Local, intrastate, and interstate moves: What’s the difference?

Local, intrastate or interstate move More about Ethan Greenfieldby Ethan Greenfieldon Nov 2, 2022.

When you’re moving to another country, you know perfectly well that you’re moving internationally. Whether you’re moving to Canada, moving to Mexico, moving to Europe, or moving to another distant or not-so-distant place in the world, you will certainly be leaving the boundaries of your own country.

But when you’re moving within the United States, it’s important to know what type of move you’re involved in. Basically, there are three types of moves depending on the move distance and the state borders you may have to cross: local, intrastate, and interstate.

Bear in mind that moving companies charge differently for short-distance moves and long-distance moves, so understanding the major differences between those 3 types of moves will help you prepare better for the upcoming relocation.

So, what’s the difference between a local move, an intrastate move, and an interstate move?

Local move

A local move is one that has the following parameters

  • the distance between Point A and Point B is under 50 miles, and
  • the move stays within the state of origin.

Moving across town is a classic example of a local move. However, you may be moving to another town or city that’s located within a radius of around 50 miles and it’ll still be considered a local move.

There are a number of important things to know when you’re moving locally:

  • Local moving companies charge by the hour.  What this basically means is that your final bill will depend on how many hours the local movers work until they get the job done. And of course, the total time spent on your move will be affected in direct ratio to the size of your home and the number and type of the items you’re moving.
  • Be informed that the average moving cost of a local move is about $60 per hour per mover. For example, if you’re moving out of a 2-bedroom apartment, 3 local movers are likely to work approximately 6 hours to pack up, load and transport your belongings, which will cost you roughly $1,080. If moving out of a 3-bedroom home, 4 local movers should get the job done in approximately 7 hours, increasing the moving cost to about $1,680.
  • Local movers also charge a travel fee – an extra charge for the time they need to reach your home from their main office. The travel fee is usually billed as one extra hour of moving labor.
  • Moving locally is a good opportunity to consider a Do-It-Yourself move because of the much shorter distance compared to an interstate move. The DIY option often includes renting a truck, asking your friends to help you pack and load your items or hiring moving labor (part-time labor), and driving the truck yourself to the destination place.
  • When moving locally, you may get tempted to move items that you wouldn’t normally take with you if you were moving across the country. Your favorite potted plants and most perishable foods will survive a local move of around 50 miles.
  • When you’re only moving a short distance away, hauling big and heavy furniture to the new place may be worth the trouble, at least in most relocation cases.

How to find the best local movers?

Get free quotes from top-rated local moving companies in your area. Once you do it, ask those local movers to visit your home for an in-home visual inspection.

See also: FIVE AND A HALF important things to know when hiring local movers

Intrastate move

An intrastate move is one that begins and ends in the same state (without crossing any state lines) and is more than 50 miles.

An in-state move can be quite unique because it can cover a great distance but because the move stays within the state of origin, it is still considered an intrastate one. For example, the distance between San Diego and San Francisco is roughly 500 miles but moving between the two major Californian cities is still viewed as an intrastate move.  

Here are some useful things you should know when you’re taking part in an in-state move:

  • As seen from the example above, an intrastate move in larger states such as California and Texas can cover a much greater distance than some interstate moves.
  • When you’re using professional moving services, some movers will still charge you on an hourly basis despite the long-distance move while other moving companies will charge you a flat rate based on the total weight of the shipment, the distance to the new place, and the extra services requested, if any.
  • When you’re about to undertake a long-distance move within the same state, then organizing a DIY move will be costlier and riskier than a local move due to the hundreds of miles that separate the two locations. Driving a big rental truck for many hours may not be the best option for you, especially when you don’t have any previous relocation experience.
  • Think twice before you decide to take any furniture pieces on your long-distance in-state move, especially if you are charged a flat rate. Why? Each furniture item you move with you will increase the overall price of the move, and you may end up paying more to transport your furniture than to buy brand-new pieces after the move.

Keep in mind that the best way to find one of the best-rated intrastate moving companies in your state is to read moving reviews. In fact, learning what other people have said about professional movers is an excellent way to determine how reputable and trustworthy an interstate moving company actually is.

Good to know: 20 DO’S and 20 DON’TS when moving to a new house

Interstate move

An interstate move is one that has the following parameters

  • it’s a move that starts in one state and ends in a different state, or
  • it’s a move that starts and ends in the same but your possessions have crossed one or multiple state lines at one point during the relocation.

Here’s what you should know when you’re planning an interstate move:

  • Interstate moving companies charge a flat rate that’s based on the weight of the shipment, the distance between Point A and Point B, and the cost of any extra services that have been requested or that are needed to complete the cross-country move.
  • It can be useful to know that when moving out of a 1-bedroom apartment or a studio, the average cost of an intestate move for a distance of 1,000 miles is $1,500 – $3,200. When moving out of a 2-bedroom home, the average moving cost jumps to about $3,500 – $5,200, while when you’re moving out of a 3-bedroom home, the average moving price is $6,300 – $7,800.
  • As a rule of thumb, an interstate move will almost always cost more than a local one or an intrastate one due to the increased fuel and labor costs. Also, the state-to-state moving company you hire will have to go through multiple toll booths, which in turn will inflate the final moving bill even more.
  • Arguably, the best way to cut moving costs when moving to another state is to slim down the number of items you plan to move. Remember that cross-country movers charge based on weight, so the fewer possessions you choose to take with you, the more money you’ll be able to save.
  • Another good way to save money on an interstate move is to choose to pack up your things by yourself… or at least the items you can manage on your own without having to rely on professional packing services. Ask your good friends to help you pack to lower your overall interstate moving costs.
  • Don’t move any bulky furniture when moving across the country unless you own an antique piece and you want to keep it no matter the cost. Because of the great distances of an interstate move, you’re likely to pay more money to transport any furniture items than to purchase brand-new ones after you reach the new state. Consider selling or gifting away the furniture units you decide to leave behind.
  • When moving to another state, you should not be thinking about renting a truck, loading it up with your stuff, and then driving it hundreds or thousands of miles across the country. Instead, you should be thinking about the safest and most economical way to get your things to the new address – using the services of a top-rated interstate moving company.
  • All interstate moving companies must have a valid USDOT number issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The USDOT number is proof that the state-to-state mover you hire will be properly licensed (legitimate) and adequately insured. Click here to check the status of your interstate moving company by verifying their USDOT number on the official website of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The success of an interstate move depends primarily on the choice of a top-rated state-to-state moving company.

Get free quotes from the best interstate movers in your city or town, then ask the pros to visit your home for a thorough in-house survey so that you can get accurate cost estimates.

Read also: 10 Things you must know about interstate movers


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