Everything You Need to Know About Planning Your Long-Distance Move


So this is really happening… you’re relocating. And it’s starting to set in… new home, new neighborhood, restaurants, friends. Relocating is tremendous, and it’s so much more than just a move… it’s a life milestone for you and your family. Let’s explore planning your long-distance move together.

But as exciting as it may be, relocating can also feel overwhelming. There are many details to take care of and it can be stressful trying to make sure that everything is in order. By taking the time to prioritize your needs, and make a plan that works for you and your family, you can make your move a success ad start your new life adventure with confidence.

So let’s get started! Here are the things you’ll need to consider when planning your long-distance move:

How To Budget For & Plan a Move Timeline

When it comes to moving thousands of miles, the more advanced planning time you have – the better. Long-distance moving, in particular, can be especially challenging because of the logistics involved in transporting belongings and household items across state lines or even across the country. Cost considerations are another important aspect of proper planning because moving expenses can quickly add up, and it’s important to have a clear understanding of the costs involved in order to avoid any unexpected expenses.

How far in advance should you plan your long-distance move?

Experienced movers often try to plan a year or more in advance. But if you don’t have that kind of time, have no fear! Experts advise planning your move at least 6 to 8 weeks in advance of your desired relocation date. This allows you enough time to research and compare moving companies, get quotes, make an informed decision about which one is best for you, and arrange for the packing and storage of your belongings.

Ultimately, however, you will need to plan backward from the date you need to be at your new location – whether it’s for a job move, or buying a new house – you first have to identify the exact move date parameters. If possible, let all parties involved know what your timeline is going to concern and that you may need some flexibility.

Here is a more detailed idea of what your long-distance moving timeline might look like.

Some things to start thinking about immediately:

  • Start researching the cost of living where you are moving to accommodate your budget
  • Start reaching out to people in that area and find out what it’s like. If you don’t know anyone in the area, start joining Facebook groups or forums.
  • Begin creating a moving budget; experienced movers recommend over budgeting.
  • Depending on the size of your move budget, you will need to decide where you will need the most amount of help: packing and unpacking, storage, travel, auto transportation, childcare or pets.

Fore more tips on moving budgets, take a look at 7 Steps to Creating the Perfect Move Budget.

Hiring a Reputable Moving Company

Hiring a long-distance or cross-state moving company is the key to your move being successful. Some families choose to take on an interstate move themselves, doing the heavy lifting, renting a truck, and saving as much money as they can.

Full-service moving companies, on the other hand, will come and pack your items for you, transport them safely to your new home, and provide the supplies and labor needed, or a combination of packing, moving, and storage. Full-service moving companies also often offer concierge moving schedulers who are available to help you with the most intricate timeline details and can accommodate evolving move-out/move-in dates.

For more information about hiring a mover, take a look at finding a reputable moving company, or everything you need to know about long-distance moving companies.

Researching Moving Companies

The first thing most families do when making an expensive, interstate move is to ask their real estate agent who they recommend. Real estate agents sometimes work directly with moving companies, know their reputation, and can answer some basic questions for you.

Researching the reputation of moving companies is important as well. Most moving companies have a variety of reviews, so it’s important to read the ratings and see whether or not the company responded to negative reviews. No move is perfect – so no moving company can go without a couple of unfortunate assessments.

Look at some Questions to Ask the Long-Distance Moving Estimator.

Franchised Moving Companies Vs. Locally Owned

Finally, when it comes to selecting a moving company, decide whether you will be using a franchised or locally-owned one. Locally-owned movers often provide personalized service and can answer questions about specific neighborhoods within a given city. It’s not always easy to get a fair review of a franchised or nationally owned moving company because each region is going to have different management.

How do Moving Companies Estimate the Cost?

Most moving companies will provide a free, initial quote when asked. They typically base their estimate on the size of your home and how many items you are taking with you. To get an accurate estimate, it’s important to go through all of your belongings and decide what you’re going to keep, donate, or discard.

Once the movers arrive and start loading up the truck with your items, they might adjust the cost based on things like weight or mileage traveled. Ensure you sign off on any adjustments made to the original quote and confirm agreement on the new estimated cost.

What happens if something breaks?

No matter how careful and diligent a moving company is, accidents happen. Make sure you research the insurance plan that your movers provide and inquire if they offer special coverage for items of high value or sentimental importance.

