Moving, along with getting married and sending your kids to college, is one of the most stressful activities you’ll probably ever experience. Moving to another state or across the country can be even more difficult. Property taxes, local economies, school districts – the list of concerns is nearly endless.
But there is hope.
“Generally, people who manage to move and do it fairly smoothly have done two things right,” says Ryan Carrigan, co-founder of moveBuddha, an online resource that compares rates for different moving services. “One: They plan their move well in advance. Two: They expect things to go wrong and plan accordingly.”
To make your move a little easier, here are seven essential tips for moving across the country.
Financial factors to consider before the big move.
Before even diving into the actual moving process, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing a place to relocate. Some of the most important include the following factors.
1. Cost-of-living expenses. Groceries, rent, gas and healthcare are just a few of the crucial living expenses you should research ahead of time before picking a city or state. The cost of living can vary dramatically from city to city and state to state.
To determine your potential new hometown’s cost of living, use an online tool such as Numbeo.com, Expatistan.com or PayScale.com. These sites can help you compare and estimate cost-of-living expenses among cities.
Knowing the cost of living in your city will help you figure out a new budget – and whether your salary will be enough to fund the lifestyle you want to live.
2. Professional or occupational licensing. Numerous careers require state licenses or certifications in order to work, and nearly 30 percent of U.S. workers need a license, according to a 2015 report from the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization. If you’re a doctor, nurse, lawyer or teacher, for example, make sure that you can perform your job in your destination state.
3. The economic climate. The last thing you want to do is move to a city or state where incomes are low or unemployment is high. If you happen to lose your job, for example, you’ll wish you chose a city that had a strong economic environment with plenty of job opportunities in your career field.
“Investigate factors like state and local unemployment rates as well as the median income,” Carrigan says. “These are easily accessible through government sources and can help give you an idea of the economic landscape of where you’re going.”
4. Your move-out date. Timing can be your ally in helping you save money on moving.
“The most popular and expensive times to move are at the end of the month, during a holiday and on the weekend,” Carrigan says. “If you can schedule your move-out date outside of these times, you can potentially score a cheaper price.”
Carrigan adds that May to September is the busiest time for the moving industry.
Choose the best moving method.
Next, determine which moving method will save you the most money, time and effort. You can potentially save a lot of money by moving yourself. Doing so, however, requires tremendous effort and more time to pull it off.
When choosing your mode of moving, figure out how important saving money is to you versus getting professional quality.
5. Rent a moving truck. A rental truck is often the cheapest option for moving transportation, Carrigan says. The downside to renting a truck, however, is that you have restrictions and costs to factor in, which often are overlooked. Some examples are:
• You get the moving truck for only a set amount of days.
• There’s usually a mileage limit.
• You have to do the driving yourself.
• You also have to do the heavy lifting yourself.
• You’ll need to pay for gas, meals and lodging along the way.
If you’re set on renting a truck, here are a few tips to save money and stress.
• If possible, rent a moving truck or van that runs on diesel. Diesel trucks tend to get better gas mileage, which means you can save money on fuel.
• Call the day before your move to confirm your vehicle reservation. Also, don’t forget to plan a secondary option in case something goes wrong with your rental.
• Get quotes from U-Haul, Budget and Penske. This will help ensure that you get the best moving truck rental prices.
6. Or rent a moving container. A moving container can be a useful option when moving. Moving container companies, such as PODS, allow you more flexibility when it comes to your schedule. You can pack up all of your belongings into the container at your own speed. Then the company can pick it up and deliver it to your final destination.
To get the most for your money, research container companies and their prices. “Ideally, you should get three or four price quotes before moving ahead on selecting one,” Carrigan says.
Another money-saving tip is to find companies that have locations near your departure and destination because they tend to have the best container rates, Carrigan says. “They might have a local branch,” he says, “but if they don’t have one close by where you’re moving, that can really increase the cost of your move.”
7. Consider hiring professional movers. It might be more expensive, but hiring professional movers often ensures the highest quality move. Professional movers take care of loading all of your belongings – and packing them, too – as well as driving the truck and unloading your belongings at your new home.
Full-service movers bring a lot to the table that you might overlook if you move yourself. They usually secure parking permits for the truck. They’re equipped with the necessary gear such as dollies and furniture pads. And they can disassemble and reassemble furniture, so you don’t have to.
Depending on your budget, this might be an affordable – and perhaps better – option for you.