Flat-Rate Movers vs. Hourly Movers: Which One Saves More Money?

Are you thinking of moving? As the customer, it makes sense for you to review each company and the prices. Flat-rate movers may sound like the best deal. You pay one moving rate, no matter what. But when hiring a moving company, you want to save money, right? Sometimes hiring the flat-rate movers can end up sending your moving costs through the roof.

It turns out that the whole hourly versus flat-rate moving question largely boils down to the size of your current home and the distance you’re traveling. Here’s how to weigh each moving company option and decide which one is right for you (the customer!)—plus measures to take to keep the price low and get the best offer in either case.

When to hire hourly movers

Here’s a sample scenario: If you’re moving across New York state to a new home or within the same New York City apartment building, this is considered a local move, and therefore the hourly option is better.

A price based on time, which can range from $100 to $150 for two or three movers, often starts with a minimum of three hours, plus an hour for travel. A two-bedroom apartment might take three to four hours to move; a three-bedroom house could take seven or eight.

If you’re worried about your moving costs spiraling out of control, ask the moving company whether it can cap the cost for customers at a certain amount, even if the time spills over.

When to hire a flat-rate moving company

A flat rate is exactly that—a number that’s determined after an in-home or virtual assessment by the moving company of the size of your space and the amount and type of furniture you own.

A flat rate is typically the right choice if you’re planning an interstate or cross-country move, or moving a greater distance, like to a new apartment a couple of hours away, since moving like this contains more unknowns. If your moving truck gets stuck in gridlock traffic, we doubt you’ll enjoy paying your movers an hourly rate for this added time.

But don’t be fooled: The flat-rate price or flat offer you get from a mover may not include all the costs associated with your move.

“In many cases, flat rates are not flat at all,” warns Manuela Irwin, a moving expert with MyMovingReviews.com. Sometimes professional movers will charge unexpected fees for things you might assume are included (e.g., moving furniture up stairs or moving specialty items such as a pool table, piano, or bulky exercise equipment).

To avoid getting blindsided by hidden company fees or a surprise rate from your movers, it’s better to take the time and have an in-home estimate of your move. This way the movers can’t say that you hadn’t mentioned you have a piano when they saw it for themselves.

Also be sure to ask the movers or the customer service office if there are any extra fees if they end up moving certain items or providing extra services or spending more time (like unpacking your belongings, hauling away packing materials, or disassembling furniture). The more details you can provide about your move, the less likely it is that you’ll end up being surprised by unknown moving charges from the company.

To get an estimate of how much it will cost to move into your new place, check out this moving cost calculator, where you can punch in your number of bedrooms, beginning and ending ZIP codes, and move date.

Or use the phone number for your moving company and ask for a free quote. Ask movers about their fees for interstate and local moving so you end up with great service and a (relatively) stress-free move.

Source: realtor.com

The Biggest Myths About Moving to the Suburbs—Busted

For generations, people have been drawn to big-city life by the irresistible lure of career opportunities, cultural riches, and the sheer excitement of rubbing shoulders with hundreds of thousands—even millions—of people doing varied and interesting things.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, and suddenly, those tiny apartments, public transportation, and crowded public spaces lost their appeal. Many city dwellers fled their densely populated confines.

According to a study by MyMove.com that analyzed U.S. Postal Service data, during the first six months of the pandemic, big cities lost the most people.

New York City, with the country’s largest population at more than 8.5 million, experienced the highest losses. More than 110,000 residents left the city from February to July of this year.

That’s 487% more than the number of people who left New York during the same period in 2019. And where did many of these people relocating set their sights? Smaller towns and suburbs.

In fact, as people snap up homes in the suburbs, housing inventories in those areas are dwindling faster than in urban areas, according to realtor.com®’s September Urban vs. Suburban Growth Report.

Currently, inventory is down 34.3% year over year in urban areas, while suburban inventory has declined 41.2%.

But despite all this, city dwellers are often hesitant to leave the hustle and bustle behind. Lifelong urbanites may feel that moving to the suburbs is accepting defeat, and they may have lingering assumptions about what they’ll gain—and lose—by moving from a big city to a smaller town.

