So you’re moving across the country and need a little help with what to do, how to save money, and how not to get scammed. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

In this crash course, we’re going over all the aspects of moving across the country to make the move much easier and safer for you and your family.

You’ll also have to be concerned about costs, hiring the right moving company, understanding how movers charge, what’s expected of you as the customer and other necessary things like kids, pets, etc.

Quickly navigate this course by using the contents section below.

Contents (click to skip to each section):

Costs Of Moving Across Country
Hiring A Professional Interstate Moving Company
How To Save Money On A Cross Country Move
Cross Country Traveling Tips
Moving With Pets Across Country
Moving With Kids Across Country
How To Not Get Scammed When Moving Across Country
Common Mistakes When Moving Across Country
Additional Cross Country Moving Tips

Costs Of Moving Across Country

Cost Of Moving Across Country
In this section, you’ll learn how interstate movers charge, what they charge for, average costs of moving across the country, and when is the cheapest time of year to move.

How Do Cross Country (Interstate) Movers Charge & Estimate Costs For Their Service?

On a cross country move, since it is over 100 miles, movers will charge by the weight of your goods, the distance traveling, and any additional or accessorial charges.

Note: Some interstate moving companies will charge exactly based on the weight of your goods, distance, additional charges, etc. and itemize each service based on the rates on their tariff, and some will give you a flat rate for your move (but also based on weight, distance, additional charges etc).

Everything charged to the consumer will be represented in the Bill of Lading that the mover will provide you.

The two biggest cost factors when moving long-distance are the total weight of your goods and the distance they are traveling. The more items you have or further they are being moved, the more it will cost.

Unlike on a local move where the customers are charged hourly, on a long-distance move, the moving company will charge for certain things that take extra time like stair charges, long carries, and shuttle services.

Here are few possible additional charges to look for on your Bill of Lading when moving long distances.

  • Advanced Charges – These are any third party services that a moving company will pay for in advance, then bill the consumer after the job is complete. For example, if a mover has to hire a special rigging company to move something large, the moving company will pay for that service and add that to the bill for the customer.
  • Packing Services – When moving long-distance, it’s common to have the moving company pack your fragile items for you. Since the items are traveling a far distance it’s in the consumer’s best interest to have a professional company to pack for you to reduce possible damage.
  • Packing Materials – Any packing materials the movers use like boxes, tape, and packing paper, the mover will charge the customer.
  • Long Carries – This is if you have a very long hallway in your apartment building or home if the moving truck can’t get close to the front door.
  • Stair Charges – Since carrying items up and down the stairs takes extra time, they will likely bill for stair charges.
  • Elevator Charges – Using an elevator to go up and down with furniture will also take a bit longer than if the destination is ground-floor, so it will cost more.
  • Shuttle Services – Shuttle services are if you have a long driveway or a situation where the moving truck can’t get close to the front door, but another smaller truck can. The furniture would be shuttled from the moving truck to the front door of the home.
  • Parking Permits – If the moving company needs parking permits for the moving truck at the origin or destination, those permit costs are usually paid by the customer.

When moving across the country, most charges are based on itemized services or criteria of your move.

For further information, check out our article on how moving companies charge for their services.

Average Costs Of A Cross Country Move

Lucky for you, we’ve spoken with a professional cross-country moving company about what they typically see on average for cross country moves.

Here are some possible cost ranges you might expect with hiring a professional moving company to move you across the country (3,000 miles):

  • 1 Bedroom Apartment (3,400lbs, 3,000 miles) – $4,000 – $5,900 is a typical price range for moving a one-bedroom apartment across the country.
  • 2 Bedroom Apartment (5,000lbs, 3,000 miles) – $5,500 – $8,100 is a typical price range for moving a two-bedroom apartment across the country.
  • 3 Bedroom Home (10,000lbs, 3,000 miles) – $8,400 – $11,800 is a typical price range for moving a 3 bedroom home across the country.
  • 4 Bedroom Home (15,000lbs, 3,000 miles) – $11,900 – $18,700 is a typical price range for moving a 4 bedroom home across the country.

