Buying a home can be a daunting task for many first-timers with little understanding about the process. From purchasing to moving, there is a lot to keep up with that is completely different than renting an apartment. Additionally, if you are moving to an entirely different region or across the country, you will likely have a little more to juggle than the average home buyer.
However, rest assured that with a proper understanding of everything the home buying and cross-country relocation processes entail, you can make a seamless transition to your new home in no time.
Step 1: Research the Location
One of the most important things you can do before a big move is in-depth research about the place you’re looking to live. Aside from the limited Youtube videos you may have watched and tourist locations you’ve visited, you will need to actually experience the reality of the location before buying a home.
This means taking a tour of your desired neighborhood or city a few times to truly capture the feel of the location. Explore restaurants, gyms, and other amenities to decide if the new city offers you enough to commit to living there. Also, take to your computer and find all that you can, good and bad. You should be looking for school reviews, crime rates, and other demographics pertaining to you. Then if all checks out, you can finally begin your house search.
Step 2: Find the house
Next is the fun part—the house hunt. Finding your first home can be exciting because you get to truly showcase your style and aesthetic in your home purchase. Depending on the location you are moving, you may notice common themes in home styles. However, with the hundreds of styles out there, you can still find one fitting to you.
In the United States, many northwest and western homes are modeled after modern styles. They have sleek finishes and subtle accents throughout the home. While in the midwest region, you may notice an abundance of rustic and craftsman-style homes that allow for a lot more warm tones and textures. Southeast and mid-Atlantic homes typically aim to bring in a relaxed and refreshing feel with urban farmhouse and traditional Cape-Cod-style homes. Lastly, northern states typically opt for Colonial homes that allow for plenty of customizations.
Step 3: Estimate the Costs
Once you’ve found the house you want, you now have to start considering how much you will spend on the home’s down payment, mortgage payment, closing costs, and moving costs. Depending on the type of mortgage you are considering for your home, you can pay 3-20% of the home purchase price. First-time home buyers typically lean toward the lower end of that range and opt for loans from FHA-approved lenders given that they have less financial requirements than other mortgage options.
Additionally, it is wise to start your lending process by applying for a mortgage preapproval letter because this will give you a more accurate estimate of how much you can afford to spend on your home. Then once you have gone through the lending process with your loan provider, you can then discuss your closing costs and you will finally be the owner of the home.
Lastly, with a cross-country move, you’ll have to incorporate moving costs into your budget as well. Consider at least three moving companies before making your final decision and if possible, schedule an in-home estimate so that you can budget the moving expense as accurately as possible.
Step 4: Get Mover’s Insurance
Unfortunately, not every moving company cares about your belongings as much as you do so with that, comes the inevitable moving damage. This is why you should always explore your options for moving insurance, especially when traveling such a long distance.
Meet with your insurance agent and discuss your coverage plan for your auto and homeowners insurance. Generally speaking, these plans won’t cover any moving damage so you should also discuss insurance plans with your moving company. They will typically offer a base-level protection plan, however, you can talk with them to determine which coverage option makes the most sense for your move.
Step 5: Keep Track of Everything
Keeping tabs on everything you want to bring with you is incredibly important when moving across the country. You are naturally at a greater risk of losing or misplacing valued items and documents which is why you should take your time when packing. Tackle one room at a time and categorize all your belongings before placing them in the boxes. Keep all clothing items together, kitchen supplies sorted, and be sure to label all boxes that have fragile pieces in them.
While packing, you can keep a list or spreadsheet of the belongings in each particular box and label them to correspond with your list. This way you know exactly where everything is and if something does come up missing, you’ll know where to begin looking.
Also, dedicate a particular box or folder to your important documents and files. When moving across the country you’ll want to make sure you keep track of passports, birth certificates, medical documents, and insurance forms at all times so try your best to keep them in your possession during the move.
Step 6: Update Your Information
When moving to an entirely new region, there are a few added steps you must take in addition to the traditional moving process.
- Search for new physicians and care providers in your area and get all records and documents transferred.
- Register and enroll any family at a new school district, if necessary.
- Update your address on your license, registration, car insurance, and bank information.
- Cancel your license plates and get a new registration at least 30 days before your move.
- Update your voter registration and decide on a new polling place.
- Notify government offices of your address changes.
All of these are important when moving, however, with relocation across the country, you should make sure you contact your new state’s offices to become familiar with any other specific requirements the state may have. It can even be wise to explore your moving company’s state regulations before beginning business with them.
Step 7: Make the Move
Finally, now that you have done everything else, you can officially make the move. Although you’re nearing the end of the process, there’s still a number of things you can do.
First, enjoy your new city. Try not to overwhelm yourself with unpacking or organizing as soon as you get to your new place. Take time to explore the best attractions and amenities around you. Use this time to meet your neighbors and get familiar with any local groups and communities you can join. Then, as you slowly begin to unpack, try to take it one room at a time and remember you don’t need everything back to normal immediately. In fact, most people use this time to shop for any new furniture or decor given that they can actually see the “bones” of the space before unpacking.
Be sure to visit your family’s new school, the new physician’s office, or a new job site if you choose to make a career change during this transition as well. Ultimately, allow yourself to relax from this exciting new journey you just began and fully indulge yourself in your new city.
Making the decision to buy your first home across the country is a big choice and one you should certainly be proud of. While it is a lot to take on, you can use these steps to help guide you and make the process as enjoyable as possible. Good luck!