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6 Things to Know About Long-Distance Moving Companies

Are you considering moving across the country? Whether you're dreaming about turning a fresh page, reinventing yourself or restarting your career, relocating to a new city may be what you need. However, it is not a decision to take lightly, nor is finding a long-distance moving company.

Are you considering moving across the country? Whether you're dreaming about turning a fresh page, reinventing yourself or restarting your career, relocating to a new city may be what you need. However, it is not a decision to take lightly, nor is finding a long-distance moving company.

Every move is different. And whether you're moving a four-bedroom house in New York City or a small apartment in Chicago's Wicker Park, you need to make sure that the moving company you hire can accommodate all of your things. Take into consideration your own individual needs and then ask the right questions to ensure you're picking the right fit.

Taking on a long-distance move causes you to open yourself up to a world of change and new possibilities. And while the risks may be great, so are the rewards.

Often, a drastic change in address will spark more changes in other areas of your life. Starting over in a fresh new city or state pushes you out of your comfort zone, and exposes you to new experiences, job opportunities and social connections.

Discovering new employment markets can do wonders for your career growth. You may even explore new professional avenues, experimenting with unlikely job choices or turning your hobby into a reliable source of income.

Before setting off on this new life journey, you'll first need to get a few things in order, such as packing up and moving. Here are a few things to know about long-distance moving companies.

1. Find a Reputable Company

The best long-distance movers didn't get that way overnight; they have likely spent years fine-tuning their process, training their staff and learning form mistakes made from their earlier days in business.

When it comes to interstate moves, there are many more details that a company needs to consider that aren't necessary in a local move. Crossing state borders, for starters, requires additional licenses and paperwork. Your belongings also have further to travel, so the company must be certain that everything is well secured and stable to transport everything.

This should go without saying, but the best national moving companies should be able to quickly provide proof of their licensure and insurance without giving you the runaround. It's important to know that you can check a mover's license on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) website, but you shouldn't need to do that research yourself. The company should have its FMCSA license number displayed in plain sight and offers you a full explanation of their insurance and options for additional insurance when you request your quote.

2. Look For Good Reviews

Once you've got the names of a few companies to look into, read through online reviews to learn more about them. People leave reviews if they've either had a really good or a terrible experience — and both are important to know before you hire a moving company. You can read moving reviews through popular sites like Moving.com to learn about other people's experiences with a company.

Good service inspires good reviews, which is why you should look for an interstate moving company that has a good track record according to their customers. The FMCSA website will offer safety reviews, and the Better Business Bureau, Yelp and these days even Google will provide customer experience information for you to sift through during the research phase. Keep in mind that no company can escape a bad review or two, but they shouldn't be the majority.

3. Transparent Rates

When you call a mover, they'll most likely give you a rate based on the number of hours and movers you'll need from them. However, keep in mind that this is a base rate, and it doesn't include additional packing materials. You may need higher rates to move large, heavy objects, or other incidental add-ons that could pop up later on.

Moving companies can't give you an exact estimate over the phone, but they can give you a general idea of how much you must spend. Be sure to ask about what constitutes as an extra fee. If the company isn't forthcoming with the information, it's time to move on to somebody else.

4. Find The Right Company For You

Every move is different. And whether you're moving a four-bedroom house or a studio apartment, you need to make sure that the moving company you hire can accommodate all of your things. Take into consideration your own individual needs and then ask the right questions to ensure you're picking the right fit.

Make sure the company has a moving truck that is the right size to fit all of your boxes and furniture, and can abide by any physical constraints of your property, such as narrow doorways and elevated front porches.

Find out if the company can provide additional packing supplies as needed, such as moving blankets, bubble wrap and garment boxes — those always come in handy for last-minute packing needs.

Last, see if the company is available in a time window that meets your needs, and can guarantee pickup and delivery dates and times convenient for you.

5. Inquire About Liability Coverage

Before handing over your things to just anyone, you'll want to make sure it covers your belongings in case of a mishap during the big move. Whether you're moving across the street or across the country, your professional moving company should have multiple liability coverage options for you to choose from.

For your knowledge, licensed interstate movers are required to offer two types of liability options: Full Value Protection and Released Value. As defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Full Value Protection states that your mover is liable for the replacement value of lost or damaged goods in your entire shipment. This is the more comprehensive plan available for the protection of your belongings.

Released Value Protection is considered to be the most economical protection available, since it is offered at no additional charge. However, the protection is minimal. Under this option, the mover assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound of each article.

6. Beware of Rogue Movers

Millions of people move every year, and while only a small percentage experience dreadful moving company fraud, it's not unheard of. To verify a moving company is legitimate, check for an active license, look up their service records and make sure they have a valid physical address (and not just a P.O. box).

You also want to be wary of any mover that asks for a deposit if they're asking for over 20% upfront. The Federal Motor Carry Safety Administration offers insightful tips for making sure you hire a legitimate moving company.

Competition is fierce in the moving industry, and regardless of where you live, you're bound to have quite a few options to choose from. That's why it's best to do your research, ask around and look elsewhere if a company raises any red flags. Overall, you want a company with a proven history of safety, reliability and a high quality of service.

One Final Word: Learn to Compare Quotes

When collecting moving company quotes from full service movers, container moving companies, and moving truck rental companies, things can get confusing. Every long distance moving company quotes differently, so in most cases, you're never comparing “apples-to-apples”.

For local moves, most full service movers quote an hourly rate based on the size of the truck and the number of movers you'll need. While it's still unlikely you'll get an exact price on the quote, it's relatively easy to anticipate additional costs if it's based on an hourly charge. Where it is more challenging is for long distance moves when the cost is based on the weight of the contents on the loaded truck. This is very difficult to anticipate and it's where many people get stuck with a significantly higher final invoice.

Other things to keep in mind, is your initial “estimate” won't likely include additional packing materials or additional charges for heavy/large items or stairs. So, be sure that your comfortable that the estimated weight and time is accurate based the items you're moving.

Container moving companies charge by the size and number of containers you'll need, and the distance of your move. As such, these quotes are usually very accurate but you'll want to make sure you order to right size container for your needs. This is typically a do-it-yourself option that allows you at least 1-month to complete your move, but you may need to hire moving help.

Moving truck rentals are the most affordable option of the three listed here, but keep in mind that you'll usually need to complete your long distance move in 2-4 days to avoid additional charges. This is also a DIY option so you're loading/unloading and driving the truck yourself. Be sure to also factor in the cost of fuel and hotels along the way if you won't complete your long distance move in one day.

Even though you may only use the company for one day, a lot of potential issues can arise. Think of it this way: The more work you put into choosing the perfect moving company, the less work you must put into dealing with potential mishaps.

Between purchasing your next home, paying for the down payment, and covering closing costs, moving expenses add up. Clever Partner Agents offer their full services for less, which can help offset the costs of a long-distance move.

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Jamie Ayers

Jamie is the Director of Content at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents and helps you save thousands on commission. In the past, Jamie has managed columns for clients in a variety of leading business publications, including Forbes, Inc., CEO World, Entrepreneur, and more. At Clever, Jamie's primary goal is to provide home sellers, buyers, and investors with the information they need to successfully navigate the ins and outs of the real estate industry.

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