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The Basics of Moving to Another State

The Basics of Moving to Another State

| February 14, 2024

Almost a quarter of retirees move states in retirement. But there are some important practical matters that you’ll want to attend to before or soon after you settle into your new digs. Here’s a quick roundup.

1. When you’ve decided on your new home, update your information.

    It’s easy to overlook, but there are important things you’ll need to update and organizations you’ll need to notify. These include:

  • Legal documents. It’s a good idea to update legal documents such as a will or living trust when you take up residence in a new state. Your living trust remains valid anywhere in the country, but you might want to make changes, especially if you sold or acquired assets in the course of moving. The same holds true for wills, but state laws differ in certain respects. For instance, some states restrict who your executor can be. Probate laws also vary, as do laws governing medical directives and powers of attorney. You’ll likely need to consult with a lawyer to make any necessary changes.
  • Driver’s license and vehicle registration. Every state requires that you provide your new address, usually within 30 days. Failure to update is a crime in many states, so don’t let this slide!
  • Post office. To make sure you get uninterrupted postal service you’ll need to provide a forwarding address to the post office. You can do it in person or simply log on at:
  • Insurance. Be sure to send your new address to the entities that provide your various types of insurance—car, health, life, etc. Companies calculate the costs of your policies based partly on the level of risk associated with where you live, so it’s important.



2. Compare costs before deciding where to live.

The price of the property you’ll be buying or renting is just the most obvious cost to consider. Be sure to compare homeowners insurance rates (they fluctuate wildly from state out state) and property taxes, as well as any condo or homeowners association fees. And consider state sales tax rates and whether the state has an income tax, inheritance tax, or estate tax. You can find out with a quick Google search.


3. Spend some time in the places you’re considering.

Don’t just go by what you’ve read or heard from friends. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to a shortlist of possible retirement locations, visit them for at least a week or two, longer if possible. It’s the only way to really be sure that a particular environment suits you. For instance, you may find the heat and humidity of Florida more agreeable or less agreeable than you had imagined, or the dryness of New Mexico might initially seem more to your liking but it could turn out to wreak havoc on your sinuses. Also, be sure to ask locals about the good points and bad points of the area in terms of crime rate, restaurants, entertainment, and the overall “personality” of the place.

4. Don’t move into a home that’s larger than you really need.

A big, roomy place may seem superficially attractive, but consider the upkeep. The bigger the house, the more time, effort, and cost involved in maintaining it. Even if you can afford maid and handyman service, remember that larger dwellings mean higher insurance bills and property taxes.