Moving out of state can be exciting — a new adventure! — but it also can feel stressful. In fact, moving is often cited as one of the top stressors you can endure, largely because of how it disrupts your routine. But don’t worry, we’re here with your ultimate checklist to help make moving out of state surprisingly painless.

Before the move

1. Find a reputable moving company — or rent a truck if you’re going to DIY

If you’re planning an end-of-the-month move, you might have plenty of company so be sure to reserve your truck in advance. And if you’re hiring a professional mover, remember to get an estimate and check their credentials and insurance to guard against potential unpleasant surprises.

2. Start packing early

It’s just a fact of life: Packing takes a lot longer than you think it’s going to. Put boxes in every room and just start putting items in when you have idle time.

3. Label your boxes

Packing early can have one drawback — it’s easy to forget what’s in the box. Take a minute to mark the box with the room it belongs in and jot down highlights of what’s inside. (If you’re really organized, you can put together a master packing list that has the contents of each numbered box. It takes some commitment, but it makes unpacking so much easier.)

4. Pack a “to-go” box/suitcase (or boxes, depending on the size of your family)

Out-of-state moves typically entail a day or more of driving, so pack accordingly with sufficient clothes, toiletries, etc. But that’s not all you need: your “to-go” box should include everything that you want handy when you arrive, such as cleaning supplies, paper towels, toilet paper, kitchen necessities, important paperwork, and even a few favorite toys if you have kids.

Remember, if your household belongings are traveling separately from you, the moving truck might take longer to get there than your car. So bring along what you need to immediately feel at home.

5. Call ahead to make sure the utilities are set up 

No one wants to arrive at their new house and find out the electricity or gas (or, gasp, the Wi-fi!) isn’t ready. Transfer the utilities to your name and confirm your arrival date.

6. Forward your mail

If you have paper magazine subscriptions, make sure those are changed to your new address. Ditto for credit card statements and other recurring bills. For everything else, fill out an official “change of address” form with your local post office.

7. Update your car insurance

Make sure your insurer knows you’re moving to a new state. And switch your insurance. Depending on your destination, you might even qualify for a lower rate. If you’re shipping a car, make sure that it’s covered too, either by the shipping company or your comprehensive coverage.

8. Update your homeowners insurance

Similarly, alert your homeowners insurance provider of the move and your new address so there’s no lapse in insurance on either end.

9. Tune-up your car

If you’re road-tripping, double-check that your emergency kit is primed with safety and first-aid items. And have your car serviced from the tires to the fluids.

During the move

10. Do some recon on your new destination

Stuck in the car? It’s a great chance to find out more about your new town, from the best restaurants to nearby parks. If you’re traveling with other family members (and have a generous data plan), invite everyone to identify a fun recreational opportunity they want to tackle within the first few weeks and start a list.

11. Contact the new state’s DMV

Most states offer a grace period between when you arrive and when you need to update your driver’s license. Find out the details on your new state and what the driving test will cover so you can be prepared.

12. Save money on gas

Why spend more than you have to? Check out Fuelcaster®, our gas price predictor, to help you determine whether you should fuel up today or wait for tomorrow.

13. Keep in touch with the movers

The last thing you want is for your items to go awry. Track your movers’ progress to ensure they’re headed your way and that their timing is still in sync with yours.

14. Dream big

Use this travel time to reminisce about the memories you made in your old house and the new adventures that await.

After the move

15. Double-check your insurance is intact

It’s worth a quick phone call to confirm with your insurance company that you’ve arrived and make sure that everything has transferred smoothly.

16. Settle into a routine

If you have kids, it’s important to return to “normal” as soon as possible. That means getting their room set up first to help them settle in. Then give unpacking a break so you can visit a nearby park.

17. Take your time

It can be tempting to just start unpacking in a frenzy, but it’s more important to put your items away thoughtfully so you start your new life in an organized fashion. Hopefully, you’ll be staying for a good, long time, so go for the long view in setting up your new home.

18. Treat yourself

Whether it’s an evening out at the local neighborhood bistro or a pampering treatment, you deserve it … because you did it! Out-of-state move complete!

DIY hacks | Home and garden

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about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.