Relocation has always been a pretty big industry, especially more so in the past few years, but one consideration often forgotten when moving home is the networking side of things. It’s common knowledge that we all get given an IP address whenever we use an ISP to access the internet, but does this address actually change when we move home? Or does it stay the same?
Your public/external IP address will change when you move house, since each router/household is assigned a unique public IPv4 address by the internet provider.
Therefore, you’ll find you usually can’t take your old public IP address with you to your new home. There might be rare cases when you can rent a static IP off your ISP and have this carried over to your new residence, but in general, moving houses does change your IP address.
How Public IP Addresses Are Issued (IPv4)
In order to explain this issue more clearly, it’s better to briefly explain what IP addresses are and how routers/ISPs issue them.
IP addresses are unique identifiers for a device, and every device that connects to the internet must have a unique public IP address. They are usually in the x.x.x.x format, with each quadrant being from 0 to 255 (eg. 126.96.36.199) They also convey your approximate physical location and your ISP (provider).
But under IPv4, there actually aren’t enough IPv4 addresses to cover all devices globally, so they have to be split into a public and private range by Network Address Translation or NAT.
See the diagram below for a good demonstration of how NAT splits public IP to private IP addresses:
NAT type resolves the issue of there not being enough unique IPv4 addresses in the world by converting a a public IP address (188.8.131.52 – issued by the ISP) into a private IP address and range (192.168.0.1-254) so it can then dish out the private (local network) IP addresses you see in the image to each device on the home network.
Therefore, when most people are asking the question “does my IP address change when moving house?”, it’s safe to assume they mostly mean the PUBLIC/EXTERNAL IP address issued to the router by your internet provider (in the example above, the 184.108.40.206 IP address). The one that is displayed when you load up one of those “what is my IP address” tools on a browser.
Now we’ve defined the terms a bit more clearly, it’s easier to answer the question.
Do You Get a New IP Address When You Move House?
Your public IP address will change when you move house. Because you are using a new router in a new location, and possibly a new internet provider, it will be issued with a new public IP address different from your old one.
Remember, external IP addresses also convey other information like location and ISP, so if you’re changing either your location (a given when moving home) and/or your internet provider (often when moving home), by definition, you’re also going to be changing your public IP address on your router (changing routers also does this).
How IP Addresses Work
There isn’t really any way around this, other than a few more specialized solutions we cover in the sections below. The IP address that websites log and track when you visit them will change when you change houses. And they’ll be able to tell from the new IP address that you’ve changed location as well, if it’s a long way away (a VPN is a possible way around this – see below).
Can I Keep My Old IP Address?
In certain cases, it may be possible to keep your old public IP address, but it’s unlikely.
You can inquire with your internet provider about renting a static/fixed IP address.
This is where you pay an extra monthly fee to have your public IP locked in place by your ISP, so it doesn’t change. You’re unlikely to be able to have exactly the same IP you had in your old place, but some providers will allow you to at least fix your router’s IP in place in your new place, so it doesn’t keep changing. If you already have a fixed IP at your old place, you may be able to carry it over to your new place, but it’s not guaranteed.
Contact your ISP’s support or customer service to ask about this; they don’t all offer it, and it’s almost always an extra charge when it is available.
Using a VPN To Maintain Your Old IP Location
A more specialized scenario when moving home is that you may be moving a long way from where you were, but you’d rather keep an IP address that, even if it’s not exactly the same as your old one, is at least located in the same city/country as you were. It might make it easier to access accounts for example while you’re getting set up in your new place.
If this is something you want to do, then a Virtual Private Network or VPN might be an option. This will allow you to if not keep your exact old IP address, at least keep your old general location in terms of where websites think you are accessing from if you pick a provider with the correct servers. VPN’s mask your actual public IP address and location and replace it with one you select through the VPN interface.
See our article on VPN’s changing your IP address and location for more on this, plus some good free and Premium VPN options. You’ll need to select a VPN that has server locations specifically where you want (PIA is great for American users, with servers in 50+ US cities).
If you get set up with a VPN before you move home, it can also be a good way of maintaining the same general IP location, if you set the program to start up and connect to the same server location every time you boot up your device. You can just carry this over to your new house, and to any websites you visit, it doesn’t even look as though you’ve moved, as you’re always connecting from the same VPN server location.
Do Private IP Addresses Change When You Move?
Although it’s less mission critical, let’s also cover the internal (local network) side of the equation. In the NAT diagram above, that’s the local IP addresses (192.168.0.x) that the router assigns to individual devices on it’s network. Will these also change when you move home?
Private IP addresses will also change when moving, as you’ll be connecting to a new router, which will assign new local IP’s to all the devices according to it’s DHCP settings.
In other words, things will tend to get jumbled around among all the devices at your new place, but the general feel will usually be the same.
How DHCP Assigns IP Addresses To Devices
Perhaps in the old house, your local IP address range was 192.168.0.1-254, and your PC had 192.168.0.3, your phone had 192.168.0.7, your wife’s phone had 192.168.0.2, and your son’s PS5 had 192.168.0.10
Now maybe in your new house, your public IP address is totally different as covered above, but the private IP range is still that same 192.168.0.x (sometimes it can be a bit different depending on the router, but we’ll assume it’s the same here). Now you find your PC now has 192.168.0.1, your phone has 192.168.0.4, your wife’s phone has 192.168.0.11 and your son’s PS5 now has 192.168.0.21 (see here for setting a static IP for games consoles).
In other words, the new router has it’s own DHCP settings and has issued a new set of local IPs to the devices, but it’s not a million miles apart from your old place, just the last digit for each device has changed because of the shuffling of local IP addresses on the new network as per the DHCP Settings. These local IP addresses will continue to swap out and rotate at set time intervals anyway as determined by the DHCP Lease Time settings on your new router.