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10 Long Distance Moving Tips (Plus a Bonus)

long distance moving tips

Whether for a job change or change of pace, moving long-distance is much simpler in theory than in practice. In theory, choosing a moving company, planning the move, shipping and receiving your items is straightforward. In reality, there are more moving parts and logistics to keep in mind to make sure the move goes smoothly. Keep reading below for 10 great tips to make your long-distance move an easy transition from start to finish.

1. Plan in Advance

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to moving interstate or across long distances. Usually moving companies consider a “long-distance” move to be over 450 miles between origin and destination. Moves that come in below this but are not within the same city or state are generally considered “mid-distance.”

Regardless of the technicalities, planning for your move is going to make the entire process much easier. Calling utility companies, changing addresses with the DMV as well as the USPS are easily overlooked but all extremely important. Take it from us, after moving your things into a new home you’re going to want a hot shower. That call to turn your hot water on will never have seemed more worthwhile.

Not to mention, planning days to begin packing your items all the way up to the move date. This process includes some (maybe) tough decisions on what to bring, donate/sell or throw away. The more time you give yourself the better! Ideally, everything will get done without losing your sanity rushing to finish last minute. There’s nothing worse than still packing on the day you’re supposed to move with a long drive or flight looming.

Great Move Day Experience

2. Picking a Move Date

It’s common to have some flexibility when moving long-distance compared to moving locally. Usually, there are only one or two days you’re able to make a local move. When moving long-distance, you’ll likely have more time to plan and a bigger window to make the pick-up. Moving across the country, for example, is a much more time-consuming process in both planning and travel than moving across town.

If at all possible, avoid peak times for moving companies as space in their trucks will naturally be more expensive. If you can avoid moving during the summertime (May through August) it’s wise to do so. This alone can save you hundreds of dollars on your move. 

Sometimes you have no choice but to move during the summertime. We recommend avoiding the very beginning/end of the month as these will be the busiest times of the month during the busiest time of year. Adjusting the moving date while staying in line with when you’d like your things to arrive can be tricky. It’s a balancing act, however, that can make or break your moving budget.

3. Take Inventory

When moving locally, quotes can either be based on an hourly rate or inventory depending on the company. Long-distance moves are almost always exclusively quoted based on the items you’re moving plus the distance traveled. 

This is where having an itemized home inventory list can come in handy. Not to mention, making the unpacking process that much easier. Your home inventory lists also act as a master list when moving in. It will make the process of checking that all of your items arrived safe and sound that much easier.

4. Multiple Moving Estimates

During the time this blog is being written, the world is in the clutches of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. When receiving quotes for a long-distance move, many moving companies will suggest scheduling an in-home estimate to take inventory.

During a time when self quarantining has become the “new normal” this simply isn’t possible. Luckily, when moving through Unpakt, we made the process of entering your own inventory simple. You can still receive multiple quotes without having multiple people enter your home or endless video consultations. It’s definitely still important to get multiple quotes. Moving long distance is a balancing act of quality service and staying within budget.

5. Choosing the Right Moving Company

In the point above we alluded to finding a balance between cost-effectiveness and quality when choosing a moving company. Take a look at our previous blog post on choosing a long-distance moving company for a more in-depth look. Making sure the company is properly licensed and insured to move interstate seems basic but can’t be understated. Getting a guaranteed quote rather than an estimate that can change is also hugely important.

6. Moving Insurance

Moving “insurance” commonly referred to as “valuation coverage” in the moving industry can come from two places. Some home insurance policies cover moving costs. However, they may only cover damage to your home during the move but not any damage to your items. 

Moving companies are federally required to offer basic valuation coverage at 60 cents per pound. This can be problematic if something like a flat-screen TV is broken during the move. Most companies offer more extensive coverage for an additional cost. If you’re moving any expensive pieces or things that are especially fragile/hold sentimental value, extended valuation coverage is highly recommended. More information on moving insurance can be found here.

7. Measure and Floorplan

Measuring your new space is an often overlooked aspect of the moving process. If you’re moving into a larger home, making sure there is enough floor space for large furniture isn’t as important. When downsizing, however, measuring the wall in the living room could prove an extremely important step when choosing whether or not to pack and move your couch. The same goes for that king-size bed, which may take up too much room in a new apartment.

 8. Downsizing and Decluttering

Whether you’re moving into a larger space or downsizing, moving provides a great opportunity to do some spring cleaning. While taking inventory, you might find things that you never use or have simply forgotten about. The real decision here is whether these items are worthy of being sold, donated or are simply destined for the trash. 

If you’re downsizing, just because something will fit doesn’t necessarily mean you should pack it as part of the move. Avoid cluttering your living room or bedroom(s) with too much furniture. This is especially important when moving from a house or townhouse to an apartment. You’ll want to maximize your space. Sometimes this means buying sleeker furniture pieces or multi-purpose furniture with storage. Selling/donating furniture items may prove to be a fruitful step in the moving process as well.

Check out our article about a few different apps to make selling your things a breeze!    


9. Packing Tips

We could write an entire blog post on packing tips for a long-distance move. Quality packing materials could be the difference between items making it to your new home undamaged. Most moving companies can provide professional packing as part of your move for an added cost. That generally includes everything from furniture to your kitchenware and clothing. 

When packing for a long distance move:

  • Essentials box: This should include important documents, medication and anything you will want within the first hour of being in your new home. You should also consider packing especially expensive jewelry or watches on your own for peace of mind.
  • Label Everything: Every single box should be labeled with your name as well as what room the items are from. Employing a color-coding system here may be useful to differentiate based on the room. A labeling system will also make the unpacking process that much easier.  
  • Professional Packing Services: Most moving companies can offer more extensive packing services than just your furniture and large pieces. Ask the moving companies you’re considering how much full packing services including boxes and materials will add to the quote. 

10. Plan for a Delivery Window  

For most long-distance moves, your items will arrive within a delivery window rather than on a specific day. Generally, the delivery window won’t be longer than a week. You’ll also be given 48 hours notice before your items arrive at your new home. Some moving companies can offer smaller windows or even narrow the date down to a guaranteed day for an added cost.

Bonus Tip: Consider Moving Your Car

Many moving companies are able to ship your car along with your belongings when moving long-distance. It’s important to ask about the logistics and cost of this service. Be sure to ask whether it will be handled by the moving company itself or contracted through another company.

Thanks for reading!

About the author

Unpakt Team