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How You Can (Almost) Have Fun On Moving Day – If You Can Afford It

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Who the heck has a fun moving day — well, you can.

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The first time you moved, you probably gathered a few friends, bought some beer and pizzas and loaded a pickup truck, or perhaps a rental truck, and hoped and prayed that everything ended up at your destination in one piece. Even if it didn’t, it wasn’t that big a deal.

Years or decades later, you’d be amazed at the number of people who still move like that, only now, muscles are tighter, backs are weaker, friends tend to be scarcer on moving day and you care a lot more about your belongings. Besides, isn’t it time you stopped busting your butt and had a *gasp* fun moving day?

For many, a sign of adulthood is hiring movers. Still, for most, watching their budget still limits what they can pay movers to do. While most of us are packing our boxes or cleaning our homes, we can’t help but fantasize about what rich people do when they move. Is it really so different?

The short answer to that question is yes, rich people do do it differently, but it doesn’t have to be all that different. Here are five things you can do to move like rich people and some of them might actually save you money.

1. Pay the movers to pack and unpack – Yes, this is a luxury, but not as much as you think. Packing and unpacking can about double the price of your move, but if you factor in the cost of your time, you might come out ahead, even if you aren’t rich.

2. Pay cleaning people – There is nothing more brutal than cleaning up years of dirt that’s been lodged behind your furniture, or the sudden realization that after a hard week’s work, you still have to spend hours cleaning. The solution is simple, though. Pay someone.

3. Go to a spa – This is the ultimate indulgence and will only work if you have someone you can trust at home supervising. Talk about a stress-free move.

4. Go on vacation – Yes, rich people do this. Who wants to live with upheaval if they don’t have to. Of course, you have to have a reliable person to supervise, which leads me to the last one…

5. Hire an independent moving consultant – This might be a little tougher. Most moving consultants work for moving companies, but to protect your interests, find an independent consultant who can look out for your needs. She can hire cleaners and painters and packers and even supervise the move. It will cost money to hire a specialist like this, but she could end up saving you money by using her expertise to hire only the most reputable movers.

You might not be rich, but really, if you spend a few bucks, all you will need to do come moving day is drive to your new home. Now, doesn’t that sound relaxing? Maybe you can even have a fun moving day.

Featured image via Obra Shalom Campo Grande/Flickr.

The Five Best Reasons To Have Movers Pack For You, And Two For Why They Shouldn’t

in Posts, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Saying that moving isn’t fun is right up there with saying that ice cream is sweet and that the sky is blue. It’s obvious. Even the most organized moving customers toy with the idea of letting the movers do everything, including pack. There are a lot of good reasons for it and maybe two reasons you might decide against it.

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It saves a lot of time – In a working household, packing can take weeks or sometimes even months. Professional movers can generally knock the packing out in a day. Think about it, you only have to live with mountains of cardboard for a day instead of weeks.

It saves a lot of mess – See above about the cardboard boxes. You can even pay the movers to unpack and haul away all the packing material. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?

It gets done right – I’m not implying you aren’t a good packer, not at all, but professional movers do it for a living. The best moving companies only allow their most experienced people to do the packing and their most most experienced people to pack fragile items.

Everything is labeled in a way the movers can understand – You might ask why you should care what the movers do or don’t understand, but trust me, clear labeling helps the move go a lot faster. If the movers pack the boxes, they will label them in a way that tells them how to load the boxes on the truck and where to place them in the new home.

There’s no question of liability – This one is not as important as it sounds, but it is important. When movers pack and something gets broken, you know where to point the finger. While liability is very limited, as per federal and state law, you might have insurance that ensures only against mover damage.

While all of this sounds amazing, why wouldn’t you want to have the movers pack for you?

It costs money – While packing is surprisingly reasonable, one of the ways movers suggest to save money is to pack yourself. Of course, you want to weigh the packing rate against the value of your own time, but if you find that you can afford to spend the time, do it.

Movers pack everything – Wait, is this a problem? It depends. If you use moving as an excuse to clear out a lot of clutter, professional movers won’t do that. They don’t know what you do and don’t want to keep unless you tell them.

Of course, there’s a middle ground. Many customers hire movers for what’s called a partial pack. Let them pack your breakables and you can save time and money and sort through the things you no longer want.

What To Do If It’s A Week Before The Move And You Haven’t Started

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

You’ve been thinking about it for a while. You’ve hired the mover, you may or may not have begun packing, but you notice the calendar and your moving date is just a week away. Panic begins to overtake you. You look around your current home. Would it be so bad to stay forever? That’s certainly easier than moving, right?

