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5 Simple Alternatives To Living On Pizza While Preparing For Your Move

in Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

One of the biggest struggles during the moving process is balancing real life against the temporary but very disruptive packing/moving stage. The kitchen, as we all know, is the most time consuming room to pack, but it’s also the most necessary for day-to-day life. Thankfully, there’s takeout, but unless you live in a major city, you’re pretty much limited to pizza and Chinese food — and then there’s the cost and the calories.

Featured image via Pizza Queen/Flickr.

The good news, though, is that you don’t have to live on pizza and Chinese food. You can keep eating normal (and healthy) food right up until moving day.

Pack everything but the microwave

Before you start packing, prepare some of your own microwavable dishes. Pasta dishes heat well, as do soups and casseroles. Freeze them in single use serving sizes (or refrigerate them if we’re talking days instead of weeks) and microwave them when you’re ready. A pre-made salad mix from the supermarket will make it a well-rounded meal.

Make sandwiches

Nearly everyone loves a good sandwich, and they can be surprisingly nutritious. If your sandwich repertoire includes the basics like turkey, tuna and PB&J and would like a little more variety, a quick Google search will give you thousands. Real Simple has several that I’ve tried and definitely get my seal of approval.

Barbecue

Who says you can only barbecue during the summer? People who aren’t in the process of moving, that’s who. While cleaning the grill can be a pain, it’s nothing compared to cleaning pots and pans, the stove (or oven) and counters.

Buy and instant pot

Instant pots are the newest hot things in cooking tools and for very good reasons. In minutes, you can whip up a meal that would otherwise take hours. Not only that, the cleanup is simple. Here are several recipes to get you started.

Ask for help

Odds are you’re past the age of enlisting your friends for the backbreaking work, but if a kind friend offers to help, take them up on it. Ask them to bring you some leftovers.

Five Ways To Help Your Friends Move Without Destroying Your Back

in Advice, Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

Back in the day, moving meant wrangling all your closest friends (and hopefully someone with a pickup truck), springing for pizza and beer and hoping everything and everyone ends the day in the same condition as they started.

A few years have passed. Now we hire pros to help us move. That doesn’t mean we stop needing our friends. If you have friends who are moving, you don’t have to feel helpless and you don’t have to sacrifice your back. Here are ___ ways you can help your friends move:

1. Cook something

Even if your friends haven’t yet packed the kitchen, the last thing they want to think about is cooking and who wants to eat pizza or Chinese food every single meal? Your friends might not have time to accept a dinner invitation, but if you bring the dinner to them… Just don’t forget plates and utensils.

2. Help sort

Packing and purging can be difficult and time-consuming. Even useless items might have memories attached. A neutral party might be just the help your friend needs. Sure, that old stuffed animal might remind her of when her daughter was young, but wouldn’t a digital picture of the ragged toy work just as well? Does your friend really need to hang on to that chip from the charity casino? Perhaps you can gently remind your friends what really matters and help them save money and time.

3. Help pack

Packing can be a little back breaking, but no where near as bad as moving furniture. Offer to help pack a box or two. Any little bit will be appreciated.

4. Shop

Even when people are trying to eliminate stuff, they are using stuff. Your friends might find themselves short on some necessities, or perhaps they need packing and cleaning supplies. Odds are you’re going to the store anyway, so why not offer to pick things up for your friends?

5. Babysit kid or walk dogs

Pets and young children can get in the way or even freak out during moves. Help your friends out by offering to care for their loved ones, even for just a few hours.

Featured image via PublicDomainPictures.net.

How To Have A Peaceful Thanksgiving, Even When Tensions Are High

in Holidays by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

This year, perhaps more than ever, the world just seems on edge. No matter what your political affiliation, it seems that the divides, even within families, are too deep to heal. If you’re dreading sitting down to dinner with your family, there are a few ways to make Thanksgiving more tolerable – and they don’t have to involve wine.

Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy Grayclee/Flickr

Make a list of safe subjects

Scan the internet for current events that aren’t political. There have to be subjects you can all agree on. Make a list of things to talk about. Talk about pleasant family memories or about the children in the family. Talk about the time you scaled that mountain, or even about rude sales clerks. In other words, talk about just about anything but politics, and Apple vs. Android (or PC).

Bring props

If your list of safe topics aren’t working, bring some tools. Give small gifts or bring a light-hearted game for after dinner. Karaoke can be a big hit and there are even phone apps. Bring a piece of memorabilia from an adventure you had during the year.

Pick a mantra

Do you have that family member who insists on turning the dinner table into a debate? If you’re opinionated (as so many of us are), it’s tempting to take that bait, but you don’t have to. Prepare yourself with a mantra. An idea might be, “today is a day of peace,” or “this is about the family.” More importantly, remember that minds are rarely ever changed.

Drink, but not too much

One glass of wine might take away the sting of caring what others say. More than that and you could be itching for a fight.

Take it outside

If you really must get into an argument with your Uncle Phil, arrange to take it outside, but after eating. By that time, you might forget all about it.

Remember that it’s all temporary

Politicians come and go. Your family will be around long after the next election and elections beyond that.

Featured image via Grayclee/Flickr.

How To Throw An Amazing Housewarming Party On An ‘I Just Moved’ Budget

in Uncategorized by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

You’ve just moved. After your down payment and closing costs, or your security deposit, first and last months rent — and we won’t forget that you paid for the move — you’re broke. Still, you love your new digs and you want to show them off to your friends. What a better way than a housewarming party? Besides, aren’t people supposed to bring you gifts?

Invitations

One advantage to technology is that expensive paper invitations are a thing of the past. Start a Facebook event, or send evites. You should also knock on your neighbors’ doors and invite them.

Food

Even on a tight budget, you can throw a full shindig if you ask your friends to pitch in by bringing some food or drinks. You don’t need a full dinner spread. A selection of snacks and finger foods should be just fine. Here are some cheap and easy ideas.

Drinks

You may have advanced beyond throwing “keggers” but you don’t need a fully-stocked bar with top-shelf liquor to impress your friends. Instead, make a signature drink. Here are several ideas. You will only need a few ingredients and just one type of glass. If your friends want another type of drinks, ask them to bring their own. Provide a good variety of non-alcoholic drinks, including a virgin version of your signature drink.

You can also do a beer or wine tasting housewarming party. Ask everyone to bring their favorites and let everyone sample.

Decor

You don’t have to go all out with decorating for a housewarming party. After all, this is the time to show off your new home, right? Make sure it’s clean and uncluttered. Add some pretty flower arrangements (stores like Trader Joe’s are very inexpensive). Candles are always a nice touch, preferably unscented natural candles, like in soy or beeswax. If you have a fireplace, it adds a warm touch to a cool fall or cold winter night.

As for seating and party ware, try thrift and discount stores. Even dollar stores have great options. Ask friends to bring folding chairs, or rent them from party stores.

Party favors

Party favors are not as common as they used to be, but they’re a wonderful touch and they don’t have to cost a fortune. Simple hand-made soaps or candles are very fashionable and they are easy and cheap. You can even make infused sugar. Here are some suggestions.

21st Century Solutions For Not Being Hit With Extra Charges At Your New Home

in Advice, Moving Costs, Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

Even the most diligent moving consultant can miss one giant piece of the puzzle, the new home. While in most cases, the new home shouldn’t add much to the moving price, there are circumstances where the unknowns can add up. There are ways to avoid any sort of extra charges.

Long carry

When you receive a moving estimate, don’t be surprised if you get some questions about the distance from where the truck can park to the front door. If it’s longer than say, 100 feet, you are charged extra based on the amount of stuff you have. If it’s a local move, it will add to the number of hours.

Stairs

Movers don’t specifically charge more for stairs inside the home, but if there is more than one flight of stairs to get to the front door, you will pay extra. Even if the stairs are inside the home, it could require an extra mover and it will certainly add to the time.

