Our top pick: International Van Lines’ long list of services, worldwide availability, and unbeatable customer service make it the best moving company in the biz. All of our top five picks are excellent, though, and some of them may be a better fit than IVL for your residential move.
The 5 Best Moving Companies of 2021
Compare interstate moving companies
Local and long-distance moves
Offers auto shipping
|International Van Lines||Van line and brokerage|
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|American Van Lines||Van line|
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|Allied Van Lines||Van line|
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|North American Van Lines||Van line and brokerage|
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|U-Pack||Moving container company|
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The two main move types moving companies offer are local and long-distance moves. Interstate moves cross state lines and encompass long-distance moves, but long-distance moves don’t necessarily cross state lines and aren’t always considered interstate moves.
Still not sure which type your move is? We've got you covered with our list of the five best long-distance movers.
What to look for in a long-distance moving company
First, you should look for a company that offers binding estimates. If a company’s estimates aren’t binding, it can increase your price at a moment’s notice, even on moving day. When you get a written estimate from a moving company, it should say the words “binding estimate” on it. If it doesn’t, don’t agree to it.
You should also check a company’s coverage options. Great coverage costs extra, but every reputable moving company offers basic liability coverage for free. Basic coverage won’t do much if your stuff gets broken or lost, but it’s a good litmus test of a company’s quality. If a company doesn’t have basic liability coverage, do not use it.
Lastly, you should look for positive customer reviews online. Pay special attention to what customers are saying about a company’s pricing and punctuality. There will always be a few bad reviews about any company, but if the majority of reviews are positive, it’s a good sign that you can trust that company.
We’ll talk more about qualities to look for in a moving company when we answer some frequently asked questions, but for now we’ll discuss our favorite moving companies.
International Van Lines—Best overall
International Van Lines (IVL) is both a moving broker and a carrier that works with over 3,000 partners worldwide. IVL has an impressive lineup of services ranging from crane lifting and piano transport to full-service packing and motorcycle hauling.
IVL can handle everything from local and interstate to—you guessed it—international moves. Like a few of the other best movers on our list, IVL is transparent about the breakdown of your final bill.
International Van Lines at a glance
Data as of 1/10/2020.
Why we recommend International Van Lines
It does it all
Since IVL is both a moving broker and a carrier, it’s able to offer every moving service you could want while still giving each move a personal touch. In addition to full-service moves for intrastate, interstate, and international moves, IVL offers services that many other interstate moving companies can’t (or don’t):
- Long- and short-term storage facilities
- Furniture assembly and disassembly
- Custom crating
- Transportation for specialty items (hot tubs, pianos, etc.)
- Auto shipping
- Boat transport
- Home cleaning
- Junk and debris removal
Through IVL, these services are available virtually anywhere in the country. Even if the company’s in-house staff can’t provide one of these services in your area, IVL’s wide network of partnerships enable it to outsource (or broker) that service to another company that IVL trusts.
So no matter where you’re moving from, where you’re moving to, or what your move requires, IVL can handle it.
IVL's customer service is just one of the many reasons they're the best interstate moving company in our books. In fact, IVL's customer service was recently deemed the best of any full-service moving company by Newsweek.
It has transparent pricing
As we’ve mentioned (and you’ve probably experienced), pricing is one of the biggest pain points in moving. IVL tries to solve this problem by spelling out everything that goes into your quote, from the rate for each flight of stairs to the increased cost of bulkier items.
In our eyes, this kind of pricing transparency is a trademark sign of a reliable moving company.
Not only does this build trust between you and your mover, but it also helps you budget accurately. If we have the choice to pay what we expected or cough up an extra $250 or more after our move, we'll take the first option, please!
In our experience, IVL’s transparency doesn’t mean it’s significantly more affordable than its competitors. However, based on the number of customers who leave happy with their move and the wide array of services IVL offers, we believe it’s well worth the cost.
IVL hooks veterans and older adults up with a 10% discount on every move. So whether you served your country, are enjoying retirement, or both, let your IVL rep know so you can save a few bucks on your final bill.
To learn more, read our full International Van Lines Review.
