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What are the Best Storage Options for your Extra Stuff?

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Image CC 2.0, by Unnar Ýmir Björnsson, via Flickr

Have you ever bought something, took it out of its meticulously packed box and failed to get it back in? Sometimes moving can feel a bit like that. In your old home, for the most part, there was a place for everything and everything had its place.

Your new home might even be bigger, but for some reason, you feel like you are putting square pegs in round holes. You just can’t get all your things to look – well – at home in your new home. You really don’t want to get rid of the table that your Grandfather refinished or the very first piece of furniture you bought together as a couple, but they just don’t work.

Perhaps you’re doing some renovations and you need to clear space. Maybe it’s time to convert the kid’s room to a home gym. Whatever the reason, having extra stuff is an American phenomenon – so much so that the acquisition of extra stuff and the storing of it has prompted a handful of reality TV programs.

As Americans’ need for storage has grown, so have their options for storing. While in the past you might have rented a nearby locker, adorned it with a padlock and called it a day, today, you can store your items in a warehouse or even in a portable container. Each of the individual storage options has their advantages, so how do you choose which one is right for you?


Self Storage

Self storage, also known as “mini storage” is what most people think of when they think of storage. Essentially, with self storage, you are renting a room. You are responsible for moving your goods into storage, although you can use a mover. Some have garage-like doors and some have more conventional doors. Like when you are renting an apartment, the landlord is responsible for the general maintenance but is not responsible for your belongings. While most have some sort of security, it is up to you to provide a secure lock. Blankets and other types of furniture protection might or might not be offered by the storage facility, and if they do it will be at an extra cost. If anything is damaged while in storage, that’s also your responsibility. It is up to you to insure your items, although the storage facility might offer you insurance – at an additional cost. You pay based on the size of the room, no matter how much you have stored in the room. You will have access to your items anytime the facility is open.


Warehouse Storage

Warehouse storage is not as well known as self storage, but for many, it’s a convenient option. Moving companies typically have warehouse storage. The moving company moves your things into storage and they move them out. Everything is professionally packed and will remain in that condition until you are ready to have them delivered. Every item is inventoried both before going into storage and after being delivered. Your items might be stored on shelves or in wooden crates. Since your items never leave the mover’s possession, they have more liability, although it is limited. In California, the liability is only $.60 per pound (that’s right – no matter how valuable an item, you are paid per pound). I’d advise that you still check into additional insurance. You are only charged for how much space you are actually using, so it can be less expensive than self storage. Access is typically given on appointment only and don’t expect to root around in your stuff. The warehouse employees will have to pull them out for you.


Container Storage

Containerized storage is a relative newcomer to the industry. In the last decade, it’s grown tremendously in popularity and for good reason. It offers flexibility that neither warehouse or self-storage can. Containers come to your home. You generally have three days to fill them. Some hire movers to fill them. You have the option of keeping the container in your driveway indefinitely and for an additional cost, if your neighborhood allows. After the container is loaded, the storage company takes it to their warehouse or parking lot. You should purchase insurance for your items, or check with your homeowner’s policy. Like with self storage, you are charged for the full size of the container, no matter how much space you are using. Access policies will vary from company to company.

10 Reasons To Move To Portland

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Tired of the high cost of living or of the traffic, but love the West Coast vibe and mild seasons? If you’re anything like me, the answer to that question is a resounding, yes!

Now, I have no plans on leaving the area. Ninja Movers just moved us into a new, overpriced house and we’re kind of stuck loving it, at least for the time being, and to be fair, we really do love it.

Perhaps it’s a side-effect of spending more than two decades in and around the moving industry, but even though the Bay Area is our beloved home, we’re always on the lookout and Portland is at or near the top of every list.

We aren’t the only ones. Oregon, for the third year in a row, is the go-to destination for more and more people who are fleeing their current homes. Why is Oregon so appealing?


Cost of living

While a median home price of $335,000 might not sound that appealing to middle America, for those of us in the Bay Area, it’s nearly pocket change. In San Francisco, the median price is more than three times that.



We love our mild winters and our almost cold summers in the Bay Area, and in Portland, it’s similar. Its temperatures are mild and while they might get a lot of rain in the winter, they, like us, get very little in the summer.


