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Long Distance Moves

What You Gotta Know

Movers & Brokers

What's The Difference?

What Can Go Wrong

In A Long Distance Move?

What To Look For

In A Moving Company

Best Moving Companies

For Long Distance Moves

The Ultimate Guide to Selecting A Long Distance Moving Company

Table of Contents

Long Distance Moving, Long Distance Movers, and What You Gotta Know

Organized crime doesn’t just make its home in the Quotrons of sleazy Wall Street penny stock scams, or well-lit mafioso bistros with checkerboard floors, or warehouses with panting, paranoid diamond thieves in ripped slim black suits—it could be coming to your door in a moving truck, wearing a baseball cap and a smile.



Maybe not.

The point is this—moving, whether it’s around the block or a cross-country move for the ages, is often a difficult, stressful, and an incredibly taxing part of life.  No one especially enjoys rounding up all their possessions, squashing them into the back seats and trunk of the family car, and making the hump, wherever it may be, to the promised land of the new home.  It may be incredibly satisfying to sit in the fully-furnished brand-new-digs after everyone’s left, taking in the first glimpse of a foreign day or night, one of many more to come; but to get there, you have to go through hours, sometimes days, of one of the most exhausting processes known to the modern common man.

That’s why moving companies exist.  Whether they’re the big multinational chains you may not know by name, but have more than likely seen on the highway in some form or another, or the hometown crew, a family-owned and generationally-storied business that might not be as renowned but is gonna do their darned best to try—moving companies form a critical and invisibly wonderful industry of convenience and necessity to the average American’s SOP.

But not everyone enters into the game for the love of good sport—like any industry in the history of this or any country, the world of moving attracts its fair share of bad actors, con artists, and what many would call in common parlance crummy individuals.  They’re waiting, arms outstretched, in the wilds of the Internet, for unsuspecting, sometimes desperate customers—what they’d call you, perhaps—to see their wonderful rates and get hooked on something so sweet it could only wind up being sour.

The first part of this article is a rough character sketch of good movers, bad movers, and what happens when the latter manages to find a score—and the second part is going to give you an arsenal of guidelines, red flags, and trusted resources. By the end, you won’t just know what to avoid in terms of the bad deals—you’ll know exactly how to spot some of the best ones, too.

Movers and Brokers: What's The Difference?


/ˈmo͞ovər/ noun NORTH AMERICAN
1. A person whose job is to remove and transport furniture from one building, especially a house, to another. “He watched movers load the remaining boxes.”

    -Oxford Languages and Google English Dictionary

/ˈbrōkər/ noun
1. A person who buys and sells goods or assets for others. “The centralized lenders operate through brokers.”

    -Oxford Languages and Google English Dictionary

Before you start off on your search for the perfect crew for a long distance move, you’re going to need to know, if you don’t already, the two distinctive types of moving workers you’ll find when looking for companies—movers and brokers.

Movers are the boots-on-the-ground guys who are going to come to your door the day of the move.  They’re the ones loading the truck, driving it to your destination, unloading, and so on.  They’re also the ones who do the actual pricing for the move itself—the estimate, the insurance, any damage reports, and again, so on.

Brokers are essentially sales reps for moving companies. They can be free agents or they can be attached to a larger corporation.  These guys don’t help with the move at all—instead, they’re the ones who you go to so they can negotiate the best possible price for your move and sell it to whichever moving company they think would work best for you.  They make commission based on the sale, your sale, and any other fees or services they might charge along the way.

Here’s the thing—scams can originate from either one with relative ease.  But it’s a much more expensive scam to try and come up with a whole moving company—you need trucks, offices, personnel, you’d need a crew a la Reservoir Dogs to really pull off a consistently successful moving scam more than a few times without getting caught.

Conversely, for just $400, someone, anyone, can buy a cheap flip phone and become a moving broker.  All it takes is the money, the phone, and a source to pull leads from.

There are, of course, ways to verify whether or not a broker is legitimate.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides a database of movers, which you can search by either the moving company’s DOT number or the state.  For interstate or long-distance moves, if you’re working with a broker, they have to give you a mover registered with the DOT.  If they are unable to do so, chances are good they’re not on the level.

