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Moving To A Smaller Place (VIDEO)

in Your New Home by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

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Whether because of cost or for environmental reasons, Americans are downsizing. Some are moving into houses as small as 100 square feet or less. For most people, moving to a smaller place can be a challenge. How do you prepare?

1. Get rid of absolutely everything you don’t need. This can be tough. Organizers often tell you that if you haven’t used something in two years, get rid of it. Craigslist, consignment shops and thrift stores are your friends.

2. Map your new home. Take exact measurements and plug them into a room planner like this or like one of several apps you can download for either Androids, iPhones or iPads. Personally, I recommend it be done on at least a tablet, if not a full-sized computer.

Once you have your room dimensions uploaded, then upload the exact dimensions of your furniture. See if it will fit. If it doesn’t, get rid of it.

3. Purge again. Once you figure out what will fit in your new home, it’s amazing how easy it is to get rid of even more. If certain items have either sentimental attachment or if they are valuable but still won’t fit in your new home, ask a family member if they will keep it for you. If not, even long-term storage is less expensive than moving into a bigger home.

If you need some inspiration for small home organization, see how people who live in truly tiny homes do it.

How Does Apartment Moving Differ From House Moving?

in Uncategorized by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

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You live frugally or maybe you like the amenities of full-service condo living. Regardless of the reasons you chose apartment life, moving offers different challenges than does moving from a typical suburban home. What can you expect if you are moving in or out of an apartment or condo?

1. It might cost more – This is an unfortunate reality of apartment and condo living. Often, the parking situation is less than ideal, especially if you live on a narrow and steep San Francisco street. Some buildings have loading docks, which of course, is ideal, but most don’t. Once the truck is parked, movers will have to maneuver up and down stairs or wait for elevators. Depending on how many stairs are involved, expect one or two extra movers. They will work like an assembly line, ensuring that the move will happen as quickly as possible. In the end, extra movers won’t cost you more, but the extra steps involved may add to the time.

2. The building – Most condo and apartment buildings have strict rules when it comes to moving. Alert your management company of your moving date. You might need to reserve the elevator. You also might not be able to move on weekends or in the evenings, depending on the rules of the building. Elevator reservations tend to go fast, especially toward the end of the month and during the summer, so plan ahead. If your building has a loading dock or commercial parking, you will also need to alert management of that. Ask your mover, but typically, they will bring at least one 24 or 26 foot truck. If you are moving out of state, you might need to accommodate a 53 foot tractor trailer. Buildings that don’t have elevators tend not to have as many rules, but it’s better safe than sorry.

4. The city – We all know how awful parking is in San Francisco. Fortunately, the city will accommodate you, at a price. You can reserve parking spaces in advance, to allow space for your moving truck. They will give you temporary signs to put out.

Unfortunately, that’s not always enough. Small moving trucks – the type used for local moving – can usually maneuver through the city, but larger trucks – the type used for interstate moves, might not. With many movers, especially with major van lines, you might find yourself paying an additional fee for a small truck to move you out. The movers will then transfer your items to the larger truck for the interstate move.

While apartment and condo living offer conveniences that house living doesn’t, it definitely offers moving challenges. Plan well and you can help ensure that your moving day will go smoothly and as inexpensively as possible.

How To Help Your Spouse Through The Move

in Advice, Long-Distance moving by Ninja Movers Leave a comment
Image from Flickr

Image from Flickr

I have a confession to make. I’m addicted to a show called, “House Hunters.” In particular, I’m hooked on the international version. If you’ve never seen it, the premise is pretty straightforward. A realtor shows buyers three homes and they are (allegedly) supposed to choose one of the three. While my focus is supposed to be on the presence or absence of double vanities and granite countertops, charm or modernity, their conflict often comes from spousal differences in opinion. Some of the worst have been in episodes where one spouse is clearly ambivalent about the move altogether. This may or may not be fake, but moving tension is a very real phenomenon. How does an otherwise happy couple adjust when one member would rather just stay put?

Moving is stressful even if everyone in the family is onboard. Whether it be about a job transfer or to be closer to one side of the family, big moves are often quite one-sided. But, with a little understanding and support, the move can be less stressful for even the people who want to stay put.

