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Nine Tips For An Easy, Breezy Unpack

in Preparing for a move, Your New Home by Ninja Movers 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. 

Your Office Moving Checklist

in Office Moving by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

Your Office Moving Checklist (3)

So it’s time for you and your team to make a move to the new office. It’s time to get into gear and shift to a new home that will hopefully reflect the forward-looking nature of your business while providing a comfortable base for your staff. A potentially shambolic, stressful process can be turned into a relatively smooth, straightforward experience by following six simple tips.

 

 

1. Share Responsibility

There’s nothing worse than being left with shouldering the weight of a move alone – whether you’re the MD or the new intern there should be a role for you in the move. From boxing up the computers to carefully wrapping everyone’s favorite comedy slogan mug there’s a job for everyone when it comes to the big shift. If someone takes control in the first instance and allocates everyone their job (no playing favourites please!) there should be little to no confusion and little to no fuss.

2. Work to a schedule

So the move is in two months. What needs to be done in week one? In week three? And by who? An excel spreadsheet distributed to those involved (that’s EVERYONE remember?) detailing exactly what needs to be done and when will make the moving day itself a painless exercise. As painless as it can be anyway.

3. Throw it out

Who bought that plastic globe? When was the last time anyone used that clapped out printer? How many tons of scrap paper does one person possibly need? You know where the skip is and you know what to do. Carrying the rubbish of the past into a new environment will detract hugely from the new office’s potential to feel like a brand new, truly fresh start for all involved.

4. Pack it properly

If you’ve followed the above advice there’ll be no rushed packing and shoving of valuable items into unsuitable containers or ramming of essentials into a van at the very last minute for you. Should you encounter a moment of weakness when it seems that cramming the celebration champagne glasses into a shoebox is a great idea, imagine how you’ll feel when they turn up in bits the other end – and everyone knows you packed them because of carefully following point number 2!

5. Pick the right office

So maybe this should have been upfront but before you can schedule anything, before a box is filled, a plant pot dropped or a removal van called you’ll need to find a decent space to which to move. Think about the cons of your current office space – lacking natural light? Not spacious enough? A lack of privacy? Make these the key factors when you search for a new spot – don’t repeat the mistakes of the past – your new office should always be an improvement that gives rise to the best possible outcome from the move – a raise in both staff morale and productivity.

6. Book the right removal people

All the planning and careful packing in the world is irrelevant if you book a careless removal company. Or a massively overpriced one. Or one that turns up late and wants to go home early. You’ll need to take a long look at online reviews, take advice from other companies who have moved recently and tips from reliable friends when it comes to finding the right people for the job. Remember that the cheapest will probably not be the best but the most expensive may not be either. Picking wisely will not only reflect well on you but will serve your company very well indeed. Book a careless removal company

 

Author: Emma Macmillan

 

 

Five Tips If You Decide To Move Yourself

in Advice by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

We get it, we really do. Sometimes people have more time than money so they decide to do all the heavy lifting themselves – literally. Each of us has done it, so we’re not going to judge you, but we do ask one thing of you, don’t do it like you did in college. You probably have things you actually care about now and with these few tips, you can take care of them.

1. Pack – Obviously, the packing process isn’t much different if you’re moving yourself or if you’re having professionals move you, but in my experience, people tend to be a little looser with packing when they move themselves. Maybe they want to impress movers with their packing skills, who knows. Trust me, packing is one of two places you absolutely don’t want to cut corners. Get good, quality boxes. If they aren’t new, inspect them for damage. Pack carefully and don’t skimp on cushioning. If you’re packing breakables, pick up the box and shake it before sealing. If anything moves, stuff more cushioning in there.

2. Wrap your furniture – This is the second place you absolutely, under any circumstances, should not scrimp. Rent moving blankets from the truck rental place. You can even ask local movers if they have used blankets for you. Don’t just drape a blanket over the top. Wrap the the entire piece, including the legs of furniture carefully and tape around the outside of the blanket to keep it secure.