What Can Go Wrong In A Long Distance Move?

According to the FMCSA, over thirty-five million Americans move every year for either career or personal reasons.  Four million of those people move across state lines. And within such a large crowd, there’s going to be more than a few pockets picked.

Initially, it sounds a bit far-fetched, even ridiculous, to think that there are non-legitimate moving companies and brokers operating in the United States at the moment.  It sounds even more far- fetched and ridiculous that someone would fall for something as corny-sounding as a moving scam.  Shouldn’t it be fairly obvious? Shouldn’t people know better?

Of course people know better, but if knowing better was an immediate cure-all for crime- stopping, prisons would be playgrounds.

Anyone who’s moved before, long-distance or not, knows it’s both one of the most exciting but draining experiences a modern person can self-initiate.  Your mind is pulled in so many different directions, all at once, not just during the actual move, but as you’re getting ready for it too.

It’s especially easy in the beginning stages to be a bit desperate, even lazy.  Moving is a lot of work, and the sheer thought of it is enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel, or better yet, have someone else throw in the towel for them.

So you go out and look for a moving company, or a broker. And maybe you find one that promises you an incredibly low rate.  This is a surprise—and a welcome one at that. Not only can you have someone organize your move for you, they’re going to do it for hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars less than several of the leading competitors.

You set up the date and you’re all ready to move. The company arrives, loads the truck and… Uh oh.

There’s a problem, someone says.

Your move is a little over ten thousand pounds heavier than what they initially expected.  That’s going to bump you up from about $2,000 to $8,500, which they expect, in hand, the moment they tell you.

You don’t have an extra $6,500 laying around.

One clicks their tongue.  The other shrugs and says too bad.  They loaded the truck already, and you’re not getting anything, not a chair, not a table, not a priceless family photo, until you pay up.

They give you a vague time or location where you can reach them.  And then they drive off.

You don’t ever see them, or anything you put in that truck, again.

Now, this might sound like a cheap story, some anecdotal piece of advertising meant to scare, inflame, or coerce you into seeing every mover and broker as a potential pavement desperado, each one looking to rip you off, no matter the cost.

That’s not the case, in either direction.  There are plenty of good, quality movers, both local small-time businesses and larger big brands that will work with you, every step of the way, to make sure your move is safe, smooth, and fits your price-point the best they can.

But the above scene does happen, and it happens more often than many people would think.  Moving scams are prolific enough where the FMCSA has an entire webpage dedicated to helping current or future movers pick out what may or may not be scams from the virtual jungle of the moving market.

And all this goes doubly for long-distance moves.  The stress is often elevated, the prices a bit higher, the amount of coordination and effort required to hike up everything and make that move across state lines—all that intersecting action is the perfect recipe for a few unfortunate and innocuous mistakes to occur that can, if not caught, lead to a sort of robbery at price-point, where you’re left hanging high, dry, and without any of your stuff.

However, there are ways to avoid this, and a wealth of resources exists to help concerned movers while they’re in the process of getting ready to make their selections.

What To Look For With a Long Distance Moving Company

For a good long-distance move, there are a number of factors to consider, legitimacy aside, when looking for the best moving crew for you.

One of the first questions you should, and probably have already, ask(ed) is: what’s my price?

Keep in mind, as odd as this may sound, price isn’t necessarily a determiner of quality in the moving business.  Quality movers can come from anywhere, and while being able to spend a few more bucks might save you some time in the form of bonus services—such as specialty moving or a larger insurance package—there are plenty of smaller movers who charge lower rates because they know people still need help from a good, solid moving company without having to shake out their wallet to get the job done.

This goes hand-in-hand with the estimate.  A good and legitimate moving company will give you an estimate with competitive pricing upfront for what they expect the move to cost, and some of the true professionals may even come around for a home inspection and have a discussion with you on what they think it will cost for the entire move.  The estimate they offer will be binding, meaning that neither you nor the company will be able to re-negotiate the deal after it’s agreed to and signed.  Obviously, this might be a sore spot for some customers if they feel like the price is higher, with a few more extra costs here and there, than what is necessary; but these binding agreements are an essential consumer protection as well, because they keep the company from becoming predatory or fickle when it comes to the price of the move and any extra charges they could try and wring out of you.

