Home > Best Long Distance Movers in 2021

Best Long-Distance Movers in 2021

We’ve researched licensed & certified moving companies to find the most trusted, best performing, and highest-rated long-distance movers in the industry. In this article you’ll learn:

  • The top operators in the moving industry who specialize in long-distance relocations, both large and small.
  • How to choose the right moving company for you, based on services offered, track record, efficiency, and price.
  • How much your move should reasonably cost, based on move distance, and the amount you need to be moved.

Best Full-Service Mover

International Van Lines

4.8
  • Provides Local, Long-Distance, & Int'l Moving Services
  • IVL is a Licensed Moving Carrier & Broker
  • Live Chat Option & A 24/7 Telephone Assistance Line

Best Moving Add-ons

American Van Lines

4.7
  • Local & Long-Distance Moving
  • Storage Options Available
  • Specializes In Fine Art, Antique, & Piano Moving

Best for Protection Insurance

Safeway Moving System

4.6
  • Safeway Moving is an FMCSA-Licensed Broker
  • Brokers Connect Clients With Local Moving Options at Advantageous Pricing
  • Select Locations Provide 1 Month of Free Storage Services

We’ve reviewed and rated dozens of licensed and registered long-distance movers, so you know who’s the best and which companies are most reliable.  Here’s our list of our top 3 best long-distance moving companies:

 

Best Full-Service Mover

4.8
  • Provides Local, Long-Distance, & Int'l Moving Services
  • IVL is a Licensed Moving Carrier & Broker
  • Live Chat Option & A 24/7 Telephone Assistance Line

Best Moving Add-ons

4.7
  • Local & Long-Distance Moving
  • Storage Options Available
  • Specializes In Fine Art, Antique, & Piano Moving

Best for Protection Insurance

4.6
  • Safeway Moving is an FMCSA-Licensed Broker
  • Brokers Connect Clients With Local Moving Options at Advantageous Pricing
  • Select Locations Provide 1 Month of Free Storage Services

Most Customizable Moves

4.5
  • Long-Distance, Interstate, Local & Int'l Moves
  • 24/7 Customer Support & Great Mobile App for Customers
  • Low-Interest Financing Available with JK Moving partner

Most Competitive Pricing

4.4
  • Long-Distance Moving Container Service
  • Portable Storage Service at U-Pack Warehouse
  • Negligence & Catastrophic Liability Coverage

Best for Extended Storage

4.3
  • Local, National, & International Moving
  • Manages Hot Tub, Pool & Appliance Connections
  • Permanent Storage & Storage-In-Transit Options

Best Customer Care

4.2
  • Personalized Approach To Moving
  • NAVL is a Licensed Moving Carrier & Broker
  • 24/7 Customer Care & Support

Most Convenient Service

4.1
  • Local & Long-Distance Moving Services
  • Can Store PODS on Property or Storage Location
  • Customizable Moving Options Available

Best Moving Mobile App

4
  • Colonial Van Lines Specializes in Long-Distance Moves
  • Colonial Van Lines Storage & Packing Services
  • Corporate Relocation: Move An Employee (Or A Whole Team) To A New Location.

Best Broker Network

3.9
  • Connects You With Movers in Your Local Area
  • Provides Tools to Assist You in Your Move
  • Mover Coach Service Available Online

Finding the Best Long-Distance Moving Company

Before simply typing “best long-distance movers near me” into your Google search bar, it is important to first take inventory of all that you plan on moving. Go through each room of your living space and write down all that you plan on taking with you. If you have any specialty items, like a piano, large gun safe, or even an automobile that has to be moved, this could influence which moving companies you can use. Only certain carriers will move these items, and it could affect the pricing of the job. Taking stock like this will minimize any surprises on moving day, and will lead to a far smoother experience for all parties involved.

The next step should be to get an exact mileage figure for the distance between your current and your new home. When calling around for a moving estimate, all carrier representatives will ask for this, as distance factors into the final price of the move. Of course, they are capable of finding this information themselves. However, it makes for a far smoother process if you have a number handy. 