Portland is cool

Whether you’re a 20-something hipster or a not 20-something former hipster (or hippie), there is something to offer everyone in Portland. Oh, and did I mention they love their beer? You can drink almost everywhere, including the zoo. There is a thriving art scene and frankly, a thriving scene of people doing whatever the heck they want.



Portland might not be the hub of fine dining, and really, who cares? Portland, like the Bay Area, is casual. The city is filled with food trucks, which are far more democratic anyway.



In the Bay Area, we pride ourselves in being green, but we are sorely lacking in safe places to bike. In Portland, bikes are put before cars. The environment loves it.


Food, part two

Yes, we’re also near the ocean, but the Bay Area has nothing on Portland for seafood.



San Francisco has one of the longest commute times in the country. In Portland, you’ll average about an hour a week less on the road.


People are nice

This can’t be quantified, but Portland is known for having very polite residents.


It’s a great place to raise a family

Portland consistently ranks among the best places to raise children. It’s safe, with lots to do and great air quality.


No sales tax

Need we say more?

Featured image via Flickr.

Shana Tovah Or Happy Rosh Hashanah From Ninja Movers And The Muppets

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UnknownThe Jewish year 1 Tishrei 5773 begins this year at Sundown Wednesday, September 4th and ends on September 6th. Ninja Movers would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year, a Happy Rosh Hashanah and Shana Tovah. Enjoy this video from the Muppets.

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

in Local moving, Long-Distance moving by Ninja Movers Leave a comment


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)



Moving Day Playlist

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One of the toughest parts of moving day is getting motivated. One of the best ways to get motivated, no matter what your activity, is with music. At Ninja Movers, we’ve listed some of our favorite moving related songs (if you don’t get too literal). Like most moving days, some of the list is a bit sentimental and melancholy. Some of it is just meant to get you moving. Have fun!

  1. “Rise To The Sun” by Alabama Shakes
  2. “Let’s Get It Started” by the Black Eyed Peas
  3. “Get The Party Started” by Pink
  4. “Another Town Another Train” by ABBA
  5. “Born To Run” by Bruce Springsteen
  6. “Bound For Glory” by Tedeschi/Trucks Band
  7. “Break It Down Again” by Tears for Fears
  8. “Bust A Move” by Young MC
  9. “Calamity Song” by the Decemberists
  10. “California Dreaming” by the Mamas and the Papas
  11. “Come Fly With Me” by Frank Sinatra
  12. “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” Ke$ha
  13. “Don’t Go Back To Rockville” by R.E.M
  14. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds
  15. “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green
  16. “Going To California” by Led Zeppelin
  17. “Hit The Road Jack” by Ray Charles
  18. “Home” by Depeche Mode
  19. “I Feel The Earth Move” by Carol King
  20. “Into The Groove” by Madonna
  21. “Last Train To Clarksville” by the Monkees
  22. “Learn To Fly” by the Foo Fighters
  23. “Leaving On A Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul & Mary
  24. “Long And Winding Road” by the Beatles
  25. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem
  26. “Many Rivers To Cross” by UB40
  27. “Midnight Train To Georgia” by Gladys Knight and the Pips
  28. “Move” by Beyonce
  29. “Movin’ Out” by Billy Joel
  30. “Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac
  31. “No More Looking Back” by the Kinks
  32. “No Stopping Us” by Jason Mraz
  33. “Nobody Home” by Avril Levigne
  34. “On The Road Again” by Willie Nelson
  35. “One Headlight” by the Wallflowers
  36. “Refugee'” by Tom Petty
  37. “Something In The Way She Moves” by James Taylor
  38. “Strangers In The Night” by Frank Sinatra
  39. “Throw It Away” by Joe Jackson
  40. “Truckin” by the Grateful Dead
  41. “Trying To Pull Myself Away” by Glen Hansard
  42. “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” by Wham
  43. “We Got the Beat” by the Go-Gos
  44. “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns and Roses
  45. “Where The Streets Have No Name” by U2
  46. “Wide Open Spaces” by Dixie Chicks
  47. “Your House” by Alanis Morissette
  48. “You’re Gonna Miss This” by Trace Adkins
  49. “Starts With Goodbye” by Carrie Underwood
  50. “Kiss And Say Goodbye” by Joan Osborne
  51. “Closing Time” by Semisonic

What to do if you’re Moving out of the Country?

