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 across town is one thing, but there are a lot more things to do before moving out of state. Long distance moves take a lot of organization and preparation—and plenty of checklists. In this part of the Complete Guide to Moving Out of State, we’ll share our advice for what to do before moving out of state to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
Let’s get started.
Things To Do Before Moving Out Of State
There’s a lot to think about before moving out of state—packing, address changes, moving companies, and so much more. That’s why organization is key when planning a long distance move—the more you can do in advance, the easier it will be on moving day.
Here are 8 things to do before moving out of state:
1. Research & hire a moving and/or shipping company
When you’re trying to decide whether to hire professional movers or do it all yourself, the first thing you need to figure out is what’s most important—your time or your money. On one hand, hiring movers usually costs more, but requires less of your time and effort. Alternatively, renting a truck may be cheaper than hiring movers, but that means you have the added stress and physical exertion of loading and unloading your belongings and driving the truck to a new state.
If you’re moving on a quick timeline, have lots of stuff to move long distance, are moving valuables like antiques or heavy items like a piano, or simply don’t want the physical hassle of a DIY move, you may want to consider hiring professional movers or a shipping company like TSI to transport your belongings.
Before choosing a moving company, you’ll want to do some research—look at what services are offered, check reviews, and get quotes from at least three moving and/or shipping companies before you sign a contract. Ask yourself the following questions to determine what type of moving services you need:
- What’s my budget?
- What size truck do I need?
- Will I drive the truck myself or hire someone to do it?
- Do I have any large items that need to be moved (ie: motorcycle, boat, trailer, snowmobile, hot tub)?
- Do I need help packing and unpacking?
- Do I need to buy packing materials (boxes, tape, labels, bubble wrap)
- Do I need moving blankets and dollies?
- Do I need help disassembling and reassembling furniture?
Reputable moving and shipping companies should be able to help you answer and/or address each of those questions. Once you’ve chosen the right company, book your moving date as far in advance as possible, particularly if you’re moving out of state during busier seasons like spring or summer.
2. Make your own travel arrangements
Booking movers is just one part of the equation, especially if you’re not the one driving the truck out of state. If you’re hiring a moving company to transport your belongings, you’ll also need to make your own travel arrangements well in advance, including:
- Flights, trains or other means of transportation
- Hotels or short-term rentals
- Meals and snacks
If you are driving your car, it’s also best to map out your route in advance so you can plan where and when you’ll stop for gas and food along the way.
TSI TIP: If you’re traveling with pets, don’t forget to factor in the hotel or motel pet deposit when setting your budget. It’s typically refundable, assuming there’s no damage to the room.
Moving out of state can get costly, especially if you have a lot of stuff to transport to your new home. There’s no better time to declutter than an out of state move so that you only take what you actually need—and so your moving costs are a bit lower. Before you start packing everything up, assess your belongings and make a list of things to keep, sell, or toss away.
Things to keep
- Keep anything you use on a regular basis, has sentimental value, or serves a legitimate purpose. Here’s an example of things to keep:
- Furniture you know you have space for in your new home
- Antiques and sentimental items
- Clothing you actually wear
- Appliances that are in good working condition
- Items that may be expensive to replace, like air conditioners, standing desks, or patio furniture
Things to toss
There’s something very liberating about decluttering your home and throwing out all the stuff you don’t need. Here’s an example of things to toss away:
- Old baby items
- Unused or broken appliances
- Gifts you never liked but felt guilty giving away
- Old remotes and cables for electronics you don’t even have anymore
- College textbooks you haven’t touched since graduation
- Half empty (or half full, depending on your philosophical outlook) bottles of creams, shampoos and cleansers
TSI TIP: Your garage, basement or storage unit will likely contain a lot of infrequently used items you can easily toss away, so they’re great places to start decluttering.
Things to sell or donate
Give away or sell anything you don’t need but is in good enough condition for someone else to wear or use. Here’s an example of things to sell or donate:
- Video games
- CDs and DVDs
- Clothing, especially brand name or designer
- Toys and children’s items
- Working household appliances
- Artwork and collectibles
If you’re moving quickly or are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, a professional organizer can help you. You can also read our decluttering tips for more advice and helpful ideas.
TSI TIP: Depending on what you have to get rid of, there are many websites to choose from to help rehome your belongings—for books, toys, furniture, collectibles, antiques, and knick knacks, try Ebay, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. If you have a lot of clothes to unload, try Poshmark, thredUP, or Tradesy.
4. Make inventory lists
Once you’ve decided which items you’ll keep, you can make an itemized list of everything you’re moving, especially if you’ve hired professional movers or a shipping company to transport your belongings.
Make separate lists for personal items, furniture, and decor, or you can also separate your lists by room. If you’re shipping items separately, you may need to provide an inventory for items packed into individual boxes. Sometimes things get lost, particularly during an out of state move, so however you choose to organize your lists, you’ll be glad you have them on the other end to confirm everything made the move.
TSI TIP: Make note of the condition of each item on your inventory list, and take photos of valuable pieces. If something gets damaged or lost during the move, you’ll need this information to file an insurance claim.
5. Separate valuables
Set aside one or two boxes to hold your valuable items—things that are sentimental, expensive and/or very important, such as:
- Keepsakes (artwork, crystal, photos)
- Personal paperwork (travel docs, receipts, checklists)
- Laptop, phone, tablet, and chargers
- Prescription medications
- Passport or other ID
You’ll want to keep these items with you if possible on moving day so they don’t get lost or damaged. It’s also a good idea to pack an overnight bag with things you can’t live without for a few days, like a change of clothes, prescriptions, toothbrush, etc., just in case your items get lost or delayed in transit.
Get our advice on what items to keep with you on moving day.
6. Packing essential and non-essential items
Packing is the largest task you’ll have to undertake before moving out of state. A good place to start packing is the garage, attic, basement, or storage room, since these spaces are typically where most of your unused items are tucked away. When packing these non-essential items, you’ll likely find lots of stuff that can be donated, sold or tossed. Whatever is left can be boxed up, labeled, and made ready for moving day.
Over the course of several weeks, you can also slowly box up other non-essential items you can live without, like:
- Off-season clothing and any clothing you don’t expect to need before your move
- Small appliances you don’t use very often
- Knick-knacks, decor, and artwork
- Books and music collections
- Extra linens
You can also begin to disassemble furniture and electronics:
- Take apart desks, tables and bed frames
- Tear down entertainment centers, including gaming consoles, audio and video equipment, and other devices
TSI TIP: Make sure small parts (screws, hooks, wires, etc.) are labeled and/or packed with the right piece of furniture to make reassembly easy on the other end.
In the final few days leading up to moving day, you can pack essential items—these are your personal belongings and things you use on a regular basis:
- Kitchen items
- Pet supplies and kids toys
- Office equipment
- Laptop and other mobile devices
7. Update your address
Change your address online or call the post office to have your mail forwarded around 2-3 weeks ahead of your moving day. Update your address, for important documents and providers, including:
- Driver’s license
- Vehicle registration
- Insurance company
- Voter registration
- Credit card companies
- Government services
- Family and friends
8. Cancel or transfer utilities and memberships
Finally, among the many other things to do before moving out of state, you’ll need to cancel or transfer any services or memberships, like:
- Health club, gym, classes
- Clubs, groups or teams
- Security systems
With so many things to do before moving out of state, early planning and organization are going to be the most important parts of your preparation. Depending on the amount of time you have, your budget, and how much help you’ll need, hiring a moving company may be safer than a DIY long-distance move.
Read 6 Reasons Hiring Movers is Safer than Moving Yourself Long Distance then call us for a free quote.