Finding the Best Cross-country Mover
There are many reasons to move across the country. Whatever the reason is, we can all agree that moving is complicated. Moving cross-country is like a regular relocation with a bunch of extra physical and emotional steps. Because of the added difficulty, we suggest working with professional movers. For an added cost, you get added convenience and protection for your long-distance move.
Hiring professionals like our partners, National Van Lines, will make more sense if you need to protect and transport many items. Take the time to consolidate your household goods and see if you can move on your own!
If moving on your own is not an option, compare quotes to find the right company for you. Do your research rather than gravitate to a suspiciously low estimate. Put your items at the hands of true pros, not a sketchy contractor. Finding a reputable company takes time and effort, but do you want to risk the safety of your things?
Our quick guide to finding the best moving company will help you avoid potential pitfalls and make your cross-country move as stress-free as possible.
Ask for local references and research credibility!
- Do not use a broker or an unlicensed mover. We have more information below regarding why brokers are often bad news.
- Reputable long-distance movers are likely to join professional associations. The American Moving and Storing Association, a division of the American Trucking Association, can help identify rogue movers’ quality movers. Look for the ProMover seal on their trucks or website. Moving.org has a searchable database if you want to find a member in your area.
- Make sure your cross-country movers are licensed and insured. This information is available at protectyourmove.gov. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides this service. They also have a list of local agencies in their contacts database and can help you file a complaint claim.
- The Better Business Bureau monitors customer complaints. Moving isn’t perfect, but the most reputable moving companies take accountability for any liabilities. Look for a moving company in good standing with the BBB. Visit our page and check our A+ score!
- The General Service Administration sets benchmarks for customer satisfaction in the household goods relocation industry. Comparing these scores can provide insights. Consider a red flag for any rogue movers without registration.
- Ask your friends, family and co-workers for moving recommendations. Use their experiences to help you choose the best option. You can also check Yelp or Google for any reviews and ratings.
- Your real estate agent may also have recommendations. They are involved in a lot more household moves than the average person and may have unique insights into your local movers.
- While you can obtain an in-person estimate easily, virtual and video estimates are growing more accessible by the year. As a rule of thumb, three price estimates are a good starting point.
- Keep your eyes open for red flags. Reputable companies own their vehicles. Be wary of movers who show up in a rented fleet van. Check out our extensive list of red flags below.
Moving to the midwest? Click here for a guide specifically on midwest moves!
Avoid Moving Brokers
Make sure you are hiring an actual moving company. Moving brokers serve as middlemen between moving companies and you. Brokers are not movers. They give estimates, often based on a phone or video call, and then sell the move to actual moving companies. The best-case scenario for a brokered cross country move is that they were able to negotiate a lower price than you would have been able to on your own.
But the risks of using a broker are considerable. The most obvious is that the actual moving company may not accept a low-ball or inaccurate estimate. Upon unloading, they will charge you much more than the original quote if the broker’s estimate was too low.
FMCSA Regulations on Brokers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is working hard to regulate brokers. For instance, a broker must announce that they are a broker. Their advertisements must specify that they are brokers that do not transport items but merely arrange this service. They must also provide their address and motor carrier number.
Brokers must also base both binding and non-binding estimates on the tariff of the moving company transporting your possessions. Depending on who is closer, the agent or mover must perform a household goods survey within 50 miles of the customers’ location. Only the customer can waive this requirement.
Brokers must also be able to provide the following information.
- Proof of registration with the FMCSA
- Their physical location and motor carrier number
- A written agreement with the movers they use.
- A list of FMCSA movers that they use. They are not permitted to use unregistered movers
- Official FMCSA guide to Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move and the Ready to Move booklets.
Rogue Mover Red Flags
It is a much better idea to move with reputable long-distance movers instead of relying on a broker. But at least brokers are regulated. A more significant threat to your move is a rogue or unlicensed mover. Check out the FMCSA guide for an extensive list.
- Reputable movers insist on an onsite or virtual inspection of your home. The lack of a binding or non-binding estimate is shady.
- A mover that says they will determine charges after the move is not to be trusted.
- If an estimate sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Any movers that demand payment upfront before the move should set off the alarms.
- The cornerstone of an elaborate moving scam that unraveled in 2018 consisted of a chain of fraudulent business names. Request a business card and match the address listed on their website and other materials. If the mover answers the phone with a generic “Movers” or “Moving Company,” beware.
- Carefully read any documents that need your signature. Missing information fields is highly suspect.
- Movers must provide copies of Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move and the Ready to Move booklets.
- Be wary of a company website that lacks a physical address, registration or insurance information.
- It is never a good sign if a generic fleet rental truck rather than a company-owned vehicle appears on moving day.
- If a mover claims that your shipment weighs more than estimated, make sure the mover provides a revised estimate that lists the additional items and services charged. Don’t wait BEFORE they start packing and moving your possessions.
Goods Held Hostage
Holding goods hostage is the most prevalent moving scam and the stock-in-trade of the rogue mover. Rogue movers operate by drumming up business by providing low-ball estimates over the phone or the internet. The assessment doesn’t matter because they will demand more money before delivering or unloading your goods.
Naturally, you have to come up with this amount if you want to get your goods back in promptly. Unfortunately, the police will not intervene because this is a civil matter. The rogue movers will most likely sell your items if you do not pay them what they want.
You do have some recourse. If you have been a victim of fraud, you can report the mover to the FMCSA with their online complaint tool. Make sure you collect any identification numbers or documentation to facilitate the investigation.
Avoid scammers at all costs.
After you have landed at your moving company, make sure you check out this guide to a perfect move for additional information.