“People believe moving from the city is an isolating experience where neighbors are distant, nightlife is dull, and cultural experience is lacking,” says Lisa Collins, a licensed real estate salesperson for Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in New York.

But that’s not always the case. Below, we bust some of the biggest myths about buying and owning a home in the suburbs.

Myth No. 1: Real estate is less expensive in the suburbs

Historically, the average listing price of an urban home has been higher than a suburban home. But these days, don’t expect to hit the suburbs for a bargain.

During the pandemic, listing prices in the suburbs have actually grown at a faster rate than in cities, according to realtor.com.

Currently, the median listing price of suburban properties within the 10 largest metros is growing by 5.2% year over year. In urban areas, the growth rate is only 2.4%.

That’s true in Fairfield County, CT, where prices have risen an average of 33% since September 2019, according to Debbie Rehr, a licensed real estate salesperson for Compass Westport in Westport, CT.

Rehr, who lives in Weston, CT, says this area is only an hour’s drive from New York City and is attracting attorneys, financiers, entrepreneurs, and other affluent professionals looking for places to live, relax, and raise children.

Myth No. 2: The suburbs are boring

Moving to the suburbs means giving up all kinds of fun activities and resigning yourself to a boring, lonely existence in the middle of nowhere, right? Wrong!

In March 2020, Wendy Silverstein left New York City with her husband for Columbia County—about 120 miles to the north, closer to Albany—to stay in their cottage on a lake. She was wary that small-town life would be too slow, too quiet, and there would be a dearth of things to do.

Instead, she was pleasantly surprised by the activities available, and she’s adjusted to the different pace of life. In her time there, she says she’s discovered delicious farm stand offerings and terrific markets.

“There are lots of interesting neighbors and opportunities to meet people,” says Silverstein. “I love the quiet, and you can drive into small towns and small cities for interaction.”

Collins, who lives about 20 miles north of New York City in Larchmont, says the pandemic has brought together many neighbors who are now working from home, for a new network of socializing and support.

“Our neighbors are gifted artists, musicians, writers, and teachers,” she says. “During the pandemic, our neighborhood created an outdoor movie night so that kids can socially distance and have fun.”

Also, being in the suburbs often means you’re closer to the great outdoors.

“Just outside of town, you can go apple picking in orchards and wine tasting at vineyards,” says Collins. “Skiing at a small mountain can be as close as an hour away.”

Myth No. 3: There’s no culture

Leaving the big city means you’re no longer down the street (or a short subway ride from) world-famous museums, Michelin-starred restaurants, and other great cultural resources. But it turns out, the suburbs give cities a run for their money.

“I think many transplants are surprised with how much good food, wine, public schools, health and wellness, shopping—even high-end fashion—is right in town,” says Rehr.

Collins says the reality is that the suburbs north of New York City are vibrant. The towns of Larchmont, Mamaroneck, and Rye, for example, have many restaurants, shopping, kids’ activities, and cultural experiences within walking distance or within a short bike ride or drive away.

“There are hiking trails nearby, outdoor music on weekends, and our local colleges and high schools have educational and cultural programs to experience,” says Collins.

Even during a pandemic, Silverstein says there is an incredible amount of culture where she lives.

“Towns nearby are becoming more and more interesting, with bookstores, food stores, and art exhibits,” she says.

Myth No. 4: The commute will be a nightmare

Those thinking of moving to the suburbs but keeping their jobs based in the city might be apprehensive about a hellish commute. It might not be as much of a slog as you’d think, though.

“Work in midtown Manhattan? In Larchmont, you can take a quick drive or walk to the train station. The Metro-North train gets you to Grand Central Station in 35 minutes,” says Collins.

There’s also faster job growth in the suburbs, so you might end up finding work closer to home. Some 32% of U.S. jobs are in the suburbs of large metropolitan areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

In addition, remote work is likely to be here to stay even after COVID-19.

