

When you’re moving to a new state alone, the last thing you need to do is stay behind to clean up for the new residents. We recommend hiring a professional cleaning team to do the work. You might also need to hire a handyman to do any necessary repairs. 

7. Pack for moving day

There are a few things you’ll want to keep handy for your journey. We recommend packing two kits: a moving day kit, and a personal items kit. 

Moving day kit

Your moving day kit should include anything you plan to use on moving day. It might include things like:

  • Moving day paperwork
  • Packing tape
  • Markers and pensScissors and/or boxcutter
  • Small tool kit
  • Garbage bags
  • First aid kit
  • Snacks and beverages

Personal kit

The last thing you want to do after moving out of state alone is rush to unpack—what you’ll really need is a bite to eat and a good night’s sleep! Prepare a personal kit so you have easy access to the things you’ll need in the first 24 hours, including: 

  • Takeout menus
  • Wallet
  • Phone
  • Tablet and/or laptop
  • Chargers
  • Towel
  • Soap, shampoo and conditioner
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss
  • Toilet paper, wipes
  • Shower curtain
  • Pajamas and a change of clothes
  • Sleep accessories (mouthguard, oxygen, mask, ear plugs)
  • Deodorant/antiperspirant, personal hygiene items
  • Prescription medications
  • Sheets, pillows and blankets
  • Bottled water

8. Unpack when you arrive

Start with the most important rooms first, like the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Next, you can move on to the living room, office or spare room(s). Anything that can be unloaded later can go to a storage area so it’s easier to move around your new home.

9. Update your address

Once you’re in your new state, you’ll need to update your address with the government and DMV (often within 30 days of your move), as well as credit cards, bank, insurance, voter registration, and post office.

10. Explore your new city

After all that hard work, you deserve to have some fun—and to make some new friends! Once you’ve settled in a bit, it’s time to get out there and explore your new city. Check out local restaurants, shops and theaters. Start looking for your favorite grocery stores, gas stations and banks. Scope out fitness and rec centers, bars and coffee shops. And don’t forget to meet your new neighbors!

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