American Van Lines—Best for up-front pricing
Most companies that provide everything American Van Lines does are brokers or broker-carrier hybrids that outsource part or all of your move to other companies. But AVL is different. Whether you need auto shipment, full-service moving, or storage services, AVL’s background-checked staff handles every part of your move.
In addition to all these services, American Van Lines is committed to fair prices and customer satisfaction, and it uses a flat-rate pricing system so you always know exactly what you’re going to pay.
American Van Lines at a glance
Data as of 1/10/2020.
American Van Lines’ name is very similar to North American Van Lines (which we’ll talk about in a little bit), so the two are often confused—even by search engines like Google. Despite how similar their names are, the two companies are very different. For example, AVL is a van line, while North American Van Lines is a van line AND a broker.
Why we recommend American Van Lines
It uses flat-rate pricing and gives binding estimates
AVL doesn’t offer quotes online, so you might be surprised to see them ranked as our favorite company for up-front pricing. What earns AVL this rank in our book is its flat-rate pricing system.
Flat-rate pricing means AVL doesn’t charge an hourly rate, and it doesn’t charge extra for mileage or fuel. Once AVL has a full inventory of your belongings and knows how far you’re moving, it’ll calculate one flat estimate for your move based on how much your shipment weighs and how many days it’ll take to get from point A to point B.
While instant online quotes are convenient, they’re often inaccurate representations of what your move will actually cost in the end. Flat-rate pricing ensures that your binding estimate will accurately predict what your move will cost.
You won’t even pay extra if the loading process takes a couple extra hours or the moving crew has to take a detour because of construction. With an hourly company, you would likely need to pay more in either of these circumstances.
As an added bonus, many cross-country movers who charge flat rates are motivated to do their work quickly and efficiently so they can turn a profit (you’ll pay the same amount if the move goes more quickly than projected), so your shipment might get delivered ahead of schedule.
It has excellent customer service
Up-front pricing is certainly a nice perk, but even the best perks and benefits can be overshadowed by poor customer service. You probably wouldn’t be too grateful to have a flat-rate estimate if the representative servicing your move was rude to you over the phone or in person.
That’s why we looked into AVL’s customer service, and we’re happy to report that the company has an excellent track record in this department as well. In fact, AVL was also one of Newsweek's most highly rated moving companies for customer service in 2021.
On top of this impressive kudos from Newsweek, AVL also has hundreds of glowing customer reviews that praise its punctuality, fair prices, attention to detail, professionalism, and (surprise) customer service.
If you want to learn more, read our full review of American Van Lines.
Allied Van Lines—Best customer experience
Allied Van Lines is a full-service long-distance mover that maintains one of the largest moving networks in the world. Not only does it partner with plenty of agents (local moving companies) to meet your needs, it provides stellar service too.
A great in-home estimate experience, excellent customer service, and a wide range of services make this mover a shoo-in on our list.
Allied Van Lines at a glance
Data as of 1/10/2020.
Why we give Allied Van Lines a gold star
Its representatives are easy to work with
In-home moving estimates are fairly similar from one moving company to another. Of all the in-home estimates we experienced, however, we enjoyed Allied’s the most.
An in-home estimate is one of the easiest ways to tell if a moving company (and its representatives) are trying to push you into a sale. Ask yourself: Are they pressuring you to commit to their services? Or does your quote seem suspiciously low?
We know—inviting a stranger to walk through every room in your home sounds like the beginning of a customer service horror story. But our in-home estimate with Allied was nothing short of helpful, honest, and stress-free.
It was evident that Allied’s relocation assistant had our best interest—achieving a comfortable, affordable move—at heart.
We never felt like we were being sold anything during the process, which was a welcome experience. In fact, our relocation specialist even advocated for not using certain services because he didn’t believe they were worth the money for our one-bedroom apartment.
You can read more about our in-home estimate in our full Allied Van Lines review, but overall, it was a very positive experience.
It has responsive customer service agents
If we didn’t make it clear enough in reason number one, we’ll make it clear here—we were very impressed with Allied’s customer service during each and every one of our interactions.
The in-home estimate was just the tip of the iceberg. Each time we reached out to Allied’s representatives to ask questions about our move, they responded quickly and thoroughly. It didn’t matter if we were giving them a phone call or sending them an email, each response was prompt, and they didn’t make us feel like we were burdening them with our requests.