As is the case when dealing with any service industry, it is best to consider what your exact needs are. With the prevalence of full-service moving companies now, you will be able to find one whose offerings exactly match your move. 

Since you are booking a long-distance move (over 400 miles), it would serve you well to exclusively shop around with the larger firms. Every area will have great local movers to choose from, but rarely do they have a lengthy track record for completing longer jobs. This could lead to you paying a premium price, relative to the more experienced operators. 

Scheduling Your Long-Distance Moving Estimate

Once you have looked through customer reviews, you should make a list of a few companies who you would like to work with. Starting with your top choice, call around to schedule a moving estimate. Most companies today will also offer virtual or online estimates, but you should always opt to get one done in-person if at all possible. This is still the most accurate method and the best way to ensure that no extra costs get added on after the fact. Both virtual and in-home estimates are typically done for free. 

After the estimate is completed, the representative will give a quote and offer to send a contract to you to sign. This is where you need to be cautious. Read the language of the contract carefully, and do not sign if they have not explicitly offered a “binding estimate.” Without that provision, it is easy for a company to tack on extra costs at will. Any professional moving company should have little to no problem with this stipulation. If this becomes a point of contention, you would do well to move on to your next option for your move. 

Evaluating Your Long-Distance Moving Options

There are a number of options for the type of moving company you can use which, again, will come down to the size and distance of your move. If you’re going to be doing an international move, you should find a company that explicitly advertises this service. Licensing and certifications can get complicated when crossing international borders, and the premium you will pay for this is well worth it. 

For larger to intermediately sized moves within the same country, a full-service van line would provide the most comprehensive service. If you feel up to the task of loading and unloading yourself, but don’t want to do any of the driving, a moving container would work well for you. It would also save you money in labor costs. On the lowest end of the cost spectrum are DIY moving trucks. Though their cost isn’t significantly lower than that of a moving container, they offer you the most control over your move, by far.

What to Look for in Professional Movers 

Fully Licensed and Insured

All moving companies, local and long-distance, must be fully licensed and insured. Any reputable company will have a U.S. DOT number listed on their website, which you can then use to check that they are registered with the FMCSA. That is, they are licensed to transport their clients’ household goods. Moving insurance is slightly less black and white, as all licensed moving companies have to include “released value protection” within the cost of the move itself. This means that your possessions will be covered at a rate of $0.30 per pound, per item for intrastate moves, and $0.60 per pound, per item for interstate moves. You should feel free to ask for proof of insurance during the quote process to be sure of your moving company’s coverage. Under federal law, moving companies are required to provide full valuation insurance as well. This could be applicable if you are moving valuable antiques or other expensive items. Be sure to ask your moving provider about this option if that is the case.

Reliability

As with most of the items on this list, you can find out all that you need to know about a moving company’s reliability through customer reviews. It may seem shocking, but with certain smaller companies, it isn’t a given that your movers will be there for pick up at the agreed-upon time. If a quick look through the reviews isn’t enough, then you can check the FMCSA database for a complaint history of your prospective moving company. 

Price

The importance of shopping around for the best price absolutely cannot be overstated. Get as many free quotes, from as many vendors as you possibly can before deciding on a moving company. For a long-distance move, reputable moving companies will often offer a fixed estimate. When shopping around, look for straightforward wording during the estimate and while reviewing the moving contract. 

While flat rates are ideal, many companies will bill by the mile, by the pound, or a combination of the two. If they bill solely by the mile, you shouldn’t be alarmed when the customer representative giving you a quote can only give you a ballpark estimate. Moving trucks have to avoid certain roads, like parkways and bridges with weight or height limits. Depending on your new location, this may result in your movers having to find an alternate route, increasing the mileage and time of the job. If you are moving cross country with a larger provider, there is a solid chance that your move will be packed into a large trailer, with someone else’s goods (properly partitioned, of course.) This would affect the timetable of your move far more than the price, but it is worth mentioning.

If your moving company factors weight into the bill, they will take their truck to a scale to weigh it after loading. You should make a point of overseeing the process if this is the case – this entails also finding out the truck’s empty weight before moving day. 

