When You’re Going Long – A Moving Company Weighs in on Cross-Country Move Options

By Steve Dimopoulos

Over the past 5-10 years the moving industry has evolved as innovation and technology create different options for consumers, but many consumers may not be aware of the increased options because they move so infrequently.  One specific area where we have seen progress is the long-distance move.  In the old days, even up to five years ago, you had to hire a long-distance mover – a local company specializing in this kind of relocation – at an exorbitant cost.  Only a very limited number of movers would go outside of the state where they were based, and this lack of supply created a lack of competition. Today, industry-wide, we have seen an influx of companies thinking outside the box to create more options.

Our firm, 2 Guys and a Van, does not complete long-distance moves. But because this is an important topic to our industry and to consumers, we provide market knowledge and helpful information to the consumers who call us and express this need.

We have a two-pronged approach:

  1. If they are determined to utilize a long-distance moving company, we provide referrals to local companies that we know do a good job.
  2. If they are interested in exploring other cost-saving options, we use our own experience moving cross-country and couple it with industry advancements they may not even know about.

Moving long-distance includes many factors outside of a family’s control.  Timeframes are fluid and the moving company dictates a lot of the process.  There are some real challenges to this approach.  Long-distance movers typically require a long window (2-3 days) for loading the truck.  They are not there for those 2-3 days – they’ll come for several hours at some point in that timeframe to do the work.  Additionally, long-distance movers average 2-4 shipments on each truck – which means that the family’s shipment is not the only one on the truck.  Also, although long distance movers use temporary collapsible walls to divide shipments, there can be mistakes between loads and confusion about the contents of each shipment.  Lastly, the other potential challenge is the arrival window: long-distance movers typically offer a 2-3 week arrival window.  Most people find it to be very stressful to live without their belongings for a couple of weeks on average. As active participants and leaders in the industry, we have heard many horror stories of these long-distance moves.

The alternative method that we provide enables a family to have more control of their move and to keep their possessions on a tighter schedule – and in their own hands for more of the process.  We recommend that families look into portable moving containers (i.e. POD, PackRat, ABF Containers, U Box, etc.).   By exploring this avenue, consumers can appropriately weigh their options.  Instead of being given a time frame for loading, containers enable families to have a great deal more flexibility.  Their container is dropped off and the family can keep it onsite for whatever timeframe they desire (weeks or even months).  Consumers can hire a local moving company to load the container(s) on one specific day/at the specific time they desire.  They then schedule pickup with the container company, who picks it up and schedules the cross-country delivery.  Container company delivery windows are much shorter than a long-term move delivery, typically only 3 days.  The family then hires a local moving company at their destination to unload the containers.  This process reflects a 50-70% savings over a traditional long-distance move.

The costs for loading a container here in Chicago, utilizing a local moving company, are very straightforward.  A quick estimate from the company – for loading only – will include movers, dollies, and shrink wrap.  For one-way moves, consumers may decide to provide their own padding or purchase blankets from their movers.   

Regardless of which method you select, a cross-country move is a large endeavor and we wish you great success in your relocation!