Many people throughout the U.S. are rethinking how and where they live, and what will be necessary for healthy and happy living going forward. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, online searches for larger homes with outdoor space have skyrocketed, and city dwellers are eyeing more suburban and rural environments.
The ease of working from home has made many professionals more mobile than ever, while others may need to relocate to access optimal employment opportunities in a changing economy. All this will likely mean an uptick in long-distance moves over the next several months.
Moving is never easy, but with a lot of preparation, you can get your household from point A to point B with as little disruption as possible. Here are 10 tips for preparing for a long-distance move:
- Plan, prepare and schedule.
- Call in the professionals.
- Make reservations.
- Plan for pets.
- Declutter, donate and pack.
- Deal with mail, utilities and important records.
- Separate the essentials.
- Prioritize safety.
- Make time for goodbyes.
- Prepare for travel.
Plan, Prepare and Schedule
Once your relocation is confirmed, start sketching out your to-do list and make a timeline, moving backward from your ideal arrival date. You'll need to plan for how to move your household items, family members, pets and vehicles, either together or separately. You'll want to arrange for food, shelter and clothing while you're in transit, while also making your new home as ready for your arrival as possible. Stay organized by keeping to-do lists, calendars, receipts and estimates in one central file.
Call In the Professionals
As soon as your plan takes shape, call several moving companies for estimates. Make sure you understand everything included in each estimate and review the insurance options offered. Most moving companies only provide a limited policy that you'll want to supplement with more comprehensive coverage. Remember to call for separate estimates for vehicle movers and pet relocation services, if needed.
Once you've reviewed your estimates, select your movers and book your moving dates – this is when the clock really starts. If the humans and pets in your life will be moving separately from your belongings, start making reservations for flights or hotels along your route. If you need temporary accommodations in your new location, make those arrangements as well.
Plan for Pets
Pets add a whole layer of complication to the long-distance moving process. The easiest way to move pets is in your vehicle, but that's not always possible. Keep in mind that not all airlines accommodate all types of pets, and while there are pet transport services available, going that route means being separated from your pet for days. No matter how your pet will travel, obtain a proper carrier, and have medication and food on hand for both transport and arrival at your destination. Also, arrange for a veterinary visit to receive a pet health certificate (required for airlines and transportation services) and make sure your pets are up-to-date on vaccines.
Declutter, Donate and Pack
When it comes to long-haul moves, every square inch matters. You don't want to pay to move anything that you don't need and love. That will mean a serious decluttering of every drawer and closet and culling any furniture you no longer need. This is a time-consuming process, so it's best to start as soon as you know you're moving. Go room by room, tackling a bit at a time to keep from getting overwhelmed. Donate, sell or recycle as much as possible.
If you're packing yourself, you'll need to acquire sturdy boxes and supplies. Be generous with padding and protecting delicate items, and create a detailed inventory of what's in each box. When you're desperate to find the coffee maker at your destination, you'll be glad you did.
Deal with Mail, Utilities and Important Records
Submit your change of address with the post office, which will reroute your first-class mail and packages for a year and your periodicals for 60 days. Arrange to shut down your utilities at your current address and sign up for as many as possible at your new home in advance. Collect any necessary school, medical or veterinary records for your household, and don't forget to tackle driver's licenses, car registrations, insurance and voter registration at your new address as soon as possible.
Separate the Essentials
Begin a checklist of all the items you absolutely must have available while you're in transit or newly arrived at your destination. This will include prescription medications, important documents, valuables, clothing and toiletries for the duration of your trip, plus all necessary pet food and supplies. Pack these items with your luggage or ship them to your new location ahead of time. Be sure to set aside cash for the tips you'll need along the way, including for your movers, cleaning service and any other services you'll be using during the moving process.
Moving during a pandemic will likely come with a whole separate set of guidelines and require personal protective equipment both during the packing process and when traveling. Make sure you're stocked up on masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer for your whole family, and educate yourself on any rules provided by your movers, hotels and airlines. Lastly, review any precautions about what you can and can't pack among your belongings. Flammable, combustible or corrosive items, plants and perishable items are typically verboten.
