Relocation Traps – Four Smart Ways To Avoid Them And Move Like A Pro

Picture of moving van driving cross country

Are you starting a new job that requires you to move out of state?  Are you planning to relocate in the next six months to a year?  If so, here are 4 tips to help you avoid the pitfalls of an out-of-state move and a customizable relocation checklist so you can stay organized and on top of your game.

Starting a new job is stressful, especially when it involves relocating to a new state.  Learning to fit into a company’s culture and getting settled in your new role is challenging on its own.  Add the hassles of moving everything you own to a place far from home and the stress and anxiety can start to feel overwhelming.  Without the proper planning, it can be a miserable experience.  Here’s what can go wrong and how you can smoothly bypass these relocation traps.

One of my close friends, Kendra, moved from Arkansas to Chicago, IL for a new job.  Excited and ready to start her new role with Walgreens, she planned to rent a place for the first year and had already sold her 3,000sqft home in Northwest Arkansas, so this was going to be a breeze.  After all, her company was paying for her relocation, so what could go wrong?  A LOT.

First off, she had a regional bank in Arkansas, so when she arrived in Chicago, she opened an account with a new bank.  She thought she was good to go; however, she wasn’t established yet at the new bank.  When it came time for her to deposit her relocation and first paycheck (both large checks), she was shocked to find out that they were going to put a hold on the funds for twenty days.  This wasn’t going to work – she didn’t have ANY cash and she needed access to her funds immediately.  What’s a girl to do?  She had to take time off her new job to try and find a place that would cash these checks.  After a two-day search, she finally found a currency exchange that agreed to cash them for a substantial fee – after all, she didn’t even have a Chicago’s driver’s license to prove she was a resident so she was considered high risk.

  • Tip 1: To avoid this surprise, setup a new bank account thirty days prior to your move.  If you are currently using a local bank, you will need to switch to a national bank or a regional bank in the area in which you are relocating.  Either way, doing this about a month ahead of time will ensure you are established by the time you arrive so you’re not caught waiting on your funds when you need them.  If you like the ease of online banking, you might even choose to switch to an online bank such as Everbank or Schwab as they offer the same benefits and products of traditional banks without all the hassle.

Secondly, Kendra moved from a large four-bedroom house into an 1800sqft apartment on the 9th floor.  The problem was she took 3000sqft of furnishings and belongings with her.  When the moving truck arrived, it was a 3-ring circus trying to figure out what to do with everything – they literally had some furniture that wouldn’t fit through the door of the apartment but there was nowhere to put it.  It took her and her spouse about six months to go through everything and get rid of what they didn’t need.  The challenge was they didn’t want to sell things through Craig’s List (or via online garage sale sites) because they were new to the city and didn’t feel comfortable with strangers coming to their apartment.  Little by little, they donated items to people and businesses that would pick up the things they didn’t want or need in their new home.

  • Tip 2: To avoid this hassle, consider the difference in space from your current home to your new one and take only what you need and donate or sale the rest prior to the move. If you’re moving from a suburb to a bigger city, it’s likely you will be downsizing your living space.  This is a great opportunity to go through your things and get rid of items you don’t need and won’t use.  If your new place is half the size of your current one, you should try to eliminate 2/3 of your possessions so you have a little room to grow when you get there.  Also, familiarize yourself with the climate you are moving to.  If you are moving to an area that is cold 6-7 months out of the year, you will need to take less warm weather clothes and you may need to buy some additional winter clothes when you get there so leave some room for things you might need to buy.

Another important consideration is transportation.  If you’re moving to a big city, you may not need your vehicle to get around since public transportation is often an option.  In some places, like San Francisco and New York, owning a car can be a costly proposition.  It is very expensive just to park your car if you live and work in high-density neighborhoods (monthly parking rates in downtown San Francisco will run between $200 – $400).  You will also pay more for gas in certain areas of the country.

  • Tip 3:  Determine if you will need a car where you are moving or if public transportation will cover you.  If you decide you need your car, switch over to a local insurance agent prior to your move.  Insurance coverage varies by state so make the switch beforehand to avoid any surprises. Check your new state’s DMV guidelines (there may be additional requirements and you will need to transfer your title, plates and registration within the specified time frame, usually within 10-30 days of being established).  If you are moving to a state with tollways, you can save money by purchasing an annual pass ahead of time so check to see if this is an option.  If you opt for public transportation, you can also buy annual passes to cut down your transportation expenses.
  • Tip 4:  Relocating can be stressful and when you’re under stress, you are more likely to get sick.  Be prepared by selecting a new primary care physician ahead of time.  If you already have health insurance, update them on your move and find out what doctors are in network.  If you’ll be getting coverage from your new employer, ask for recommendations from your current physician, family, and friends and choose a doctor who is in network with your new company’s health insurance provider.  For convenience, you may want to pick someone who is within a certain vicinity of your work or home.  Once you’ve chosen someone, you can have your current doctor forward your medical records prior to your arrival.  Getting stuck without a primary care physician when you’re sick can leave you with limited treatment options, so plan ahead.

Moving out of state requires planning and hard work, and if you do it right, it can be a very pleasant experience.  Don’t forget to celebrate the wins along the way and document your journey with pictures and updates to your family and friends.  You worked hard to get here and you deserve to enjoy yourself along the way!

Wishing you a successful and happy move!

If you’ve relocated out of state, please chime in and share additional tips by commenting on this article so others can learn from your experience.

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