You’ve likely penciled in every moment of the transition from the packing to the unloading of the truck. Add a cross-country trip into the mix, and you’re left with an even bigger time frame to coordinate.
So, how long should you expect your movers to take? This depends on whether you’re asking about local moving, long-distance relocations, or international moves.
For example, you may be wondering about the amount of time it takes to empty your home, load everything onto the truck, and bring it all into your new home. Or perhaps, you’re looking to get a better sense of the delivery process and how long the movers will take to drive from state to state.
In this guide, we’ll break down how to plan for your moving day and beyond. A good mover—for both local and long-distance moves—will supply you with an accurate delivery window or time of delivery so you can plan ahead and enjoy a stress-free day.
The Timing of Local Moves
Even small moves require a lot of planning. Moving across town is only simpler because you don’t have to think about a long journey in the moving truck. However, you still need to account for the time it takes to pack up your home, put it on the truck safely, and unload it into your new space.
You may be surprised at how quickly a full-service team can handle a local move. Here are some ballpark numbers if you’re moving less than 100 miles.
|Size of Your Home||Hours|
|Studio apartment||2-3 hours + travel time|
|One or two-bedroom home||3-5 hours + travel time|
|Three or four-bedroom home||4-7 hours + travel time|
|Four or five-bedroom home||7-10 hours + travel time|
Factors That Affect the Timing of Local Moves
Now, there are many factors that can sway these averages in one direction or the other. If you order more moving services, such as packing, disassembly of your furniture, or unpacking, expect hire costs. It is standard in the moving industry, after all, to charge by the hour for local moves.
Other factors that cause the average time to fluctuate include:
- Moving date
- Amount of household goods
- The size of your shipment
- Weather conditions
- The size of your moving crew
You will likely receive a near-accurate estimate from your movers during the free moving quote process. Since the price comes down to an hourly fee, the company should be able to provide a ballpark schedule of the day.
The Timing of Interstate Moves
Determining the timing of long-distance movers is a little more complicated. You aren’t likely to receive a guaranteed delivery date, but instead, a window between a few days and a few weeks. All of this information arrives in your moving estimate and your bill of lading.
Overall, a cross-country mover takes between two days and three weeks, but the average time ranges from 10 to 14 days.
So why does a mover take so long? A long-distance moving company drives your items across the country with breaks for rest, meals, and in some cases, to pick up other shipments. Not only does this allow them to offer lower rates and help you save money, but it’s an eco-conscious method to move homes long distances as well.
Factors That Affect the Timing of Long-Distance Moves
While the distance of your trip plays the largest role in the process, you’ll encounter a few extra factors that can either speed up or slow down your delivery. For example:
- The weight of your shipment
- Tolls and traffic along the way
- Time of year and weather conditions
- Move date (some companies measure in business days)
- Number of stops along the way
- Accessibility of your origin and destination
The Timing of International Moves
Moving to another country—or even another continent—is a whole other ballgame. If you’re simply headed to Canada from the US, however, assume the same amount of time as the interstate moves of 10-14 days. These moves work similarly to cross-country ones and travel by truck.
However, moving across the ocean either requires shipping your items by sea or by air. Sea freight is the most standard option and significantly less money than sending it on a plane.
Moving your items by sea freight can take between 20 and 30 days for delivery. You may need to add extra time for the international movers to pick your items up at the local port and bring them to your new home.
Airfreight is much faster, cutting the time down to the same as a cross-country move, or in some cases, as little as five days.
Factors That Affect the Timing of International Moves
Moving internationally takes far more planning, so it’s important to choose professional movers with a background in moving abroad. Some of the factors that can slow down or speed up your moving experience include:
- Accessibility of your new country and port
- Time of year (keep international bank holidays in mind)
- Size of your home
- Choosing air or freight carriers
- Moving specialty items
- Required tariffs and customs processes at the border
- Size of the local moving team abroad
Moving Day Timing
On the big day itself, your company should arrive within an hour of their estimate of time to load your items into their truck. The company may offer moving tips beforehand to help pack for the journey and help speed up the process.
During the Trip
Once the drivers hit the road, you can keep in touch by keeping the company’s contact information on hand, but shouldn’t need to call them unless something significantly changes. Most movers prefer that you call the customer service phone number before calling the movers themselves since they are likely on the road or picking up other loads.
Some of the best companies today offer a tracking app to watch your truck move across the country in real-time. However, double-check reviews to see if the app is known to be dependable.
You should receive notice 24 to 48 before your movers are set to arrive. This allows you the space to travel to your new home and get ready for their arrival. You can also request a phone call a few hours before they show up so you’re available to receive them.
If Your Movers Are Late
As we mentioned above, always call the moving company office before checking in with the movers behind the wheel. If you’ve received detailed instructions on how to contact your movers during the drive cross-country, follow these before taking the next steps.
Most importantly, try not to panic. Countless things can happen late in the game when on the road, so you movers may have overestimated their speed in the final leg of the trip.
Check Your Contract
Your contract should also outline what to do if your movers miss the delivery window, whether they offered a rebate upfront or not. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, you can file a claim after your move if you agreed upon a guaranteed delivery time with your mover.
If your movers are significantly late and you’re unable to reach them, reach out to the Department of Transportation for assistance. The FMCSA can also direct you about what to do next and how to file a complaint against the company.
Remember, your movers are not allowed to hold your items hostage if you pay for your move in full upon delivery.
Moving can upend your schedule even when it conveniently falls on a weekend. The months of planning and scheduling add up over time, so it’s important to find a dependable moving team with a built-in guarantee for arriving on time.
FAQs About How Long Moving Companies Take
Why do movers take so long?
The length of a long-distance move can be shocking at first glance. Many families aren’t aware that they’ll wait several days or even weeks to see their items again.
Movers can drive several hundred miles in a day but are required to take breaks overnight and in bad weather. Many movers pair your move up with stops along the way to pick up other loads as well
What should you do while movers are working?
While it may be tempting to help to speed up the process, it’s best to stay out of the movers’ ways as they load and unload the truck. Your movers may have a specific plan of how to stack items and boxes in the truck.
In the meantime, you can:
- Make sure the movers have a clear path from your house to the moving truck
- Stay available in case they have any questions
- Get a headstart on sweeping empty rooms once all the items are removed
How long does it take to move without movers?
Moving on your own can take far longer than hiring a team of movers, but is a common way to save money. Be sure you have help to assist with heavy furniture and driving if you’re renting a van or a truck.
You can cut down the stress of moving yourself by hiring a storage container company as well. These movers will leave a pod or truck container outside your home for several days. You load it on your own, but the company will handle all the driving for you.
How can I move at the last minute?
Many major moving companies in the US offer last-minute moving packages, even for long-distance moves. For a fee, you can often choose priority moving services that focus on getting you on the schedule, packing up your home, and driving to your new space as quickly as possible.
You may also want to consider storing a portion of your items and only moving essentials on the first trip. This option allows you to sort through your household goods later and determine what to move and what to donate.