What’s the difference between interstate and intrastate moving?

Not every relocation is the same. Some people change addresses. Others move their businesses. Some people move close to their old home, barely a few streets over. Others move to a different city, a different state or even a different country. This is why professional movers like Mod Movers California divide relocation into different categories based on similarities and differences. One of the main categories are interstate and intrastate relocations. But what is the difference between interstate and intrastate moving? And why should you even care? We’re so glad you asked!

The main difference between interstate and intrastate moving

Interstate moving is defined as relocation across federal state lines. Moving from New York to California, for example, would clearly be an interstate move. But so would moving from Nevada to California. The distance between the two states doesn’t really make a difference. As long as you’re crossing state lines, you’re moving interstate. It is worth noting, however, that this only refers to federal states. Crossing country borders is not interstate moving – it’s international moving. So if you’re moving from, for example, Montana to Canada, then you’re moving internationally rather than interstate.

North and South Carolina state line - whether you cross this line makes all the difference between interstate and intrastate moving.
Are you moving across state lines?

Intrastate moves are contained in a single state. So if you’re moving, for example, from LA to SF, you’ll need intrastate movers CA. Once again, the distance between the two places doesn’t really make a difference. As long as you’re staying within a single federal state, your move is an intrastate one. So the main difference between interstate and intrastate moving and what defines these two types of relocations is whether or not the move crosses federal state lines.

Is it the same as long-distance vs local moving?

People often use the terms long-distance moving and interstate moving interchangeably. This implies that local moving and intrastate moving are also the same. But is that true? The answer is a bit more complex than it seems. The definitions of local and long-distance moving clearly do not match with intrastate and interstate moving definitions respectively:

  • a local relocation, performed by local movers CA, is a relocation within a 50-100 miles radius
  • long-distance relocation, performed by long-distance movers CA, is a relocation to more than 100 miles

So local and long-distance moving is all about distance, regardless of the crossing of state lines. It is, therefore, possible to move locally but interstate or have an intrastate move that’s also long-distance.

Empty road.
Long-distance vs local is all about the miles you cross.

If you’re moving from Hoboken, NJ to Brooklyn, NY all you’re doing is crossing a bridge. And yet, this is still an interstate move. On the other hand, moving from Stratford in the north of TX to Harlingen in the south is still intrastate despite the long distance of more than 800 miles. It is, therefore, impossible to equate long-distance with interstate moving and local with intrastate moving. Interstate moving, however, tends to be long-distance and local moving tends to stay within a state. So the comparison is not entirely unfounded.

Why does this matter to you?

All this sounds very theoretical. So why should you care? What does it matter what category your move technically falls under? Well, the truth is that these theoretical differences also inform some very real and practical differences. Sometimes, being ready for those differences can make all the difference in your move going smoothly.

The difference between interstate and intrastate moving when it comes to budgeting

Budgeting and spending are one of the biggest concerns when moving for many. Especially when you’re moving on a budget, how much you’ll spend on your move is an important question. Here, whether you are moving interstate or intrastate can make a difference. Interstate moving tends to cost more than moving within a single state. This is partially because interstate moving tends to be long-distance and the longer the distance, the more expensive the move. But that’s not all. Interstate moving comes with some unique challenges and not all movers can or are allowed to perform such relocations. Because of this, they usually charge more for interstate services.

The difference between interstate and intrastate moving when it comes to choosing movers

Different states have different regulations regarding moving companies. In some states, moving companies only need to register within the states. Other states require federal licenses. This is why some intrastate movers only have a license and insurance to work in their own state. Interstate moving, however, is regulated by the federal government. For this reason, movers who perform interstate services must be registered with the FMCSA. So if you’re moving to another state and looking for a moving company, make sure you hire one that has a license to operate across state lines.

The difference between interstate and intrastate moving when it comes to the moving process

As you can imagine, planning and executing an interstate move is a bit different from doing the intrastate moving process. Overall, interstate moving takes longer to organize. It would, therefore, be very hard to move interstate on short notice. It also takes much longer to complete the entire moving process when crossing state lines. This will affect how both you and your movers handle the relocation.

Yearly planner.
Make sure you set aside enough time to prepare for an interstate move.

You will need to set aside more time for planning when moving interstate. You will also need to be more careful with packing since your belongings will travel for longer and probably be handled by more people. Finally, you may need to rethink your use of storage CA if you’re moving interstate. While interstate movers commonly use storage to keep your belongings safe during an interstate relocation, you will have a harder time accessing your own storage units in one state when moving to another.

The unique challenges of interstate moving

It all boils down to this: the big difference between interstate and intrastate moving is that interstate moving is harder. Moving to another state comes with some unique challenges. You will need to find a way to buy a home in a different state, pack well, hire interstate movers specifically, figure out how to transfer utilities and reregister your car, find new schools for your kids, vets for your pets and doctors for yourself, and so much more. But don’t let that discourage you! With some help and a lot of planning, you can figure it out!

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