Before the move, you can take extra precautions to prevent damage to your items, like disassembling furniture or taking photos.

A few other things to look for in a moving company:

  • License and certifications
  • Awards and recognitions
  • Insurance coverage
  • Maintenance of moving vehicles
  • References from previous customers

Preparing for Your Long-Distance Move

Regardless of the movers’ experience, any move will always involve a certain level of stress. Make sure to plan ahead and prepare yourself for the weeks leading up to your move. It’s not only important to research the company that you hire but also to create an organized moving checklist. This ensures we don’t leave anything behind and handle all aspects of your move.

Decluttering and Downsizing:

The first step to any move is deciding what items you want to keep, donate or discard. This process can be surprisingly therapeutic as it forces you to make decisions about the things that are meaningful in your life and those that have become excess baggage.

Once you’ve decluttered, start packing up the items you’re going to take with you. Start this process at least a month before the big day so that everything is ready on time. Make sure to label each box with its contents and which room they belong in so unpacking will be easier when you arrive at your new home.

Moving companies often offer a service where they will come take some of your boxes and keep them in storage. Families who are trying to sell their home or just want to make extra space for the move often take advantage of this option.

Downsizing to Save Money

Another option some families choose to take advantage of is selling some of the heavier or more expensive items that they don’t want to pay to have moved, and replacing them when they arrive at their new home.

Packaging and Labeling

Ensure you label and pack all your packages properly. This will help you track everything during the move and save time unloading.

Packing Options:

  • Declutter early and leave the essentials for last
  • Hire the moving company to pack for you
  • Pack and store it yourself

Ideas for Labeling Boxes when you move:

  • Name of contents
  • Room the items belong in
  • Fragile/handle with care flags
  • Priority and unpacking order labels
  • Number each box

Hidden Costs to Watch Out For

When moving long-distance, ensure you account for any surprise costs. Some companies offer a flat fee, but extra expenses may arise.

It’s important to ask your movers about anything that could potentially increase the cost of the move so there won’t be any surprises when it comes time to pay. Make sure you also inquire about any discounts they may offer during certain times of year and if they have any additional fees they weren’t able to discuss with you before the move started.

Other costs you may not have factored in are extra boxes and supplies, damages that occur in the move-out process, or other charges such as fuel or tolls. Make sure to have a clear understanding of the terms and conditions in your contract before you get into any kind.

Choosing Traveling Accommodations

The last thing to consider when you’re making a long-distance move is the travel arrangements. Here are some questions to ask yourself in preparation for your long-distance travel:

  1. Do you have family or friends you can stay with along the way?
  2. Will you be driving or taking a plane?
  3. How will you get your pets to the new location?
  4. What do you need to pack in preparation for traveling?
  5. Do you have a way to transport your personal documents and valuables?
  6. Are there weather conditions to consider?

Moving Day Tips

One of the most frequently asked questions about moving with a moving company is: who needs to be there? The answer might surprise you. In general, only one adult needs to be present when you hire professional movers.

Experienced movers discover that the process is surprisingly easy and quick. It’s a good idea to keep a book nearby in case you get bored. If children are present, they can easily sit out of the way with coloring books and a snack.

Here are some tips for handling the big move-out day:

  • Keep a list on hand of everything you want to communicate to the movers, so you don’t forget to talk to them when they arrive
  • Pre-pack your personal belongings and set them aside
  • Plan for some snacks and water or whatever nutrition you need on-hand

Pizza and water for the movers?

On moving day, most people offer to buy the movers pizza. IIsn’t it easy, affordable, and deliverable? However, professional movers often receive pizza. Consider tacos, sandwiches, or anything else. They’ll appreciate lunch and drinks, even if it’s pizza!

After the Move

Do you remember the last time you moved? Whether it was across town, or across the country… it is downright exhausting to move. You might feel too tired to make the bed by the time you arrive at your new home. Take your energy level into account when preparing for the move.

Unloading and Unpacking

Once you arrive at your new home, it’s time to unload the truck and begin unpacking. Ensure you label and organize each box to know where everything belongs in the house. If possible, it is best to start with the rooms that are most used such as the kitchen and bathroom. This action will facilitate a quicker settling-in process for you.

Setting Up Utilities

Don’t forget about setting up all of your essential utilities before moving into your new place. Reach out to local providers to find out what services they offer and when they can come set up the connections. You should also ask them if there are any discounts available based on long-term contracts or special deals they may have.