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As you might imagine, moving internationally is a bit more complex than moving within the U.S. Even if you speak the language, moving to a foreign country can present you with challenges you might not have expected. While you want to make moving company arrangements as soon as possible, it’s actually the last think you want to do. Before contacting a moving company:

1. Find out where you’ll be living – Yes, that sounds obvious, but remember that in most countries, homes run much smaller than in the U.S. Your new place might be furnished or it might have very little room for large American furniture. Closets are also much smaller. Between that and the change in climate, you might find that you don’t need to move much of your wardrobe.

2. Find out if you’ll need your car – It is possible to move your car overseas, but it could be costly. Many countries have excellent public transportation. For many, large cars can be very impractical.

3. Check the country’s immigration requirements. – Make sure that all visas and other paperwork are in order. If you have pets, find out what the country requires. Most countries have lifted their pet quarantine requirements, but they do have strict policies regarding immunizations and parasites. Many require that the vaccinations be administered months in advance. Many countries require that pets are micro-chipped. Children and even adults may have vaccination requirements as well. Many countries require proof that you have money in the bank.

4. Figure out what you are moving – If your move is permanent, you might consider selling or giving away some of your furniture. If it’s temporary, long-term storage might be a solution.

5. Find a moving company – Overseas moving takes a bit more skill than a local or even an interstate move. Every item must be inventoried and packed with precision. Because of terrorism, it’s illegal for customers to pack their own items. Then, typically in the moving company’s warehouse, the items will be placed inside what’s called a “lift van,” or waterproof container that is made of wood, metal or fiberglass. The moving company will not actually be transporting your goods overseas, but they will transport them to the port and then load the overseas container.

Overseas containers come in two sizes – 40′ and 20′. If your shipment doesn’t fill a container, you will still be charged for the entire container. You will also be charged for any costs incurred through customs, insurance and delivery in your new country. Companies who are experienced with international moves will be able to arrange for delivery in your new destination. Your moving company will also be able to arrange storage for the items you want to keep in the U.S.

The vast majority of international moves are transported via ship, which can take weeks and sometimes months. You can plan on additional time for your goods to clear customs. It’s a good idea for you to make temporary arrangements until you and your possessions can be reunited.

If you need more immediate delivery, it is possible to transport many items via air, but it is extremely expensive.

What to do with the Kids on Moving Day

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Moving is an emotional experience. Even when life’s changes are positive, it’s not uncommon to see adults let stress get the best of them or even break down in tears. One can only imagine how much more stressful it is for children – who have no choice in the fact that they are losing their rooms and even their friends.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help ease the transition and even to make moving day fun for the kids – all while keeping them occupied while you direct the movers.

1. Put them in daycare – If your children are young, perhaps the best thing is to get them out of the way. Send them to a friend’s or family member’s house or put them in daycare.

2. Involve them – Ask the movers if the kids can take a quick tour of the truck (they probably won’t be able to ride in it for liability reasons). Give them a box or two and let them pack some of their non-breakables. Let them pack a suitcase with “necessities,” which might include favorite toys and stuffed animals, toothbrush and toothpaste, favorite books, and pajamas.

3. Have them decorate their new room – Hopefully, they’ve seen their new room, but if they haven’t, draw them a picture on architectural drafting paper. Even better, at many craft stores, you can buy magnetic room planners, complete with furniture-shaped magnets. Let them show you how they want to arrange their furniture.

4. Send them shopping – Give them a limited amount of money and instruct them (with a babysitter) to buy something for their new room.

5. Resurrect the lost art of letter writing – Most kids have never received a letter. Think about that for a moment. You can change that by giving your kids some stationery and a few forever stamps. Have them call or visit their friends and create an address book.

6. Journal – Buy your kids a journal and let them write about their feelings and experiences.

7. Scrapbook or create a photo album – Let your kids create a visual journal of both their old homes and their new.

8. Send them to hang out with their friends – If they are old enough, give them enough money to treat their best friend to a movie or a trip to a favorite food place.