A study by the research and advisory company Gartner found that 82% of business leaders say their organizations plan to let employees continue to work from home at least some of the time, while 47% plan to allow employees to do so permanently.

Source: realtor.com

9 Moving Announcements That Say ‘We Moved’ in Hilarious, Unforgettable Ways

Moving announcements are just one of those things you have to take care of—otherwise how will people know where you live? Sure, you can just do a mass email to all your friends and family. Alternatively, you can show off your wild creativity with one of the far more memorable moving announcements below. Odds are, one of them sums up your own style or sense of humor to a tee.

For people who move a ton…

It's time to break out yet another new Rolodex card.
It’s time to break out yet another new Rolodex card.

Etsy

This hilarious card ($6.50, Etsy), which comes as a printable download, lets friends and family know that yes, your entry in their address book looks like a confused jumble of crossed-out streets and cities. And that while you’re sorry about that, you’d still enjoy a holiday greeting (or a housewarming gift).

For the scent-loving and/or GPS-minded…

Burn your new coordinates into their memory.
Burn your new coordinates into their memory.

Etsy

If you want to go all out, send a moving announcement in the form of a soy candle ($16, Etsy) in a calming scent with your latitude and longitude printed on the label. Just remember, 39° N is not a USPS-approved mailing address.

For movers (and shakers)…

Dancing with boxes on your head is not recommended.
Dancing with boxes on your head is not recommended.

Minted.com

Show people all that packing and unpacking all those boxes hasn’t dulled your sense of humor, or slowed your dance moves. These cards (85 for $132, Minted) can also be custom-printed to include a family photo on the other side.

If you truly love visitors…

Let friends know they are still welcome.
Let friends know they are still welcome.

Monique Harps

When real estate agent Monique Harps moved, her priority was letting potential visitors know they still had a warm bed to stay in. Her process was simple—a friend took a photo of her new home, then she designed the template and emailed or texted the announcement. Here’s to hoping recipients call first before they come a-calling.

For punsters…

Steer people to your new location.
Steer people to your new location.

Etsy

This printable postcard ($16, Etsy) comes in colors ranging from “bumblebee” to “flamingo” (clearly, this designer loves animals). Meanwhile, this card shows off your own cornball sense of humor.

For those who enjoy a frosty one…

Let friends know you care about their fingertips staying warm.
Let friends know you care about their fingertips staying warm.

Totally Promotional

Instead of sending cards, simply order a collapsible can cooler personalized with your new address and a phrase like “Help us toast our new home!” ($3.71 each per order of 25, Totally Promotional). This lets your old friends (and new neighbors) know you care about them down to the temperature of their beverages. It also leaves no room for anyone to make excuses about losing your mailing address (not until they run out of beer, anyway).

If you’re moving out of state…

The time zones they are a changin'.
The time zones they are a changin’.

Etsy

If you’re moving between any states in the union, why not give people a visual representation of your new boundaries? This instantly downloadable PDF ($5, Etsy) can be customized with any state from Alabama to Wyoming.

For the romantics…

The keyhole cutout makes this adorable card even cuter.
The keyhole cutout makes this adorable card even cuter.

Minted.com

Give everyone a peek into your home life with this “Love Is Key” ($1.92 each, Minted) moving announcement. Each greeting is fully customizable, so if you want to show a picture of what really goes on in your not-always-picture-perfect life through the keyhole, that’s an option, too!

If you want an excuse to show off a cute baby pic…

Baby, it's time to move.
Baby, it’s time to move.

Minted.com

If you and your new baby both have a new crib, let everyone in on it with this clever card ($1.92 each, Minted). Fun fact: Calling a home a crib comes not from “MTV Cribs” but Shakespeare himself. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, crib defined as “a small dwelling” first appeared in the following lines of the famous playwright’s 1597 play “Henry VI”: “Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs, Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee.” (Feel free to point this fact out in your moving announcement!)

Source: realtor.com

Everything You Need to Know About Relocating With a Portable Moving Container

Portable moving and storage containers are growing in popularity as a convenient way to move. Instead of loading boxes and furniture into a moving truck, many people are opting to pack all their items in a portable moving container and ship it to their new home. With moving being as stressful as it is, a portable moving container can help relieve some of the anxiety.

