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You’ve got a dream job offer, but it’s two states away. Or maybe it’s time to take the “long distance” out of that long-distance relationship. Congratulations! Whatever the reason, you’ve got to move—and it’s not a local move. We’re talking about moving far away—potentially cross-country. So, where do you start?
You need a plan, baby! We’ve got you covered. Here are four steps to help you take control of your move.
1. Research Your New Home
If you know where you’re moving or have spent time researching a couple of options online, go on an initial visit so you can make a more informed decision about your move. Spend a weekend getting the lay of the land, talking to locals about school systems if you have kids, and considering the local job market if you’re not relocating for work already. You may or may not by ready to start looking at houses, but it still wouldn’t hurt to contact a local real estate agent for tips on which neighborhoods you’ll want to focus your time on.
After you get an idea of what it would feel like to live in your new city, find out what it will cost. This is another way a local real estate agent’s expertise will come in handy. Ask them about the average home prices in your favorite area. Get their insight about the costs of everyday expenses like gas and groceries. Once you have enough information to estimate how your monthly expenses will change, you should be closer to determining if moving to the area is a good match for you.
Find expert agents to help you buy your home.
2. Make a Moving Budget . . . and a Plan!
Yay! Starting this step means you’ve landed on a city that makes sense for you and your family. But before you lose yourself in excitement (or mortal fear if that’s more your speed), let’s pump the brakes. What you do next is crucial to ensuring that this move is a blessing and not a financial curse for your family. Ground yourself with a plan and a budget. Here are some things you need to think about:
Will you receive a company relocation package?
Companies often offer a relocation package to cover the cost of relocating a new hire or existing staff member to a new position. We say often because there’s no law that says companies have to provide a relocation deal. It’s considered a perk, and a lot of companies offer relocation packages so they can attract top-notch employees from across the country. But here’s the thousand-dollar question: How much will the company help with? Find out how much your company’s relocation package will cover and how they structure it first. That way you can budget the rest of your move.
Do you know your tax liabilities?
While the Tax Reform Bill of 2018 eliminated the tax deduction for moving, you need to be aware of tax filing requirements in your old state and your new one. Depending on where you move, you may need to file a partial-year income tax return. Talk to a tax expert to make sure you don’t miss anything.Will you sell your home or break your lease?
If you currently own a home, you’ll need to decide if you want to sell the house. If you rent—do you have time left on your lease? How much will it cost to break your lease? Your current housing situation could affect your move budget, so think carefully about all of the costs that come with selling a home or breaking a lease.
Will you rent or buy a new place to live?
Where are you going to live in your new town? Are you planning to buy a house right away or rent? Do you have enough savings to cover a down payment and closing costs or a renter’s deposit?
If you’re getting a mortgage and need help on the 15-year fixed-rate one we recommend, talk to our friends at Churchill Mortgage. But if buying a home right away feels like too much to get into, you may want to rent for the first six months to a year. You don’t want to find out that you’re miserable in your new location only to be stuck with a house you can’t sell. And you’ll definitely want to work with a top-notch real estate agent.
What are your moving costs?
Now it’s time to calculate all your nitty-gritty moving expenses: the cost of transporting your stuff (more about that below), new furniture, pet boarding, and anything else specific to your move. After that, you can finalize your budget and know what it will take to get moving. If you’re still coming up short, there are plenty of ways to boost what you’ve got saved so you don’t end up stretching your budget too far during your move.
3. Know Your Moving Options
Should you hire a moving company or should you pack up a truck and do it yourself? Maybe you need one of those pod things that get dropped off in your driveway and then picked up once you’ve loaded it. Whether you want to go easy on your budget or easy on your back, you’ve got options. Let’s take a look at some ways to move:
This is the most expensive option for your long-distance move. Hiring a company to move a three-bedroom house from San Francisco to New York can cost up to $10,000.1 That’s a lot of money! You really want to do your research before you choose a moving company. With some sketchy companies, it’s not unheard of for a guy to come to your house and give you an estimate of, say, $2,500. Then, on moving day, a bunch of guys show up and tell you it actually costs $5,000. To avoid a situation like this and save yourself other headaches, make sure you ask these questions:
- Is the quote binding? Try to get a “not to exceed” quote so there are no surprises come moving day.
- How much is insurance? Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance typically provides some coverage for your stuff while it’s on the way to your new home or a storage facility. It may cover theft, but it usually doesn’t cover damage caused by rough handling during packing or shipping. Talk to your insurance pro to make sure you have the right coverage for your needs.
- Will your stuff stay on one truck? The more your things get moved around, the more likely they’ll end up getting broken or lost. Try to find out if the company plans to transfer your items (or container—see below) to another truck during transit.
- What’s the ETA? How long will it take for your stuff to get to your new digs? Can you track the progress of the shipment?
Also, give your movers a tip—around 10–20% is a good guideline. It’s hard work, so show your appreciation for a job well-done.
These are the big pods a company drops off at your place, and you load it up with all your stuff. Once it’s loaded, they come and pick up the box, put it on a truck, and then drop it off at your new address. These are full-service companies, and their fees can run about $4,500 for a long-distance move.2 The same as with a moving company, you’ll want to ask them the questions listed above and learn as much as you can about them before you trust them will all your stuff.
The least expensive moving option is to rent a truck and load it yourself (or with a little help from your friends) and drive it to your new house in your new city. But that doesn’t mean it’s cheap: Long-range DIY moves can cost upwards of $2,000!3 Some of the things that determine the costs are:
- How big of a truck you’ll need
- How far you’re moving
- How many days you’ll need the truck (it can take several days to drive across the country)
- How much gas you’ll need
- How much you’ll spend on lodging during your trip
Keep in mind that moving on your own can get complicated if you don’t have anyone to drive your car (or cars) for you. You can tow one of them behind your truck—but some people aren’t comfortable driving a big truck, let alone one with a car hitched to the back. You can pay to ship your car, but be sure to budget for it. It’ll boost your moving costs $700–1,200 or more. 4
4. Don’t Forget the Details
At this point in the process, you’re juggling a lot—home or lease contracts, negotiations with movers, and what feels like a million other details. Not to mention, you still need to transfer your utilities, get your mail forwarded to your new address, and find time to say goodbye to family and friends! If you’re wondering how all the particulars and important dates will ever come together, don’t panic. Start organizing your move with a week-to-week timeline. First, list out all the tasks you need to get done before moving day. Then, assign each task to a week. Pretty simple, right? To help you out, we've put together our own moving checklist that can get you started so you can savor the last moments in your old home stress-free.
Ready to Move to Another State?
There’s no way around it: Moving is a handful. But one surefire way to take control of your move is to put the right people on your team—and our real estate Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) are here to help. Set yourself up to find exactly what you’re looking for by putting a real estate agent in your corner who not only cares about your financial goals (or else Dave Ramsey wouldn’t endorse them), but also really knows the area you’re moving to because they live there.
Find your real estate pro today!