The Basics of Moving Explained

A move is a move is a move, right? Wrong. To understand the basics of a move, you first have to understand that there is more than one type of move. Choosing your move type is like ordering food off of a menu - you have multiple choices, but ultimately you have to pick what works best for you. Understanding your moving choices is the first step in understanding the moving basics.

As far as moving goes, you have 2 basic types of moves; Local and Long Distance. And no, Local moves are not moves going a short distance. And no, Long Distance moves are not moves going a long distance. As a matter of fact, distance has nothing to do with whether you are making a Local or Long Distance move. It all comes down to state lines. Are you crossing state lines when you move? This question is the first one to ask when you try to understand your move. The answer to this question can determine the type of mover you need, the way they will charge you, and the regulations and rules that your mover will need to follow. Let’s take a deeper look:

What is a Long Distance Move?

Simply put, a Long Distance move is a move that crosses state lines. It does not matter one bit how far your move is. A 5 mile move that crosses state lines is as much of a Long Distance move as a 2,000 mile move that crosses state lines. A move can even be considered Long Distance if you leave one state, cross into another state, then cross back into your original state. So for example, some moves in New York City may be easier to preform if you use New Jersey as a shortcut. So even though you are beginning and ending in NY, since you are crossing into NJ it is still considered a Long Distance move.

So what? Does it really make so much of a difference? Absolutely. To start, a Long Distance mover is regulated by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). This means that a Long Distance mover must hold a license issued by the FMCSA and adhere to whatever other guidelines they have in place. Another major distinction is that Long Distance moves are typically charged based on a combination of distance traveled and the weight/volume of your belongings. How many hours your movers are working is of less importance than these 2 factors. And of course, Long Distance moves will typically be more expensive. And don’t forget, packing services are not usually included in standard moving fees.


What is a Local Move?

Maybe you can guess this one? A Local move is a move that does not cross state lines. Again, distance makes no difference. Whether you travel a few miles or hundreds of miles, if you never cross state lines then you are making a Local move. In terms of licensing requirements, each state regulates its own movers, and levels of stringency vary widely. For example, in Nevada, Local movers have to go through a rigorous process that includes taking a training course and test before they can be given a license. In Arizona, there are no requirements at all – they don’t even need a license. So in Arizona anyone could go rent a truck and call themselves a moving company. This is why it is so important to understand your move, because if you are making a Local move, you’ll want to make sure you know what your state requires of their movers. In terms of price, Local movers usually charge by the hour. The price per hour will vary depending on how many movers and trucks you need, but regardless, there is usually a minimum amount of hours you will be charged for. And like with Long Distance moves, packing services cost extra.

So let’s recap:

Long Distance moves cross state lines, are regulated by the FMCSA, and are changed based on distance and weight/volume.

Local moves do not cross state lines, are regulated by each state, and are charged based on time.


After you’ve figured out what type of move you’ll be making, you now have to figure out exactly what type of services you’ll need. You already know if you need a Local or Long Distance mover. But do you know if you’ll have the movers move everything? Is there anything you might want to move yourself? Do you want your movers handling your precious jewelry? Do you need them to pack for you too? These are the all-important questions you need to ask to ensure that you get the sort of services that you need.

Consider this scenario: Getting your movers to pack your entire house for you can run at least $500-$1,000 on top of your actual moving costs. And it could be even higher if you have a lot to pack! So you can easily save this money by packing your own things. And don’t forget, movers will charge you not only for their labor, but for the materials they use as well (such as tape, boxes, bubble wrap, etc.).

Consider this scenario:Getting your movers to move every single one of your items can also increase your costs by the hundreds because that means your movers as spending more time performing your move. This is especially a rip off if you are moving a short distance, because for under $100 you can likely rent a U-Haul for the day and move a lot of items yourself. This means that your movers spend less time on your move, while also doing less work. Those 2 things combined will likely lead to a lower moving bill.

Consider this scenario: Maybe you want to splurge and let your movers pack and move everything for you. Well, do you really want to let them handle everything? It’s highly recommended to handle your valuables yourself. With little effort you can easily move things like jewelry and fine china, and have the peace of mind that they are in good hands. With movers, you don’t know how ruff they’ll be, and if something does break or gets lost, movers are often not liable to replace the full value of the item (more on this topic here).

So now that you know the type of move you’re making, the type of mover you’ll need, and the types of services you’ll want, you are ready to start looking for a mover. Continue reading here to learn about what you need to know when looking for a moving company.

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