Moving across state lines can be stressful and time-consuming, not to mention the costs involved. For many, the stress begins way before the moving process, when looking for interstate moving companies.
And it’s only natural. After all, all of your goods will travel hundreds or even thousands of miles away with a long distance moving company. How can you make sure all your belongings will arrive safely and in a reasonable time to your new place?
There are a few ground rules to make sure the company you hire is reliable. Here they are:
Long Distance Moving 101: What to Look for in an Interstate Moving Company
Interstate moving companies are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and are required to:
- Have an FMCSA license and show their USDOT number on every advertising material. If you have this information, you can search the FMCSA database to access their complaints history.
- Provide other ways to solve complaints when these cannot be solved amicably.
- Provide customers with a brochure on their rights and responsibilities.
- Offer a comprehensive list of their rates, extra charges, and other such mentions.
- Create and make available an effective set of complaint handling procedures complete with contact information.
All these are effective in protecting customers from bad practices. However, there are other things to keep in mind when looking for an interstate moving company. Think about how invested you will be in the moving process and what expectations you have from the moving company. Packing, moving, and delivering your goods can be handled by any interstate moving company.
Storage services are the first in line for many because interstate relocations sometimes take a few days. Auto transport services might also come in handy if you and your family will travel by plane to your new home. Cleaning services might also be useful if you feel it would be too much of a hassle to do it yourself or contract a different company for that.
Long Distance Moving 102: How to Choose a Reliable Interstate Moving Company
Here are some ground rules on how to choose a company that will safely transport your goods over state lines without overpaying or waiting for days on end for their arrival.
Ask for Written Estimates
To make sure you don’t get scammed, always ask for an estimate – be it binding or non-binding. A binding one implies you will pay the estimated price no matter the actual weight or other variables of your cargo. This might be an advantage or a disadvantage for you, depending on the actual situation on your moving day.
A non-binding estimate provides the approximate costs of your move, but the actual costs might vary. However, moving companies are required by law to deliver your goods for no more than 110% of the non-binding estimate.
Don’t Chase the Cheapest Services
Generally speaking, you will always get your money’s worth – cheap services are cheap for a reason, usually. This is especially applicable when it comes to services instead of products.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should chase the most expensive, either. Larger companies usually have higher rates because they have a larger fleet, more locations, and extensive services. Sure, there are cases where these costs are completely justified – like with office moving. But most of the time, a residential moving is a pretty easy process for the movers, even though you might not feel the same way.
Middle-priced services are affordable and just as reliable given you will also heed our other suggestions.
Always Check Reviews & Ratings
Apart from the official info you can get from the FMCSA website, you can also use online communities in your search for reputable movers. But understand that no company, no matter how reliable, will have 100% positive feedback. Ratings and reviews are subjective, after all. However, there’s also a thing called group intelligence which should make top rated interstate moving companies the most reliable.
Keep in mind, however, to check more than one review platform. Also be attentive to their DBAs (doing business as).
Long Distance Moving 103: Top X Interstate Moving Companies in the U.S.
Here are the most reliable interstate moving companies in the U.S. at the moment:
- xTreme Movers.
- American Van Lines (not to be confused with United States Van Lines, which according to many reviews websites is not as reliable).
- Long Distance Van Lines.
- Prestige Worldwide Moving.
- North American Relocation.
There are plenty of other reliable interstate moving companies that only work in a few states and will provide affordable services. Here are some tips to finding the best moving companies and stay away from unreliable ones:
- Avoid companies that do not provide you with brochures on your rights and responsibilities and the FMCSA brochure mentioned above. Federal regulations require interstate moving companies to supply these to you during the planning stage.
- Be cautious with companies that require (large) deposits, have no address mentioned on their website, or no contact info other than their contact page.
- Never agree to sign a contract with a company that did not offer an onsite inspection & an estimate.
Long Distance Moving 104: Extra Tips to Stay Away from Fraud
Here are some extra tips that will help you stay away from fraud:
- Research the companies, their history and policies, and how other customers reviewed them.
- Ask for a written estimate & a comprehensive list of their extra charges.
- Don’t sign a contract which you did not fully read or understand, including documents in blank or incomplete.
- Know your rights and responsibilities during the moving process.
- Don’t ignore your intuition. If you feel something else is shady about the business or they seem unprofessional, do not risk your belongings for a few hundreds of dollars.
- Finally, rate the company and write reviews of your experience with them to help others find reliable interstate moving companies.
Do you have any other tips or rules you followed when you searched for interstate moving companies? Which one did you choose and how did it go? Please tell us about your experience in the comment section below.