Changing Your Address

After settling into your new home, ensure you update your address information with the post office to redirect your mail. You should also contact any banks, insurance companies, and other organizations that you may do business with.


Announcing Your Move

Now that you have settled into your new home, it’s time to let friends and family know about your move. You can do this through social media or email announcements, by sending out postcards with the address of your new place, or by throwing a housewarming party (or all of the above!)

Making it Home

The most important thing about making a long-distance move is to remember that this transition doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time for everything to feel normal again, but one day you will look around and realize that you are truly at home in your new place. With patience and a little extra planning, your long-distance move can be successful!

After the move is complete, there are lots of tips to help you settle into your new home. Here are just a few:

  • Find a local grocery store and pharmacy
  • Register your kids in school
  • Update your driver’s license
  • Register to vote
  • Explore the neighborhood on foot or bike
  • Take pictures of your boxes so you can remember where everything is located when it comes time for unpacking

Finally, take some time after moving to relax and unwind. After such a big change, it’s important to give yourself a chance to adjust. Moving long distances requires quite an effort and deserves a celebration! Ensure you make time for yourself once all the hard work is done.

34 Frequently Asked Questions About Long-Distance Moves

  1. What is a full-service moving company? A full-service moving company helps customers with all aspects of the moving process. This can include packing, loading and unloading, transporting items and providing storage solutions. Full-service movers also provide tools and equipment to make the move easier.
  2. What should I tip movers? Tipping is optional for movers, but if you feel that they did an excellent job it’s a nice gesture to tip them as a way of saying thank you. Typically, experts recommend tipping each mover $20 – $40 based on their work duration, the move’s difficulty, and extra assistance.
  3. Which U.S. long-distance movers have the best reputations? There are several U.S. long-distance movers that have excellent reputations. Here at Interstate Moving, we have a track record of excellent customer service, as well as multiple service awards and recognitions.
  4. How much do movers charge for a long-distance move? Movers typically charge by the mile and weight for long-distance moves. Prices vary depending on the size of your move and distance traveled. Interstate Moving offers free quotes so that customers can compare prices before making a decision.
  5. Is it worth the expense of hiring a moving company? Hiring a moving company can save you a lot of time, energy and stress. It’s also worth the expense if it ensures careful handling and arrival of your items in one piece. A reputable moving company should also have insurance to protect your possessions in the event of any damage or loss during transit.
  6. What are the key benefits of hiring a reliable moving company? Professional movers have the experience and expertise needed to ensure a safe, efficient move. They also have the right tools and materials to properly pack your belongings for transport. Additionally, reliable moving companies will usually offer additional services such as cleanup, storage solutions and more.
  7. How can I be sure my possessions are in good hands? When working with a moving company, it’s important to do your research and make sure the company is reliable and reputable. Read online reviews, check references, and make sure they have insurance in case of any damage or loss.
  8. How fast do moving companies pack? Packing time can vary depending on the size of your move. Generally, packers and movers work extremely fast, and it can take a few hours for movers to properly pack all of your belongings.
  9. Can I store my possessions with a moving company? Yes, some moving companies offer storage solutions as an additional service.
  10. What are some tips for making a long-distance move easier? Pack well in advance, register your kids for school beforehand, update your driver’s license and register to vote. Be sure to take pictures of your boxes so you remember where everything is located when unpacking. Finally, make sure you give yourself some time after the move to relax and adjust.
  11. What happens when a moving company breaks something? A reputable moving company will have insurance to cover any damages or loss. If something breaks during the move, the mover should take responsibility and compensate for any losses.
  12. What items do long-distance moves not allow? Movers typically cannot transport hazardous items such as flammable liquids and explosives. Moreover, interstate moves do not permit food and plants. Always check with the moving company beforehand to confirm item allowances.
  13. Do professional movers handle moves in or out of apartments? Yes, professional movers are experienced in handling moves for apartments and other residential spaces. They will have the right tools and equipment to complete the job safely and efficiently.
  14. What paperwork do I need for a long-distance move? For an interstate move, you will need to provide proof of insurance, registration and driver’s license. Additionally, it is helpful to have a detailed inventory list of your belongings.
  15. Do movers provide packing materials? Most moving companies offer packing services and can provide the necessary materials to protect your items during transport. This usually includes boxes, wrapping paper, bubble wrap and more.