[Read: The Guide to Selling Your Home]
Make Time for Goodbyes
In the weeks leading up to your move, you'll be incredibly busy, but it's essential to spend time with neighbors and friends. Arrange for your kids to say goodbye to classmates and pals. Plan a socially distant outdoor gathering. Visit your favorite places around town, and take a minute to say goodbye to the home where you've likely made many warm memories. Take lots of pictures and share your new address.
Prepare for Travel
Before you set off for your next home, you'll want a plan for keeping kids and pets occupied, especially if you're traveling by car. Schedule breaks, bring lots of snacks, charge up devices and take time to sightsee or visit friends along the way.
Moving is always stressful and it never goes as planned. This is why having a proper plan in mind and following the above tips will put your mind more at ease and this game plan will help you divide this seemingly insurmountable task of a cross-country move into bite-sized, manageable pieces.
These places have the highest net migration over five years.
When calculating the Best Places to Live, U.S. News factors in each metro area’s growth due to net migration over a five-year period. For the 2019 rankings, we used net migration data from 2013 to 2017 from the U.S. Census Bureau, the most recent complete data set at the time of our calculations. Places with the most growth might be attracting new residents for many reasons, including a hot job market, affordable housing, a desirable location or some other factor. Read on for the 25 metro areas – out of the 125 most populous in the U.S. – that have grown the most over this period.25. Seattle
Best Places 2019 Rank: 9
Metro Population: 3,735,216
Median Home Price: $442,333
Median Annual Salary: $63,120
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 5.58%
Seattle has long had a reputation for its strong job market, with the likes of Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon headquartered in the area. Also receiving a high score for desirability in the Best Places to Live ranking, Seattle isn’t just bringing people to the area for work – they also want it to be their next hometown.
Learn more about Seattle.24. Denver
Best Places 2019 Rank: 2
Metro Population: 2,798,684
Median Home Price: $393,842
Median Annual Salary: $57,400
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 5.67%
Growing 5.67% due to net migration between 2013 and 2017, Denver's population continues to swell at a rapid, although slowing, pace. This population boom is due to both its flourishing job market and high desirability among U.S. residents.
Learn more about Denver.23. Dallas-Fort Worth
23. Dallas-Fort Worth
Best Places 2019 Rank: 21
Metro Population: 7,104,415
Median Home Price: $248,375
Median Annual Salary: $51,250
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 5.7%
The largest metro area on this list, Dallas-Fort Worth grew by 5.7% in a five-year period. The area’s continued growth has contributed to rising home prices, as the median home price is now $248,375, compared to just $210,181 in 2018.
Learn more about Dallas-Fort Worth.22. Houston
Best Places 2019 Rank: 30
Metro Population: 6,636,208
Median Home Price: $223,875
Median Annual Salary: $53,820
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 5.91%
Houston takes the No. 22 spot on the list, having grown by 5.91% from 2013 to 2017 due to net migration. The large Texas metro area’s growth has slowed compared to the span from 2012 to 2016, when it grew by 6.58%.
Learn more about Houston.21. Asheville, North Carolina
21. Asheville, North Carolina
Best Places 2019 Rank: 16
Metro Population: 445,625
Median Home Price: $248,500
Median Annual Salary: $41,210
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 6.16%
A smaller metro area than most places on the list, Asheville earns its spot at No. 21 after growing 6.16% between 2013 and 2017 due to net migration alone.
Learn more about Asheville.20. Phoenix
Best Places 2019 Rank: 26
Metro Population: 4,561,038
Median Home Price: $234,183
Median Annual Salary: $49,500
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 6.3%
Phoenix serves as a particularly hot destination for retirees. But the job market and ample outdoor activities continue to attract new residents of all ages. The area has grown by 6.3% over a five-year period.
Learn more about Phoenix.19. San Antonio
19. San Antonio
Best Places 2019 Rank: 34
Metro Population: 2,377,507
Median Home Price: $211,800
Median Annual Salary: $46,200
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 6.6%
The third of four Texas metro areas on the list, San Antonio has experienced significant growth due to net migration: 6.6% between 2013 and 2017.
Learn more about San Antonio.18. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina
18. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina
Best Places 2019 Rank: 10
Metro Population: 1,824,266
Median Home Price: $249,294
Median Annual Salary: $53,788
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 6.76%
Home to major universities – the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, Duke University and North Carolina State University – the Raleigh and Durham metro area has plenty of former students who are choosing to lay down permanent roots, while others are flocking there for the job opportunities the schools and other locally based corporations offer.