If customer service is important to you, you likely won’t go wrong with Allied.
To learn more, read our full Allied Van Lines Review.
North American Van Lines—Best for customizing your move
With industry experience dating back to 1933, North American Van Lines is a seasoned full-service mover that can get your things safely and smoothly from point A to point B.
Plus, with over 500 local movers, North American Van Lines boasts one of the nation’s largest fleets—so it can likely service your move whether you’re in Arizona or Arkansas.
North American Van Lines at a glance
Data as of 1/10/2020.
Why we give North American Van Lines a thumbs up
It allows you to customize your move
From full-service and fragile-only packing to appliance disconnection and reconnection to furniture disassembly and reassembly, North American offers a slew of add-on moving services.
This means you choose services based on how much you can afford. If you have an unlimited budget, you can go entirely full service and have a North American moving crew pack and load everything for you. If money is tighter, you can have movers pack only your most fragile items or pack all of it yourself and simply have the movers load and haul.
North American makes it clear which services are included in the overall cost of your move and which are extra. Full-service packing, for example, is extra.
You can also pay for help you want once you’ve arrived at your new home (reattaching the legs on your dining room table or plugging in your smart TV, for example).
We think this freedom to tailor your move shows that North American is flexible and considerate of its customers’ needs (and budgets).
If you fill out an online request for an estimate from North American Van Lines, expect an initial barrage of emails and phone calls. Luckily, it’s easy to get your name removed from the call list, but it can feel overwhelming in the meantime.
It walks you through your move from start to finish
It’s easy for moving companies to forget that this may be your first rodeo—and even if it isn’t, every move comes with its own challenges.
North American Van Lines gets it.
Instead of confusing moving lingo that you’ve never heard before, North American’s website has moving guides and blog posts written in plain language. This can help you feel confident in every step of the process—which is important with something as chaotic and overwhelming as moving.
Plus, North American’s organized process and helpful checklists cover all your questions well before your move. This will come in handy when it’s 2:00 a.m. the night before your move and you’re staring at your ceiling fan thinking, “Wait, did I ask about packing my fragile stemware and wedding china?”
We also love that North American provides instant ballpark estimates for your move, instead of saying, “Great! Check your inbox and maybe a quote will be there.” This makes comparison shopping easier because you’ll have your quote in-hand immediately.
To learn more, read our full North American Van Lines Review.
If you're looking for a thorough checklist that will carry you through every step of your move, then we've got you covered. Our step-by-step moving checklist can help you hire your moving company, unpack your last box in your new home, and everything in between.
U-Pack—Best bang for your buck
Unlike the other companies on this list, U-PACK is a moving and storage container company (our very favorite, in fact). This means that when you move with U-Pack, the company brings moving containers (called ReloCubes) to your house and you load them yourself. Once your ReloCubes are full, U-Pack delivers them to your new home for you to unload.
This process makes moving with U-Pack a lot more DIY than moving with the other companies we’ve mentioned so far. The upside is that moving with U-Pack can be thousands of dollars cheaper than hiring other companies on this list, so it’s your best option if you’re moving to another state on a tight budget.
U-Pack at a glance
Data as of 2/18/2021.
Why we recommend U-Pack
It has exceptionally low prices
Like we said earlier, moving with a moving and storage container company like U-Pack is much cheaper than hiring a full-service company. While exact prices vary depending on factors like distance, time of year, and home size, moving with a container company instead of a full-service moving company can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
And U-Pack is even less expensive than other moving container companies we recommend. On average, we’ve found that U-Pack’s rates are about 15% lower than competitors like PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT. U-Pack also has moving trailers which can be even cheaper than the company’s ReloCubes.
This makes U-Pack our #1 recommendation for anyone who’s willing to expend a little elbow grease for a great price on their residential move.
If you’ve never used moving containers before, it can be really difficult to estimate how many you need. U-Pack’s pay-for-what-you-use policy removes the pressure of ordering the exact number of containers you need. If you order too many containers, U-Pack will only charge you for the ones that you actually use.
