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How To Throw A Housewarming Party

in Your New Home by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

Cocktails_mit_SchirmchenYou’ve moved into the perfect home. You’ve even (mostly) unpacked. It’s time to breathe. Wait, not so fast, your friends and neighbors want to see your new place, so why not follow a time-honored tradition and throw a housewarming party? Take advantage of that small window before the house becomes too lived in.

It’s somewhat traditional for housewarming guests to bring gifts. One controversial idea that’s gaining popularity is registering, like you might when getting married or having a baby. Almost any store that has a bridal registry has a housewarming registry. Stores like Crate and Barrel, Bed Bath & Beyond and most department stores would be happy to accommodate. Tread lightly with this idea, though. While people might intend to bring a plant or another low-cost gift, it could turn a lot of people off if you suggest gifts. My suggestion is to leave it off the invitation and register just in case someone asks what you would like or what your need.

There tend to be two types of housewarming parties – traditional and open houses. With a traditional party, you’d probably invite a smaller group of people and you’d expect them to stick around. You might serve a full dinner or perhaps just appetizers and cocktails.

With an open house, you can invite more people because people will be going in and out. For an open house, you should serve appetizers and cocktails only. If you do host an open house, it might be nice to invite your new neighbors as well as old friends. If you have kids, you can consider a child friendly housewarming party and ask your kids to invite new classmates. If you do invite kids, have games and other activities for them.

Next, you should plan the theme. Casual is probably best. Barbecues are alway a great idea as are more casual cocktail party style.

Once you’ve planned your party, it’s time to send invitations. Online invitations are fine, if you have email addresses. You can even invite people through social media. A couple weeks in advance is fine.

Once the guests arrive, they are going to expect tours. You can either have individual tours or group tours. People tend to feel more comfortable on smaller tours, but the logistics can be difficult to maneuver. You don’t want to spend the entire party giving people tours. You can divide up the duties. If you have children who are old enough, ask them to pitch in. Remember, you don’t have to open your closets (unless you want to show off that fabulous walk-in) or your kids’ bedrooms, if you don’t want to.

If you do invite new neighbors, involve them. Ask them to talk about the neighborhood. You might consider neighborhood tours as well as house tours. This can be done as one large group and be sure to tell your guests to wear comfortable shoes.

The Quickest Renovations You Can Do

in Your New Home by Ninja Movers Leave a comment
Painted kitchen cabinets. Image courtesy of Flickr

Painted kitchen cabinets. Image courtesy of Flickr

New homes are rarely perfect. Even on a brand new home, you generally want to put your own touches on, just to give it your personality. However, when you have to live there and when your budget is already stretched, tearing down cabinets and walls is probably not in the cards. Fortunately, there are several ways you can make your new home yours without breaking the bank, your back or your family’s sanity.

Pretty much everyone knows that the easiest thing to start with is painting. A coat of paint will add instant personality to a room and it’s cheap and relatively easy. But, don’t let the paint start with the walls. Paint some furniture, if you like the look of painted wood. It’s not generally recommended that you paint your countertops, but you can even paint your kitchen cabinets, it does, however, take some work. Here’s a video on it:

New hardware will quickly spruce up a home. Change out the light fixtures. Light fixtures can add pop to any room. Change the hardware in the kitchen and in the bathrooms. Brushed metal is modern and easy to keep clean looking. Change the door pulls on drawers and on kitchen cabinets. You’d be amazed at how transformational it can be.

There’s nothing that can add more of your personality than new window treatments. While they can be expensive, good window treatments will be easy to clean and they will help insulate your home, saving you money in the long run.

Retiling your bathroom or your kitchen can be a major job, but new grout can be easy. It’s clean and it can even add some color.

If you’re really ambitious, you can refinish your bathtub or porcelain sink. Here’s a video that almost makes it look easy, but leave it to someone with lots of patience and who’s detail oriented.

Add instant curb appeal by planting shrubs and flowers, adding attractive paving stones and painting your door. Shutters on your front window can add a special touch

Google Driverless Cars Could Change Where People Move

in Local moving, Real Estate by Ninja Movers Leave a comment
Image of Google Car from Wikipedia

Image of Google Car from Wikipedia

Bay Area real estate is notoriously high priced, but still, young, highly-paid tech industry folk are gravitating toward the city centers and close to their places of work. Why drive when you can walk to work or at least to your social life? That could be changing with the advent of Google’s self driving cars.