9. Send them on a photo expedition – Give them a camera (and adult supervision, if necessary) and have them take pictures of all their favorite places and people. If they are too young, let them take pictures of the house and of the move as it progresses (make sure they stay out of the movers’ way). Visual memories of your children’s old home will help them describe it to their new friends and they will cherish the pictures for a lifetime.

10. Send them on a scavenger hunt – This will take a little planning on your part. Hide trinkets with clues at various locations throughout the yard and neighborhood. Have the hunt send them to friends’ houses so they can say proper goodbyes.

How to Move Heavy Furniture Without Killing Your Back (VIDEO)

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The movers are gone. After looking around your new home – where everything is placed exactly as you had directed – you decide that it’s just not right. Absent those highly capable men (and women) you just sent on your way, how do you move heavy furniture?

I am barely 5’2″ and I have moved many pieces of furniture all by myself. My first piece of advice is to prepare yourself before the need arises. Shell out a few extra dollars on move day and buy a couple of the blankets that are are used to wrap your furniture. They will probably cost you between $15 and $25 each and they are well worth the investment.

If you don’t have any moving blankets, old sheets or blankets will work. In many cases, a few small pieces of a cardboard box is all you need.

The first thing you should do is measure. There’s no point moving a heavy piece of furniture to a place where it simply won’t fit.Then you should empty shelves and drawers, to make the item as light as possible.

Put small squares of cardboard underneath each leg of your furniture. You’ll find that even the heaviest piece of furniture should slide with ease. Squat a little and use the power of your legs. Your back will thank you for it. If you can get a good grip, pull rather than push. The power of physics will back you up. If the grip is awkward, pushing will be easier.

Better yet, put that moving blanket or sheet under the furniture and simply pull.

If it’s still too heavy, put broom handles under two sides of the furniture for makeshift rollers.

If you need to maneuver some stairs, lay your furniture down on a moving blanket or sheet. Make sure there is some extra blanket and pull or push – depending on whether you’re going up or down the stairs. You’ll want two people for this one to hold the piece stable on the downside of the stairs.

If you have tools like hand trucks, dollies and straps, then by all means, use them. Here’s a short video giving you some tips.

Of course, it’s one thing to move a piece of heavy furniture across the room. It’s an entirely other thing to move an entire household. There’s a reason that most movers are young and fit. Even with tools, it can be back breaking work.

Bay Area Real Estate – What Will Your Money Buy?

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The country might not have fully recovered from the Great Recession, but housing prices are almost back to their pre-recession levels. According to the San Jose Mercury News:

With Bay Area home prices at levels not seen in nearly five years, the communities hit hardest by the housing crash are starting to boom again.

From Oakley and Antioch to East Oakland, East Palo Alto and East San Jose, all-cash offers and free rent for a month for sellers are sweetening bids as a swarm of move-in buyers and investors compete for a relatively small number of homes for sale.

On average, home values have increased by more than 20% over the last five years.20130522_081220_ssjm0523lowend90_500

Which leads those of us who are real estate curios to wonder exactly what our money will buy. I took a Bay Area tour through to take a look at the highs, lows and the somewhere in between. Enjoy!

Let’s start with the high:


At $38,500,000, this six bedroom 12 bath English estate inspired home in Burlingame might seem extravagant to some, but at with more than six acres of land and almost 40,000 square feet, it’s a dream for those who like to entertain.


For those who are a bit more budget-conscious, there’s this home in Pittsburg. At just $65,000, one would imagine that a buyer should come armed with a hammer, nails and some fix up money.

While most homes in the Bay Area are valued at well over $200,000, lower priced homes can be found in Oakland, Richmond, Vallejo and some of the outer areas.

To find the approximate median price, I took the unscientific method of going to the halfway point in the 67 pages of listings. Several homes were listed at $729,000, and they were scattered from San Francisco to Walnut Creek to Novato.


$729,900 in Novato – four bedrooms, four baths and about 3,000 square feet.


$729,000 in San Francisco will buy you a modest two bedrooms, one bath and 1,200 square feet.

The median income in the Bay Area is under $50,000 per year. According to, that income would qualify someone for a home valued at around $200,000.  I decided to top out my search at $220,000. My 67 pages of listings quickly dwindled to just four. Again, most listings were in Richmond, Oakland and Vallejo. This three bedroom, one bath in Hayward listed at $220,000.