It can hook you up with any service you need
U-Pack can handle most of the services you’d need for an interstate move. On top of shipping your belongings to your new home, U-Pack can also provide things like moving coverage and storage.
However, U-Pack doesn’t offer auto transport or moving labor, two services that most full-service moving companies provide. Moving with U-Pack doesn’t mean you have to go without these often essential add-ons, though.
U-Pack has a partnership with MovingStaffers, a moving labor company that can handle both packing and loading jobs. If you’re moving with U-Pack and you need some help loading your ReloCubes, U-Pack will put you in touch with MovingStaffers and get you the assistance you need.
Similarly, U-Pack refers customers who need a car shipped when they’re moving to Mr. Car Shipper, an auto transportation company that provides nationwide service.
While outsourcing these services to third-parties isn’t as convenient as providing them all under one roof, we like that U-Pack helps its customers get what they need instead of leaving them to fend for themselves.
Recapping our 5 best long-distance moving companies
Other cross-country movers we recommend
Interstate moving FAQ
What makes a good interstate moving company?
Quality customer service and pricing transparency
One of the best ways to gauge the quality of a company is to check for good customer service and pricing transparency. Read customer reviews to see if customers often report that the company increased their prices or had pushy and dishonest sales agents. If so, it’s probably best to find a different company.
You can also read about customer experiences by checking to see if we’ve published a moving grant report about the company you’re considering.
A wide range of services
Some moving companies offer the bare minimum (e.g., loading and packing services), while others offer lots of add-on amenities like network setup and piano shipping. Keep an eye out for a healthy mix of free and paid services that will help make your move easier.
Whatever your move requires, you can always find a mover that can take care of your specific needs.
It doesn’t scam its customers
We’ve thoroughly researched every company on this list to ensure they’re all trustworthy, so you don’t need to worry about getting scammed by one of them. If you want to hire a company we haven’t recommended here, read our guide to moving scams to learn how to tell the good companies from the bad actors.
Several of our favorite moving companies also provide auto transportation, but it’s not a service they all offer. If you hire a mover that can’t ship your car for you, check our list of The Best Auto Transportation Companies to find a car shipping company you can trust with your vehicle's safety.
How much does a residential move cost?
A full-service move will usually cost at least $2,000 if you’re moving long-distance. For local moves, they can cost as little as $500, but you should expect to pay closer to $1,000. Keep in mind that these are the lowest prices we usually see. The sky is more or less the limit for how much a full-service move can cost.
That said, it’s impossible to predict exactly what your move will cost. That’s because there are a lot of factors that go into a moves price:
- Move type
- Move distance
- Add-on services
Is renting from U-Haul cheaper than hiring full-service movers?
Yes, renting a U-Haul truck and using it for a DIY move is usually cheaper than hiring full-service movers. However, when you factor in fuel costs, hotel stays, and other costs of moving in a U-Haul truck, the savings aren't as good as you probably think. Additionally, moving in a rental truck is one of the hardest and least safe ways to move, while hiring full-service movers is the most convenient.
Because of this, you should hire movers instead of going DIY if you can swing it. Check out our cost/benefit analysis of hiring full-service movers vs. renting a U-Haul to learn more.
Is hiring a professional mover worth the cost on an interstate move?
Packing, hauling, and driving a moving truck yourself may seem like a smart way to save some cash. But a lot can go awry in a DIY move. Some end up being just as expensive as hiring a moving company—and you don’t have the same level of financial protection for your belongings. There’s also all the wasted time and effort that goes into moving yourself.
Bottom line: if you don’t want the hassle of loading, driving, and unloading a truck, a full-service move is the way to go. If you still want to try moving DIY-style, read our moving road trip guide for tips that’ll make your journey fun, safe, and budget-friendly.
Every moving company is required to provide basic valuation on every move, which covers $0.60 per pound. Companies may offer full-value protection (FVP)—which will cover the cost to repair, replace, or reimburse you up to the full value of your broken items—for an added fee. To learn more, check out our guide to moving coverage.
We want to hear from you
No matter which interstate mover you choose, we’d love to hear how your moving experience went. And if you think a mover deserves a look from the Move.org team, let us know!
Julia Campbell also contributed to this article.