As a side note, the lack of a binding estimate ranks first on the FMCSA’s list of red flags for moving scams.  Illegitimate movers and brokers won’t force you to sign a contract regarding an estimate, not because they value your business, but because they’ll intentionally lowball you in the beginning of your deal with them, only to raise the price sky-high once the day of the move actually comes.  So remember that while binding estimates may feel claustrophobic at times, they’re also designed to benefit and protect you as much as they are the company who issues them.

Secondly, check for experience.  To start, make sure the workforce who’s getting paid to move your stuff is at least marginally credible.  Good moving companies will have employee rosters, sometimes with bios that may show previous moving experience, or at least a genuine and open attitude towards the industry.  Even if some of the movers are inexperienced, it’s better for you to know that they’ll be genuinely good people to work with as opposed to the alternative.

What to watch for, in certain cases, are moving companies that use mainly temporary labor.  Many of these people will be relatively unskilled and untrained, and while those facts alone don’t necessarily bode ill for a move, it is at the very least a sign that the company may not be running the tightest ship.  That’s the best case scenario—the worst case scenario is a story you’re already familiar with, where a group of temporary movers who you’ve never met, and couldn’t find any way to vet either in person or online, shows up to your house and decides to hijack all your stuff.

So it’s advisable that you really try and comb through the online records of employees, or if possible, get to stop in by the moving company’s office and find a chance to meet with some of the crew who will be working on your move.  Not only would this give you a better sense of who they are—it might also mean a lot to them to have a client come down for a quick chat, if only to talk.

Getting to know the experience of your moving company doesn’t just mean getting to know how long the company has been around, or whether or not they have a full-time crew, entirely temporary crew, or a mix of both.

This also means customer experience—trying to catch a glimpse or a word as to what your experience might be with this company, based on reviews and testimonials people have written, or maybe even videos past customers have uploaded talking about what it was like working with the particular company or broker.

At first, this might seem obvious.  Most people, before they try anything—whether it’s a new restaurant or a movie they’ve never seen—are going to look up reviews, especially nowadays, where whatever anyone says about something is only a few seconds and a couple clicks away.  Who wouldn’t look up reviews for moving companies?

But this advice is two-pronged, because you can’t just see the reviews and assume, even if they’re glowing, that they’re straight-away honest.  Plenty of scams will use paint-by-numbers reviews, where they either paid to have them written, or used algorithms to write them that can look like genuine customers at first glance.  You can tell these fake reviews apart from the real deal because they often use repetitive language, have an odd amount of strangely-placed capital letters, and the grammar may be both oddly proper and yet poor at the same time.  Make sure you look for these markers while you’re reading reviews—there’s a big difference between a genuine review with a few spelling or grammatical errors, and a fake one.

Third, and this goes especially for long-distance moving: get

If you’re traveling a long distance—that’s interstate or international—there are more miles and more time for something to go wrong.  No matter how good or trustworthy a moving company may be, they can’t cover their rears when it comes to fate, chance, or acts of a higher power, so it’s incredibly important for long-distance movers that you negotiate an extensive and intensive moving protection plan for yourself and your belongings.

This is actually one way to also discern whether or not a moving company is truly legitimate— long-distance moving companies will offer protection plans upfront, not just because they want to look nice and sway you into buying insurance, but because they genuinely want to help your move in any way they can, even if that means it might cost them the price of the sale were something to happen.

Illegitimate, or at the very least, untrustworthy, companies will not offer any kind of coverage. At first, this might seem like a good thing to less-experienced or frugal movers.  Less money to spend, less paperwork to fill out, and one less stressor overall.

But buyers be warned—lack of coverage can be, at worst, the sign of a potential scam. At best, it’s an indicator of irresponsible, or perhaps incapable, movers.  Without moving insurance, were something to happen, there is no legal recourse for replacement.  That means if your favorite chair shifts suddenly in the truck, and you find it broken when you get to your new place, you’re not only out a chair, you’re not getting any kind of compensation from the company to help pay for it.

