How to Financially Plan for Relocating
Americans relocate for many reasons, such as work or family obligations. The U.S. Census says that in 2012 alone, 16.9 million people moved from one county to another, with 7 million of them making interstate moves. Even moving to a house a few blocks over can be demanding, but with a major relocation, it may be expensive as well.
Develop a Budget
A good relocation plan starts by looking at how much you have to spend, the costs of the move, and any financial help you'll receive. "If you're relocating for your job," Mark Koepsell of the CORT relocation consulting firm says, "factor in how they are supporting your relocation whether through a lump sum, relocation bonus or relocation service provider." Koepsell adds that you should ask whether the money counts as taxable income. If it's tax-free, you have a bigger budget to work with.
Research the Costs
If you plan to hire movers, get price estimates from two or three firms. Find out the costs for driving or flying yourself and your family to your new home. Talk to insurers in your new home town about the price of renters or homeowners insurance and for auto insurance coverage. You can plug figures into a spreadsheet to compare different options. Koepsell recommends you look at living expenses in your new community such as property and income taxes and the price of housing: "Learning about all of the costs of relocation and costs unique to that area will help you prioritize."
Decide What to Do With Your Furniture
Once you get some quotes for shipping your furniture, see if leaving it behind would save money. Look at the price of replacing your chairs and tables and decide which option works out best. If you're selling your old home, Koepsell says, consider leaving it furnished: that may speed up the sale and get you a better price. You can rent furniture for your new home until you're ready to buy again. A spreadsheet makes it easier to compare all the alternatives and their impact on your bottom line.
Put a Roof Over Your Head
Before you settle on renting or buying a new home, it can help to talk to real-estate agents or relocation professionals. Koepsell says CORT, for example, offers area-orientation tours that show customers where parks, schools and hospitals in their town are. You can use that information to figure out where you want to live and how much you have to budget for your down payment or security deposit. Koepsell says many movers choose to rent at least short-term so that they can get a feel for the best neighborhoods before they buy.
Maximize Tax Breaks
If you're moving for work, or for your spouse's work, you may be able to write off the expenses of traveling to your new home and shipping your possessions. You deduct the expenses on your Form 1040, so you don't have to itemize. To qualify, the new workplace has to be at least 50 miles further from your former home than your or your spouse's former job was. Usually the move has to be within a year of starting work at the new location, though there are exceptions. If you meet the qualifications, you can factor the tax savings into your financial plan.