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While things undoubtedly seem overwhelming now, they don’t have to be. Your moving company is here to make things easier for you.

Since it’s just a week before, we’re hoping that you have done some advance prep work. Hopefully, you have chosen the company that will move you and have done your due diligence on making sure you’ve picked a good one (more on that next week). You should have already gathered your medical and veterinary records and have registered your children in school. This would also be a good time to let your insurance company and your banks know of your move. Hopefully, you’ve also transferred your utilities or cancelled the old ones and set up new. Here’s a comprehensive moving timeline. It starts two months out. That doesn’t mean you have to start two weeks out, but it means that in the last week, you will be busy.

If you live by yourself and you don’t have a heavy workload during the week before the move, you might be able to get your packing done. Your moving company will be happy to deliver all the materials you need and they can even show you how to put together the boxes and how to pack each one.

If you have a family and you have to work, things are going to be much more challenging. This is a good time to let your moving company know you aren’t packed. They can pack for you, but they may want to pack a day or two earlier. If that’s not possible or necessary, plan on a long day. You can still pack as much as you can and the moving company will be happy to finish the rest.

The best advice for last minute packing is to pack the easy things and let the movers take care of the breakables and more difficult items. Clothing and books can be packed relatively quickly, although you won’t have time to sort through everything. Don’t feel bad. Plenty of people have moved and then sorted. The cost difference of a handful of extra moved boxes is pretty nominal.

Personally, I’d rather pack than do the moving out cleanup. If you can afford it, you can hire someone to help. If not, rather than begin packing, start pulling things out of cabinets and scrubbing. This will help the movers and it will save you from having to do that scrubbing afterwards. It’s not advisable that you clean any external surfaces before the move. You’ll just have to clean them again.

The bottom line is we live in a great time. We are all incredibly busy, but if you need something done, you can generally pay someone to do it. Contact your moving company. They might have resources, like cleaning people and even painters. They will certainly take the burden of the actual move off your hands.

Featured image via Pixabay.

You’ve Just Inherited An Estate, Now What?

in Bay Area Real Estate, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

When a family member passes, it is beyond heartbreaking, but when you’re suddenly thrust into being responsible for the family member’s estate, heartbreak can be compounded with stress.

Featured image via Pixabay.

Featured image via Pixabay.

Please note that this blog post is about what happens after the courts have sorted things out. Only a few of our movers have law degrees (kidding), so you really should not be taking legal advice from us. This blog post is also not about massive estates. If businesses or multiple investment holdings are involved, please consult an expert.

Now that we’ve said that, most estates are not massive. Most involve perhaps one home, perhaps a car and anywhere from a few to a great deal of personal possessions. Typically, when an heir or an executor to the estate takes his or her first look, to say it’s overwhelming is an understatement, but with just a little planning on your part, a moving company can shoulder a lot of your stress.

Let’s assume that by the time you’ve called a moving company, all the heirs have ironed out what goes to whom. If not, here is some pretty good advice for maintaining peace while divvying up belongings. Once you know what goes to whom, the hard work is done. All you need to do is label things. Buy some sticky notes and you can color code each member of the family. There are bound to be some items that no one wants, and those can be sold or even stored.

Once everything is labeled, let a mover handle the packing for you. We are experienced with estates and have moved items for major auction houses. There isn’t an antique or piece of artwork we don’t know how to treat with kit gloves. Please, though, if there is jewelry or other small valuables in the estate, move those items yourselves.

In most estates, there are items that don’t necessarily have a home. Some are typically set to be sold and others, into storage. Perhaps some family members don’t have room for their new treasures, so they will also need storage. We can help you with that as well.

Obviously, we can transport the estate anywhere within the country, even if there are multiple destinations.

Don’t let a family death be more stressful than it already is. Engage the help of professionals. We will remain calm during the storm and we will ensure that everything makes its way to its new home. We might even help prevent some family feuds.

 

Nine Tips For An Easy, Breezy Unpack

in Preparing for a move, Your New Home by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

When you’re getting ready to move, there are all sorts of resources to help you prepare. Pretty much anyone, including your moving company, can offer tips on packing. Everyone seems to disappear, though, when it comes to the job of unpacking.

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First off, your moving company (at least if it’s a good one) will not abandon you. They would be happy to help you unpack. Just tell them where things go, and they’ll get to it. That’s for organized people, though, or people who used the moving company to pack.

