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The Moving Out of State Checklist

Only around 40 percent of U.S. adults still live in the place they were born, with the average person moving more than 11 times in their lifetime. This translates to a lot of packing, unpacking, and logistics, particularly if any of these moves take you across state lines. It’s vitally important to have your ducks in a row before you schedule your next move. Read on for some tips, tricks, and factors to put on your checklist before moving out of state.


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How expensive is moving?

Not all relocations are created equal. The cost of a specific move will depend on several factors, including:

  • Whether you’re using professional movers or boxing and transporting your items yourself.
  • Whether you plan to rent a moving truck (and, if so, how large a truck you’ll need).
  • Whether you’ll be assessed a fee for breaking your lease.
  • The distance of your move, which can impact truck rental rates and fuel costs, as well as cause you to incur expenses for hotels, flights, and food.
  • Whether you need to rent a storage unit.

The average cost of a long-distance move is nearly $5,000, assuming a 2-3 bedroom house and around 7,500 pounds of belongings. Those with smaller houses, fewer belongings, or who are planning to DIY their move may pay much less, while those with larger houses, professional movers, and a cross-country move may pay more.

Can I get my company to help pay for my moving expenses?

If you’re moving for job-related reasons and have an offer on hand (or are already employed), your employer may cover certain relocation expenses associated with your move. These can include the cost of movers, a rental truck, transportation for you and your family from the old location to the new one, and in some cases, even security deposits or storage fees. Be aware, however, that accepting an employer’s reimbursement of moving costs won’t allow you to deduct these costs on your income tax return, and attempting any “double-dipping” could land you in hot water with the IRS.

How do taxes work if I move states?

Depending on the timing of your move and how you earn income in your old and new states, you may have to file two state tax returns. While this shouldn’t result in any double taxation, it’s often a good idea to see an attorney or CPA just to make sure everything is in order. You’ll also want to investigate your insurance options, both to protect you from any liability and to protect your household goods if they are damaged, destroyed, or lost.

Those who are moving for work-related reasons and don’t have the option of employer reimbursement may be able to deduct certain moving costs on their federal and state income tax returns. The IRS has issued guidelines providing a deduction for “reasonable moving expenses,” excluding meals, “if you moved due to a change in your job or business location[.]” Deducting these expenses will require the taxpayer to prove that they meet the “distance test” (that is, they moved at least 50 miles further than the distance between their home and their old employer) and the “time test” (the employee is employed at the new location at least 39 weeks out of the year). Members of the armed forces aren’t subject to these requirements.

What should I do about my lease if I’m moving? 

Whether you’re leaving mid-lease or want to provide notice that you won’t be renewing your lease when the time comes, the Tenants Notice of Intent to Move can provide you with a way to notify your landlord that you’re planning to vacate your rental. Depending on the terms of your lease, you may be responsible for fees or penalties if you’re ending your lease early or leaving the property more damaged than it was when you moved in.

Our House Moving Checklist has everything you need to inspect your property before moving and identify any damage that should be noted. This form protects both tenants and landlords by ensuring they’re on the same page when it comes to the property’s condition upon the tenant’s move.

How do I protect my belongings when using a moving company?

If you’re planning to use a moving company during your interstate move, it’s important to protect yourself and your belongings in the process.

The Rocket Lawyer Moving Contract can help you document the basics of your move, including where, when, cost, safety considerations, and required insurance. This step-by-step process should be able to provide you with peace of mind that your move is covered. Meanwhile, if your move doesn’t end up going as planned, the Reimbursement for Moving Company Damages Letter provides a template for you to request reimbursement for any items that were damaged in transit.

Get organized, then get moving

Moving out of state can be stressful, and there are a lot of priorities to juggle. If you’re ever in doubt about your moving costs, liability, or rights as a tenant, don’t be afraid to contact a lawyer. Rocket Lawyer offers access to real lawyers in minutes, as well as a comprehensive library of forms, checklists, and legal documents.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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