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Planning for a Long Distance Move

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A long distance move is defined by any move that takes you more than 50-100 miles from your old home. With a definition that is this broad, it can be used to describe a move that takes you all the way to the other side of the country, or a move that takes you to the other side of the state. But the one thing that all long distance moves have in common is that they require careful planning, and a lot of it.

You’re not alone though; there are countless resources available to help you through the planning process for a long distance move, including what you’re reading right now, and this helpful guide, which explains the intricacies of the long distance move in depth.

Once you’ve delved into just what you can expect from a long distance move though, you’re going to want to begin planning for it, and there’s no better place to start than right here.

Just How Far is the Move?

The first step in the planning process is breaking down just how long this long distance move is going to be. Why is this important? Well, it’s important for many reasons, one of them being that the distance of your move is going to be a major factor in how you need to prepare for it. Although they are both considered long distance moves, a move from New York to San Francisco is going to be a lot different and require different kinds of planning than a move from New York to Boston would.

Figuring out the total mileage of the move and laying out all of your options for transportation and for how you plan on getting from point A to point B is a critical first step in the planning process because it will help you to make the next few crucial decisions that you are going to have to make, for example…

Flying vs. Driving

Whether or not to fly or drive to your new home is going to be one of the biggest decisions for you to make during the planning process for your long distance move. Again, this is going to depend on how far your long distance move is really taking you.

If you’re moving far enough away that flying to your new destination is an option, but still close enough that driving isn’t completely out of the question, you should choose to drive.

“But the gas prices are so high! Why would I want to do that?” Good question!

Here’s why: If you choose to fly, you’re spending upwards of $300 for a ticket for each member of your family that is going to be making the trip. Those kinds of expenses can easily send your moving costs through the roof. Not to mention the fact that if you’re going to be flying to your new home, you’ll have to pay an auto transport company to move your cars for you, adding yet another additional cost onto the total cost of your move.

If you drive, you’ll only have to pay for gas and maybe a night or two in a hotel, depending on how far you’re driving. Although gas can be expensive on long car trips, it sure beats paying for plane tickets.

Another added bonus to driving is that you’ll be able to take some of your things with you, decreasing the amount of items the moving company will need to move and keeping your overall costs down as well.

However, choosing to fly does have its benefits. If you are moving across the country and are on a tight schedule, flying is certainly the most expedited way to carry out the move and make sure that you arrive at your new home as quickly as possible.

When to Make the Move

Another major decision that will impact the progress and planning of your long distance move is when you plan on making the move. Let’s break down each season and the pros and cons of moving during each one:



Most often considered the best time to move, it’s ideal for families that have children because this is the time of the year when they are home from school and can easily transition into their new school at the start of the new school year in the fall. Also, the weather is warmer during the summer and typically more conducive to traveling. The downside to moving during the summer? Moving companies tend to charge their highest rates during these months as they are typically the most popular months for moving.

Fall and Spring


If you don’t have children in school, your best bets are in the late fall months (late October and November) or the late spring months (April-May) for a number of reasons. First, the weather is comfortable enough for moving during both the late fall and late spring months and is what is commonly referred to as “Goldilocks” weather, meaning it’s not too hot and not too cold. Also, moving companies charge substantially lower rates during these times.



The winter is the most inconvenient time to be moving, and for obvious reasons, starting with the holiday season. From late November through early January, the holidays take up a lot of time and are busy enough without having to plan a major move. Save yourself the hassle and the headaches by avoiding them when you plan your long distance move. Adding to that potential frustration is the fact that winter weather can be a real pain and having to drive or fly a long distance with an impending snow storm bearing down on you can complicate things very quickly.

DIY vs. Full Service

Now we’re getting into the really crucial moving decisions that come with planning your long distance move, like this one: will you do the entire move yourself (or at least some parts of it) or will you hire a full-service mover to handle the job from beginning-to-end?

  • Obtaining boxes and proper packing materials
  • Packing all of your belongings securely
  • Moving all of your furniture and moving boxes from your house
  • Loading all of your furniture and moving boxes onto a moving truck or van
  • Driving your belongings to your destination
  • Unloading all of your furniture and boxes from the moving truck
  • Carrying all of your furniture and boxes into your new home
  • Assembling all of your furniture in your new home
  • Unpacking all of your boxes and arranging your belongings where they need to be
That’s a lot of work, isn’t it?

If you choose to do the entire move yourself, you will be handling all of these jobs without professional help, which can be exhausting and stressful. But, it will also save you a lot of money, and if you happen to be on a tight budget, it might be the right choice to make.

Hiring a full-service moving company, despite being more expensive, will mean that a crew of trained and experience movers will handle everything on that list above for you, and you can worry about taking care of the host of other things that come with moving.