We live in the real world, though, and in the real world, we start out with the best of intentions. We carefully label and organize maybe the first 20 boxes or so, but once moving day begins to creep up upon us, the organizational system begins to go out the window. Of course, this can all be avoided by paying the moving company to pack you, but we don’t all do that, and that’s okay.

I can’t say I actually enjoy unpacking, but it’s far less tedious than packing, and it’s a lot more rewarding. There is a real sense of accomplishment in seeing your new digs come together with your stuff. So, how can that be done quickly, and with as little hassle as possible?

  1. Unpack cleaning supplies first – You’ll need them.
  2. Unpack the kitchen – Trust me when I say you’ll need your kitchen stuff. Odds are, you don’t have to get too creative with unpacking the kitchen. First, though, put a post-it on each cabinet door. This trick might seem sort of stupid, but when you’re unpacking, you don’t want to think. Know in advance where everything goes, and putting things away will be a breeze.
  3. Electronics – You want to give the kids something to do.
  4. Toys – Ditto.
  5. Unpack the clothing next – Unpack the kids’ clothes first and then yours. The bedrooms should be very easy. When you pack, pack one drawer per box. Then everything can easily go right back in. Your mover should provide you with wardrobe boxes, which makes hanging things in your closet super fast.
  6. Unpack books – You might not need books right away, but they are easy to unpack and they help you feel at home.
  7. Unpack knick-knacks – You can put this off, but I don’t like to. There is nothing like your personal collections to make your new home feel like you.
  8. Pictures on the wall – Like with the knick-knacks.
  9. The garage – I’ll confess, we moved 7 months ago, and there are still boxes in our garage. The garage usually gets last priority, but don’t put it off as long as we have. Your cars will appreciate it.

 

Yes, this sounds easy – perhaps too easy, but it can be broken out. If you work full-time and have children, you probably won’t unpack in a day or a week, but you can in a couple of weeks, if you set aside some time to unpack maybe five boxes an evening.

Featured image via Joe Hall on Flickr. 

What Not To Do While Packing

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

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You found a new place to live. Now, it’s time to take a look at your old place and start packing. Where to start, though? Over the years, I’ve written several articles giving people packing advice, but most have been from a positive perspective. Usually, though, packing is trial and error, with a heavy emphasis on error if you don’t start soon enough.

  1. One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming that everything will go into their new home exactly as it came out of the old home. That’s rare. It will be far easier to unpack if you go through each item and organize them by room, regardless of what room they are currently in.
  2. Don’t buy low quality packing materials. It might be tempting to check the back of the supermarket, but those boxes are often damaged and don’t have lids. Spend a little bit of money on materials. Never, ever use trash bags. They break and they take up too much room on the truck, since they don’t stack. Your mover or Home Depot can help you with materials.
  3. Don’t buy only big boxes. Bigger boxes means fewer boxes, right? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have an easier or a cheaper moving day. Use appropriately sized boxes. Light things can go in big boxes, but heavy things need small boxes.
  4. Don’t pack your kitchen first. Your kitchen is the most used room in the house, with the possible exception of bathrooms. If you don’t use things every day, sure, pack them, but don’t pack anything you’ll find yourself needing before you move.
  5. Don’t go without a plan. Personally, I like to set a plan of 2-5 boxes a day (depending on my schedule and what I’m packing). I pack books, toys, out of season clothing and other non-essentials first. I begin hitting the essentials a few weeks before the move.
  6. Don’t neglect pictures on the walls and lamps. Odd shaped items often still need to be packed, especially if a mover is moving you. You can take them in your car, which is advised, or you can have the mover pack them. Just remember that come moving day, someone has to move them. Don’t be surprised if you get hit with a little extra on your moving bill if you forget.
  7. Don’t make arrangements for kids and pets. The last thing you want on moving day is to have your kids and pets underfoot. Send them with babysitters. The movers will thank you and you won’t have to be chasing after them all day.
  8. Most importantly, don’t over stress. Naturally, moving is stressful. Little can change that, but if you don’t get all your packing done, your mover can help. Just be aware that there will be a charge. It’s best to discuss this with them before the move.

 

Featured image via Pixabay

Are Moving Brokers Always Crooks? How Do You Find A Good One?

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

You might have heard a lot about moving brokers, and most were probably cautionary tales. Moving brokers, or companies who coordinate moves through a network of several movers, have long had a reputation, often deserved, of being the industry’s biggest crooks. That’s only a little fair.

