Long Distance Moving: What You Need to Know

Long Distance Moving: What You Need to Know

When you’re faced with the decision of moving long-distance, the stakes can be high. The significance of understanding the costs and preparing adequately cannot be overstated. For first-time movers, frequent movers, and families in transition, it’s crucial to understand the complexities involved.

This article aims to unravel the intricacies of long-distance moving, offering expert insights into costs, preparation strategies, and tips to ensure a seamless transition to your new home and community interstate. By making informed decisions, you can navigate this new adventure with confidence. Let’s find out what you need to know to make your long-distance moving process much smoother and more manageable.

Understanding the Costs

What Are the Main Drivers of Moving Costs?

What Are the Main Drivers of Moving Costs?Several drivers influence the cost of a long-distance move, and being aware of them helps you make informed decisions.

Distance and destination

The primary cost driver is the distance between your old and new homes. A 1-bedroom move from Bay Area to Los Angeles can start from $2700 while Bay Area to Phoenix can cost from $4400 with a next day delivery.

Longer distances naturally incur higher costs due to increased fuel consumption, time, and vehicle wear. Remote destinations often lead to higher expenses due to limited accessibility, the need for specialized vehicles, and additional logistical challenges.

Volume and weight

The weight and volume of your belongings also impact moving costs. It makes logical sense that the more items that require a larger truck, the more fuel and additional labor is needed, increasing the overall expense. Careful planning and downsizing can help manage these costs effectively.

Time of year and demand

Timing is also another important factor of moving costs. Costs fluctuate based on the time of year, with peak seasons like summer being more expensive due to higher demand.

Many families move when school is out, and warmer weather makes the process easier, leading moving companies to charge higher rates during these times.

What Are My Moving Estimates Options

Understanding the different types of options for moving estimates can help you choose what’s best for your situation.

Binding estimates

A binding estimate guarantees the final cost based on the initial survey of your belongings, giving you financial certainty during your move. Even if your items weigh more or less than expected, the price stays the same. This is great for avoiding unexpected expenses and by choosing a binding estimate, you can plan your finances better and have peace of mind with no surprise costs.

Non-binding estimates

A non-binding estimate gives an initial cost approximation, which may vary based on the actual weight of your belongings, distance, and additional services. The final cost could be higher or lower than the original estimate, depending on the move’s circumstances. Things can change and most likely will. This type of estimate is not a guaranteed price, and adjustments may be needed to reflect the true expense of the service.

Binding not-to-exceed estimates

A binding not-to-exceed estimate ensures customers stay within the original specified weight limit for their move and does not exceed it. If the actual weight is less than the agreed amount, the overall cost could be lower. These estimates are most effective when a mover has inspected your home and assessed the items in person.

The Type of Quotes to Look out For in Long Distance Moving?

The Type of Quotes to Look out For in Long Distance Moving?Manager Nick from KZ2 Moving Company states, “Customers need to pay attention to the delivery date promises. Some companies provide very attractive rates by combining multiple households in the same truckload.

The downside of this approach is that the companies cannot always fill up the truck quickly enough resulting in postponed delivery. In extreme cases, customers who want to save on moving services during the low season may end up waiting for their stuff for months.

Ask if you are getting a dedicated truck for your move or sharing a truck with other people. Clarify the delivery date and how the delayed delivery scenarios are handled. Some large companies might even include complimentary storage for a few weeks which adds some flexibility for your move.”

Are There Any Hidden Fees I Should Know?

Hidden costs can arise during the move but it depends on your estimate being binding or non-binding to begin with or if the estimate was a flat rate estimate or hourly. Some hidden fees can include fees for stairs, long carries, or last-minute changes to the moving plan.

For example, if your new home has multiple flights of stairs or long hallways, movers may charge extra for the additional effort required. It’s always a good idea to discuss these potential costs with your moving company beforehand to avoid surprises and thinking about the type of estimate binding or non-binding.

Other fees can include:

  • Packing and unpacking services – Hiring professionals to pack and unpack your belongings adds to the overall cost.
  • Storage fees – If you need temporary storage for your belongings, fees may apply. These vary based on item volume and storage duration. Some transporters may offer short-term complimentary storage.
  • Insurance and liability coverage – Moving companies offer different levels of insurance and liability coverage to protect your belongings during transit. Options range from basic coverage to comprehensive plans covering the full value of your items.

Getting Accurate Moving Quotes

Is a flat fee better?