3. Rent a large enough truck – I’ll let you in on a little secret. Truck rental companies tend to underestimate your needs. A good rule of thumb is to rent one size larger than they recommend. Obviously, if you are moving locally, you can make extra trips, but if you are moving long distance, there’s nothing worse than having too small a truck.

4. Get a truck with a lift gate – Your back will thank me for it.

5. Try to avoid the end of the month – Everyone moves at the end of the month, which means that truck inventory is low and prices are absolutely not negotiable. The same rule holds true for moving companies. You can get a much better price if you can move in the middle of the month, especially in the middle of the week.

6. Get a few quotes and don’t trust ads – Truck rental companies base their ads on availability. If they have a lot, they will honor the ads (there is a lot of fine print). If they don’t, they won’t. Try even calling a few locations of the same company. You might find one itching to get rid of some of their inventory.

 

What To Pack First

in Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

packing-24472_640Your new home is arranged, the movers are hired and your moving date is near. Now what? You have a home full of belongings and you have no idea where to start packing. It can be pretty overwhelming.

As someone who’s moved many times throughout my life, I’ve developed a system and it works, at least for me. Here are the keys:

  • Prioritize
  • Break it into manageable pieces
  • Involve the family

The first thing you want to do is buy boxes. Don’t feel you have to buy all the boxes now. You can make multiple trips, but if you overbuy, you can always return the extras. Moving.com has an excellent packing calculator to get you going.

Prioritize – What do you need now and what don’t you need? I always begin with books. They don’t take long to pack and they give me a quick sense of accomplishment. Plus, I don’t generally need them right before the move. Then I move on to knick-knacks, off season clothing, extra linens. As moving day approaches, hold aside a few cooking utensils, a few items of clothing and a place setting per person. Pack those items on moving day.

Break it into manageable pieces – On average, you might have about 20 boxes per person. If you pack just two boxes an evening, after work, your packing will be almost done come moving day. If you have less time, you can pack more. If you have more, you can pack less. Keep in mind, though, that’s just an average. I’ve seen many, many homes with literally hundreds of boxes. You have an idea of how full your home is. Ask your moving consultant how many boxes you’ll have. Even if you’ll have to pack five a day, that’s not that much.

Involve the family – Even toddlers can help pack – non-breakables, of course. Little children love to help out, so why not have them pack their toys and some of their clothing? That way, they’re far less likely to complain when their toys aren’t easily accessible.

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

in Advice, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson 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.

How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part Three (Short Hauls)

in Local moving, Long-Distance moving by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

ninja_truck1

Short hauls, or moves less than about 250 miles or within the same state from the origin, are, in the eyes of a moving company, sort of a strange breed. They are a hybrid between a long distance and a local move.

Unlike with a long distance move, a short haul is typically delivered in the same truck and by the same crew as when it was picked up. With long distance moves, you generally have to wait days or weeks for delivery (because shipments need to be consolidated) but with short hauls, delivery is typically made the next day.

However, unlike with a local move, short hauls are not charged by the hour. They are charged similarly to how long distance moves are charged – by a formula of weight and distance. If a moving company tries to charge you by the hour for a short haul, run as fast as you can. It’s one thing to run into a 30 minute traffic jam between San Jose and San Francisco. It’s quite another to run into a several hour traffic jam between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

You also want to avoid companies that charge by volume. There are too many variables in the way movers can pack a truck and frankly, there are too many ways to cheat a customer if they are paying by volume.

Since you are being charged based on the weight of your items, it’s imperative that you have a representative of the moving company come see everything that is being moved. Ask your moving estimator if he or she can give you a guaranteed or binding price.

If you do need storage between pick-up and delivery, most moving companies have that service available – at an extra charge. You will also have to pay for the time involved in unloading and reloading the truck, which is normally done fairly quickly.