  16. Can I pack my own items? Yes, you can choose to pack your own items if it’s more convenient. However, it is recommended to use professional moving services to ensure your items are properly packed and protected during transport.
  17. Do movers provide unpacking services? Yes, some moving companies offer additional services such as unpacking and setup up furniture. This can help save you time when settling into your new home.
  18. When do storage costs begin for a long-distance move? The storage costs typically begin once your belongings arrive at the storage facility. You should talk to the moving company beforehand to make sure you understand any applicable charges and fees.
  19. Do movers provide insurance for items lost or damaged during a move? Yes, most professional movers have insurance in case of damage or loss. They will usually offer compensation for any losses incurred during the move.
  20. Can I use my own vehicle to transport my items? Yes, you can use your own vehicle for a long-distance move but it is not recommended unless you are experienced in moving large items. The safest option is to hire professional movers as they will have the proper tools and equipment to ensure nothing gets damaged.
  21. Can I hire a moving company to move my furniture only? Yes, some companies offer furniture-only services for those who don’t need full-service movers. Hiring professional movers can ensure that your furniture is moved safely and securely without any damage or loss.
  22. What are your best packing tips for a long-distance move? Make sure you pack your items properly and securely to avoid any damage during transport. Be sure to label all the boxes so you know where everything is located when unpacking at the other end. Additionally, it’s helpful to measure doorways and elevators beforehand to make sure large furniture items can fit through without issue.
  23. How long should one expect a cross-country move to take? The length of the move will depend on the size and distance of the move. Generally speaking, a cross-country move can take anywhere from five days to two weeks.
  24. Should I trust the moving company with my fragile items? Professional movers are experienced in moving fragile items and will use the proper tools and equipment to make sure nothing gets damaged. It’s always best to opt for full-service movers as they can provide insurance for any losses or damages during transport.
  25. If something is damaged during a move, what should I do? First, contact the moving company right away. Generally, the movers will conduct an inspection to determine if they are liable for losses or damages. If they are responsible, they can provide compensation in accordance with their insurance policy.
  26. Do I need to be present when the movers arrive? It is usually recommended to be present during the move but it is not always necessary for everyone to be present. Usually, one adult is sufficient.
  27. How can I ship a car to another state? Shipping a car to another state can be done through professional moving services. The process usually involves having the vehicle loaded onto a transport truck and then delivered to the designated location. Make sure you talk to the movers beforehand about any applicable fees and charges for this service.
  28. Why should I use a car transportation service? Car transportation services are important because they provide a safe and secure way to transport your vehicle from one location to another. They also take the hassle out of driving your car long distances, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Additionally, professional movers will have the proper tools and equipment to ensure that your vehicle is handled correctly during transport.
  29. Why are long-distance moves priced by weight? Long-distance moves are priced by weight because the cost of transporting items across long distances is based on how much gas and other resources it takes to get them there. Professional movers will weigh all your items before transport so that you are not charged for anything more than what was initially agreed upon.
  30. What are some tips for moving fragile items? Fragile items should be packed with plenty of paddings, such as bubble wrap or packing paper. Make sure you label all the boxes so that they can be easily identified when unpacking. Some items may need to be moved in a suitcase or special packaging, instead of in the moving van.
  31. What kind of boxes should you use for moving? Moving boxes should be sturdy and made from a durable material. Avoid using old cardboard boxes as they can easily break down during transport. It’s best to use new, high-quality moving boxes that are designed specifically for moving purposes. Moving companies will have the right kind of moving boxes needed.
  32. Do moving companies provide boxes? Yes, most professional moving companies will provide boxes for your move. They usually come in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit all your items. Talk to the movers about what type of box is best suited for your needs and budget.
  33. How fast do moving companies pack? This will depend on the size of your move, as well as the number of items that need to be packed. Professional movers usually try to pack items as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to keep the cost down.
  34. How to move pets long distances? Moving pets long distances can be a stressful experience, both for the pet and its owners. It’s important to make sure that your pet is nourished and hydrated enough before the move. It is also important to make sure that your pet is comfortable during the move. Try to provide a familiar environment, such as a cage or carrier with toys, blankets, food and water. If you can’t travel with your pet, make sure to research pet transport services in your area.

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