At a glance
Moving for a job is a big decision, requiring you to upend both your personal and professional lives. But when opportunity knocks, especially with a big promotion, it’s often wise to answer.
This may seem overwhelming at first, but there are a few simple steps to relocating for work:
- Research the cost of living.
- Ask for relocation reimbursement.
- Create a budget.
- Choose a moving company.
- Decide whether to ship or drive your car.
- Find out if your moving expenses are tax deductible.
If you’ve decided to move out of state for a new job, use this guide to tackle the challenges and stay sane in the process.
How to relocate for a job
Whether you’re chasing a new place to call home or career advancement (or both), moving for a job can be a stressful, but beneficial, change. Here’s how to make it happen.
1. Research the cost of living
When it comes to cost, not all cities are created equal. While you can expect to make more money in big cities like San Francisco or New York, your dollars won’t go as far for housing and food expenses.
First, consider where you want to live and what you enjoy doing with your time off. Is access to outdoor recreation and nature important? Or do you thrive on the energy of a big city?
We also recommend visiting the cities you’re considering before committing to a move. If you hate the area, picking up and moving again can be costly. If you’re still hunting for that dream job, use this time to schedule a face-to-face interview with companies in the area.
Then, balance your location desires with a cost-of-living analysis to ensure you can afford your new home on your new salary.
Here are some of the living costs you’ll want to consider:
- Utilities (electricity, water, etc.)
Use our guide to cost of living in cities across America to find the best place for your lifestyle and budget.
Find the jobs
You’ve found locations you love at a price you can afford, but what about the job? Look for hubs for your industry, such as California or Florida for biotech or finance and New York for media, and research the area’s job market. If you aren’t set on a single location, send resumes to a few places you’d be willing to move to.
Once you get a job offer, take the time to evaluate it first rather than accepting based on salary alone:
- Compare your current cost of living to the new city to see if this job would maintain, or even improve, your current standard of living.
- Consider your new commute, benefits, retirement contributions, housing costs, and costs to leave your current job (i.e., losing 401(k) contributions or stock options if you change jobs before they’re fully vested).
- Factor in the tax rates for the locations you’re considering. From property to sales tax, these can add up fast!
2. Ask for relocation reimbursement
These days, unless your job skills are in high demand, many employers won’t pay for relocation expenses.1 That said, it doesn’t hurt to ask for relocation assistance, especially if moving costs are a dealbreaker for taking the position.
Some companies cover a portion of relocation costs for new hires (e.g., a specific reimbursement amount or signing bonus). After you’ve accepted the position, ask about financial assistance for your move.
3. Create a budget
Moving is expensive, especially when relocating a great distance from your current home.
Whether your new employer is covering none, some, or all of the costs of your move, a big part of moving to a new state is understanding your budget and ensuring you have more than enough cash on hand.
Here are some common moving costs:
- Truck or pod rental rates
- Movers to help with packing, loading, and transport
- Packing and moving supplies
- Transportation or auto shipment costs
- Fuel and accommodations (if driving)
- First month’s rent or mortgage
Beyond that, factor in furnishings to determine what you need now (shower curtains and a bed) and what you can get later (a wall-mounted 4K television). Go big on your list and check things off as you go.
This budget can also help you ask for a specific moving reimbursement amount (if offered by your new employer).
4. Choose a moving company
From renting a truck to hiring a squad of movers, there are plenty of options for relocating your belongings when moving for a job. Moving costs vary widely and depend on how much you’re moving, where you’re moving to and from, the time of year, and how much professional help you hire.
Based on your budget and time available, choose from these three options:
- DIY (truck rental): Rent the truck, pack it yourself, and drive it to your new home. This is the most economical, but labor intensive, moving option. Choose a top-ranked moving truck rental company, and don’t get scammed by Joe Schmo renting you his broken-down truck for the job.
- Hybrid (storage container or pod): Rent a cube, pack it up, and let the container company do the hauling. This option balances fair pricing with convenience and lets you take a few days to load your belongings. Use our best moving container companies list to find a vetted, affordable option.
- Full service (professional moving company): If budget matters less than convenience, hire a moving company—you can even pay them to pack everything for you. Choose a trusted long-distance moving company to keep your home goods safe during transit.
Depending on when your stuff arrives and when your new home is ready, you may need to rent a storage unit temporarily. See if the company you hired offers free temporary storage, or rent space from one of our best self-storage companies.
5. Decide whether to ship or drive your car
Whether you’re moving to Cincinnati, OH, or Seattle, WA, for your new job, driving your vehicle can be a time- and energy-consuming effort. Auto transport allows you to ditch your car and fly to your new home, saving the gas and hotel costs along the way.
Prices vary widely depending on your move dates, vehicle type, origin, and destination, so it’s best to call for an auto transport quote or get a ballpark figure online.
Be ready to provide your vehicle’s make, model, and year as well as the location you’re shipping it to and from. To save time, use a car shipping marketplace like uShip to get offers from multiple car carriers at once.
6. Find out if your moving expenses are tax deductible
When figuring out how to relocate to another state, you might not consider tax deductions. But you should! Expenses for military moves on orders are always tax deductible, but work-related moves require two provisions to deduct moving expenses:
- Time: Moving expenses are not tax deductible if you move and immediately stop working. You must work 39 weeks in the first year following your relocation to deduct moving expenses. For the self-employed, you’ll need to work 78 weeks in the first two years after your move.
- Distance: Your move must be for work purposes, such as starting a new job or transferring with your current employer, and it must be 50 miles farther away from your old home than your old job was.
If your move meets these qualifications, go get your deduction. Remember that packing supplies, moving services, transportation costs, and 30 days of storage unit costs are tax deductible.
What to bring along for the ride
You’ve been hired for the job, but are you prepared for a successful first day? The last thing you want for your first impression is to show up unprepared. If pro movers or a container company are transporting your belongings across the country, keep some things with you to ensure you’re ready.
Here are a few items to pack separately in case your delivery is delayed:
- Office apparel: Whether your new coworkers keep it casual or don full suits on the daily, keep your workwear on hand. If things get smooshed and wrinkled, factor in dry cleaning time so you look professional on day one.
- Toiletries: Whether you’re driving or flying, you’ll need a toothbrush to fight mouth fuzz for your first day. Your skincare routine, eyecare items, makeup, and hair care products are important for appearing polished too.
- Electronics: From laptops to smartphone chargers, our electronics go everywhere with us, and you’ll want them ready for your first day. Be sure to pair chargers with electronics so you can keep them juiced on the road.
- Medications: Misplaced meds can be tough to replace en route, and hot (or cold) moving trucks and containers can damage the efficacy of these items. Bring all medications along so you’re ready for anything.
While 62% of US workers would consider relocating for a job,2 the results skew young. About 76% of workers aged 18–34 would move for the right job, but only 40% of those older than 55 would do so.3
There’s more to relocating for a job than packing your boxes and finding a new home. Use these resources to find vetted vendors for all your relocation needs.