12-Step Moving to Florida Checklist

Moving cross-state can bring as much stress as it does excitement. If you’re relocating to Florida, this checklist can help you make sure you have all your “pelicans” in a row before the big moment. Consider these 12 items before you move, and preferably, before you purchase a home in Florida.

1: Get Your Taxes Sorted

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Many people rejoice when moving to Florida for the tax breaks it offers. Sean Polley, the CEO of Polley Wealth, explains. “One of the best benefits of moving to Florida is that there is no state income tax. Therefore, for someone moving from a state where they paid state income tax, there can be a significant difference in pay.”

But if you’re unfamiliar with how to file taxes, moving to Florida isn’t the time to try it out. Hire out the help, and ensure that person is familiar with tax laws in the state you’ll be moving from to ensure a seamless transition.

2: Purchase Homeowner’s Insurance

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If you’re buying a Florida home out of pocket, having homeowner’s insurance isn’t a requirement. Only banks mandate home insurance as a mortgage condition.

Nevertheless, buying homeowner’s insurance is wise. Your insurance can protect you from the following:

  • Hurricane, tropical storm, fire, and tornado damage
  • Personal property damage
  • Liability coverage (if someone injures themself on your property)

The Downside to Florida Homeowner’s Insurance

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Your real estate agent can provide recommendations for purchasing homeowner’s insurance. Just be ready to potentially pay a higher homeowner’s insurance fee than the state you’re moving from; according to one study, homeowner’s insurance in Florida costs about three times as much as the national average.

3: Update Your Address

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You should aim to update your address with USPS one to two weeks before your Florida move-in date. But changing where physical mail arrives is only a part of the process of updating your address before you move to Florida.

Below are other places you’ll need to notify about your address change, where applicable to your situation:

  • Your employer
  • Banks and lenders
  • Credit cards
  • Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Insurance companies
  • Subscription services

4: Get a Florida Driver’s License

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Here’s some good news: You don’t have to rush to the DMV the moment the U-haul arrives in your new driveway to register for a Florida Driver’s license.

Instead, you’ll have 30 days from the time you move to obtain it.

There’s a Catch

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And now, for the bad news: You must go to the oh-so-dreaded DMV in person to get a Florida driver’s license.

In most cases, you’ll need to fill out some paperwork, take a vision test, and pay a fee. Having to take a written or road test isn’t off the table. But luckily, it’s only under special circumstances.

5: Register Your Vehicle(s)

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By law, you must register your vehicle(s) in Florida within ten days of establishing residency. Alternatively, if you start employment in Florida before making a permanent move, you’ll need to register your vehicle(s) within ten days from that time.

You’ll need a Florida driver’s license to register your vehicle(s). 

Preparing for Your Vehicle’s Registration

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Other documents you should gather in preparation for the vehicle registration process include:

  • Proof of car insurance
  • Vehicle title
  • Emissions test (varies according to the district)

You’ll also need to pay a fee, which is based on your vehicle’s model and weight. 

6: Register To Vote

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Registering to vote is mercifully a two-for-one task when you’re making your way through this moving to Florida checklist, as you can do it at the DMV office on the day you register for a Florida driver’s license.

The items you’ll need to register to vote in Florida include:

  • Florida driver’s license
  • Completed voter registration form

7: Enroll Your Children in School

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Regardless of whether you’re moving to Florida during summer break or the middle of the school year, enrolling your children in school should be one of your top priorities.

Every school handles its enrollment process a bit differently. However, in most cases, you’ll need to provide proof of your new Florida address in order for them to allow your child to register for their school district.

All About Zones

Pensacola, Florida coastline.
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Unlike some states, where the address determines which district your child will attend within a county, Florida public schools operate on a zone system; each county operates its own school district.

That said, you’ve likely already researched school districts before deciding to move to Florida. So, it’ll simply be a matter of checking with your real estate agent or contacting the school to see what paperwork you need to complete to enroll your children.

8: Notify or Change Health Insurance

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If you have an insurance company that operates in the state you’re moving from and Florida, lucky you! In that case, notify your insurance company of your address change and check to see if there are any changes to your monthly premium. 

If your current insurance plan doesn’t operate in Florida or the area you’re moving to, you’ll need to do two things:

  1. Notify your current health insurance of the last date you’ll be living in your state.
  2. Find a new health insurance company for Florida coverage.

If you qualify for subsidized health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, be sure to reach out to the Health Insurance Marketplace to update them about your address change as well.

9: Find New Doctors

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Regardless of your health insurance situation, finding a new primary doctor in Florida is vital. 

There are several avenues you can take for finding a primary care doctor and any other specialists you may need, including:

  • Asking for referrals (your real estate agent is a great start)
  • Consulting with your insurance company
  • Checking the Florida Medical Association’s list
  • Reading reviews online (with a grain of salt)

10: Set Up Your Utilities

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Your real estate agent or condo/apartment complex are great resources for knowing the utility company options you have in your new local area.

Below are the utilities you’ll need to set up or check to see if they’re included, depending on your situation:

  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Internet
  • Waste management

11: Choose a Moving Company

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It’s unlikely you’ll want to lug your belongings by multiple car trips to your new digs, especially if you’ll be moving to sweltering South Florida. 

So, whether you choose to rent a truck or hire a company to move your belongings for you, the first step is to ensure the company is okay with crossing state borders.

You should also ask questions such as:

  • How do they package fragile items? What happens if an item breaks or gets lost during shipping?
  • Does the company have insurance coverage? What does—and doesn’t—it cover?
  • How much experience does the moving company have?
  • What additional services does the company offer? (Unpacking, storage, etc.)

12: Connect With Your Community

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Connecting with your community might be far from your thoughts as you prepare to move to Florida. 

While that’s understandable, consider this: Chatting with locals before you move can give you insider knowledge on things like school “A” versus school “B,” the most reliable WiFi provider, and the community’s locally beloved CPA.

So, how do you meet these people?

Facebook and Meetup groups are excellent ways to meet people in the community you’ll be moving to. You can also get in touch with a local organization for a cause you care about.

The Sunshine State or Land of Regret?

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Deciding to move to a different city is a big deal, and Florida cities are on many people’s radars. Florida’s warm weather and state income tax-free policies may draw you to call it your new home. But The Sunshine State doesn’t come without its drawbacks.

12 Regrets Florida Transplants Have

25 Cheapest Places To Live in America

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Are you in the market for a home but are tired of high housing prices where you’re looking? If your job allows you to be location-independent, these are the most economical places to live in the US that just might be worth moving to.

25 Cheapest Places to Live in America

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