Sites like movingscam.com generally advise consumers to run from brokers like they have ebola. They aren’t usually wrong. That being said, moving with a broker is not always the worst idea.

First, let me clear one thing up, moving brokers are not generally licensed movers, but the law abiding ones do register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Laws are getting more strict around brokers, but you still want to protect yourself as you would when dealing with the mover themselves.

Think of a moving broker as being like any of the travel sites on the internet. Movers will often notify a broker if there is empty space on a truck going across country. For that reason, a broker can sometimes find you a good deal and they can save you a lot of legwork.

First, check out a broker on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration‘s website. Look for a company that has been in business for at least three years and is in good standing.

Next, insist that the broker come visit your home and give you a binding estimate. That means that the people who actually perform your move cannot change the price, as long as you do everything you said, such as pack. You will be charged for any extra work. Make sure the estimate you do receive includes absolutely everything, so you aren’t hit with surprises.

Believe it or not, your gut can be pretty reliable. If you feel like the person you are speaking to isn’t reliable or honest or they simply aren’t listening, move on. There are plenty of other moving companies and moving brokers.

10 Signs Of A Really Bad Mover

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

If you’ve ever watched Dateline or read a forum on the moving industry, you learn that there are a lot of bad movers out there. As a consumer, obviously, that’s bad news, but it does give good movers a real opportunity to set themselves from the pack. How does one go about figuring out which one is a bad mover?

Today, we’ll talk about the bad. If you open your eyes, there are plenty of red flags that movers will wave in your face. Unfortunately, most people don’t know what to look for. Here are 10 signs that you should run, run far, from a mover:

10. Their truck is a junker – Sure, there are honest ‘man with a van’ types, but as a general rule, a company that can’t even take good care of its trucks is probably not going to take care of your belongings.

9. Their movers don’t wear uniforms – A uniform, or even just a uniform t-shirt, is inexpensive for a moving company to purchase. People demand uniforms, and they should. For movers, their t-shirt is their company ID. Not only that, uniformity in clothing often indicates a more professional and uniform way of doing business.

8. They refuse to give you a “binding” or “not to exceed” quote – We hear every day, “they put it in writing.” Writing means nothing. Only a binding or not to exceed estimate hold any legal water, and that’s only if every piece of furniture and every bit of packing is inventoried. That means that someone needs to see your place, even if it’s a virtual tour and don’t leave a square inch out. Trust me, you will be charged more if you leave things out. If a mover refuses to do that, though, they are going to scam you.

7. They charge for tape – One of the biggest ripoffs is one of the least significant sounding: tape. Movers use a lot of tape. They tape boxes and even if you do all of your own packing, they use a lot of tape to wrap your furniture in blankets. Rolls of tape can cost $10.00 and up and you have no control over how much a mover uses.

6. They promise you something too good to be true – No mover can move you from California to Florida in two days. It can’t be done. If a mover makes this promise, they are lying.

5. Their price is much lower than others – The moving industry is like every other industry; you get what you pay for. Picking the lowest priced mover will give you either the worst mover or a lying mover. Both are bad choices. The profit margin on moving is very low. There shouldn’t be more than about a 10 percent discrepancy between movers, unless there is a very good explanation, like that there will happen to be a truck in Florida that will be coming back to California and will be empty otherwise. Then, you might get a good deal.

4. They specifically badmouth their competition – There a difference between educating a customer on how to choose a mover and the things to look out for than specifically badmouthing one company. A moving company shouldn’t say anything more than “check their reviews,” or something along those lines. Badmouthing is bad form and it indicates an aggressive mover, which is something you don’t want.

3. Your sales person doesn’t give you his or her cell phone number – If you allow someone to visit your home, the least they can do is give you their phone number. Planning a move is not a 9-5 job. Your move sales person should be available for you, in case of questions.

2. The sales person doesn’t listen – Bad moving companies tend to treat all moves as the same. They aren’t. Your move is unique and a good company will find out your individual needs.

1. They’ve been in business less than two years – Many bad movers come to this country, get a moving license and then lose it a year or so later because of violations. Sure, there are some great startup moving companies and if you do your homework, you can get a great move, but as a general rule, not passing a test of time is a warning sign.

Featured image via Flickr.

What Can Be Expected With International Moving?