 

 

See How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part One (Local Moves)

See How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part Two (Long Distance Moves)

See How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part Three (International Moves)

 

 

How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part Two (Long-Distance Moves)

in Long-Distance moving, Moving Costs by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

970963_10152049856778065_1353210290_n-1In theory, no matter how far you move – whether it be across town or across country, the moving process doesn’t change. Your home is packed and then loaded onto a truck. The truck drives to your new home and then the items are unloaded into your new home. In reality, however, distance does make a difference.

A long distance move is generally defined as one that crosses state lines and is more than 200 miles away. From a moving company’s perspective, there are two main things that distinguish a local move from a long-distance move – the way the move is billed and the way it’s delivered.

A long-distance move starts very similarly to a local move. A crew of movers pulls up to your home. They might be driving a semi-truck, but more likely, they will be driving a smaller truck. As your items are prepared for the move, however, the process changes a bit.

With a local move, the truck is exclusively yours. You see the items being loaded and you see the items being unloaded. It’s very straightforward. With a long-distance move, unless you have a large home or if you pay a fee for an exclusive delivery, you will be sharing a truck with other customers. For that reason, it’s imperative that the movers take a thorough inventory when the truck is loaded and that they will check each item off the inventory when the truck is unloaded.

Obviously, it’s more time consuming to take an inventory, but that’s okay. Unlike with local moves, you are not paying for time. With long-distance moves, you are paying based on a formula that calculates pricing based on weight of your items, the distance they will travel and the amount of packing that needs to be done. There might be extra charges, like a bulky fee or a piano handling fee, but typically, weight, distance (with fuel) and packing are it. If either of your homes are not accessible by a semi-truck, you will be charged a shuttle fee.

Some moving companies will try to charge you for volume instead of weight. The best advice that can be given if you encounter one of these companies is to run and run fast. When you are being charged by weight, you are entitled to follow the truck to the weigh station and receive a copy of the weight ticket. When you are being charged by volume, you have no such assurances and you will be charged if the mover is inexperienced at efficiently loading the truck.

Avoid over the phone estimates with long-distance moves. There are far too many variables. It’s always best to get a not-to-exceed or binding price, so there are no surprises at the end.

Ask who will be delivering the move. Your goal is not to get the names of the actual people, but the name of the company. Many movers outsource their long-distance moves to other companies. In fact, even big-named van lines (e.g. United, Atlas, Allied, Bekins, etc) cooperate with local agents for long-distance moves. If you need a guaranteed pick-up day or if your home is not accessible for a 53′ semi-truck, you will be charged for a shuttle and your home will be packed and loaded by a local affiliate (or agent) of the van line. The van line will pick them up from the local agent. You’ll want to check the reputation of the local agent as well as the van line.

If you need a guaranteed delivery date or if your new home is not accessible for a semi-truck, you can expect a shuttle and possible storage fee on the delivery end as well.

Like with local moving, all items that aren’t furniture should be packed. Make other plans for plants. Movers will typically not take plants across state lines and even if they do, it’s unlikely they will make the trip alive.

It’s not uncommon for long-distance customers to need storage while they find a home in their new location. Most movers are able to offer this service. Some will give you 30 days of free storage, some will not. Make sure you are very clear on storage pricing since it can add up quickly.

Whether you want your delivery as soon as possible or you want some storage in between, your household goods will most likely go through some extra steps. They will be unloaded into the mover’s warehouse and then they will be loaded onto the semi-truck that will take them for the long-haul. To protect your goods, the movers will check the inventory list each step of the way.

Because of these extra steps, it’s always a good idea to purchase extra insurance. Federal law only covers your items for $.60 per pound per article. In other words, if a 20 pound LED TV breaks, you will only be covered for $12.00. Movers should offer insurance if your homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover the move or allow you to purchase a rider for the move.