Is a flat fee better?“Long-distance moves may carry a lot of uncertainty for both the mover and the customer. That’s why it is important to agree on the price in advance.

It is not uncommon for movers to do a sloppy estimate, then, on the day of the move, all the stuff doesn’t fit in the truck, and the customer is presented with two options – leave some of the stuff behind or pay nearly twice for an additional truck.

A lot can happen on the road too. From a flat tire to weather conditions to accidents blocking traffic for hours – there is too much uncertainty for the customer to pay movers by the hour. Therefore, a flat fee gives everyone peace of mind during the move.” Emphasizes Nick.

Requesting Quotes from Multiple Movers

Be sure to always contact several moving companies to request quotes so you can find compare apple to apples and find a fair price.

If you are using a moving comparison platform, provide as much information as possible about your long-distance move. Include the size of your current home, the distance to your new location, and any special items that need extra care or extra services you may want to opt into.

In-Home or Virtual Surveys

Many moving companies offer in-home or virtual surveys to assess the volume and weight of your belongings, this allows them to present a more accurate estimate of the moving cost.

Nick goes on to explain, “A video call is OK but an on-site visit is better as a specialist can take measurements of large items, doorways, staircases, etc, estimate the weight of the items, take notes of hills, windy streets, parking situation, and approaches for the movers, and notice plenty of other things that customers might not be aware of.”

Do I Tell the Movers About My Special Item?

If you have specific items that need special attention, such as moving fragile items or heavy equipment, you need to raise it with the movers. It’s how they can provide specific guidelines and cost estimates for these services and the only way to ensure the item gets handled properly is if the movers use the right tools and materials for the item.

It’s much better to have the moving company overprepared than having the moving company attempt to move the item without the right tools and realize damage later on.

How to Choose a Reliable Long Distance Moving Company?

Start by researching moving companies. In the U.S., those involved in interstate moves must be licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates the industry for safety and consumer protection. You should always check customer reviews from reliable sources and contact the Better Business Bureau to gauge service quality.

Some red flags to avoid include:

  • Companies with no physical address or licensing information.
  • Companies that only provide estimates over the phone without a visual inspection of your belongings.
  • Companies that ask for large deposits upfront.

Budgeting for An out Of State Move

A well-planned budget can help you manage your finances during the move. You can start by listing all the potential expenses you might incur for the move, including moving costs such as hiring long distance movers, purchasing packing supplies, temporary storage and additional services like cleaning and packing.

If you need to stick within a budget, simply pare back what you need and what services you can cut out. This approach allows you stay financially prepared and avoid unexpected costs.

Preparing for A Long-Distance Move

Planning the timeline

It is recommended to be planning 8 weeks in advance to give yourself enough time to complete all tasks and not feel rushed. However, it’s not always possible and your timeline will depend on your situation and ultimately how much time you have left before moving day. Within that time you will need to fit in:

  1. Declutter and sorting belongings
  2. Book in your moving company
  3. Gather packing supplies
  4. Pack systematically and label boxes
  5. Move on the day

Creating a moving checklist

There are plenty of simple and efficient moving checklists available online and creating one ensures that you don’t overlook any moving tasks and allows you stay on track during the stressful relocation process. It should include everything from hiring professional movers and reserving a moving truck, to setting up utilities like electricity, water, and internet in your new home.

Don’t forget to update your address with important institutions, like your bank and the postal service, and to organize and label your boxes for easy unpacking. Taking the time to create a detailed moving house checklist can make your move less chaotic.

Packing and organization

What Supplies Do I Need?

What Supplies Do I Need?Stock up on these basic and essential packing supplies:

How Do I Go About Labeling and Inventory Management?

Labeling will help ensure that everything ends up in the right place during the move. You can also maintain an inventory list to keep track of all your items. Label each box with its contents and the room it belongs to in your new home.

It’s even better if you can assign a color to each room and color code your boxes and items that belong to the rooms. Also remember to add it to an inventory list, this list can be invaluable for organizing your belongings so nothing gets lost or misplaced in the transition.

What About Moving Valuables and Fragile Items?

Pack valuables and fragile items separately, using appropriate packing materials such as bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and good sturdy boxes.

Clearly label these items as “FRAGILE” to prompt careful handling. If you have valuable items and don’t need any special equipment to transport, maybe consider moving these valuable and delicate items yourself to avoid any potential risk of damage or misplacement during the move interstate.