Obstructions

People don’t give much thought to the obstructions that might impede a move. For example, my home has shrubbery next to the front walk that could prevent movers from carrying big items through. Fortunately, there’s a quick workaround in my yard, but that’s not always true. If you can’t clear your new home of obstructions, you should at least notify your mover so they can prepare.

Shuttle

Shuttles are typically only a factor in long-distance moves, but they are very costly. Most interstate moves are performed in a 53-foot tractor-trailer. Some homeowner’s associations have rules against tractor-trailers. If your new home is on a winding or hilly road, it’s often physically impossible for a truck to get through. Shuttles can add a shocking amount to the move, and for good reason. There is a lot of labor involved.

Every time a shuttle is needed, the movers have to call in another truck, often a rental. Then, all of the items are transferred from the big truck to the smaller one before the movers finally unload the contents of the smaller truck into the new home.

Storage

If your new home isn’t ready for delivery at the time the movers are ready to deliver, they will charge you for storage, often by the day. If your goods need more than a day or two of storage, the mover will charge you for unloading the truck, and then when you’re ready for delivery, loading it.

How to avoid extra charges at delivery

No one wants that hit of extra and unexpected charges. That’s how a good company can get a bad reputation, often through no fault of their own. Fortunately, there are advantages now that we didn’t have even a few years ago. Take your moving estimator on a virtual tour of your new home through your smartphone, laptop or tablet. Show them where a truck might park, how your front door is accessed and whether there are stairs.

Save money by letting your movers know in advance that your new home won’t be ready. Many movers offer one month of storage for free or at a dramatic discount, as long as they can store at their home base. Things get very expensive for the mover, and for you if they have to rent storage space.

Featured image via Pexels.

How To Pick A House That Will Work For You And Your Pets

in Advice by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

House hunting in the Bay Area is all about compromise. You want two baths, but everything in your price range has one. You’d love an open concept home, but none are in your price range. One place you can’t skimp, though, is on your furry friends. If the house won’t work for them, it will be miserable for you.

How to pick a house for your pets

It might seem weird to pick a house with your pets in mind, but think about it. If the house isn’t pet friendly, you will end up spending a lot of time and energy and possibly heartbreak making up for the fact that your new home just isn’t pet friendly.

1. Make sure your pets are legal

When you buy, you expect that your pets are no one’s business, but most municipalities have limits on numbers and kinds of pets. Many HOAs have size limits and at some condo and townhouse complexes don’t allow pets at all. Be sure to check before signing any papers.

2. Make sure the yard is ready

Do you have a yard? Most dogs like to use grassy areas to relieve themselves. Often a small patch will do, as long as you are diligent about cleaning it up. Are there thorny or poisonous plants? Is there a fence and does the fence have holes? Is the gate secure?

3. Are the streets busy?

When moved from a relatively remote area to a busy street. Our indoor/outdoor cat is still adjusting to being a strictly indoor cat, but he’s safe. Be sure your neighborhood is safe for pets or don’t let them outside unless in your backyard or on a leash.

4. Does your house have stairs?

If you have an elderly dog, especially a large elderly dog, stairs could be a problem. Even if you have a young dog who’s too big for you to lift, you might avoid stairs. Most dogs have trouble with stairs once they reach a certain age.

5. Is the home set up for your pets?

If you have a large dog, you want to make sure that you can arrange the furniture so you have planned of room to walk around and so that your dog will have plenty of room to roam. If you have a cat, you will want to make sure there are places for litter boxes and for a cat tree. Even small dogs need a feeding and comfortable sleeping area.

6. Does your home have carpet

Carpet and pets are not always the best fit. Pets are notorious for staining carpets, and sometimes dogs will mark new homes while you’re not looking. Once a urine stain makes it through the carpet pad, it’s almost impossible to remove. Cats can be even more destructive to carpets. Even if you keep their claws trimmed and give them plenty of places to scratch, they can still scratch up your carpet.

Featured image via Pexels.