See How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part One (Local Moves)

See How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part Three (Short Hauls)

See How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part Four (International Moves)

 

The Packing Advice You Won’t Hear Anywhere Else

in Uncategorized by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment


The most time-consuming part of any move is the packing. It’s generally recommended that you begin packing one to two months before the moving day. Personally, I like to set a goal of about two to three boxes per person per evening. At that rate, it’s not very daunting, but the results add up quickly. You’d be surprised at how often you’ll get momentum going and pack more.

In the beginning, packing starts with the best of intentions. It’s an opportunity to purge, you think. Then, as time starts to get crunched, the packing gets a bit more sloppy as everything in sight lands in a box. Now for the packing advice you won’t hear anywhere else – don’t throw things away.

For most people in the process of moving, purging is a very unproductive use of their time. Unless you belong on the show “Hoarders,” it’s unlikely a purge will save you more than a handful of boxes. You will, however, spend hours deliberating over whether items should stay or go.

You’d be amazed at how your new home will give you a different perspective. An item that looked out of place at your old home might have a perfect place in your new. On the other hand, something that seemed worth keeping might seem ridiculous in a new surrounding. More importantly, you won’t be under time restraints as you unpack.

In the same vein, don’t even open photo albums while you’re packing. Have packing paper in hand before you pick up a keepsake, so you’re less likely to mull over it. Wait till the unpack. If a box is already packed and stored in your garage, keep it sealed. One of the reasons that professional packers are so fast (other than years of practice) is that they have no sentimental attachment to your belongings. If it’s not furniture, it gets packed.

Of course, there are exceptions. If you do belong on “Hoarders,” purge away. Even if you’re moving locally, it might be a good idea to stock your new refrigerator with new food. Get rid of old paint cans and chemicals (check with your local municipality for disposal instructions). If you have papers that need shredding, rather than hand feed them through a home shredder, take the papers to a shredding company. For a small fee, they’ll shred your paper into a finer state than most home shredders and they generally recycle. If something is obvious trash, of course, get rid of it.

One thing that does make a difference in the cost of your move is furniture. If there is furniture you won’t be using in your new home, give it away or if it’s in horrible condition, throw it away (again, check with your local municipality).

Of course, you can always hire your mover to pack for you.

How To Choose A Mover – Part Two

in Uncategorized by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment
Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

Once you’ve chosen the three companies to give you estimates, schedule times for them to come to your home. The estimate process should always be free. The estimator should take a thorough inventory. He or she may take measurements. They should also ask you about anything you might have had trouble moving into your home. You’ll also be asked questions about your new home, but it’s understandable if you have not yet chosen that home. If you haven’t, the estimator should ask you to call once you have to new home in case there is anything that needs to be known.

If you are moving locally, you should always either be charged by the hour or you should be charged a flat rate based on a specific inventory and specific moving conditions (like stairs and distance from the house to the truck.) Movers will also charge you for moving supplies like boxes and tape. They should never charge you for blankets unless your blanketed furniture is moving into storage.

If you are moving across country, most reputable movers will charge you by weight. Some movers will charge you by volume. Since the truck will be weighed at a federally regulated scale, weight can be verified, whereas volume cannot. With most moves, you should also have an option of a flat price or a “not to exceed” estimate, which will mean that your price will only go down, not up.

After you receive the three estimates, pay careful attention to details such as pick-up and delivery windows. You might find that one company might save you a few hundred bucks, but are those savings really worth it if you end up having to stay in a hotel for an extended length of time because you have no furniture? Look and see how much packing the mover is including. If they are packing everything, make sure that all three estimates include similar amounts of packing.

If they included no packing whatsoever, on the presumption that you will be packing everything, you might see packing charges racking up even on top of a flat moving price. Most movers know that there are certain things that are almost never packed by the customer. Those items include things like mattresses, pictures on the walls and large electronics. All movers should ask you if you plan on packing those. If the mover doesn’t address these items and doesn’t include them in the estimate, it’s a red flag. Unless you have every single item packed, except for furniture, the mover will charge you on moving day. If it was already part of the estimate, great! If not, you’ll see the cost rise and there will be little you can do about it. Technically, the mover is performing services not in the original contract. That being said, there are plenty of times where honest movers arrive at people’s homes to find that a lot of packing still has to be done. They will also charge you for that.

