10+ Tips for Moving Out of State—And Why Iowa is the Best State to Call Home

Moving is always a massive undertaking, but relocating to a new state is a different ballgame entirely. While the “pay some friends in pizza and beer to help move some boxes” approach may work for smaller-scale moves—say, across town—long-distance moves take more time, organization, attention to detail, and often more money. 

Our agents have helped countless people make the transition to or from Iowa. Whether you’re moving across the country or just across a state line, here’s a few tips for making your relocation easier on you and your family—and why you should consider Iowa when choosing your new home. 

Note: this blog is dedicated specifically to tips for moving long distances and/or to a new state. For a more in-depth, step-by-step breakdown of the moving process, see our ultimate moving guide for everything you should do before, during, and after any move. 

Buying a Home

Ask Your REALTOR® for a referral.

Working with a REALTOR® to sell your home before moving? Check in with them to see if they have a referral for an agent in the area you’re moving to. We REALTORS® have strong national (and even international!) networks, and we can put you in touch with someone we know and trust who will help you buy a home in your new state.

Regardless of whether you get a referral from your selling agent, pay special attention when selecting a buying agent in the state you’re moving to. While any agent can help with a trans-state move, there are agents who specialize in relocation.

Check with your employer for relocation assistance.

Moving to a new state because of a job? Check with your (new) employer for resources. Large employers—especially ones who deal with relocated employees frequently—often have a list of real estate agents whom they refer incoming employees to when employees are coming from out of state. The University of Iowa and P&G are two examples of employers in the Iowa City area who do this. 

It’s also worth checking to see if your employer will cover any relocation expenses. Though they’re not required to, some companies offer job relocation packages to help offset the cost of the move. These packages come in many different forms, from a lump-sum to reimbursement or direct billing. It can’t hurt to ask!

Make the Trip to Tour Some Homes in Person (If Possible)

While virtual tours and FaceTime walk-throughs with your agent make buying a home sight-unseen a lot easier than it used to be, some people (understandably) still prefer to set foot in the home before they buy it. If you’re traveling a great distance—for example, flying into town—to see a home, coordinate with an agent in the area so that you can see multiple listings on your visit. 

If you do plan to buy without having seen the home in person (which is becoming increasingly common), be sure to enlist the help of an agent you trust. They will be your eyes and ears (and nose) on the ground. Honest, open lines of communication between you and your agent are even more important in a scenario like this. 

Ask Your Agent About the Fine Print

Different states may have different processes, timelines, or terms for the home buying and selling process. If you’re using a REALTOR® to buy or sell (or both!), it’s often helpful to have your agents talk to one another so they can coordinate your transactions. Let the experts deal with the nitty-gritty while you focus on your move! 

Planning the Move

Invest in a Good Mover…

One of the hardest parts of moving to a new state is the logistics—namely, moving all your stuff hundreds or even thousands of miles. If you plan to use a moving company, ask your agent for a referral. It may be less expensive than you suspect and will save a lot of headache. 

…Or Rent the Necessary Equipment

Moving to a new state is much harder to DIY than, say, moving across town or one county over. If you do plan to tackle the move without the help of a moving company, you’ll likely need to rent a truck. Popular truck rental options include Penske, U-Haul, Enterprise, and Budget, to name a few. Remember that these places often charge not only for use of the truck, but also per mile you put on the vehicle, so budget accordingly. Other options include renting a container that you pack and the company transports for you (Pods, for example).

If you’re struggling to decide between a professional move and a DIY move, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s your moving budget?
  • How much control do you want to have over the move? For example, are you okay with strangers moving your things, or would you prefer to have more of a say in how your things are handled and transported?
  • Are you (or some very nice friends and family) up to the challenge of lots of heavy lifting? 

Prepare to Have Your Vehicle Shipped

If you don’t plan to drive your car to your new home, you’ll have to make arrangements for it to be shipped there. Ask your agent if they have any companies they would recommend. While this is a great way to avoid putting miles on your vehicle, remember that having your car shipped can take a few days or a few weeks, depending on how far the car has to travel, so it’s best to plan ahead. 

