Should I buy a Car Before or After I Move?

Buying a new car, or even a "new to you" car is a great feeling. However, when planning to move to a different state or across the country, it may be hard to decide if you should buy your car before you move or after you move.

The choice will depend on a few key points. It all has to do with your situation and needs. Here we will go over various scenarios to help you decide.

If You Do Not Currently Own a Car Before You Move

Not owning a car can be normal in different places. For example, if living in New York where there is public transportation everywhere to a different state like California where everyone depends on a vehicle to get around. In that case it may be hard to wait and buy a car after you move.

In this case you may want to look at how you can manage the purchase locally with dealership or private seller as you can calmly make a choice, compare prices, and finish the deal.

At this point, you can ship your vehicle to a another state with an auto transport company. Or make it a car driving experience.

If You Just Feel Comfortable Buying a Car Before You Move

Sometimes it's not just about the cost of a new car or used car. It can be stressful being in a new place without a car. Even though it may cost a little more, you would perhaps want to buy a car ahead of time .

This will remove it from a likely long list of things on your to do list. Having a car would probably be on the top of that list.

If you are using ride sharing or taxis when you arrive, it could be really stressful. Knowing you have your car already can alleviate that stress.

Important Scenarios that May Make You Decide to Buy Before or After You Move

Car Prices

Believe it or not, in certain locations some cars are more desire-able than others. That means if you are looking at buying where you are now and where you are going to, it's a great idea to do some research and see what others have paid for the same vehicle in both locations so you do not go over your expense plan.

State Sales Tax

Which state has the cheaper sales tax? California, Tennessee and Rhode Island have 7% and up, while Oregon, New Hampshire, Montana, and Delaware pay 0% sales tax.


As far as shipping goes, you landed in the right spot, as the answer to the cost of shipping is right here with our car shipping calculator.

If you want a rough idea of what it costs, please review the following table:

Title, Tax, and Registration Fees

If you buy your vehicle in the state you are coming from you will register, title, and pay fees on the car but also get a local license plate.When you move, most states give you 20 -30 days to register your vehicle at your destination. You will have to reregister.

Double check the total fees for transfer so that way you don't lose the money you saved by purchasing in the state your departed from.

There's nothing wrong with shipping your car and moving with a newly titled and registered vehicle from another state. In fact, most people who ship their vehicles go through this even if they bought a car way before.

Keep in mind, if you buy and register in the state you resided in before when you register at your destination state, there may be some sort of out of state tax.

Inquire with the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) for the state you are moving to and make sure if you have to pay taxes there too.

Getting Your New Driver's License

Most states give you 30 days to update your address upon moving to another state. You will have to do this regardless of when you buy a new vehicle.

However, for those that are shipping or driving a car, your vehicle may remain usually registered in your previous location for just as long. In most cases, you will beed to update your driver's license first with proof of new residency and then register your vehicle(s).

If You Forget to Update Your License and Registration and Insurance

You can get a ticket from a police officer if you don't have both registration and license up to date within the prescribed amount of time. Be sure to check with your destination state to verify how long you have to get it all done when you take your car home.

Insurance covers you anywhere your drive, but you may have issues with a claim if you forget to update them. When you register after you move, the DMV will want you to have your insurance up to date.

Keep in mind, if your new home state is more condensed or has a lot of accidents, you may see an expense increase from insurance companies, as those residents spend more money on coverage.

Save Money Buying a Car After You Move From Another State

Or From the State You Are Moving From!

There are creative ways to purchase a car out of state and have it shipped to you to save a bundle and get the exact car you want.

Here's how:

Option 1: Buy A Car from Any State To Your New Location - Regsiter it There

In this case, it would be no different than buying a car out of state and having it shipped for someone that has been in your new location / state for a while. This can be from anywhere. Just get an instant quote so you can check what the cost to ship is before making an offer.

Option 2: Buy A Car from Your Local Dealer and Hold it With a Deposit

You get the benefits of buying a car from the state you came from by putting a deposit to hold it, then finalizing the purchase when you have established new residency.

You can go around town and still carefully see each vehicle on site, test drive, and skip the hassle of buying a car after your move cities.

Once your license is updated with the DMV, immediately finalize the deal and only pay taxes and registration fees once. Shipping across a state line is an easy process can still be a cheaper option.

Shipping with National Express

Once you shop around, you'll probably see we offer the best rates and the best service thanks out literally thousands of customer reviews. We'll make sure you car gets there in the same good condition you left it when we picked it up.

We offer affordable options like open car transport that won't break the bank. We want your business, so of course, count on us to make sure we get your long distance transport taken care of.

Carl has a decade of experience in the car shipping industry. He has worked in nearly every aspect of the transport business since 2014, taking charge of various roles in the company such as dispatching, sales, and customer service.

During those years, Carl amassed an invaluable amount of experience which has contributed to his writing of every article and and guide on NX since taking over content in 2015.