1. Ask your spouse what they need in a home – Before selecting a home, sit down with your spouse and ask what his or her priorities are. You already got a big concession. Give the next one or two to your spouse.

2. Make it as easy on your spouse as possible – It’s bad enough that your spouse is less than enthusiastic about the move, but you’re making them do all the work? Hire a mover or a move coordinator. Let the mover pack if you can afford it. If not, arrange for some help. Hire a cleaning person to clean both the old and new home.

3. Take your spouse on a romantic date in the new area – Find a nice restaurant. Take an evening stroll through the town. Walk by your new home. Help your spouse fall in love with the new community.

4. Help your spouse find people with common interests – Remember, you have a built in social network – your coworkers. Your spouse won’t have that. Help her or him meet new people. Meetup.com is a great way to start. Look into various groups with common interests.

5. Don’t leave your spouse with all the work of finding service professionals. Help find daycare, pet care, hair salons, gyms, etc. Yelp is a great resource. So is word of mouth.

6. Be patient – It’s possible that your spouse won’t be very happy the first few months after a move. Try to be understanding and ask what you can do to help.

How To (Almost) Look Forward To Moving Day

in Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment
Image from Pixabay

Image from Pixabay

It’s probably cliché by now to say that moving day is right up there with divorce, job loss and even death as one of life’s most stressful times. While I suspect this age-old study (if it was actually a study) was done when people were a bit less transient, for most people, the stress of packing, cleaning, hiring a mover and leaving the known for the unknown, is not exactly something they look forward to, but there are ways to make the moving experience a lot less stressful if not actually pleasant.

1. If you can afford it, outsource – Americans are busy people, which is why service industries thrive in this country. Ninja Movers and just about any good moving company can handle all the packing as well as the moving. Some, like Ninja Movers, can also help you find great cleaning people. If you can’t afford the full white glove service, decide what you most hate and hire for that. Personally, after my last move, I swore I would never again perform the shine and polish move out cleaning for a home I’d never enjoy again. It’s worth it for me to spend a few extra hundred dollars to have pros do it. Even if you don’t feel like shelling out the extra money, ask yourself what your time is worth per hour compared to what you’d be paying someone else. You might find that your time is much more valuable and frankly, a price can’t be put on your sanity.

2. Get a little help from your friends (and family) – You aren’t in college anymore. You probably wouldn’t draft your friends to help you do the heavy lifting, but packing and maybe move out cleaning? That might be a different story. Of course, make sure they are close friends and don’t talk them into it. Let them volunteer and make sure it sounds sincere. You might be able to pressure siblings and adult children, though.

3. Do a little at a time – I almost should have listed this as the first tip. A little at a time is my number one moving sanity strategy. Start early and aim for just two boxes of packing per day per person (on average, each person will have a total of 20-30 boxes). Let children pack unbreakable items like their toys. It helps them feel like part of the process. Out of season clothes, decorative knick-knacks and books can be packed very early, so can all of the items in your kitchen you rarely use. As you get closer to moving day, hold out the clothes and kitchen items you’ll need. A day or two before moving, pack the entire kitchen (except maybe a couple of cooking utensils) and eat from disposals. As you empty closets and cupboards, scrub them clean. Clean the windows, fireplace, oven and mow the lawn before the furniture is moved out. That will leave less cleaning on moving day.

4. Spend a day exploring your new neighborhood – If you are moving locally, take the kids to the new neighborhood and make a day of it. Walk around. Say “hi” to your new neighbors. See how many homes have kids. See what parks and businesses are within walking distance or within a short drive. This exercise will help you get your head focused toward your new home, which makes the moving process a little less daunting.

5. Plan a reward – You’d think the job done would be enough of a reward, but it’s not. Your reward can range anywhere from ice cream to a spa day to a vacation. Or, you can just make a fun day of shopping for your new home.

San Francisco Is Nation’s Fastest Growing Moving Destination

in Bay Area News, Bay Area Real Estate by Ninja Movers 1 Comment

 

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Does the Bay Area seem a bit more crowded lately? It’s not your imagination. Despite rising real estate prices, San Francisco is the fastest growing moving destination in the country, at least according to one survey.

While San Francisco is not the top moving destination – that designation almost perennially belongs to Atlanta – it’s moving up the ranks, showing an average increase of 6.9%. The data was pulled by Bloomberg from records from U-Haul.