Remember, these are just general price ranges and everybody’s move is different. The best thing to do to get an accurate quote from a cross country moving company is to contact one that is part of the American Moving and Storage Association.

Some factors that affect the cost are possible additional or accessorial charges that may occur based on each person’s specific needs, packing services, packing materials, valuation coverage purchased, and time of year moved.

What Time of Year Is Cheapest To Move?

The cheapest time of year to move is from October to April. This is what is known in the moving industry as the offseason. Most people tend to move during the warmer summer months due to weather and their children having a break from school. Most long-distance moving companies have offseason moving rates since there is less demand for their services during that time.

Hiring An Interstate Moving Company / Van Line

Hiring A Cross Country Moving Company

In this section, you’ll learn how a cross country move works, how to hire a quality company, moving estimates, what to expect on move day, what valuation coverage is, container service options, rental truck options, and how long it will take for your items to be delivered.

A Brief Overview On How A Cross Country Move Works Using an Interstate Moving Company

When moving across the country, movers are required to be licensed by the United States Department of Transportation.

Your goods will be estimated and charged by the weight, distance, and any additional charges and fees your specific move requires.

Your move starts with a move estimator that comes to your home and estimates how much it will cost to move your items.

Most cross country movers use semi-trucks  (18 wheelers) for shipping your goods across country.

Your goods may be placed on the same truck as other people’s goods.

If you are moving from Los Angeles to New York, it is likely that along the way, the movers will be dropping off and loading other people’s goods along with yours. That’s why, it’s especially important with a long-distance move, you take a very close look at the inventory before you sign the paperwork. When you sign the paperwork, the mover is then responsible for making sure all the items listed arrive safely.

How To Find A Quality Interstate Moving Company

Not all moving companies are created equal, especially when it comes to cross country moving. A cross country move requires a lot of logistics for your shipment to arrive safely and on time.

One of the safest places to find a quality moving company is from the American Moving & Storage Association.

Once you find a few moving companies there, be sure to check their reviews online (just type in their name + reviews). It’s more common for long-distance moving companies to get lower reviews than local moving companies due to the required logistics of their moves.

When reading reviews, make sure you carefully read the reviews of each company and decide which top 3 moving companies you wish to contact.

When moving long-distance, it’s very important your mover come to your house and do an in-home estimate.

Moving Estimates

The first step to hiring a moving company is getting at least 3 estimates from your top moving company choices.

There are 3 types of estimates that movers will estimate. A binding estimate, a non-binding estimate, and a not-to-exceed estimate. It’s highly recommended to know which estimates are available that what they each mean. Go here to learn about them.

How Are My Items Insured?

Technically, movers do not offer or sell actual insurance. Instead, the offer what’s called Valuation Coverage, which sort of acts like insurance.

Valuation is what your shipment is worth, and that is determined by you, the consumer, before the move.

If you choose not to purchase valuation coverage, consumers are entitled to free coverage that includes 60 cents per pound per item.

Your moving company may also offer additional valuation coverage to protect your items.

Here’s a quick summary of how valuation coverage works:

First, you the consumer declare how much your entire shipment is worth. When choosing to protect your items, you must take out valuation coverage on all of your items. If you have articles of high value (items worth $100 per pound or more) like expensive artwork, you must declare each of those items separate from your full amount, you cannot just cover one item if you choose valuation coverage.

The reason you must declare it beforehand and separately is so the movers understand their liability and to pack and secure the said item properly to avoid damage during transit. The mover may bill extra for extra packing materials or protection to safely move that item.

Then, the movers will give you their costs of covering those items. You may choose from:

  • Full Value Coverage – Covers the cost of what you purchased the item for.
  • Actual Value Coverage – Covers the cost of what the item is worth today.

You will also choose whether you want a $0 deductible or a higher deductible.

Similar to buying insurance, depending on how much you need to be insured or how much your deductible, will determine how much your coverage cost may be. The moving company will give you the price of the valuation coverage based on what level of coverage you choose.

What To Expect On Moving Day & What You Need To Do

The most important thing you need to do on moving day is to be there or at the minimum have somebody be there and be available by phone.

Movers will likely have questions for you on moving day.