Again, if the company you’re planning to hire primarily handles local moves, you will likely be up-charged for the premium (for them) service of moving your goods a long way, or across state lines. Local moving companies’ business models and practices are usually predicated on hourly rates, which will affect the bottom line.

Efficiency

Any company offering relocation services of any kind will likely boast about the speed of their work. Once again, customer reviews will be your friend here. It’s normal that your movers should take breaks intermittently throughout your move. Frankly, it is to be expected. However, employees of top moving companies with a track record of excellent customer service will aim to keep these to a minimum. 

When perusing customer reviews, you may want to sort by “worst,” even when looking at a highly rated company. If more than one review points to their workers being lazy or slow, it could point to a poor culture in their workplace, which you may end up paying for.

Degree of Care With Your Possessions

For moving companies, a prime facet of optimizing the customer experience is ensuring that their clients’ goods make it to their new home in the same condition in which they departed. Be it a full-service move, or a packing or labor-only job, movers from reputable companies should be trained in how to properly pack boxes and trucks, and prepare furniture for optimal transportation.

This video is an example of prime packing technique with regards to fragile items. All of your movers should be so careful. Be sure to look for pictures of your moving company on their website, on Google, and on social media, aside from going through customer reviews. You should find plenty of pictures of your potential movers loading and unloading their trucks. If you see any pictures of furniture without moving blankets on them, you should rethink using that particular company. The process for properly wrapping furniture should look something like this. Anything less for a long-distance or cross-country move should not be allowed to go unchecked. 

Once again, long-distance moves may necessitate that you purchase extra insurance, beyond what is typically offered.

Average Cost of Long-Distance Movers

Before considering the weight and distance of your move, it is important to note that moving method will have the greatest singular effect on the final cost.

Moving Method

Full-Service Moving Company

If you opt for a full-service moving company, you will have to handle the least amount of the actual work yourself, but your cost will be higher. For long-distance moves (anything over 400 miles), these companies will charge anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000. Costs on the higher end, or exceeding this mark are rare but do happen when clients add on optional services, such as  assembly.

Moving Container or Trailer

Renting a moving container allows for greater flexibility. You can load and unload at your leisure, over the course of a few days. You have the choice of either hiring movers for the labor at each end, or doing the heavy lifting yourself. Average costs for these methods typically fall between $2,000 and $4,000. If you’re unsure of where to put your things in your new home, many of these containers can double as a short to long-term storage option on-property. This will come at an additional monthly rate, but it comes with a fair amount of added convenience.

DIY Moving Truck 

This is by far your cheapest option, but the lower cost comes with a hefty amount of assumed liability. When you move with a truck rental from U-Haul, Penske, or any of the other big players in this area, you will have the most control over your move’s timetable. For some, that overrides the liability for the truck and their own goods. Despite somewhat higher mileage costs, the cost is low, at $1,000 to $2,500. 

Average Cost Based On Distance

Most long-distance moving companies will charge about $0.75 to $1.00 per mile. Customer reviews for Mayflower Movers cited an average cost of about $1,500 for a 1,000 mile move of a studio apartment (1,500 – 2,000 pounds). Moving companies who bill primarily based on mileage will typically stress this point when giving you a moving quote during the estimate. Mileage rates will go down, the longer your move is.

Average Cost Based On Weight

Equally common is billing your moving cost based on weight. Most large-scale moving companies cite a rate of about $0.50 per pound. Despite how difficult your move’s weight can be to calculate just from looking at the inventory, this is an industry-standard for long-distance relocation. 

To reassure you, the U.S. DOT is responsible for weighing the truck after it is loaded: a third party. Additionally, if you receive a binding estimate based on your inventory list, and the list is adhered to on moving day, you will not be up-charged if the truck’s weight is more than expected. The same Mayflower review posted an upper-end price of $7,500 for moving a three-bedroom home (about 10,000 pounds) for 1,000 miles. Your final price will usually be calculated with some combination of mileage and weight in mind. Regardless, you should remember that binding estimates are just that – binding. If you stick to your original inventory list, you will have minimal surprises on moving day.