How To Find A Good And Reputable Real Estate Agent

in Bay Area Real Estate by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

Boom market, bubble or simply a seller’s market, whatever you call today’s real estate market, homes are selling for record prices and bidding wars have become the norm. Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling, finding a reputable and experienced agent to represent you is critical, especially now.

The real estate profession is filled with people hoping to be part of the Bay Area’s current gold rush, the real estate boom. It’s also filled with perennial professionals who have learned to market in down times as well as negotiate the best prices during peak times. As a home seller or as a home buyer, your first bit of shopping should be for one of the true pros.

According to the National Association of Realtors, a professional realtor will sell your home for almost 25 percent more (based on median sale prices) than an owner who goes it alone. That more than makes up for the 6 percent commission.

In our seller’s market, a Realtor may seem less relevant. But Realtors are experienced in traversing the legal landscape of selling or buying a home. Also, most buyers these days (about 80 percent) are going through agents, and they are typically only showing homes that are listed by fellow agents. The Balance.com has a comprehensive list of what selling agents offer, which includes marketing, staging, pricing help and legal guidance.

For buyers, a buying agent provides research, advises on, writes and presents offers, communicates with the selling agent and is an ally right up until closing.

How does one find a good real estate agent?

Bankrate.com suggests that when shopping for a Realtor, you:

  • Talk with recent clients.
  • Look up the licensing.
  • Pick a(n award) winner.
  • Select an agent with the right credentials.
  • Research how long the agent has been in business.
  • Look at their current listings.
  • Ask about other houses for sale nearby.

Talk with recent clients

As when you hire any professional, ask for referrals. Ask their recent clients about asking price vs. sale price. Ask about time on the market and ease of closing.

Look up the licensing

In California, Realtors are licensed by the California Bureau of Real Estate. You can verify licensing here.

Pick an award winner

This one can be tough. There are only so many awards to go around and those Realtors can only handle so many clients. But if you go through the lists of National Association of Realtors honorees, you might choose to work with one of their agency colleagues. Typically, honest and reputable agents will only work for honest and reputable firms.

Select an agent with the right credentials

Bankrate decoded some of the credentials

CRS (Certified Residential Specialist): Completed additional training in handling residential real estate.
ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative): Completed additional education in representing buyers in transactions.
SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist): Completed training aimed at helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.

Research how long the Realtor has been in business

If your Realtor survived the market crash in 2008, they have withstood the ultimate test of time. If they are a Johnny come lately, you might want to rethink it, unless they are backed up by an experienced broker.

Look at their current listings

You want to hire an agent who is familiar with your areas and who works within your price range. If you have the lowest-priced listing on their roster, it might not get the attention of other, higher-priced homes.

Ask about other homes nearby

Ask your agent about “comps” or comparable properties in your area or desired area. It will give you an idea of whether the agent is familiar with your area.

Featured image via American Advisors Group (AAG.com).

The Best Ways To Get Rid Of Stuff Before You Move

in Advice, Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

If Americans are good at anything, it’s acquiring stuff, and when you’re moving, it means dealing with years, if not decades of acquired stuff, much of which hasn’t been touched in a very long time.

If you haven’t used or worn something for a year or two, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself if you really want to move it. Why should you, the more stuff needs to be moved, the more you’ll pay…sort of.

Allow me to explain. If you’re moving long-distance, you pay buy weight, so the less you have to move, the lighter the weight. If you’re moving locally, you pay by time. A handful of boxes here and there won’t make a noticeable difference on time, but if you are doing a major purge, you will definitely save money. More importantly, a purge is a way to give yourself a fresh start, and isn’t that part of what moving is about?

What are the best ways to get rid of stuff?

When purging, there are basically three options: sell them, donate them or throw them away.

Sell your items

When selling goods, there are a few ways to go. There are several apps where you can list your goods. Even Facebook now has a Marketplace. Tip: If you go the route of directly selling goods to strangers, bring a friend. You can also sell through Ebay.