Make Hotel Arrangements 

If you’re driving and your moving trip will be a multi-day event, be sure to plan ahead for how you will break up the trip and where you will stay during the journey. While it can be tempting to take an “I’ll find a hotel when I get tired” mentality on your road trip, the last thing you want to do is end up in the middle of nowhere, 50 miles to the nearest hotel (we’re looking at you, Nebraska). 

Get Packing Sooner Rather than Later

No matter how much time you think it will take, packing almost always takes longer than you think it will. Whether you’re hiring a moving company or plan to commandeer a moving van yourself, pack with bumpy roads in mind. Bubble wrap, newsprint, and packing tape are your friends! 

For more in-depth advice on how to go about packing up your home, see our moving guide blog.

When You Arrive

Your Agent is Your Guide to Your New Home

Once the flurry of unpacking is over, it’s time to face the often daunting task of settling into your new community. From restaurants to dentists, doctors, hairdressers, and vets, don’t be afraid to ask your buying agent for any and all recommendations in your new town. They can put you in touch with tradespeople and businesses that can make your life easier in your new place.

Update All of the Things

Unfortunately, the to-dos don’t end once the last box is unpacked. Here are a few things to tackle once you’ve officially moved to your new home.

  • Provide people with your new address. Friends, family, doctors, insurance agencies, banks, magazines—you never realize how important “snail mail” is until it’s time to think of everyone who may need your new address! See this blog for a full list of who you need to give your new address to after moving. Don’t forget to put in an official change of address with the USPS to catch any mail from folks you accidentally left off the list! 
  • Driver’s license and vehicle registration. One of the necessary evils of moving is a trip to the DMV/DOT to get a new license and update your vehicle registration. While the timeline varies from state to state, most states require this change to be made within 30 days. Check your state’s rules here
  • Register to vote in your new state. Civic duty doesn’t stop when you move! Registration deadlines vary by state and by level of election, so don’t wait until the frenzy before a major election to get your registration updated. 
  • Start transferring any professional licenses. Doctor, lawyer, engineer, REALTOR® (can’t forget about ourselves!)—many professions require you to update or transfer your license to your new state before you can continue practicing. The process and requirements vary by state depending on your field, so don’t delay in getting the transfer started.

What to Know About Moving to Iowa 

People move to Iowa for much the same reasons they move to any other state: for work, to be closer to family, or just for a nice change of pace and scenery. Here are a few things that set Iowa apart (aside from our infamous “Iowa nice” attitude).

  1. Your hard-earned money stretches further here. Our cost of living is 92% of the national average, and our housing costs are just 72% of the U.S. average. Because of this, our homeownership rates are also higher in Iowa (71.6% compared to the national average of 63.7%), and our monthly mortgage costs tend to be lower ($1,205 compared to the national average of $1,513). 
  2. We take our education seriously. We rank in the top 20 states (#18) for education, with a 91.4% graduation rate (6% higher than the national average of 85.3%). We’re also home to more than 60 colleges and universities, which is why we’re ranked #11 in higher education.
  3. We’re the land of opportunity. Believe it or not, we do have more than corn and pigs here. In fact, U.S. News ranks Iowa the #1 state in America in terms of opportunity—hence the slogan “Fields of Opportunities” on our “Welcome to Iowa” signs. This ranking was determined based on our affordability and our vast economic opportunities (yes, even outside of farming). 
  4. We’re all about community. “Iowa nice” doesn’t just mean we have manners. Iowans are known for being kind and welcoming—and eager to show you what makes our corner of the world special. All of this combines to give every community in Iowa a charming small-town feel, making even the bigger cities—Des Moines, Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids—feel homey. 


While we’re proud to be ranked the #12 best state in America, we know these numbers don’t do the Hawkeye state justice. Still not convinced? Check out our list of 5 reasons why Iowa is the best state in America. For those thinking about moving to the City-Cedar Rapids area, we’ve even got a list of what makes the Corridor a great place to live

Let Us Make the Transition Easy

Ready to call Iowa home? One of our 50+ agents can help you find your dream home in the Hawkeye state. 

Moving out of Iowa? While we’re sad to see you go, we’re happy to do our part to make the move as smooth as possible by helping you sell your home.


Header image credit: Jason Riedy, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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