Penske, a competitor to U-Haul, doesn’t even show San Francisco in the top 10 of overall moving destinations – yet. However, it San Francisco keeps moving up at the rate it is, it might creep onto the list soon.

What other cities are moving up quickly in moving ranks? Nashville is number two. Austin, TX is number three followed by Raleigh, NC, Louisville, KY, Dallas, TX, Tacoma, WA and Denver, CO. Denver is the only city to be both a top 10 moving destination and in the top 10 for growing destinations, although, Tacoma’s neighbor, Seattle, is a top 10 destination.

With the exception of Chicago and Jersey City, NJ, all of the fastest growing destinations are in the South or the West. The all-around top moving destinations show a similar trend, which doesn’t bode well for the Midwest’s or the Northeast’s housing markets.

Graphic of fastest growing moving destinations from Bloomberg.

Graphic of fastest growing moving destinations from Bloomberg.

Facebook Tells Us How Tired We Were After Time Change

in Bay Area News, Menlo Park by Ninja Movers Leave a comment
Image from Flickr

Image from Flickr

While you might finally be recovering from last week’s time change to Daylight Savings Time, Menlo Park’s Facebook compiled status updates, and found that as a nation, we were walking zombies.

Okay, ‘walking zombies’ might be a slight exaggeration, but we were tired. Facebook looked for words like, “tired,” “sleepy,” and “exhausted,” and found that usage of each of those words was up on Monday. They also found that the feeling of tiredness wore off by the end of the day – perhaps due to the fact that the sun was still up.

Use of words like "tired" pre-Daylight Savings and post Daylight Savings - courtesy of Facebook

Use of words like “tired” pre-Daylight Savings and post Daylight Savings – courtesy of Facebook

Monday might be an overall tired day, but on March 10th, usage of terms like, “feeling tired” was up a whopping 86% nationwide. Not surprisingly, Arizona, which doesn’t switch to Daylight Savings Time, had the lowest bump, but even they had a 12% bump in tiredness.

Hearty South Dakotans, despite the time change, only had an 18% increase of tiredness, while Delaware was very tired, at 231%. Here in the Bay Area, we weren’t as tired as the Midwest and the Mid Atlantic states (possibly due to the weather), but we were tired.

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Not all was bad, though. While people might have been sleepy, the longer evening put us in better moods.

One might wonder what other effects on mood the shift to DST has. Indeed, despite the tiredness, we see positive effects on the nation’s mood overall. On the Monday following DST, we see +21% increased usage of “wonderful”, and +19% increased usage of “great” compared to the previous Monday. Meanwhile, “annoyed” is down 14 percent and “bored” is down 12 percent. Even the generic macro-feelings of happy (+5.7%) and sad (-4.8%) follow these patterns.

By Tuesday, people were beginning to feel a lot less tired and by Thursday, the effect was almost gone.

Which Home Improvements Are Worth It?

in Bay Area Real Estate, Decorating by Ninja Movers Leave a comment
Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

 

Buying real estate in the Bay Area means one thing – compromise. Even with large budgets, buyers encounter tiny rooms, small yards, limited bathrooms and outdated fixtures. Truly move-in-ready properties are rare, and even when you do find one, they are pricey and most buyers want to add their own touches.

On average, home owners sell about every five to seven years, so the odds are, that the personal touches you put on your home will need to appeal to a new buyer in a few years. So, how does a homebuyer strike a balance between what pleases them and what will please future buyers?

The age-old question is, would you rather own the nicest home on the block or the worst home on a nice block? Ideally, you’d probably be somewhere in the middle, but for resale value, it’s better (within reason) to own the worst home on a nice block. In other words, being the only home in the neighborhood with expensive finishes may not win you buyers. Or, as the adage goes, location, location, location.

For both livability and for curb appeal, a good roof is a good place to start. In California, tile roofs are popular, but solar can add thousands of dollars in value to your home. If you aren’t a fan of solar panels, solar shingles and solar tiles are also an option, but they have their downsides.

Of course, a good coat of paint goes a long way toward salability, but within reason. You might want to hold off on painting your home 49ers red, Raiders black or Giants orange. If your home’s siding is sun worn, replacement will give you about even money. You’ll get about what you put into it. Replacement windows return about 80% of the money and they’ll save you a lot of money while you’re living there.