There are a number of other smaller, though not necessarily less important, factors to look for when trying to decide on a moving company for a long-distance move:


  • Capability:  If you have a lot of larger custom furniture, decorations, or other household accouterments like a piano or a particularly special piece of family furniture, you might want to check for moving companies that will help move specialty items as well.  Some companies refuse to move items beyond a certain size and weight, which means you’ll be forced to coordinate not just with one, but sometimes several different companies, budgets, and timelines in order to pull your move together.  Other companies, however, make their bread and butter on doing the heavy lifting and moving specialty items along with all the other regular odds-and-ends—and they’re often a bit more understanding in terms of price as well.


    • One other component of capability is storage services.   If you’re going for a coast to coast or interstate move, and you need a place to store some extra stuff for an overnight stay, check and see if the moving company you’re looking at offers storage units along the route you’re going, what their average cost may work out to be, and any additional costs that might crop up if you choose to deposit your stuff with them.   It might not be necessary for all movers, but for a lucky few, having storage options is definitely a weight off the shoulders.


  • Shipment Tracking:  This is a newer development, but that doesn’t make it any less convenient.  Larger moving companies—and a few smaller ones—will sometimes have a specific online portal set up that will send you progress updates at certain intervals regarding your shipment.  This feature, while not necessarily essential to the move, might help calm some anxieties regarding the location and remaining time left between Point A and Point B.


  • Online quotes:  Again, a newer development, but one that’s widely useful for those who may need to move long-distance in a short amount of time.  Companies that offer online quotes will do their best to give you an immediate estimate on your move after you enter a certain amount of information regarding what the move is going to look like.  These figures aren’t always entirely accurate, but they’re meant to give you a ballpark estimate that you can use in short-term budgeting.  Obviously, before you go entering your information online, make sure that whoever you’re sending it to is a legitimate company, and not a scammer simply looking to skim off some of your identity to use or resell at a later date.

After all that story-telling and research is done, one of the last big decisions you’ll have to make in setting up your move is whether you want to go with a big chain moving company or a smaller, locally-based team of movers.

There are ups and downs with both; some may lean towards the relative ease and smooth operation of a larger moving company, and others may want to try their luck with a smaller crew from their hometown area.  It bears mentioning that each move is going to be different regardless of the research.  That means you may move a couple times with the help of a big company, and you may move a couple other times with a smaller one.  So it pays to detail the pros and cons of each style of moving company before you decide who you want packing up your furniture and trucking it across the country on an interstate sojourn.

We’ll use the categories we outlined in the above sections and compare the two different styles in each.

  • Price/Estimate:  With bigger guys, you’re going to get bigger prices.  Unlike the more flexible environment you might find if you pop down to the local moving company around the block or in the next town over, price negotiation with chain movers is essentially off the table.  They’ll get your move done—but the price they do it for will likely be higher and far more inflexible than if you were doing business with a smaller company.


    • Winner: Private Movers.
  • Expertise/Customer Service:  Many of the bigger companies have been around for much longer than some of their sleek presentations may lead you to believe—and to be fair, that means you’ll be able to pull up quite a few reviews and reputation scores to see how they stack up.  But at the end of the day, you’ll still be one customer for them among millions.  With private movers, the vans might not always be as glossy and there may not be as many reviews, but quite a few of them have been around as long as the big guys. On top of that, as far as a private mover’s concerned, their size is an incentive to prove to you with hard work and attention to detail that you chose right by going small.  To put it simply, private movers have much more to lose than their larger competitors if they do a sub-par, or even just an average job—which means you could end up getting more bang for your buck by choosing the little guy.


    • Winner: Private Movers.
  • Protection:  Many smaller movers will offer protection, but because of their size and limited resources, they may not have many options, and those options may not be as comprehensive compared to what chain moving companies are able to provide.   A vital note is that all movers are required to provide you this handbook, where you’ll find examples of the types of insurance they can offer you.


    • Winner: Chain Movers.
  • Capability:  There are plenty of private movers that perform interstate and cross-country moves—but, like the Protection bullet above, they may be limited in their scope when it comes to how far they can go and how much they can carry.  Due to large fleets and deeper pockets, chain mover teams are most likely going to be more used to driving longer distances in bigger groups.  So if your move is taking you a long ways away, you may want to run the numbers between local companies and the larger chains to see which one will be right for you.