For a bit more space, this 1,800 square foot home in Vallejo is listed at $215,000.


Most Bay Area home buyers probably have incomes. That puts the average home buyer at being able to afford about $400,000 (which would have a mortgage of around $2,600 per month). In that range, selection might be limited, but properties are available from Novato to San Francisco and back to the East Bay.

If you crave the city vibe and you don’t need a lot of space, this two bedroom two bath in Southeast San Francisco might be your dream home at a San Francisco bargain of $400,000.


For something more family friendly, this Concord four bedroom two bath could suit you at $400,000.


Does Ninja Movers Use Biofuels?

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Like many companies in the Bay Area, and many companies throughout the world, Ninja Movers is concerned about the environment and it shows in many of our policies and procedures. We recycle. We use renewable and often reusable materials. We don’t leave our trucks running (a common practice), even on short stops. However, there is one action that we have chosen not to take and that is to convert our trucks to biodiesel.

The decision takes many of our customers by surprise. Biofuels are being sold as a greener alternative to fossil fuel and while no one is arguing that fossil fuel is anything but horrible for the environment, the fact is that biofuels are not the answer.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the claims made by advocates of biofuels. The first is that saves on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over fossil fuel. While it is true that biofuels have zero emissions while burned, the production of biodiesel can be especially dirty and if you take deforestation into account, the net impact to the environment is very high.

“Every ton of palm oil produced results in 33 tons of carbon dioxide emissions—10 times more than petroleum.[1] Tropical forests cleared for sugar cane ethanol emit 50 percent more greenhouse gasses than the production and use of the same amount of gasoline[2]Commenting on the global carbon balance, Doug Parr, chief UK scientist at Greenpeace states flatly, “If even five percent of biofuels are sourced from wiping out existing ancient forests, you’ve lost all your carbon gain.”

There are other environmental problems as well. Industrial agro-fuels require large applications of petroleum-based fertilizers, whose global use—now at 45 million tons/year—has more than doubled the biologically available nitrogen in the world, contributing heavily to the emission of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than CO². In the tropics—where most of the world’s agro-fuels will soon be grown—chemical fertilizer has 10-100 times the impact on global warming compared to temperate soil applications.[3] To produce a liter of ethanol takes three to five liters of irrigation water and produces up to 13 liters of waste water. It takes the energy equivalent of 113 liters of natural gas to treat this waste, increasing the likelihood that it will simply be released into the environment to pollute streams, rivers and groundwater[4] Intensive cultivation of fuel crops also leads to high rates of erosion, particularly in soy production—from 6.5 tons/hectare in the U.S. to up to 12 tons/hectare in Brazil and Argentina.”

Source: Centre for Research on Globalization

Even more significantly, biofuels are a major cause of hunger across the world. In the U.S., farmers who might otherwise grow strawberries and lettuce are growing corn or soybeans for biofuels. Throughout the world, it’s even worse. In countries where food is already scarce, crops grown for biofuels are competing for space with food crops and the biofuel crops are often winning – driving up the costs of food for people who are already paying between 50%-80% of their income on food. As food becomes more expensive, food aid decreases since countries budget aid based on monetary amounts rather than on number of people fed. The Centre for Research on Globalization estimates that by 2025, 1.2 billion people could be chronically hungry.

Many biofuel advocates are trumpeting the use of waste vegetable oil from fast food restaurants. On a very small basis, that’s a great solution, but it simply wouldn’t work on a large basis. In the U.S., we produce only about 300 million gallons of waste oil annually. We use about 220 billion gallons of gasoline for transportation every year. To put that in perspective, if we were to use every gallon of waste oil for transportation, we’d be able to fuel only about one of every 733 vehicles.

Ninja Movers is always on the lookout for the next great truly sustainable way to fuel our trucks. Maybe we’ll be the first moving company with solar panels or even tiny windmills on the top of our vehicles. In all seriousness, we are hoping for one Bay Area company to come to the rescue. A South San Francisco company called Solazyme is making advances in using algae as the next big boon in sustainable fuel production. But for now, we’re working on decreasing our carbon footprint in other places while we work toward solving hunger in our own area (more on that later).

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