Learn more about Raleigh and Durham.16. Jacksonville, Florida (tie)
16. Jacksonville, Florida (tie)
Best Places 2019 Rank: 42
Metro Population: 1,447,884
Median Home Price: $174,658
Median Annual Salary: $45,760
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 6.88%
Sunny Florida weather, a below-average cost of living and a growing business district continue to attract residents of all ages to Jacksonville, which grew by 6.88% due to net migration between 2013 and 2017.
Learn more about Jacksonville.16. Nashville, Tennessee (tie)
16. Nashville, Tennessee (tie)
Best Places 2019 Rank: 15
Metro Population: 1,830,410
Median Home Price: $248,883
Median Annual Salary: $47,110
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 6.88%
With growth numbers like this, aspiring country singers certainly aren’t the only ones moving to Nashville. The largest metro area in Tennessee comes in at No. 16, having grown by 6.88% due to net migration between 2013 and 2017.
Learn more about Nashville.15. Fayetteville, Arkansas
15. Fayetteville, Arkansas
Best Places 2019 Rank: 4
Metro Population: 514,166
Median Home Price: $177,942
Median Annual Salary: $45,830
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 6.94%
Northwest Arkansas’ largest metro area continues to grow rapidly, by 6.94% over a five-year period due to net migration. Fayetteville’s growth is picking up speed as well. In last year’s ranking, Fayetteville saw just 6.44% growth due to net migration from 2012 to 2016.
Learn more about Fayetteville.14. Charlotte, North Carolina
14. Charlotte, North Carolina
Best Places 2019 Rank: 20
Metro Population: 2,427,024
Median Home Price: $213,983
Median Annual Salary: $50,150
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 7.06%
Growing by more than 7% between 2013 and 2017 from people relocating to the area, Charlotte attracts many newcomers due to its role in the banking industry, as it’s home to Bank of America and major offices for Wells Fargo.
Learn more about Charlotte.13. Las Vegas
13. Las Vegas
Best Places 2019 Rank: 71
Metro Population: 2,112,436
Median Home Price: $271,767
Median Annual Salary: $44,450
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 7.33%
One of the recession’s hardest-hit cities, particularly in the housing market, Las Vegas continues its upward trend with a growing job market and plenty of entertainment options to attract new residents.
Learn more about Las Vegas.12. Boise, Idaho
12. Boise, Idaho
Best Places 2019 Rank: 17
Metro Population: 677,346
Median Home Price: $221,475
Median Annual Salary: $43,880
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 7.77%
Offering a more laid-back vibe than Las Vegas, Boise comes in at No. 12. Idaho’s capital grew by 7.77% between 2013 and 2017 due to net migration alone.
Learn more about Boise.11. Tampa, Florida
11. Tampa, Florida
Best Places 2019 Rank: 56
Metro Population: 2,978,209
Median Home Price: $199,717
Median Annual Salary: $46,080
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 7.93%
The second of nine Florida metro areas on the list, this Gulf Coast metro area grew by 7.93% between 2013 and 2017 due to net migration.
Learn more about Tampa.10. Charleston, South Carolina
10. Charleston, South Carolina
Best Places 2019 Rank: 45
Metro Population: 744,195
Median Home Price: $246,408
Median Annual Salary: $44,970
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 7.97%
People love visiting Charleston, which is helping the South Carolina city’s tourism industry boom. But plenty of visitors are clearly choosing to stay, as the Charleston metro area grew by 7.97% due to net migration over five years.
Learn more about Charleston.9. Melbourne, Florida
9. Melbourne, Florida
Best Places 2019 Rank: 25
Metro Population: 568,183
Median Home Price: $198,425
Median Annual Salary: $48,240
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 8.74%
Growing 8.74% due to net migration between 2013 and 2017, Melbourne sees particular interest from seniors. The metro area’s median age is 47.1 years old, compared to the national median age of 38.1, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Learn more about Melbourne.8. Orlando, Florida
8. Orlando, Florida
Best Places 2019 Rank: 63
Metro Population: 2,390,859
Median Home Price: $233,050
Median Annual Salary: $44,410
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 9.28%
The home of Disney World and Universal Studios doesn’t just attract tourists hoping to see their favorite fictional characters up close. It also brings people who are planning to make this warm-weather destination their home.
