Moving long distance is always a challenge, and doing it on short notice is going to add to your stress and increase the chance of something going wrong. But even if you have a compressed schedule, a good move plan will result in a successful move. Don’t let the timing keep you from doing sufficient research to find an excellent moving company.

Because you have limited time available, ask around right away. If this move is at the behest of your employer, the company procurement or human resources department may have recommendations for you of movers that have done an excellent job for other employees or that offer a corporate discount. If the move is personal, ask family and friends for good or bad experiences. It’s just as helpful to know what company to stay away from as it is to get a positive review.

Interstate movers must register with the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, part of the Department of Transportation), which regulates moving companies and brokers. Even if your move does not cross a state line, an FMCSA registered mover is a good bet. You can also search the FMCSA database for information on company safety record and customer complaints. Check with your state for regulations if your move is intrastate and look for any issues reported to the BBB. Consider engaging a mover that is a member of the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), an industry organization.


Will a last-minute long-distance move cost more?

It might. Several factors impact the cost of a move, and timing is among them. If your last-minute move has to occur during the high season of moving (April to September), it may not only cost more but be more difficult to schedule with a good moving company. Families often prefer to move during the summer months to avoid disrupting their children’s school schedules, which increases the demand for moving services during that time. In fact, 80% of moves occur during this time, and most of the activity is squeezed into the June through August interval. The worst day to move is the last Saturday in June. Most people want to move during the last weekend of the month when a lease ends, and combining that with the summer rush makes that the highest demand date of the year.

On the other hand, if your last-minute move happens to take place in mid- February, and can be scheduled for a Tuesday, you may not have to pay extra and find yourself with a bargain. You won’t know for sure until you start getting estimates. Even though you are short on time, you can’t afford to forgo the process of obtaining and comparing estimates. This process is not just to get the best deal, but to find the right mover. As you interact with the moving company personnel through the process of getting the estimate, you will find out if they are the upstanding company that you want to perform your move, and that you trust with your personal belongings. After all, you will not just be letting these people into your home; you will be trusting them to pack, load, and transport everything (almost) that is important to you, out of your sight and control, and take it to your next home. That’s a critical job and not one that you will willingly hand over to just anyone.

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How do I choose the right mover at the last minute?

On some level, the timing doesn’t matter as much as the match. It is essential to select a mover that you trust; that provides you with the certainty that you are contracting a professional organization that can effectively carry out your move as agreed. The estimating process will demonstrate to you that they can and will perform that function.


FMCSA regulations state that all movers will provide a written estimate to the customer, based on a visual inspection of the goods to be moved (with certain exceptions), unless the customer waives. Don’t surrender the requirement. You want to meet the company representative, and a physical walkthrough is the best way for the company to see what needs to be moved.

With the estimate, they will provide you with a copy of their tariff, a description of all the fees they can charge. The tariff includes services you may need at both origin and destination that you may or may not be able to control. Things you can control include packing, which is up to you. If you choose to have the mover pack your goods, it will cost extra, but it will save time, and they may require that they pack certain items to protect them adequately. Refusal can risk coverage. Services you may have no control over are called impracticable operations and include things like a steep driveway, which results in additional labor, or a shuttle. A shuttle means that the full-sized moving truck can’t be stationed next to the actual residence for some reason, and the shipment must be loaded into a smaller vehicle and shuttled to the property. This service adds to the labor cost.

Make sure you understand the tariff and the type of estimate you are getting. There are binding estimates and non-binding estimates. A binding estimate is an agreement that the price will not change unless the customer adds items to the shipment or adds services. The mover is confident that the estimated weight is correct based on the physical survey and presents the customer with an inventory (sometimes called a cube sheet). Everything on the list is included in the weight and is part of the shipment.  A non-binding estimate is an approximation, rather than a commitment. The actual weight determines the final cost. This approach can be helpful if you are still unsure of what items you are going to move. Still, it offers an opportunity for the company to entice you to engage them by giving you a “low-ball” estimate and then charging you a higher price at the time of delivery. You can guard against this by comparing bids carefully and asking each vendor for assessments at several different weights to contrast the costs of each company to move a similar weight.

What if something goes wrong at the last minute?

Since you are planning your move at the last minute, there is potential for disturbance. Give yourself peace of mind by having a back-up plan. Be prepared for delays or detours. Your back-up might be another mover or an alternate date. Perhaps you can move your household items into storage for a few weeks and stay in temporary housing. You may want to investigate the option of a self-move, either into storage or to the destination. A compromise possibility to research is a trailer which you can pack your goods into or hire someone to pack for you. This is similar to the portable units that you can have delivered for loading and transporting. Moving is subject to surprises, and the best way to respond is to be prepared.


Written by Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend is a moving professional and relocation expert that has more than 10 years of experience in the moving industry. With a background that includes working in virtually every aspect of the company, he has distinguished himself as an integral part of our operations with expertise in all things related to moving.

If you have any questions about moving, our services, or anything else you think he may be able to help with, you can contact Chris by emailing him at

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