Making the Necessary Adjustments



When you’re moving long distance, your goal is to have to move as little as possible. Remember, you’re either going to be packing all of your belongings yourself, or paying a moving company to pack them for you. Either way, you’re going to want as little stuff to pack as possible; if you are doing the move yourself, it just means less time you have to spend packing, and if you’re hiring a packing service, it means less money you’ll have to pay.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to do an inventory of all of your belongings and decide on what you don’t need anymore and what you can replace when you get to your new home. For any unwanted clothes and toys, there are plenty of charitable organizations you can donate them to.

Plus, a detailed inventory can also help your movers by allowing them to see exactly what needs to be moved and can help you avoid having any items go missing when you arrive at your new home. It will also help you get a more accurate estimate and avoid last-minute charges that can sneak up on you after the move.

You can also have a garage sale that can serve two purposes: get rid of unwanted stuff and help you raise money to pay for your moving expenses.

Finding a Mover


Doing your due diligence when choosing a moving company is in your best interest, and it’s also important that you ask questions whenever you’re unsure about something. Getting stuck with an unreliable and untrustworthy moving company is not worth the hours you’ll save not doing your homework, so err on the side of caution and start researching moving companies well in advance of when you plan on moving, that way you can give yourself some room to make any adjustments, if they are needed.

  • Read reviews about the moving companies. Your best resources are often fellow consumers, so take what they have to say seriously and use their opinions as a way to decide which movers will be best for you.


  • Research the companies with the BBB and other organizations. Checking the company’s background, track record and history, as well as their ratings with organizations like the Better Business Bureau is always a safe bet.


  • Ask around. Chances are good that one of your friends, relatives, or neighbors have used a moving company to move at some point. Ask them which companies they prefer and which ones they have had good experiences with.

Furthermore, before you begin courting moving companies, know what kind of estimate you are going to want when it comes time to get quotes. There are typically three different kinds of estimates, binding estimates, non-binding estimates, and binding not-to-exceed estimates, so read up and familiarize yourself with these before making your decision.

Typically, it’s best to get four estimates from four different moving companies so that you can compare them and make the right choice, and when you’re getting estimates, don’t forget that in-house estimates are much better and more reliable than estimates you receive over the phone.

Sorting Out All of the Important Details


A typical long distance move is filled with hundreds of little details, important little details that can often define a move. The importance of getting these details right and discussing them with your moving company so that everyone is clear before the move gets started can often mean the difference between a smooth stress-free move and a sour moving experience.

For example, there’s the issue of moving insurance. If you are going to be moving anything particularly valuable, it would be in your best interest to inquire about what kind of insurance your moving company offers before the move, so you can make sure that all of your belongings are covered in case of any damages or unforeseen circumstances.

Sometimes, the default insurance that is offered isn’t enough to cover an expensive big-screen TV or an antique sofa or a valuable piece of art, so you should always make sure to ask about insurance and find out what the best option for you is.

For example, let’s look at this hypothetical scenario:

The standard default insurance typically offered by movers is 60 cents per pound, per article. If you have a big-screen TV that weighs 20 pounds, you are only covered for $12 of that TV if any damages occur. Chances are that brand new LED TV didn’t cost you $12. In fact, it probably cost somewhere around $1,200.

When You Arrive at Your New Home


Of course, your move doesn’t end when you get to your destination and pull up to your new home. There are still plenty of things that need to be done, like making sure all your utilities are hooked up and connected so you can have electricity and water. In order to make sure you’re not waiting around for days without heating or air conditioning and running water, take care of these things before you move by notifying the utility companies and getting the services started under your name.

Also, you can be a major help for the movers by designating where all of your furniture and other belongings will be placed in your new home, so they know exactly where to bring everything when they are unloading the truck and carrying the items inside and they can place everything for you and assemble what needs to be assembled quickly and efficiently.

When it comes to paying the movers, there are a few things you should avoid.

  • Try not to pay using a credit card. Although moves, especially long distance ones, can be pretty expensive, it’s usually better for you to pay with cash or a cashier’s check as this prevents moving companies from hitting you with additional charges for hidden fees without your knowledge.


  • Avoid paying large deposits. If a moving company asks for a major deposit, you should reconsider and look at other moving companies. Putting down a large deposit puts you at risk for possibly losing that money if the movers never show up on the moving date or something else goes wrong with your move. Payment should generally always be made on the delivery date.
For more information about planning for a long distance move that wasn’t covered here, this extremely helpful video details a full move from beginning to end and might answer any lingering questions you may have.

Robert Moreschi  Posted by Robert Moreschi on November 13, 2012

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