Learn more about Orlando.7. Lakeland, Florida
7. Lakeland, Florida
Best Places 2019 Rank: 59
Metro Population: 652,256
Median Home Price: $171,967
Median Annual Salary: $40,560
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 9.91%
Located in the center of Florida’s peninsula, Lakeland is showing strong growth that mirrors the state’s coastal metro areas featured on the list. Lakeland grew by 9.91% from 2013 to 2017 due to net migration alone.
Learn more about Lakeland.6. Austin, Texas
6. Austin, Texas
Best Places 2019 Rank: 1
Metro Population: 2,000,590
Median Home Price: $292,500
Median Annual Salary: $51,840
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 10.09%
Following the Great Recession, an increasing number of tech companies have been opening offices in this Texas metro area. Its affordability relative to the likes of spendy California metro areas such as San Jose and San Francisco is driving many people to Austin for work. It’s a hot enough destination that the metro area grew by 10.09% over five years due to net migration.
Learn more about Austin.5. Port St. Lucie, Florida
5. Port St. Lucie, Florida
Best Places 2019 Rank: 78
Metro Population: 454,482
Median Home Price: $211,083
Median Annual Salary: $42,500
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 10.24%
Located along the Treasure Coast, Port St. Lucie attracts people looking for a place with plenty of waterways to explore and, of course, the warm Florida weather. The Port St. Lucie area grew by 10.24% during a five-year period.
Learn more about Port St. Lucie.4. Daytona Beach, Florida
4. Daytona Beach, Florida
Best Places 2019 Rank: 99
Metro Population: 623,675
Median Home Price: $192,817
Median Annual Salary: $38,710
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 10.35%
Daytona Beach’s growth from net migration between 2013 and 2017 nearly hit 10.5%. The coastal metro area attracts plenty of tourists to NASCAR races and local beaches, but many of these visitors also appear happy enough to make the place their next hometown.
Learn more about Daytona Beach.3. Sarasota, Florida
3. Sarasota, Florida
Best Places 2019 Rank: 18
Metro Population: 768,381
Median Home Price: $237,260
Median Annual Salary: $42,680
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 13.1%
With a median age of more than 51 years, Sarasota is a particularly attractive destination for retirees, even more so than other Florida locales. Sarasota grew by a whopping 13.1% in a five-year period due to net migration.
Learn more about Sarasota.2. Fort Myers, Florida
2. Fort Myers, Florida
Best Places 2019 Rank: 35
Metro Population: 700,165
Median Home Price: $219,200
Median Annual Salary: $41,380
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 14.42%
Fort Myers ranks No. 2 on the Best Places People Are Moving list for the second straight year. Fort Myers grew by 14.42% over a five-year period due to net migration.
Learn more about Fort Myers.1. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
1. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Best Places 2019 Rank: 75
Metro Population: 432,772
Median Home Price: $181,800
Median Annual Salary: $35,890
Net Migration, 2013 to 2017: 17.41%
Myrtle Beach may be small, but it’s proving popular among people looking for a new place to live. Like many of the Florida metro areas on the list, this coastal South Carolina spot attracts plenty of retirees looking for warm weather year-round, lending to the metro’s median age of 46.5 years.
Learn more about Myrtle Beach.The best places to live in the U.S. based on net migration:
The best places to live in the U.S. based on net migration:
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- Fort Myers, Florida
- Sarasota, Florida
- Daytona Beach, Florida
- Port St. Lucie, Florida
- Austin, Texas
- Lakeland, FLorida
- Orlando, Florida
- Melbourne, Florida
- Charleston, South Carolina
Larson has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Real Deal and other top-tier outlets for her industry insights and expertise. Recognized among her peers for her eye for design, she has bought, renovated and sold apartments and homes in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago and Nantucket, providing her an acute insight into the needs of buyers and sellers alike.
Lisa holds a Master's degree in History and was a member of the Division I cross-country and track teams at the University of California, Berkeley. Larson also remains actively involved with various charitable foundations, neighborhood associations and at both of her children's schools, and serves as a director on the board of the USA Track & Field Association.