Some in the industry, though, are starting to think about this potential high-tech reality: Driverless cars like the ones dreamed up byGoogle could ease traffic congestion, parking headaches, unproductive commutes and drunk driving concerns, making it easier to get from point A to point B. The suburbs, once again, could be cool – and not in an Arcade Fire kind of way.

James Kilpatrick, president of the brokerage NAI Northern California, pitched that vision to an audience at the Northern California Apartment Summit on Tuesday. He said on a panel while the idea might sound crazy now, developers need to keep an eye on how new technology will change how cities and the suburbs play off each other. He pointed out how some scoffed at the idea of micro-apartments last decade — only to see those building them make a killing now.

“What we will all look at five, 10 years from now is the how driverless cars will completely change how we think about parking and traffic,” he said. “This will help Oakland’s prominence and this will help Emeryville, and some other East Bay cities because their traffic is so bad.”

Source: San Francisco Business Times

What does this mean for Bay Area real estate and for Bay Area moving trends? It means that location will stop mattering as much. A two hour commute isn’t so bad if you can sleep or work through it.

It will be a while before people start leaving the urban centers for the burbs, though. While Google’s cars are legal, it’s not expected that they’ll be widely embraced for another few years, but it might not be too early to snap up the relative bargains in the suburbs before everyone else catches on.

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. 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.

Shana Tova – Happy New Years From Ninja Movers

in Holidays by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

NewyearToday at sundown begins the very special holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which literally means, “head of the year.” Ninja Movers would like to wish all our friends a very happy New Years!

Traditionally, Rosh Hashanah celebrates the celebrates the beginning of man’s existence and of his relationship with God. It’s also the beginning of the High Holidays, which will culminate in Yom Kippur, beginning on October 3rd.

But the holiday is not just for the religious. Many, religious or not, use the two days of Rosh Hashanah as a time of reflection and to ask themselves how they can be better people in the coming year. People make resolutions, but typically not like the resolutions of January 1st, which are often more trivial. While you might vow to get in shape on January 1st, on Rosh Hashanah, you might commit to working at a homeless shelter in the coming year.

But what is a holiday without food? On Rosh Hashanah, people typically “toast” the new year with honey and apples, for a sweet new year. It’s also a gathering time for family, which means a time for feasting.

Here are some lovely recipes for your High Holiday meals.

However you celebrate the new year, Ninja Movers wishes you a Shana Tova!

Are There Different Types Of Moving Companies?

in Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

VOLVO_TRUCK_AUG_31_2007_WASHINGTON_BLVD_LOS_ANGELES_IMAGE_PATRICE_RAUNET_HOLLYWOODAs you drive through town or down the freeway, moving trucks are everywhere. Some have big corporate logos, like Allied Van Lines or United Van Lines. Some look almost generic and many have logos you might never have seen. Other than the logos, though, the trucks look very similar, right?

The business side of the moving business is a bit more complex than most people think, although the final product can be amazingly similar. In all good moves, a crew of movers shows up within their designated window. They wrap, pack and move your goods. The company might store your goods before delivering. At the end, no matter what the corporate structure, your move will cost within 10-20 percent of what any other reputable company would charge. So, does it matter to you what kind of mover you choose?

The answer is a not-so-straightforward yes and no. Let’s break it down over the three basic types of movers you might encounter when you’re looking for a bid.

1. Van Lines – Van lines are the big guys. They have names like North American Van Lines and Bekins and Mayflower. While they might not have household names, their logos and their trucks are like a comfortable piece of Americana. You see them on road trips. You see them throughout town and you probably give them little thought, but subconsciously, their names are seared into your brain.

But like all businesses, the bigger name doesn’t always mean better or more reliable. Van lines are franchises. Each company has local agents, or companies, who do the bidding and often do the labor involved. The van line itself only comes into the picture when the shipment is being transported across country. If you are moving locally, the van line has nothing to do with your move whatsoever. You are dealing with a local and often small moving company. Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it simply means that as with all movers, you should do your homework and don’t let a name sell you. Ask for the agent name. Verify their reputation on Yelp and with the Better Business Bureau. Confirm their licensing.

2. Local movers – “Local mover” is somewhat of a misnomer because most local moving companies perform interstate moves as well as local (more on that in a bit). A local mover is one that unlike a major van line, doesn’t have a network of trucks and agencies throughout the country. They are independent. They often (like with Ninja Movers) are owned by people who are involved with the moves and know the customers.

Some local movers have trucks and drivers that run interstate moves and some subcontract out to an independent driver. Either way, the local mover is the one who’s responsible for your move.