When prospective buyers are looking at the inside of a home, the rooms that really draw them are the kitchen and bathrooms, but don’t go overboard. Stainless appliances are a plus, but chef’s quality appliances only return value if they are fairly standard in the neighborhood. Most buyers these days look for granite countertops and for updated cabinetry, but keep the colors neutral.

A lot of California homes are older and are short on bathrooms. If you have a four bedroom, one bath home, you might be better off losing a bedroom and adding a master suite, with a modern bathroom and a walk-in closet. Of course, the ideal would be to add on to the house or find room elsewhere.

Today’s modern bathrooms have granite countertops, big showers (possibly with steam) and big tubs. Most couples want double sinks and plenty of counter space. The master bath is generally more important than the guest baths, although both should look updated.

The most important thing, obviously, is to please yourself first. If you really love to cook and you want to buy incredibly high-end appliances, then buy them. Unless you are flipping a home, resale value shouldn’t be the only factor, but do your research first. If your home has two bedrooms, it’s probably not a good idea to take it down to just one, even if you do gain a master suite. Check with your realtor before adding a pool. Pools can even devalue a home.

The College Moving Habits You Should Drop Now – And The Ones You Can Keep

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

Image from Wikimedia

 

When I was in college and in my early 20s, I moved often. It was fairly easy then. Not only was my body young and able to take the abuses of carrying heavy items up and down stairs, I had young, strong friends, who were willing to pitch in for no more than beer and pizza.

Sure, a few things were damaged – they always were, but I didn’t care that much. My furniture was mostly hand-me-down and the most valuable possessions I had were my clothes, my books and my music collection.

College is now in the past. I think my furniture, my electronics and my kitchen are finally more valuable than my clothes and about half my book and music collection are digital. Still, if it weren’t for Ninja Movers, I would probably still move much the same way I did in college. Sure, the pickup truck would probably be replaced by a rental truck, but I would still rely on friends and on shoddy packing.

Fortunately, I do have Ninja Movers, but even if I were to move myself, a lot of wisdom can be taken from the pros – and the first is to drop most of your college moving habits:

1. Don’t pack in trash bags – They don’t stack in the truck and they tear.

2. Don’t get boxes from the grocery store – You don’t have to buy boxes from your mover, but you should always use boxes that are in good condition. Grocery store boxes are often water damaged, cut and just banged around.

3. Use the right boxes – Dishes are best packed in dish packs and hanging clothes are best packed in wardrobe boxes. When in doubt, smaller is better.

4. Don’t overpack boxes – Sure, you’ve hired movers, but if you fill a box of rocks, it will still be impossibly difficult to carry and it will likely break. Get out your scale. A box should weight NO MORE than 50 pounds when packed.

5. Wrap your furniture – If you are moving yourself, you can rent moving blankets. They are worth the investment. Make sure that every inch of your furniture is wrapped and tape on the outside of the blankets, to ensure that you won’t have residual tape on your furniture.

So, what are the college habits you can keep?

1. Move plants yourself – Lay the in boxes and move them in your car. Movers can move them (if you aren’t leaving the state), but I just feel better having them with me.

2. To save money, move pictures and electronics yourself – Movers will be happy to move pictures and electronics for you and if you have valuable art work, I still suggest that they are properly packed, but for a standard framed poster or for a not-so-valuable piece of art work, face to face between the back and front seat of your car is usually sufficient. For extra protection, wrap them in blankets or sheets and slip a piece of cardboard between them. Electronics, like plants, can ride on car seats in boxes.

3. Have a packing party – The reward might have to be a better quality pizza and beer, but friends are still great resources. Just make sure they pack carefully and that every breakable item is well-wrapped in paper.

Or, of course, you can drop all of your college moving habits and hire someone to do all the hard work.

San Francisco Second Best City For Women In Business

in Bay Area News by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

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Everyone knows that, thanks in large part to the high-tech industries, the Bay Area has a bustling economy. As it turns out, that might be especially true for women. In an analysis from NerdWallet, San Francisco has been rated #2 city for entrepreneurial women.