Often, the difference between a good move and a bad moves comes down to planning. Clearly, there are things over which no one has control, like the weather, but there are many things that you can control. Make sure that both you and the mover understand exactly what is involved in the move. Don’t try to make the move seem smaller or less complicated than it is. Guaranteed prices only apply when the inventory list is thorough and when the circumstances – such as packing, distance to the truck, stairs and whether a semi-truck can access – are specifically spelled out. Make sure that you explore their Yelp and Angie’s List reviews. Ask for more references, and ask very specific questions of that reference. Does the estimator listen to and answer your questions? Is he or she available when you call?

Remember that even with the best of movers, not all moves will be perfect. The true test of a mover is how they handle claims. Any reputable mover would much rather they be given the opportunity to rectify things than leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.

How To Choose A Mover – Part One

in Uncategorized by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Image from SF Gate

Image from SF Gate

If you mention you are moving to a group of friends, you’ll probably hear a variety of stories – mostly bad. Of course, people tend to tell their bad stories before the good (a.k.a. non-eventful) ones, but despite that little quirk of human nature, moving nightmares could probably fill a library. A little preparation and knowledge is all you really need to ensure that while your friends are regaling you with their own tales of moves-gone-wrong, you can comfortably sit back, knowing that you really had a pretty good, albeit boring, experience.

It’s suggested that you get three estimates for your move but it’s likely that once you request moving estimates online rather than through an individual company, you’ll be barraged with enthusiastic movers. Personally, I would recommend doing a little homework and targeting three companies specifically rather than plugging information into a ‘lead source’ that broadcasts your information to random movers. So how do you find a good mover?

When you ask your friends about positive moving experiences, you might be surprised at how many will raise their hands to suggest a mover. That’s a good start, but you’ll want to investigate a little deeper. Try Yelp.com or AngiesList.com for more referrals or to research a reputation a little deeper.

Remember that different movers have different specialties. If you are moving across the country, you might be drawn to one of what are called, ‘major van lines.’ Major van lines are the big guys and their names have been around for decades. Despite the fact that you see a lot of trucks with their names doing local moves, the van lines themselves only do interstate moves. I’ll get to more on that in a bit. The advantages to major van lines is that they tend to be fairly well-organized and they are usually on the up and up. The disadvantages are that because they only do interstate moves, they often give you big windows of timing on both pick-up and delivery and they often charge large fees for any sort of storage or for a specific pick-up date. If you have any issues after your move, you might find you have to jump through some red tape.

You might see some companies who include “van lines” in their name but they are not considered one of the major van lines. Some of them might operate similarly to the major van lines, but some of them might not. If you are looking for a major van line, see how long a company has been in business. You can find this information through the Department of Transportation – ask for the van line’s DOT number or MC number (as opposed to the local agent’s DOT or MC number). If it’s less than 30 years, it is not a major van line. I’m not saying they are a bad company, but they are misleading you if they claim to be one of the majors.

If you decide to investigate some of the smaller names, you might find a lot of advantages, such as flexibility and the fact that you’ll probably be able to reach the same person on the phone throughout the moving process. Personally, I think the best moving experiences happen because of the personal connections you establish when you go with a smaller company.

If you are moving locally, all companies are small guys to one extent or another. As I mentioned, the major van lines only do interstate moves, so even if a truck has their name on it, if you are moving locally (and sometimes if you are moving to the next state over) you are being moved by their local affiliate (or agent). For local moves, the van line and agent have no connection other than the fact that if the agent racks up too many complaints, the van line might drop the affiliation. If you are moving across country, it will probably be the local agent who will be giving you your moving estimate, so it’s always a good idea to check out their reputation in both cases.
Watch for part two next week!

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