The Difference Between Short and Long Haul Moves

guyinmovingtruck.jpg
Alan Powdrill/The Image Bank/Getty Images.

When hiring movers, one thing you need to consider is how far you're moving. Distance between your old home and the new place will determine what type of mover you'll hire and how your moving costs will be calculated.  Most short distance movers charge by time and sometimes also by volume. Time can be based per hour while volume is based on the size of truck needed for your move and how much truck space your stuff needs.

Long distance movers will refer to a tariff which outlines how far you'll be moving and the fee per pound to move your things. For instance, if you're moving from Seattle to San Diego, the mover will provide a cost per pound for that particular distance. This could mean paying $0.50 per pound.

Read more about tariffs and your rights when your move is based on truck weight.

Short Haul Moves

A short haul move means you're moving a short distance which is usually within the same city or to a city that is close-by.  The way most movers determine if your move is a short or long haul is by distance. So if you're moving less than 450 miles, then your move is often considered "short".  Short haul also means that your move can happen in one day and doesn't require shipment overnight. However, it's important to know that even if your move is considered a short haul move, you can still be charge per mile which is often called a linehaul charge.

Make sure you ask the mover about their fee structure, whether your move has an additional charge for the distance covered and get their quote in writing.

Long Haul Moves

A long haul usually means that the distance between pick up and drop-off is long enough that it requires at least one overnight for the driver.

  In this case, the mover fees will be calculated by mileage and weight of your shipment.

This is how it works: The truck is weighed without your goods loaded, often referred to as the base weight or light weight, then weighed after your things are loaded.  The weighing occurs at an official government weigh station with the difference between the two weights being the weight of your household goods.

A long distance move is sometimes referred to as an interstate move, meaning that your move is taking you from one state to another.  On the other hand, you could be moving within the same state - called an intrastate move - but the distance you'll be moving is greater than what the mover considers to be a short haul.  In this case, a mover might charge you for a short haul but add a linehaul charge to your bill.

Again, you need to clarify with the mover type of move you'll be making, what type of mover you'll need, and how the fees are calculated.

Do I Have a Choice of How the Fees are Calculated?

Not usually. However, knowing that your move is less than 450 miles means you can see how best to move and enables you to shop around for the best price. You can also ask the mover if they'll provide a few options.

  I once had a mover that said I could choose between being charged based on weight (interstate move or long distance) or I could pay for a short haul with an additional fee for the distance the move covered. I chose the second option as we had a lot of heavy items that I knew would be extremely expensive to move if charge per pound. In the end, I think we were ahead, but it's hard to say since we never did weigh the move.  But having options is always best.

So don't be afraid of shopping around, asking the movers all the questions you need to ask before you decide.