When the movers arrive, the first thing they will do is take an inventory of your items. It’s a good idea to take a separate inventory yourself. Take note of any pre-existing damage yourself as well and take as many pictures of the current state of your items before the movers start to move.

Although the movers will take care of most of the heavy lifting, possible packing, and loading the truck, you’ll likely have some things to do to help the entire process.

We highly recommend reading this list of 15 consumer tasks & responsibilities for moving day. This will give you a better idea of what you should expect and do on moving day.

How Long Will It Take For Your Items To Be Delivered?

For long-distance moves, it can take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks for your belongings to arrive. If you’re just moving to a neighboring state, it should only take a few days. But, it all depends on your personal situation and the movers you’ve hired.

Your bill of lading will include the dates for your delivery window. You should have a contract with your mover that gives a certain time frame of when they’re supposed to deliver your goods. You can get more information on this topic here.

What About Using A Container Service For Your Cross Country Move?

From the information we’ve gathered online, it looks like using a container service like PODS, Upack, 1-800-Pack-Rat, UBOX by Uhaul, or SmartBox can save you a good amount of money on your cross country move compared to hiring a long-distance moving company.

However, these services require you to pack or hire a professional to pack the container. Although it may be less expensive, your goods may be more likely to be damaged during transit if you don’t have a professional pack your items and professional load the container.

What About Using A Rental Truck For Your Cross Country Move?

You also have the option for moving yourself and using a rental truck for your cross country move.

Again, this may be cheaper than hiring a full-service moving company, but you’ll be taking on more risks of items being damaged. Here are some pros and cons of renting a moving truck for your cross country move.

Pros:

  • Less expensive if you budget correctly – remember when you move yourself across country, you’ll be running into food costs, hotel costs, fuel costs, and other miscellaneous costs while traveling. Only if you budget correctly, getting a rental truck and moving yourself could be less expensive than hiring a full service moving company.
  • Your items will arrive when you do – When moving across the country with a professional moving service, you’ll be getting a delivery window of when your items will be delivered. When renting a truck, they arrive when you do.

Cons:

  • Enduring the travel – If you’re not good at sitting in a vehicle for days, moving across the country yourself could be very stressful.
  • Your items won’t be covered – When hiring a moving company, you can get valuation coverage if your items break. When moving yourself, you take on full responsibility for your items and if they break, there’s no coverage.

How To Save Money On A Cross Country Move

Saving Money on a cross country move

  • Toss, donate, or sell items you no longer want – The more items you have the more the move is going to cost. Make sure to get rid of, sell, or donate as much stuff as possible if you want to save money on your move.
  • Know where to get packing supplies – Buy packing supplies like tape, mattress bags, tape guns, and packing paper on amazon. Buy your normal moving boxes at Home Depot or Lowe’s. These department stores sell really cheap regular boxes but charge a lot for other packing supplies.
  • Move during the off-season – Movers usually increase their rates between the months of May through August. This is the busiest time of year for moving companies. If you’re looking to save money on your move, consider moving outside of these dates. When movers are less busy, they’re rates usually go down a bit.
  • Settle with your debtors – Moving is expensive, so now is the time to settle up with everybody who owes you money. Especially if you’re moving out of town, make sure you get the money you’re owed from the people you’ll never see again.
  • Stay the night with friends or family – If you’re moving long-distance check to see if you have any friends or relatives you could stay at along the way instead of getting a hotel.
  • Cancel unused subscriptions – When you’re moving, it’s the perfect time to go through all of your monthly subscriptions and cancel any you don’t need at your new locations.
  • Conduct an energy inspection of your new home – The home you’re moving into might not be as energy-efficient as the one you just moved out of. It’s possible you don’t have adequate insulation, there may be leaking window sills causing drafts, or your water heater might not be set correctly.