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Container_Ship_MSC_Texas_(4423023837)Whether you’re leaving the country for a job, for retirement or just because, there will probably be at least some things you want to bring from home. Even if you know a lot about the moving process within the U.S., things change considerably when moving out of the country.

1. Don’t even think about packing for yourself – By law, movers have to pack every item being moved and they have to inventory them for customs.

2. You are charged in a completely different way – When moving internationally, you are charged by container. Shipping containers come in either 20 foot or 40 foot lengths. A 20 foot container will hold about the contents of a two bedroom apartment or a small two bedroom house. A family of four will typically need a 40 foot container.

Even if a container is partially empty, you will still be charged for the entire container. Talk to the moving company. If you are hesitating about taking some items, ask if those items will actually make a difference – they may not. Besides, the price difference between a 20 foot container and a 40 foot container is not usually double.

3. The process – You always, without exception, want an estimator come to your home to survey the move so there are no surprises on move day. On move day, movers will come to pack and load their truck. Occasionally they will load your shipment directly onto the container, but that is not typical.

The mover you will be dealing with is an agent. While it might be the same company that ships and delivers your goods (that’s rare), all three legs are under separate management. However, your initial contact should be your point person throughout.

Naturally, overseas shipping takes considerably more time. Not only are ships slower than planes, there is always a chance things can get held up in customs. Be prepared.

Your moving company contact will fill you in on all the necessary paperwork you will need to take care of. They will be an excellent ally in the moving process.

4. Pets – most countries no longer require pets to be quarantined, but ask. If you have a pet that’s more exotic than a dog or cat, be sure to ask. Make sure your pets’ shots are up to date and keep those papers with you at all times. If you have a small pet, you might be able to stow its crate under the seat in front of you or you might be able to purchase a seat for its crate.

Most planes are equipped with pet hauling capabilities, but there have been a lot of horror stories surrounding that method of transport, so if you have a bigger pet, there are companies that specialize in hauling pets. Check those companies out well. Get references.

What To Pack To Tide You Over Till The Movers Arrive

in Long-Distance moving, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment
Image courtesy of Flickr.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

One of the most difficult parts of moving cross country is coordinating the timing. Unless you have a large home, it’s likely that your goods will share space with other shipments.

Don’t worry; movers take thorough inventories both loading and unloading, so things don’t get mixed up. What that does mean, though, is that because the moving truck has to make numerous stops and because semi trucks go slower than cars anyway, there will likely be a lag time between when you arrive at your new home and when the movers do. Yes, that will be an inconvenience, but one that will soon be forgotten and if you do it right, you can create some memories.

What you should pack will obviously depend on the amount of room you have in your car. If you are flying, you’ll obviously pack even less. If you are staying in a hotel room (generally recommended), you won’t need as many items as you would if you stay in your new home. Here are some packing ideas. Be sure to customize them to your situation.

1. Clothing – This one is obvious. Unless you have access to laundry, add a few days worth of clothing to the mover’s time estimate. It may not be the mover’s fault, but things do happen that delay shipments.

2. Toiletries – Again, this is obvious. If you are short on space, you can purchase soap, shampoo, toothpaste, sunscreen, etc. at your destination. I recommend bringing at least daytime makeup, however and a moisturizer. If you are moving to a dryer climate, bring lotion and lip balm.

3. Toys – There’s nothing worse than bored kids. Family games are a great way to pass the time, as is family reading time. Find the library in your new town. You probably won’t have a TV, but you will likely have smartphones and tablets, if the kids have them, are highly recommended. As far as actual toys, allow your kids their very favorite (if it’s small enough) but more than that can be too much.

4. Electronics – Smaller is better. Bring whatever you need for work and phones and tablets.

5. Pets – Bring your animals’ bowls and a couple of small toys for them. Don’t forget their leashes and collars. It’s also a good idea to travel with their veterinary records. I recommend crates for each of your pets along with their favorite beds.

6. Jewelry – Take all valuable jewelry with you, without exception.

7. Paperwork – Ditto on irreplaceable or difficult to replace paperwork. Bring everyone’s medical records, birth certificates, passports, car titles, etc.

8. Cleaning supplies – I don’t recommend moving your cleaning supplies unless you have a lot of room. They are generally too easy to replace. If you are staying in your new house, however, you might want to bring a vacuum.

9. Folding lawn furniture and inflatable beds – Again, for if you are staying in your new house.

10. Sleeping bags.

If you fear running out of room, the post office can be a great way to get some things to you faster.

 

 

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