Stairs

It may seem like an afterthought to you since you’re in your home every day, but flights of stairs make a huge difference to movers. Stairs increase the amount of work they have to do, both in protecting your walls and protecting your furniture. If either your new home or old one is in an older building or house, stairwell width could come into play. Modern and Victorian-era furniture have a tendency to be poor matches for each other. A top item in your moving checklist should be to measure stairwells at each end precisely if at all possible. 

If you are moving from one, one-floor ranch house to another, then this section is of minimal importance to you. However, if that does not apply to you, it would serve you to plan far ahead. If your new or old home is in an apartment building, in a large city, there is a chance that you will have to deal with either a ridiculous walkup or a freight elevator. If there is no way around a walkup, then you should hire pros, and measure the stairwells. Otherwise, you may end up looking like this.

If you are lucky enough to have access to a freight elevator at one, or both ends of the move, then you need to contact all building managers involved and reserve elevator(s) for a given date and time. Some buildings will set a hard and fast rule that no tenants may use such facilities until after working hours. Some others will strictly allow for use within working hours, with a building attendant operating the elevator. Either way, many building managers have strict guidelines in place for movers and moving tenants to follow, so you need to get on top of this as soon as you book your move.

Driveways & Parking

The vast majority of residences have either flat driveways or large parking lots, which are easy for the largest of moving vans to get in and out of. If your home is built on a steep incline or decline, or in the middle of a large city, your parking situation could lead to an extra, probably unnecessary headache for you. 

If you’re moving in a densely populated, high traffic area, you need to explore your options in advance. This goes equally for loading and unloading. If either location is in a smaller Brownstone-style house, or street-level apartment, then your only choice may be to block off an adequate parking space for the truck early in the morning, on moving day. If you wait until just before your movers are scheduled to arrive, your chances of doing this successfully are nearly zero. 

Moving in or out of a larger high-rise apartment building has its drawbacks – namely, the high foot traffic at all hours of the day. A positive in this scenario is that many of them are equipped with loading docks. Often, these entrances are fairly close to a freight elevator, if the building has one. Protocol for loading docks and elevators can be similar, in that you should always call ahead and reserve it with the building manager. Additionally, you need to cross-check any loading docks with the dimensions of your chosen movers’ trucks. Loading docks tend to be set back inside a garage to help shield them from the elements, which means clearance could be a problem. Most moving trucks have a clearance of around 13 feet, and a width of 8.5 feet. If there is even a chance of trouble at a loading dock, it would be best to be upfront with your moving company representative. As a rule, they will always appreciate any leg work that you do to make their job less hectic.

Sharp inclines or declines, as well as winding driveways, can give larger trucks tons of trouble. If your truck can’t make it all the way to your house, then either you or your labor crew will have to park the truck on the street. The resulting walk from the truck to the house with each trip will double or triple the labor time. Even if your company is working on a flat rate, this will lead to a far worse moving experience for you.

Determining the Cost of Your Long-Distance Move Recap.

As outlined, the number one determining factor in the cost of your move is your moving method. The cheapest DIY move with a rental truck will usually be less expensive than the cheapest full-service move. The former offers more flexibility, with lowered cost. The latter offers far more convenience – effectively a one-stop moving experience – in exchange for a higher price.

In between those options are the number of moving container companies like PODS or ReloCubes from U-Pack. The intermediate cost, as well as the convenience to unload these containers at-will place them in high demand. With the number of people downsizing due to the economic state of things, storage facilities for these portable containers are far more prevalent than they were, even a few years ago.

 

Beyond the moving method, the secondary factors of distance and weight of your move will have the greatest impact on cost. Full-service movers use both to calculate your final move bill. If you want the convenience that comes with hiring one of these operators, but are worried about the cost, you should at least consider downsizing a little before moving day. 

Tertiary factors that affect your moving price are stairs and elevators, and the availability of parking at each end of the job. With regards to these elements, you cannot possibly be too proactive. Contact building managers well in advance, while preparing each end of the move early on moving day. Your wallet will thank you.