Moving Across Country Traveling Tips

Moving Across Country Traveling Tips

If you are moving yourself across the country, here are some tips to make the process a bit easier:

  • Plan your route – Make sure you know the route your taking, if you feel comfortable driving it and which one is best for the time of year (you may not want to go through the Rockies in the winter!).
  • Know how to load the moving truck – Large items go first and the spaces are filled with smaller items. Pack the truck in tiers from back to front.
  • Learn the moving truck – Before you start to drive, get comfortable with the buttons, mirrors, and understand what you can and can’t see when driving.
  • Drive the truck properly – Gain speed gradually and brake gradually, always leaving enough space between you and the car in front. A heavy loaded truck will take longer to brake than cars or an empty one. Also, drive slower, take wide turns, look out for low clearances, and follow truck-specific road signs.
  • Stock up on snacks and food – Food is a major cost when traveling across the country, so make sure you stock up on stuff from the grocery store instead of eating out every meal.
  • Pack daily essentials boxes and suitcases last – Since the moving truck won’t have a lot of space in the cab for your daily items, make sure you load them last so you can easily access the essentials when you need them.
  • Join a hotel rewards program – You’ll likely be staying in hotels along the way. If you join a rewards program and stay at the same hotels, you’re likely to get free points or even a free room along the way.
  • Keep an eye on the weather – You’ll be driving in areas you’ve never been before so make sure you keep an eye on the weather so you don’t put yourself in a possibly dangerous situation.
  • Stop and stretch every couple of hours – Keep your blood flowing by stopping every couple of hours to stretch and move around.

Moving With Pets Across Country

Moving With Pets Across Country

Moving your pets across the country can get very complicated. If you’re flying, there are certain tasks you need to take care of, along with getting your pet acclimated to the kennel he or she will be traveling in.

If you are driving long distances, you have to make sure you stop frequently for them, book pet-friendly hotels and make sure they are comfortable during the long ride.

We can write an entirely separate guide on moving with your pets here, but instead, we’ve included an additional resource for you.

Here’s an additional resource for moving your pets across the country that includes all types of pets, not just cats and dogs.

Moving With Kids Across Country

Moving With Kids Across Country

Moving with your kids and driving across the country may seem fun, and it probably will be a great experience for the whole family. But, whether you’re driving or flying, you may run into some speed bumps along the way. Here are some tips for moving across the country with your kids.

  • Communicate your plans on moving with your kids – The first important step when preparing to move with children is by telling them well in advance so they have enough time to process the fact that they will be living somewhere else.
  • Throw in some fun surprises along the way – Even after giving your kids months’ notice regardless of their age and development about the upcoming move, they are going to have a hard time processing it. That is why it is a great idea to buy them toys that they will love and surprise them with their new toys or whatever you think will make them happy.
  • Allow time for an adjustment period – No matter how well you prepare your kids for the move, and no matter how well you are preparing yourself for the move, it is going to be hard to process. It will take a lot of time to adjust and it can even take as long as a year. That also depends on whether or not if you are moving to another city or to another country.

Here are a few more tips for moving with your kids.

How To Not Get Scammed When Moving Across Country

How To Not Get Scammed When Moving Across Country

More moving scams happen when folks are moving long-distance rather than locally.

The best way to not get scammed is by making sure the company you hired is either part of a major van line (Atlas, United, Mayflower, Bekins, North American, etc.), part of the AMSA, is easily findable in Google, and has a good reputation.

Don’t get fooled by companies who photoshop logos on their moving trucks, only have generic stock photos of moving trucks and consumers.

Make sure they are not hiding who they are online.

Look for companies that have actual pictures and videos of their trucks and crews in action, have a good presence on Google & Yelp (with positive reviews), and are licensed and insured.

Here is more information on possible moving scams to look out for.

Common Mistakes When Moving Across Country

Consumer Moving Mistakes When Moving Across Country

Here is a list of some common mistakes people make when moving across the country.

  • Moving heavy items of low value instead of selling & rebuying
  • Choosing the wrong moving company
  • Choosing to move yourself while not budgeting
  • Accidentally packing your airplane tickets
  • Losing your Bill of Lading
  • Not inventorying items yourself
  • Not taking pictures of items before movers arrive
  • Packing heavy items into large boxes
  • Not packing a daily essentials box or duffle bag
  • Forgetting to change your address
  • Not buying valuation coverage on your items
  • Forgetting to label boxes
  • Forgetting about your pets and their special needs

Additional Cross Country Moving Tips

Additional Moving Tips For Moving Across Country