Thinking of Making a Big Move? Use These Online Tools to Research the Area

There was a time when moving across the country was a trip into the unknown. For some, that prospect may be an exciting one. For a homeowner with bills to pay or children to raise, the more you know about a place the better.

Fortunately, today’s technology equips us with tools to learn everything (or almost everything) we need to know about a place without ever visiting. With the use of statistics, maps, and first-hand accounts, would-be homeowners can put in their researcher hats and get a feel for a place without ever even visiting.

In today’s post, I’m going to introduce you to some of those tools. So, if you’re thinking of making a long distance move sometime in the near future, read on for a list of the most useful resources that will help you along your search.

Cost of living

Most of us would love to move to Hawaii or San Francisco, but let’s face it–cost of living differences can make a huge impact on our ability to move wherever we want. Fortunately, there is reliable data on the specific cost of living for different parts of the United States.

Nerdwallet’s cost of living calculator lets you enter your current city and income and then compare what you would need to earn (on average) to move to a city of your choice. Moving to Boston, MA from Denver, CO, for example, would mean a 34% increase in costs like housing, groceries, transportation, etc.

Do you freelance or work from home and have the ability to travel wherever you want? If so, check out the Nomad List. It lets you compare housing costs, safety, weather, and–perhaps most important for freelancers–internet speeds in cities around the country and around the world.

How’s the weather?

Another important consideration for long distance moves is the climate. Not only will it determine your wardrobe and comfort level, but it also could mean more expensive heating in the winter or air conditioning in the winter.

To check out the average monthly temperatures and precipitation levels, check out U.S. Climate Data.

School scores

It’s hard to judge schools based on a few numbers, and it’s best to see what kind of programs and classes they’ll offer for your children as well. However, to get a glimpse of the nearby schools, you can check out City Data or NeighborhoodScout.

Safety

Safety is always a concern when visiting or moving to a new place. Fortunately, there are several good sources of information for neighborhood safety.

When we think of safety, most of us think of things like crime rates. NeighborhoodScout provides all the data you’ll need on crime. However, there are other safety concerns that should be addressed.

The CDC provides health data for 500 U.S. Cities. And, if you’re worried about lead exposure, this interactive map from Reuters has you covered.

How To Successfully Hire Movers

If you decide that moving on your own isn’t for you, you need to find and hire good movers to get you from place to place. You can start with a simple internet search, but you need to find the right movers to be able to get dependable service. Below, you’ll find some tips to help making the process of finding a moving company that much easier. 

Get Quotes From A Few Companies

Get quotes on prices from a few different moving companies. Don’t just go with the first company that you find. Do a bit of research and even see if you can get some type of a background check on each company that you get a quote from. This way, you’ll avoid any nightmare stories from your move.

Have A Mover Do An Assessment

Your movers should come and visit your home before you move. Will they be packing for you? Do They need a larger size truck? If the moving company comes to make an assessment of the home, they will know what needs to be done when moving day arrives. Make an inventory list of everything in your home so that you’ll know what you have to take with you. You’ll also know what you have in your new home once you get there. This can really help streamline the process.   

Price Isn’t Everything

The most expensive mover may not provide much more services over the least expensive moving company. Sometimes, it’s better to pay a bit more if you get additional services like boxes or packing. If a quote is much lower than you think it should be, then you probably should be a bit cautious of hiring the company.

Look For Reputation


You need to be aware of the reputation that a moving company carries with them. If you’re moving locally, you can usually go with a local company that has some good reviews. If you’re moving across states, try and find a larger company that has a lot of experience and a reputation built up for those types of long-distance moves. 

Ask Questions

You’re paying a lot of money to hire a moving company and have a right to know exactly what you’re paying for. Make a list of questions to ask each company. Find out their protocols and understand how your things will be treated. You want to know that your items will be in good hands. Some things you’ll want to know about each moving company:

  • What kind of insurance do you have?
  • What types of fees do you have?
  • What’s the timeline for my move? 
  • Have all your movers undergone background checks?

If the company tends to avoid certain questions, you should beware. With a little research, moving both near and far will be a breeze.

Moving Day Checklist

If you’ve recently purchased a new home, congratulations! The hardest part and most stressful part of the process is behind you. But moving day can still be difficult, especially if you’re moving with kids, pets, or over a long distance.

Today, we’re going to provide you with a moving day checklist in hope that you’ll personalize it to your own needs, making your moving day as smooth a process as possible.