Popular Optional Long-Distance Moving Services

Assembly and Disassembly

The one constant among moving companies in this area seems to be an aversion to IKEA furniture. This brand, and others like it, is time consuming to assemble, and often comes with particle board components, which can easily break if mishandled. Unless otherwise stipulated in your contract, movers will avoid this kind of assembly. Smaller moving subcontractors, like TaskRabbit will happily handle this for you instead, if needed.

Many moving companies and laborers will typically follow this rule; “If we took it apart, we’ll put it back together.” Having the same labor crew on assembly and disassembly minimizes the chances of parts going missing, or of furniture breaking.

Auto Shipping

International and interstate moving companies alike will usually provide a totally separate service for moving your car. When determining the cost of auto relocation, your moving method matters.

  1. Shipping Company – Shipping your car with a dedicated shipping company will have the highest up-front cost, but may save you money in the long run. Typical costs for this will be about $1.00 per mile. For example, shipping your car from New York City to Miami, Florida (1,200 miles) will cost you a little under $1,000. As with other mileage-based moving expenses, the overall cost will decrease as distance increases. 
  2. Tow Dolly – Renting a tow dolly with a large vendor like U-Haul will cost between $60 and $200, depending on the distance being used, and the number of days you will need it. Tow dollies are two-wheeled, meaning the front turning wheels of the vehicle being towed are secured to the dolly, while the rear wheels maintain contact with the road at all times. This could lead to uneven wear and tear on your tires, as well as overall, unnecessary wear on your car. This is the cheapest option if you’re towing it with another larger personal vehicle. However, if you have to rent a U-Haul truck to tow it, this will cost far more – in excess of $1,000 for the aforementioned 1,200 mile move. If this U-Haul truck is also doubling as your primary moving van for the rest of your goods, it could be worth the cost.
  3. Tow Trailer – If you want to tow your car on your own, a four-wheeled tow trailer is likely your best option. With a base price of $80 to $300 on its own, it is slightly more expensive. You will need a heavier duty truck or SUV to tow this trailer with a car on it, but this option is the DIY mover’s best choice for auto transportation. Just as with the tow dolly, the cost will greatly increase, by a similar margin if you have to rent an additional U-Haul van or truck to tow it.

Packing and Unpacking

Your moving company may offer to pack and unpack your things upon arriving at each destination. This is where you should be wary of the language in the contract. Packing services and supplies are rarely included in flat rates. If they are, then it’s likely that your flat rate is inflated far beyond what it should reasonably be. This is not a sneaky practice by a shady vendor. Rather, it is a fact of doing business. The further you get from the original distributor, the more a given item will be marked up. 

If you have the money to pay for this convenience, then it is probably the right choice. If not, then you should shop around for supplies and pack your own belongings, beginning about two months out from your move date. You can easily find boxes for free at department, grocery, and liquor stores after they accept shipments of goods. However, the best moving supplies are those which are made specifically for moving. Aside from U-Haul, stores like Home Depot have entire dedicated moving sections to choose from. U-Haul offers the most variety within the moving sphere. They have boxes, packing paper, mattress bags, ratchet straps, dollies, and anything else you can name. They will also buy back all of your unused boxes at cost. 

Storage Services 

All large moving companies will offer storage services to their clients. Whether your move requires multiple full-sized moving trucks, or only a couple of PODS, this is a service that you will be sold on during in-person or online quotes. If the moving company itself doesn’t own storage, then they are partnered with a storage facility, which could mean an inflated rate for the consumer. Many locations offer the first month for free, with a contract. Storage units can be an expensive long-term investment, so many would consider selling some of their less important items before renting  one. There are plenty of junk removal companies available to dispose of anything that you can’t sell or afford to move.

Piano Moving

Dedicated piano moving companies exist but, for the sake of having fewer moving parts in your relocation, most moving companies will offer this service with a separate fee attached. It serves to do research here. Feel free to ask customer service representatives from different moving companies what kind of experience their workers have with pianos. Listen for any mention of a “piano board,” or the fact that the legs on grand pianos are numbered, and absolutely need to be put back in their proper slot. This will clue you in as to their competence level, and could save you from making a costly, dangerous mistake. Pianos are incredibly valuable pieces, both financially and sentimentally speaking. If they aren’t taken care of properly, it can leave you with a terrible impression of the moving industry as a whole.