3. Brokers – Brokers are a bit of a grey area because brokers don’t perform moves. They set people up with interstate movers. Often, the movers are unscreened by the broker and typically, you have no control over who the actual mover will be. Most of the horror stories you hear about moving companies involve brokers because they tend to promise things that the mover can’t or won’t deliver.

Be very careful when working with a broker. Do your homework. Make sure they are licensed at A broker may not be able to tell you exactly who is moving you, but they should be able to provide you with a list of everyone they work with. Ask for that list and check out each mover. Make sure that someone takes an actual inventory, otherwise all bets are out the window when it comes to the initial quote vs. the actual price paid.

Why Your Move Won’t Be Cheaper With Fewer Movers

in Moving Costs by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

1795763_818068038217889_6419290821201040947_nEveryone who’s on the mover’s end of the phone while setting up a move has heard a version of this question: “wouldn’t my move be cheaper if there were just two movers instead of the three you’re quoting me?” Generally, to the customer’s dismay, the answer is no. Fewer movers can actually result in a more expensive move.

Yes, that’s tough to imagine. After all, you pay by the hour for the each man, right? Yes, that’s true, but to properly answer the question, you have to put yourself in movers’ shoes for just a minute.

Moving companies have a pretty singular goal and that is to move you as efficiently and quickly as possible. While it might sound strange, that a moving company wants your move to go as quickly as possible, it makes perfect sense if you think about how moving companies arrange their schedules. Unless you have a fairly large move, it’s unlikely it’s the only on that the dispatch office has planned for your moving crew that day. It’s always better for a moving company to have two happy customers than to have one unhappy but high-paying customer.

An experienced moving consultant will factor in all aspects of your move. Are there a lot of stairs, a long distance to the truck or lots of packing? If so, it’s better to have a larger crew so the move can be run with assembly line efficiency.

Even if your move is straightforward, the proper number of movers will save you money. Why? It’s simple math. Yes, you are paying an hourly rate for each mover, but you are also paying for the truck. When your moving consultant estimates your move, he or she will be taking a complete inventory of your furniture and boxes as well as an assessment of the moving environment. After surveying everything, the consultant will calculate the number of man hours. For example, your move might require 15 man hours, including pick-up and delivery, and that can be divided up one of two ways:

2 movers for 7.5 hours each or 3 movers for 5 hours each

Either way, you are paying the same in man hours, but the second way will be quicker, and there’s another factor, there’s the truck. If just two movers are sent, you will be paying for two and a half more hours for the truck and the move will be done less efficiently.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t question your mover. You should always question your mover, but don’t always think that an estimate that includes fewer movers will be a cheaper move.

What Is California Law On Security Deposits?

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

Image from

Note: this blog post was inspired by, “How to Get Your Security Deposit Back from Your Landlord.” Please read their post for more general information. This blog will specifically pertain to California.

California renters are some of the most fortunate in the nation, well, if you forget about the price of renting. California has some of the most renter friendly laws anywhere. Still, there are a lot of things landlords can do to make a renter’s life difficult and there are a lot of things you can do to make sure that you move out on good terms, get your security deposit back and ensure that you have a great reference for future rental situations.

According to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, there are four things for which a landlord can withhold part or all of a security deposit:

  • For unpaid rent
  • For cleaning the rental unit when the tenant moves out, but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in
  • For repair of damages, other than normal wear and tear, caused by the tenant or the tenant’s guests
  • If the lease or rental agreement allows it, for the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property (including keys), other than because of normal wear and tear.


Of course, there are ways to protect yourself.

Before moving in – Camera phones are your best friends. Take lots and lots of pictures. If there is a spot on the carpet, document it. If the place is dirty, take pictures. If there is a scratch on cupboards, take a picture and then email all your pictures to your landlord. Keep the email so you have a record.

As you’re moving out –  If you are breaking a lease, you are sort of at the mercy of the landlord. Offer to help find a new tenant, but let the landlord do the actual screening. Offer to pay for the background check, if that’s something the landlord, and not the applicant, generally pays for. 
If you aren’t on a lease, it’s expected that you give 30 days notice before moving out. During that time, your landlord has the right to enter your home to show it to prospective tenants, but only after giving 24 hours notice. It’s best if you keep the unit clean during that time. Of course, normal moving disarray is to be expected.
Personally, I always leave a place cleaner than when I moved in, but wear and tear is natural. If there are damages, fix them. 
Again, take pictures. 
Once you’ve moved your landlord has 21 calendar days to send you your security deposit with an itemized list of any deductions.

