4 Min Read | Updated: November 30, 2023

Originally Published: January 17, 2020

Moving out of State Checklist: 7 Tips for Cutting Costs

If moving is stressful, moving out of state is even more stress! Here’s a checklist for how to move out of state like a pro—and keep costs low.

Moving Out of State

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A veteran mover offers a checklist of 7 ways to save money when moving out of state.

You may save the most by focusing on moving company charges.

No-brainer: Do your own packing.

My wife and I have moved out of several states, including a cross-country move. Now, we have an inside joke. After every move one of us says "Honey, do you know where the [can opener, TV remote, corkscrew] is?" The other always replies, "Yes. I'm certain it's in a box." 


We always do our own packing, and we write two things on every box: the destination room where the movers should place it and a list of what’s inside. It saves lots of time and aggravation. 


Here’s a checklist of seven tips for saving money when moving across state lines that have proven effective for my wife and me.

Checklist Item 1. Have a Moving Sale

There is no better time to weed out the stuff you don't need than before moving out of state. The more you get rid of, the less you must move so the cheaper your move becomes.


  • You’ll save money by cutting down the weight of your load in the truck—and you might make a little money to help defray your moving costs.
  • You can try selling higher-ticket items.
  • In separating what to keep or sell, be guided by this: If you haven't used it in two years, you don't need it.
  • Make a pact with yourself to donate or haul away anything you don't sell. You'll be surprised at how freeing it is to lighten your load.

Checklist Item 2. Do Your Own Packing

Determine early on whether to do your own packing or have the movers do it. You should save on moving costs if you commit to boxing up all the small stuff and emphasize that point to your moving estimator.


  • I mean packing up things like clothes, shoes, knick-knacks, small electronics, books, dishware, glassware, and the like.
  • Be sure to use packing paper, bubble wrap, or the like around delicate items. If you don't fill a box to the top, be sure to stuff it full of packing materials.
  • Leave furniture, framed artwork, mirrors, and larger items to the movers.
  • Ask the estimator to drop boxes off in advance of the move, but expect to shell out for packing materials at truck rental or home stores.

Checklist Item 3. The D-I-Y Move: Pack, Load, and Drive

If you have an apartment-size move (not a four-bedroom house!), if you're moving roughly 500 miles or less, and if you’re comfortable driving a truck, there's no more significant way to cut the cost of moving out of state than by taking on the packing, loading, and driving yourself.


  • You may be able tocan rent trucks from a number of national or local companies.
  • Ask family and friends to help you pack out on moving day.
  • Driving a truck requires using both side-view mirrors for safety, but the windshield-mounted rearview mirror will be fully obstructed (if there even is one). Leave the driving to the pros if you don't think you can make that adjustment.

Checklist Item 4. Get Written Estimates from Three Movers

Unless you're facilitating your own move, the most expensive part of moving out of state will likely be the bill you get from your moving company. Bills are typically in the thousands of dollars, depending on how far you're moving and how much stuff you've got.


  • Get at least three written estimates.
  • Expect an on-site visit from your estimators. If you don't, think twice about whether to work with that company.
  • Research each company you're considering carefully. It's important to review customer ratings. In particular, look for problem incidents and how they were resolved.
  • Increase your savings by getting estimates from five movers—and ask each estimator for a discount.

Checklist Item 5. Protect Your Move: Insurance, Fraud, Red Flags

Sometimes, things go wrong with out-of-state moves. But there are things you can do to prevent or remediate negative outcomes.


  • Know the red flags to look for to protect yourself against movers who may try to bilk you out of thousands of dollars by holding your goods hostage.1 For example, if the mover doesn't do an on-site inspection and comes back with a low estimate, that’s a red flag; so is a demand for cash or a large deposit before the move, or a mover who says they will determine the cost after loading the truck.
  • Consider "Full Value Protection" insurance because standard insurance only pays up to $0.60 per pound.2
  • Get educated about insurance and moving fraud at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Protect Your Move website.3

Checklist Item 6. Get Moving Boxes Free

They may seem inexpensive, but the cost adds up—and you may need a ton of them for your move out of state.


  • Search online marketplaces for "moving boxes."
  • For smaller moves, you may be able to get boxes from a retail establishment.
  • Liquor stores are a good place to start because their boxes are usually the right size and well built.
  • If all else fails, you may be able to find new boxes at a low rate online.

Checklist Item 7. Save Move-Related Receipts

The tax reform bill enacted in 2017 suspended the deduction for moving expenses for most people.4 But your state may still allow you to deduct moving expenses against its income tax.5


  • Keep in mind that, because you're moving out of state, you may have to file two state tax returns!
  • If nothing else, saving receipts allows you to keep track of your budget.
  • A good tax accountant may be able to help you find other ways to save.
Moving Checklist Infographic

The Takeaway

Maximize your savings when moving out of state by embracing as many of these seven tips as you can. But if you can’t use all the items on our checklist, focus on the most expensive aspect: the moving company (if you use one). And if you do nothing else, do your own packing—you’ll avoid spending hours looking for your toothbrush.

Scot Finnie

Scot Finnie is a journalist who covers primarily business and technology. He was Editor-in-Chief of Computerworld for more than a decade.


All Credit Intel content is written by freelance authors and commissioned and paid for by American Express. 

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