Our 5 Top-Rated Long-Distance Movers Recap

No matter the scope, or size of your move, or the budget you have in mind, you will be able to find a moving option that works perfectly for you. 

The best full-service movers are International Van Lines and American Van Lines. IVL has the slightly greater operating territory, encompassing the entirety of the United States, as well as 180 countries worldwide. IVL operates both as a broker and carrier, which means they are used to contracting work out to other moving providers. On one hand, you will be saved the hassle of calling several different companies to complete your relocation. On the other, you can’t be as sure of the people being hired to work in your home. American Van Lines is in a close second, but equally equipped to handle your long-distance and cross-country moves, as well as most of the same international jobs. 

The primarily more American moving companies on this list are Atlas Van Lines and North American Van Lines. They are two large firms with a more local touch. AVL offers discounts to any client with a AAA membership,  and boasts more than 400 locations in the United States and Canada, along with authorized partners in 140 countries. Even the more locally oriented of the large companies have branched out into international relocation services. NAVL, for its part, offers one of the more customizable moving packages on the market. With specialized packing for fragile items, and contracted services for any potential need, they are equally accomplished as brokers, and as carriers.

Finally, the best in convenience for long distances is U-Pack. With both moving containers and trailers available, with shipping to any location in the 50 states and Puerto Rico. Their services offered are perfect for a semi-DIY, memorable move.

What to Know About Long-Distance Moving

Be sure to shop around and secure a binding estimate before signing any contracts. Rushing into a commitment on such a major transaction. This general rule of thumb goes for any move, but is especially true with longer distances. Shady companies may try to make you feel pressured into signing a contract immediately following an estimate, but you are under no obligation to do so. If you feel any kind of unease, you can protect yourself from moving fraud here.

Create a checklist before your move. This process should begin around two months out from moving day, and should encompass every possible task you need to accomplish before relocation. This will help to ensure that you will receive an accurate estimate, and that you won’t be overpaying to move items that you no longer need. 

Begin packing around the same time as you are putting together your checklist. There are plenty of places to buy packing supplies, but if you’re on a budget, there is a definite market for secondhand moving supplies. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are prime places to start if this is the route you plan on taking. It’s also worth calling up larger retailers to see if they have any boxes to spare after a large delivery.

Best Long-Distance Movers FAQ

How much does it cost to move long-distances?

Most reputable sources give an average figure between $4,000 and $5,000 for long-distance moves. This varies with your moving method, weight of your goods, and the distance you plan on moving. A full-service move can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000, in extreme cases. Moving containers or trailer rentals will cost somewhere in the $2,000 to $4,000 range. A personal truck or van rental will be your cheapest option, at $1,000 to $2,500. 

What is considered a long-distance move?

Most operators consider a move of 400 miles or more to be long-distance. A small minority will declare any interstate move, or any move of 100 miles or more to be long-distance, but this is not typical. Ultimately, all of this information should be on your prospective mover’s website. The “long-distance moving” label can come with a premium price tag, so it’s worth your time to look.

What won't my long-distance movers take with them?

Moving companies all have insurance policies and DOT regulations governing what they can’t take in their trucks. Cleaning materials, gasoline and oil, toxic chemicals, fertilizer can’t be transported in any moving van. Here is a comprehensive list of things movers absolutely will not take. Beyond this, every moving company has a list of prohibited items on their websites.

How do I know if my long-distance mover is a licensed, reputable operator?

You can check that out here, at the FMCSA website. You can easily cross-reference their DOT number to find out if they are licensed, and also view their complaint history. All moving companies are issued a DOT number and, if this is unavailable, you should steer clear.

Should I tip my long-distance movers?

This is never a required aspect of this particular service industry (like many others.) But, if your movers conduct themselves in a professional manner, and consistently treat your things with care, you should definitely consider it. If you’ve hired a full-service moving team that is dedicated to your move for a few days to a week, a general rule of thumb is $40 per day on the road and working, per mover. If hiring labor at each end, $5 per hour, per mover is sufficient.