It seems like it should be simple: no matter how far you’re moving, everything is pretty much the same right? Pack stuff in the truck and send it off! But it’s not quite that straightforward, and there are a few things you should know. So what’s the difference between moving long-distance and moving locally? From costs to logistics, we’re here to explain it all.

First, let’s get clear on our terminology. Most companies call a move of 50 miles or less a “local move”, while anything over 50 miles is a long distance. If that doesn’t mean crossing state borders, your move is an “intrastate” move. If you are headed to the next state or farther? Your move is “interstate”.

The timeframe of moving local vs. long distance

A local move can often be done in a day or less with a team of professional movers. They will pack, load, and unload everything in time for you to get a decent night’s sleep! A long-distance move, on the other hand, can take days or longer. Here’s why.

When you decide how you want to ship your belongings long distances, you have a few options. Using a standard shipping arrangement, your belongings could take a number of weeks to arrive at your new home. You’ll need to be flexible to receive your delivery within a window of time, usually somewhere between 6-10 days. This is because your belongings will be consolidated on a truck with multiple other shipments.

Alternatively, some companies like FlatRate offer Express Routes. The difference? Moving trucks travel a route between two major destinations regularly and directly. That means you won’t have to wait until a consolidated shipment is ready, and can receive your items from the truck via shuttle in 6-10 days.

Packing for moving local vs. long distance

Any time a team of professional movers loads your belongings onto a truck, they will ensure that adequate padding and packing are used. But if your items will be spending days on a truck and traveling long distances, the preparations will be different. There are a couple of things you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • Weather and temperature changes can have a significant impact on electronics, artwork, and furniture. If you are moving long-distance, you’ll need to determine whether a climate-controlled truck is necessary to protect your belongings. When moving locally, the effects of time spent in the truck in heat or cold are less significant.
  • General wear and tear on boxes and furniture increases with every day spent on the truck. That means packing your belongings for the long haul will require extra padding, reinforcement, and attention to detail. That could mean your packing team takes longer than they might for a local move, but it’s worth it!

moving V long distance and moving local  Moving long distance versus local

How local vs. long-distance movers calculate costs

In many cases, local movers will calculate the cost of your move based on an hourly rate. After all, the move will take less than one day, so this ensures they get paid for their time and effort. This means the actual cost of the move could differ from the estimate if there are any complications or unexpected delays.

Long-distance movers, on the other hand, often estimate the cost of your move based on either the weight of your shipment or how many cubic feet it occupies. This may or may not be a more accurate measure, depending on how thoroughly the movers assess your belongings.

Alternatively, some moving companies offer guaranteed quotes for both local and long-distance moves. This type of estimate is not based on hourly labor but on a flat rate, and it is unlikely to change barring a significant difference in your freight or logistics on moving day. When possible? Go with this kind of quote! This keeps you protected from hidden charges or sudden changes in moving fees.

moving long distance 3 Moving long distance versus local

Moving Insurance requirements

Any movers that provide interstate moving services are required by federal law to offer two types of insurance:

  • Released value insurance, which values your belongings at 60 cents per pound. This is usually the “basic” option.
  • Full value protection, which covers the value of your belongings in the case that they are damaged. This is typically an upgrade.

Local movers, however, are not required to provide this type of coverage. Some might, but many will not. In either case, you’ll need to assess your comfort level of risk and purchase an appropriate level of insurance to cover your belongings in the event of damage. Not all moving companies offer further options, so you may need to speak to your homeowners or other insurance companies to determine your options through a third party.

Experience matters

When it comes to long-distance moving, there are far more logistics to consider than a simple local move. There are DOT licenses, and regulations about transporting across state lines, there are likely multiple drivers and stopovers, and there is the task of coordinating multiple shipments on one truck. So when you’re choosing your mover, go for the company with experience! Experience creates expertise, and you want your professional movers to be the experts in their field.