Direct sales might bring in more money, but it’s potentially risky and it’s time consuming, and if you are moving, you probably don’t have a lot of extra time. Another option is to sell through consignment sites and consignment stores. You’ll do best consigning if your goods are relatively high-end and in very good condition. Regardless, never try to sell stained or torn items.

Donate your items

You won’t get money for your old goods if you decide to donate them, but you can get a decent tax deduction. Here’s a great article on some of the most common donation charities. You might prefer a more local option as well. Even when donating, make sure your items are in good condition.

Dispose of your items

For the items that aren’t in good condition, or things like old mattresses, disposing might be the only sanitary option. Call your local municipality or your local trash company. Most have available bulk item pickups.

Featured image via Unnar Ymir Björnsson/Flickr.

How To Prepare Your Home Office For A Move

in Advice, Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

It’s one thing to haphazardly throw your clothes in a box. The worst that might happen is some wrinkles. When it comes to your home office, though, a little organization now will save you weeks of headaches and it will get you up and running in the quickest amount of time possible.

If your home office’s organizational system needs a little improvement, like mine, now is the time to organize it.

1. File, shred, scan or do something with every single piece of paper

If you don’t own a good diamond cut shredder, buy one. Create files for taxes, for insurance, for investments, for credit cards, for utilities, for your home, for pets, for medical files, etc. A good filing system will make your life so much easier in the future. HGTV has some great hacks for creating a good system.

If you don’t need to keep the originals, and even if you do, it’s always wise to scan important papers and store them on an external hard drive. Separate out the really important papers like house deeds, car titles, Social Security cards, birth certificates, passports, etc. Move those yourself.

2. Label all cords

If you’re like most people, you have a drawer full of charging cords and no idea where they go. One is probably from that 2007 flip phone. It’s time to go through every cord. If it matches an item, label it with a sharpie and a bread tag. If it doesn’t, take it to an electronics recycling facility or to a store like Best Buy.

3. Back up your hard drive

There are several cloud and external hard drive options. Many prefer the latter for security, but the cloud has the advantage of being indestructible and you can’t lose it. If you back everything up to an external hard drive, take it with you.

4. Disassemble your electronics

Electronics are one of the items we typically recommend that movers pack, but if you do decide to pack electronics, first disassemble them. Label the cords just like the cords above. If you have the original boxes, those are always preferable, but if you don’t, you can purchase boxes from your mover. Here are some tips.

If you have any questions or you need some help packing your home office, Ninja Movers is here for you.

How Many Movers Do You Need For Your Move?

in Local moving by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

One of the biggest misconceptions in moving is that less is better when it comes to manpower. On one level, it makes sense. For local moves, customers generally pay per hour per mover. Fewer movers mean a cheaper move, right? Well, not exactly.

For lack of a better term for the hardworking men and women who pack boxes and lift heavy furniture for 8-12 hours a day, movers are important tools. As any mechanic or handyman will tell you, it you don’t have the right tools for the job, the job won’t get done right.

It’s the same with moving. If you don’t have enough movers, the move will take much longer and it could even end up costing you more. How? For one, tired movers are slower movers, and if they don’t have the help they need, they will become unnecessarily tired.

More than that, though, each mover in a move has a very specific role. One or more might pack. A couple might wrap furniture and another loads the truck.

Sure, too many movers can trip over each other. That’s why a moving company should know as much as possible about your move before arriving. That way they can properly prepare and make your move as fast and as inexpensive as possible.

How many movers do you need?

Naturally, the answer to that question depends on your home. While things can vary (I’ve seen one bedroom homes need five or six movers), here is a general rule:

A typical studio or one bedroom apartment will need two movers (one mover is a very bad idea and generally never done, even for tiny moves).

Two and three bedroom homes generally need three to four movers.

Four bedroom homes typically need four to five movers.

Anything larger than that can vary and will absolutely need an on-site assessment.

There are several variables. If you have a lot of stuff, or if you are very minimalist, things might be different. If you have stairs or if the truck needs to park far away from your front door, an extra mover might be called for. If you have a piano, it might require an extra mover or two. Talk to your moving coordinator.

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