What Are Acceptable Packing Materials?

in Advice by Ninja Movers Leave a comment
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Of all the hassles of moving, perhaps the one area that leads to the most confusion, the most damages and the most cost, is packing. It’s important that each item be packed properly, and Ninja Movers’ moving consultants will be more than happy to provide both boxes and instruction, but what about used boxes or alternative packing materials?

Used boxes – This might surprise you, since we sell boxes, but we say go for it on used boxes. They are great for the environment and they can save you a lot of money. However, make sure they are in excellent condition. Inspect for tears and areas of possible water damage, which damages the integrity of the boxes. Also, make sure, unlike with a lot of grocery store boxes, that they have lids. Movers can’t move boxes without lids.

Ask your Ninja Movers consultant. We may be able to deliver some used boxes.

Laundry baskets – Sorry, but no. Movers stack things, that’s why boxes are cube shaped. If you pack with laundry boxes, things cannot be stacked, which could mean that your items won’t fit in one truck. In the end, saving a couple of bucks could cost you hundreds more.

Laundry baskets may be appropriate for the items you have to move in your car, though.

Garbage bags – See laundry baskets and add the very real possibility that they could rip.

Towels and sheets – Absolutely, they make great cushioning.

Bubble wrap – This one seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Bubble wrap is the holy grail of packing materials, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. Bubble wrap is great for flat items like pictures, but it’s not always so great for not so flat items. For example, if you wrap your stemware in bubble wrap, it will conform to the goblet portion but it will leave a lot of unprotected area around the stem. For odd shaped items, paper is preferred.

Packing peanuts – There are times, like with particularly delicate and oddly shaped items, that packing peanuts are the only way to pack. However, they are an environmental nightmare (unless you get the biodegradable ones) and they make a mess. Use them only when you need them or you will regret it come time to unpack.

The most important thing that can be said about packing is to make sure you don’t overpack. No box should weigh more than 50 pounds, or the box can easily break. That’s why book boxes are small. Also, when packing breakables, before sealing the box, lift them up and shake a little. If there’s any movement at all, stuff more packing material, like towels and sheets, inside. We’ll do more on packing next week.


Why Is Moving So Stressful And What Can Be Done About It?

in Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

Handshake_(Workshop_Cologne_'06)A few days ago, my husband dropped a bombshell that there might be a job offer for him in another state. The money would be irresistible, which you’d think would make the decision easy. We’d be able to afford a nicer house and we’d be close to family, but still, I hesitate, he hesitated. We looked at our tiny home. We thought about our great neighbors. We thought about the near perfect Bay Area weather. If the job offer comes through, we’ll move, but not without sadness and, yes, uncertainty.

We have a bit of a confession. We know moving is difficult. Part of our job is to empathize, but it’s also to make it less difficult. We know that, but sometimes we forget that the stress is so much more than about the work and the expense – the parts we can help with – there is also so much uncertainty and unfortunately, we can’t really help with that. Why exactly is moving so stressful? How can you make it less so?

When we move, we tend to be so focused on the logistics, that we walk into our new home almost blind. Sure, we’ve seen the home. We’ve decorated it in our minds. We’ve even checked out the neighborhood. We might know where the parks are and the schools and the grocery stores, but what about the people? Maybe you’ve researched activities for the kids, but what about for you?

When we’re caught up in moving, we typically wait for the neighbors to come to us. In some neighborhoods, they will, but how about a reverse welcome wagon type of thing? Why don’t you take a bit of time and bake some cookies and meet your neighbors? The unpacking will still be there when you get back.

Think of everything you’re interested in. Have you thought about knitting? How about rock climbing? Do you enjoy reading? Whatever your interest, has a group for you. Instantly, you’ll have something in common with a group of people.

Join the PTA. Yes, I know, that sounds rather Mad Men era, but parents with kids tend to gravitate toward parents with kids and what better way to stay on top of your kids’ educations?

Invite your coworkers for happy hour. Busy people tend to make friends through work. Sometimes, though, those relationships need a little push. Get them outside work. You may also get the scoop on what they can’t talk about during the day at the office.

Don’t rule out service people as friends. I know, this sounds weird. How can you be friends with someone with whom we exchange money? Well, we’ve made friends with a lot of our customers, but beyond that, I remember when I moved to one new city, my chiropractor became one of my closest friends. They key is to talk to people like they’re people. You might find you have a lot in common.

Finally, just get out and do stuff. Go hiking alone, as long as it’s on a well-travelled trail. Go to a movie. Go out to eat. Ride a bike. Take the dog for walks. You’d be amazed at how many people you can meet if you open yourself up to the possibilities.


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