Not all of the items on the list will apply to everyone, but we can guarantee that if you follow most of our guidelines you’ll be able to sleep more soundly the night before your move and rest assured once you’re in your new home that everything has been taken care of.

Before the big day

The weeks leading up to moving day are an important time to iron out all of the details of your move. It includes making arrangements for pets, setting and confirming appointments with movers, and making sure your all of your belongings are accounted for. Consider this your pre-moving day checklist:

  1. Meet with your family and make your master schedule and to-do list. This could include things like sending change-of-address forms, calling your doctors to update your address, setting up an appointment with cable and internet companies, and so on. Doing all of these things before the move will make moving day much simpler.

  2. Hire your movers early. Don’t wait until a week before the move as some may already be booked for the day. A day or two before the move, call to confirm your appointment and double check to see if the movers require anything else from you before the move. Confirm your current and future addresses with them, as well as routes if it’s a long distance move.

  3. Also for long distance moves, plan an itinerary for things like driving and fuel breaks, hotels, food, etc.

  4. Clean house. Have a yard sale, donate used items to charity, and put unwanted items in your front yard for free. You don’t want to move more than you need and leaving junk at your old home isn’t polite and might be a violation of your contract.

  5. In the weeks leading up to your move, use or discard old pantry items or frozen food. You don’t want to be moving a lot of groceries to the new house, especially perishables.

  6. If you have pets who aren’t used to leaving home, get them used to the new house if possible and have them stay with a friend or pet care facility on moving day to avoid them getting lost or in trouble.

On moving day

Once moving day is here, if you’ve followed the items above, everything should run somewhat smoothly. Here are some checklist items for moving day.

  1. Pack a bag with items you’ll need the first day of your move that can be easily accessible. This includes toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, toilet paper, etc.

  2. Do inventory for your boxes. Odds are you won’t forget any, but having a correct count at your new home will set your mind at ease.

  3. Bring nutritious snacks like granola bars (moving is hard work).

  4. Don’t lift heavy items alone.

  5. Use sliders to move big items to avoid scratching your floors.

  6. Show your helpers they’re appreciated (pizza is always a good “thank you”).

Coming to a New State?

If you happen to find yourself moving to another state in the near future, you’ve got your work cut out for you.  On top of having to deal with the stress of relocating your family in an unfamiliar place, you’ll have a lot of paperwork and research to consider before the big day.  Here are four things that you’ll need to have covered if you hope to have a seamless transition into a new residence.  Keep in mind that the more bases you’ve got covered, the easier it will be for you and your family to get accustomed to a new state.

1.  Cost of living. – The cost of living can vary dramatically from state to state.  If you’re moving for a new job, then make sure to research the cost of living close to your new place of employment.  If you lived in a metropolitan area before, then it may serve you better to move to a town surrounding the city and pull a commute than to take a gamble at throwing yourself into a new city that may upset your current lifestyle.  Alternately, you may find that the state you are moving to has a fairly low cost of living in the metropolitan areas compared to what you are used to paying.  Every state is different in this regard.  Doing the research now will save you major headaches.

2.  Moving companies. – Unless you are packing up all of your belongings yourself, odds are that you will be relying on a long-distance moving company to handle most of the work.  Prices of this service can very dramatically from company to company, so be sure to get at least three quotes from reputable moving companies as to ensure you’re getting the best deal.  Also, make room in your budget for an insurance plan that you are comfortable paying for.  The last thing you’ll want to deal with during your move is the worry of your possessions being damaged with no recourse.

3.  Taxes. –  You may not think that taxes are an important thing to consider this early in the game, but if you live in a state that doesn’t collect an income tax, moving to a state that does can impact your cost of living.  Meet with a tax specialist and review any hidden taxes and expenses you may incur as a result of your move so you aren’t surprised later on down the road.

4.  Neighborhoods and local culture. – This may be one of the most important steps that a lot of people overlook.  Just because you do a virtual walk through of a home and like what you see, doesn’t mean you’ll like where you’re moving.  Do some detective work before you sign papers.  Look into crime statistics, school ratings, reviews of the city and neighborhood you’re considering moving to, and local taxes and ordinances.  You can find all of this information online relatively easy.  If you can manage it, then plan a visit to your potential new home to see everything your new town will have to offer.  Look at the commute to your new place of employment, the sights and sounds of the local culture, and keep an eye out for anything you don’t particularly like about a place.  You can make your transition a lot smoother by connecting with a reputable real estate agent who has a healthy knowledge of the area.