Managing Logistics on Moving Day

On moving day, ensure that everything runs smoothly by coordinating with the movers and overseeing the process.

Coordinating with Movers

Confirm details and schedules with the movers well in advance. Make sure they have clear access to both your old and new homes to load and unload, including any necessary keys, or gate codes.

Communicating Special Instructions

Provide the movers with any special instructions, such as handling delicate items with extra care or specific placement of furniture and belongings in the new home. This will ensure your valuable items are handled as they should.

Supervising the Loading Process

Actively supervise the loading process and pay extra close attention to how fragile and valuable items are packed and loaded. If you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to offer guidance or ask questions to understand how things will be loaded.

What Should I Do if The Movers Are Late or Something Goes Wrong?

Dealing with delays or issues on moving day can be stressful, but there are steps you can take to manage the situation effectively. If the movers are running late, first contact the moving company to get an updated estimate of their arrival time. Good communication is essential for understanding the situation and plan accordingly.

In the meantime, keep all relevant documents, such as the moving contract and inventory list, at hand for reference. If something goes wrong during the move, such as damaged items or missing boxes, document everything with photos and detailed notes. Report any issues immediately to the moving company and follow their claims process. Keep calm and remember that many issues can be resolved with patience and clear communication.

How Can I Ensure Everything Is Accounted For?

How Can I Ensure Everything Is Accounted For?This is where you inventory checklist can be your best friend. Check off items on the list as they are being loaded onto the truck. This way if anything is missing, you can spot it out quickly on the list.

It’s also a good idea to conduct a final walkthrough of your old home to ensure nothing gets left behind and that the property is in good condition. Check all rooms, closets, and storage spaces for items that may have been forgotten. Confirm that all appliances are turned off, windows are closed, and doors are securely locked.

Settling Into Your New Location

Connecting your utilities and services

A big part of settling in is making sure you have the essential services from day one. Set up utilities and services in your new home a week in advance, including electricity, water, internet, and cable. Transfer existing accounts where you can, such as banking, insurance, and utilities to your new address to ensure continuity of services.

Additionally, set up any new accounts as required in your new location, such as local gym memberships, healthcare providers, and internet or cable services. Knowing these services are connected will help you settle into your new home sooner and avoid any interruptions.

Prepare for a new climate

Before moving, research the climate of your new location to know what to expect year-round. Check average temperatures, humidity levels, and seasonal weather patterns. This helps you plan your wardrobe, packing for both extreme heat and cold, and rain gear if needed.

Adjusting to a new community

Take the time to explore your new community with your family and get involved in local activities. In the first few days find the essential services and needed providers such as doctors, grocery stores, healthcare options. Going for short walks to uncover new things in the local community will help you meet new people, learn about the area, and feel more at home. You can also join local clubs or organizations, attend events and festivals, and volunteer in your community to meet people with similar interests. Very quickly you’ll start to expand your social network and find a sense of belonging, making a new adjustment into the community.

Cost-saving tips

Implementing cost-saving tips can help you stay within your budget.

Downsizing and decluttering

Work on the volume of items to be moved by downsizing and getting rid of items you have no use for. Donate or sell these items to make your move easier and also offset some moving costs. A yard sale is a great way to quickly reduce your items while feeling good about giving your items a new lease of life.

Flexible moving dates

Opt for flexible moving dates or off-peak moving. By choosing to move during off-peak times, such as weekdays or in the middle of the month, you can often benefit from lower costs. Working with the movers schedule when they are less busy and more available to accommodate your schedule can help if you are willing to be flexible.

DIY packing vs. Professional packing

If time is on your side and money is a bit on the tight side, pack yourself to save on professional packing fees. However, be mindful that you have to pack well for long distance moves so that your items survive the trip. Remember not to overload boxes or make them too heavy for one person to lift. Doing so can undo the efficiency of moving day.


Moving long-distance can seem overwhelming, but now you understand the costs and how to prepare thoroughly, you can make your transition easier. This article has provided you with key insights into moving costs and estimates.

Tips on getting accurate long distance moving quotes and how you can prepare for your interstate move with a detailed checklist, organized packing supplies, and proper logistics on moving day. We’ve covered a lot and now, you are equipped to confidently manage your own long-distance relocation.

Remember preparation and informed decisions are your best tools for a smooth transition to a new state. Embrace this new adventure with positivity, and soon, your new home will feel just as welcoming as the old one.


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