In theory, no matter how far you move – whether it be across town or across country, the moving process doesn’t change. Your home is packed and then loaded onto a truck. The truck drives to your new home and then the items are unloaded into your new home. In reality, however, distance does make a difference.
A long distance move is generally defined as one that crosses state lines and is more than 200 miles away. From a moving company’s perspective, there are two main things that distinguish a local move from a long-distance move – the way the move is billed and the way it’s delivered.
A long-distance move starts very similarly to a local move. A crew of movers pulls up to your home. They might be driving a semi-truck, but more likely, they will be driving a smaller truck. As your items are prepared for the move, however, the process changes a bit.
With a local move, the truck is exclusively yours. You see the items being loaded and you see the items being unloaded. It’s very straightforward. With a long-distance move, unless you have a large home or if you pay a fee for an exclusive delivery, you will be sharing a truck with other customers. For that reason, it’s imperative that the movers take a thorough inventory when the truck is loaded and that they will check each item off the inventory when the truck is unloaded.
Obviously, it’s more time consuming to take an inventory, but that’s okay. Unlike with local moves, you are not paying for time. With long-distance moves, you are paying based on a formula that calculates pricing based on weight of your items, the distance they will travel and the amount of packing that needs to be done. There might be extra charges, like a bulky fee or a piano handling fee, but typically, weight, distance (with fuel) and packing are it. If either of your homes are not accessible by a semi-truck, you will be charged a shuttle fee.
Some moving companies will try to charge you for volume instead of weight. The best advice that can be given if you encounter one of these companies is to run and run fast. When you are being charged by weight, you are entitled to follow the truck to the weigh station and receive a copy of the weight ticket. When you are being charged by volume, you have no such assurances and you will be charged if the mover is inexperienced at efficiently loading the truck.
Avoid over the phone estimates with long-distance moves. There are far too many variables. It’s always best to get a not-to-exceed or binding price, so there are no surprises at the end.
Ask who will be delivering the move. Your goal is not to get the names of the actual people, but the name of the company. Many movers outsource their long-distance moves to other companies. In fact, even big-named van lines (e.g. United, Atlas, Allied, Bekins, etc) cooperate with local agents for long-distance moves. If you need a guaranteed pick-up day or if your home is not accessible for a 53′ semi-truck, you will be charged for a shuttle and your home will be packed and loaded by a local affiliate (or agent) of the van line. The van line will pick them up from the local agent. You’ll want to check the reputation of the local agent as well as the van line.
If you need a guaranteed delivery date or if your new home is not accessible for a semi-truck, you can expect a shuttle and possible storage fee on the delivery end as well.
Like with local moving, all items that aren’t furniture should be packed. Make other plans for plants. Movers will typically not take plants across state lines and even if they do, it’s unlikely they will make the trip alive.
It’s not uncommon for long-distance customers to need storage while they find a home in their new location. Most movers are able to offer this service. Some will give you 30 days of free storage, some will not. Make sure you are very clear on storage pricing since it can add up quickly.
Whether you want your delivery as soon as possible or you want some storage in between, your household goods will most likely go through some extra steps. They will be unloaded into the mover’s warehouse and then they will be loaded onto the semi-truck that will take them for the long-haul. To protect your goods, the movers will check the inventory list each step of the way.
Because of these extra steps, it’s always a good idea to purchase extra insurance. Federal law only covers your items for $.60 per pound per article. In other words, if a 20 pound LED TV breaks, you will only be covered for $12.00. Movers should offer insurance if your homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover the move or allow you to purchase a rider for the move.