More than 15.9 million people moved from February to July 2020, according to the U.S. Postal Service, and a Pew Research Center study found that the reasons varied. Some moved because of job loss. Some were students returning home from a closed campus. Others fled densely populated cities for suburbs or resort areas. And some movers took advantage of remote work to relocate to a less expensive area. Record low interest rates that make homeownership affordable are another motivating factor.
These trends are likely to continue in 2021. If you are planning a move next year, here are five important things to do.
To ease your transition to a new city or state, learn as much as possible about topics affecting your family
- Are good schools nearby? What about childcare?
- If you go into the office, how long is the commute? Is public transportation available?
- How is the housing market?
- Will your employer offer relocation assistance?
- If you’re buying individual health insurance, premiums vary from state to state. What is the cost per month in your new state?
Before the Move
A smooth move is the result of meticulous planning. Here are a few things to considerbeforemoving.
- Research moving companies:Get quotes from at least three companies and look at customer reviews. Movers should inspect your belongings in-person or by video before giving you a quote.
- Create a strategic packing plan: Pack non-essential items first. These are things you won’t need in the weeks before the move, like books and home décor. Pack necessities like kitchen items and toiletries last. Label boxes by room and category, such as “master bedroom/bedding.” Take photos of valuable items, such as a TV or an ornate mirror so you have documentation of their original condition in case they are damaged during the move. Have an “open first” box with things you’ll need the first day like dishes, toiletries and snacks.
- Downsize your belongings:Go through your things and donate old clothes, cookware and anything else that shouldn’t make the trip to your new home. Purge old files and keepsakes like kids’ schoolwork.
- Transferprofessional licenses: If your profession is licensed, find out if your credentials are accepted in your new state and whatsteps might be needed for a new license.
- Budget for cost-of-living differences:Once you’ve determined what housing costs will be, figure out the cost of food, gas and utilities in your new area.
- Set up a change of address: Two weeks before moving, change your address at a post office or online. Additionally, update your address with the companies you do business with.
- Photograph your old home:On moving day, take pictures of every empty room in your old home. This is documentation that it was in good repair when you left.
Prepare Your New Home
- Connect utilities and cable:Have utilities, cable and internet service turned on for the day you arrive. Confirm the start date a day in advance.
- Clean, paint, repair: Time the move so repairs or painting can be completed before you move in. Have a cleaning service thoroughly clean your home.Certain issues, like leaky plumbing, or finding mold, require immediate action. If a window, roof or plumbing leak lets water into your house, mold can form in as little as 48 hours, which can produce allergic reactions and respiratory issues. Mold remediation requires professional support.
- Child and pet-proof: If you have children or pets, install baby gates and outlet covers right away. Be sure windows are closed and no long cords are hanging from blinds. Keep tools like box cutters, and cleaning supplies out of reach.
- Take time off:Give yourself at least a couple of days off from work to unpack, receive deliveries and organize your home.
- Find shut-off valves:Don’t wait until an emergency to locate the water shut-off valve for your home. Find out where the circuit breakers are (typically in a basement or storage closet.)
- Hide a spare key:Figure out how you will get in the house if you’re locked out. Common hiding places are a planter, giving a key to a neighbor or using a garage code.
- Check detectors:Test your smoke detectors. Every home with a gas appliance, attached garage or fireplace should also have a carbon monoxide detector. If you have only one carbon monoxide detector,place it in the hallway outside of the sleeping area.
- Change the locks:Hire a locksmith or reinstall locks on your own.
- Unpack strategically:This is where you benefit from the labeling mentioned previously. If your boxes are labeled, it is easy for movers to put them in the right room. Have movers place large furniture like sofas and beds where they belong. Unpack bathroom essentials first, followed by the bedroom.
- Set up a home security system:Shop around to find the best smart or DIY system for your needs.
Handle the Paperwork
Now that you’re in your new home, you’ll need to take a number of steps related to important paperwork.
- Establish domicile: If you are in a new state and your new home is your main residence, you will need to establish legal domicile for tax purposes. To learn more, visit the state’s website.
- Get a new driver’s license:You’ll also need new plates and vehicle stickers
- Get a pet license
- Make a list of emergency numbers: Include local police, fire department and hospitals
- Get new homeowner’s insurance
- Figure out trash pickup: Find out the day and time of trash pickup, recycling and yard waste
- Research children’s activities:If you move during the school year, registering children for school is a priority. Also look into dates and deadlines for other activities, such as sports teams, camps and arts programs.
Moving to a new city or state is both exciting and overwhelming. Careful planning helps the move go smoothly and saves time and money. Use these tips to plan your move with confidence.