The study, which measured:

  1. Business-friendliness: We looked at the number of businesses per 100 residents to assess a city’s entrepreneurial climate.
  2. Presence of female entrepreneurs: We took a look at the percentage of businesses that are owned by women to measure how friendly each location is to female entrepreneurs.
  3. Earnings of female workers: To assess the earning potential women have in each city, we used the median earnings for full-time female workers.
  4. Education level: Studies have shown that education correlates with entrepreneurship. To measure the presence of educated workers, we looked at the percentage of residents 25 years and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  5. Economic state: In order to assess whether a city has an economy suitable for entrepreneurial success, we examined unemployment rate.

Washington, D.C. was ranked #1 because of the sheer number of women entrepreneurs. San Francisco has the highest median income for full-time women and the most women-run businesses. Seattle is #3 for being one of the most educated cities. Minneapolis for its low unemployment rate and high number of women-run buildings. #5 is Portland, Ore., for its education rate and number of businesses.

The top ten is rounded out with Atlanta, Denver, Austin, San Jose and Boston.

Just one more reason that we see more people moving into the Bay Area than we see moving out.

Study from: NerdWallet

How To Ensure You’re Hiring An Honest Mover

in Long-Distance moving by Ninja Movers 1 Comment
Image by Flickr

Image by Flickr

Our heads would have to be buried in the sand if we don’t acknowledge that the moving industry has a bad reputation. Some bad companies really have spoiled the entire bunch with tactics such as holding goods hostage and refusing to make good when they make mistakes. Fortunately for those of us to take laws and customer service very seriously, the federal government is cracking down on the bad guys.

Toward the end of last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the Department of Transportation, shut down five movers. All five were located in the southeast (Florida, South Carolina and Maryland) and all five were licensed.

They were:

  • Allegiant Van Lines, Inc., USDOT No. 1712687, based in Davie, Fla.;
  • Northern Van Lines, Inc., USDOT No. 1147457, based in Cooper City, Fla.;
  • Northeastern Vanlines, Inc., USDOT No. 1212003, based in Pembroke Pines, Fla.;
  • United West Moving and Storage, Inc., USDOT No. 1827150, based in Anderson, S.C.; and
  • Direct Movers, Inc., USDOT No. 1666092, based in Pikesville, Md.

FMCSA’s Moving Fraud Task Force began investigating Allegiant Van Lines, Inc. in response to consumer complaints that the company illegally held customers’ possessions hostage. The company failed to respond to federal orders charging it with improperly holding hostage goods. The company has been suspended from operating for at least one year. In addition, it has been issued fines of over $88,000 for safety and commercial violations.

During the course of the investigation into Allegiant, FMCSA discovered the company’s owner also operated Northern Van Lines, Inc. and Northeastern Vanlines, Inc. of Florida, and United West Moving and Storage, Inc. of South Carolina. Combined, more than 100 complaints have been filed against the three related companies in the National Consumer Complaint Database. They now face fines of over $31,000 total and have also been suspended from operating for at least one year.

Maryland-based Direct Movers, Inc. was also shut down, and their DOT No. inactivated, for failing to comply with an FMCSA demand for records involving a shipment being held hostage.

Source: FMCSA.dot.gov

It’s not a coincidence that so many of these companies are based out of Florida. In the last three decades, it has been somewhat of a hub for disreputable moving companies, although all states have their share of bad apples.

Can Florida companies affect us here in California?

In a word, yes. When you request moving estimates through one of the sites online that promises you three or more quotes, there’s a good chance that at least two of them will be from another state. Sometimes, they’ll have someone to look at your home, but it’s often a person with no real relationship to the company and virtually nothing to lose from giving you a dishonest estimate.

How can you tell the difference?

When you are planning a move, even if you are moving out of state, your first point of contact is always a local mover. Always ask for a “binding” or “not to exceed” onsite estimate. Sure, it takes a bit of your time (about an hour) to get an onsite estimate, but it’s worth it. It is impossible for a phone estimate to be fully guaranteed. Ask for licensing information and even if you are moving out of state, ask for the mover’s state licensing information and check with your state licensing division. Check them out on Yelp and with the BBB.

Hopefully, the federal government will continue to crack down on bad movers. Believe me when I say that Ninja Movers will be cheering when these movers are taken out of the equation, but until then, be careful. Know your rights and don’t take anyone’s word for anything.

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