    • Winner: Chain Movers.
  • Other Services:  Both chain and private movers have a relatively equal chance of offering services such as specialty moving, online estimates, shipping tracking, and so on.  When it comes down to it, these are less requirements for a good long-distance move than they are conveniences.  Unless your move hinges on some factor that would demand an online quote or a specialty moving service, these features aren’t necessarily something to break the bank over.
    • Winner: Tie.

Wrapping-Up Our Long Distance Moving Guide

Well, that about does it.  You’ve learned about highway pirates, the difference between movers and brokers, how to spot a scam from the real deal, gotten a couple real-world examples of moving companies, and now have some of the items that should make it near the top of any amateur-now-turned-expert moving customer’s Prerequisite Checklist.

As a quick re-cap, here’s the following list from all the key points of the article.

There are movers, and there are brokers.  If you know what you want and you want to schedule your move with a moving company yourself, go straight to the source and contact your chosen team directly.  If you’re less comfortable, or don’t have as much time to deal with movers, reach out to a broker, let them try and find a company for you, and see what kind of deals and offers they bring in before moving forward.

The idea of highway pirates and moving scams might sound like something out of a late-80s Coen Brothers film, but they do happen more often than one might think.  It always pays to be vigilant and on the lookout for potential scammers by:

  1.    Checking if they’ll give you a binding estimate.
  2.    Searching for customer reviews online, or looking up the company to see how long they’ve been in business.
  3.     While doing so, you may also want to call or reach out and see if they have a business office you can visit.  If they are not forthcoming with that basic information, they may not be 100% legit.
  4.    Vetting brokers’ credentials by either searching them—if they’re a freelancer—or their company online.

   Keep this checklist in mind as you look for moving companies, whether on your own, or through a broker:

  •     Price/Estimate.
  •     Expertise/Customer Experience.
  •     Protection.
  •     Capability.
  •     Other Services.


Below, you’ll find two resource banks.

One is a list of hyperlinks that lead to a number of pages on the FMCSA website. These pages are some of the best sources you can find—other than articles you’ve read online—on what to be aware of when you’re making a move.  They contain a lot of good, solid, easy to understand guidelines, warnings, heads-ups, and general pieces of advice that form the backbone of a pretty solid toolkit when it comes to planning, understanding, and watching out for your move.

The second is a list of twenty-five or so songs that might help you get through the big day.

This list doesn’t make any claims of being comprehensive or remotely musically literate—it’s more a grouping of song suggestions for you to pick and choose and draw inspiration from, if you’re looking for an alright way to get through what can be a very, very long day.

And that’s it.  We hope you were able to find, at the least, one or two pieces of information from this article that you either didn’t know or think might be able to help you as you start, continue, or help with moving preparations and all the other assorted activities that go along with it.

If you’re helping with the move, you’re a saint.  We hope you’re compensated well in either actual, real currency, or the foodstuff of your choice.

If you’re the one(s) moving, we genuinely wish you good luck.  And we hope, wherever you end up, you get to take a nice load-off when this is all over and appreciate the fact that you made it.

In No Particular Order

“Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)” – Bill Conti

“Sixteen Tons” – Ernie Ford

“It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” – R.E.M.

“Blinding Lights” – The Weeknd

“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)” –Eurythmics

“Takin’ Care of Business” – Bachman-Turner Overdrive

 “Tubthumping” – Chumbawumba

“Everybody” – Backstreet Boys

“Dancing With Myself” – Billy Idol

“Bad, Bad Leeroy Brown” – Jim Croce

“Joy to the World” –Three Dog Night

“Wild Wild West” – Will Smith

“Tainted Love” – Soft Cell

“You Can Call Me Al” – Paul Simon

“Satisfaction” – The Rolling Stones

“Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon

“Rio” – Duran Duran

“Humility” – Gorillaz 

“Summer Girl” – HAIM “Redbone” – Childish Gambino

“Feel Right (feat. Mystikal)*” – Mark Ronson “All Star” – Smashmouth

“Soul Man” – Sam and Dave

“What I Like About You” – The Romantics

“I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” – The Soggy Bottom Boys


*Warning, explicit funk.

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