The beauty of portable moving containers is their versatility. In a traditional move, you’re on a tight schedule; but if you choose to rent a portable container, you can pack it at your own convenience and take as long as you need.

“If you’re presented with a scenario where your lease is ending before your next place is ready, moving containers are an ingenious solution,” says Mike Glanz, co-founder and CEO of Oceanside, CA–based HireAHelper, which also has a Move Helpers division that loads and unloads moving trucks and containers.

“Many moving container companies offer multiple sizes and terms to their boxes, so this moving option is likely to fit your personal move,” he says. And, since most companies will transport the containers for you, Glanz says the experience is quite similar to a full-service move, especially if you also hire movers.

How to rent a moving container

You need to find companies that serve the locations you’re moving to and from.

Glanz says the American Moving & Storage Association can help you find a ProMover, aka a certified moving company that has passed a background check and agrees to uphold the organization’s code of ethics. Glanz recommends looking at major companies that serve your area, but also checking to see if a smaller competitor is available for a better price.

When choosing a company, he says, you need to figure out what’s important to you, be it moving dates, the sturdiness of the boxes, prices, discounts, user reviews, or something else. Individual company profiles are also on the site, and Glanz says that info is based on reported invoices and reviews from people who have used the companies.

After you decide what you want, you can book online or by phone.

The process of using a portable storage container goes a little like this: You book the container, it gets dropped off to you to fill, and then the container is taken to the location of your choice. But there are a few additional wrinkles.

“You need to make sure your drop-off and pick-up locations are cleared with your street, homeowners association, or the city, depending on where you live,” Glanz says.

How much do portable moving containers cost?

The price you’ll pay for a container is based on a number of factors, including the size of the container, the distance you need it shipped, and how long you’ll be renting it. Do your homework and reach out to a number of portable moving container companies for quotes based on your specific needs.

But to give you a frame of reference, the cost of renting a portable container from PODS, a moving storage company that rents and ships containers, is usually between $299 and $499. According to PODS, a long-distance move averages $1,237 to $2,999 and includes a month of storage.

Tips for packing a moving container

Believe it or not, there’s a right way to pack a portable container that will ensure your belongings will still be in good shape when you unpack them. The first step is to distribute the weight evenly.

“It’s tempting to place all of your heavy things in the unit first, but spread out the furniture, appliances, and other large items in the container so all the weight isn’t on one side, says Nathan Chandler, CEO of Zippy Shell Louisiana, a moving and storage company in New Orleans. “Use fabric pads for wooden furniture that could easily get scratched, and make sure to place boxes with fragile items on top of heavier, more durable objects.”

You should also put your important items in the front of the storage container.

“When moving, it’s easy to focus only on getting your things out of your old house and not on what you’ll do when you arrive at your new home,” Chandler says. But you’ll want to have access to your essential items like plates, mattresses, linens, and clothes first.

And when it comes to family heirlooms and important documents, he says it’s best to keep them with you, if possible.

“Although portable storage containers are secure and durable, there’s always a chance that something could get damaged,” Chandler says. “These objects are safer with you during your move.”

Source: realtor.com

4 Hard Lessons I Learned Helping Mom Move

This year, I helped my mom sell our family home. The hardest part? Going through decades worth of old belongings, deciding what to keep … and what to chuck.

Before this move, I never thought of myself as an especially sentimental person. Yet, as I opened boxes to uncover stuffed animals from my childhood or a box of family photos, packing would come to a screeching halt while I sat down and studied every object and image with care. While a small part of me longed to keep everything, I knew that my mom’s new place lacked the space, and my own home was already cluttered enough. This forced me to make some tough decisions.

In the end, we got it done—and I learned a ton in the process. Here are a few hard-won lessons to help declutter and move without sacrificing all those memories.

1. Save just one memento to represent the whole

Though I had moved out, gotten married, and bought my own place years ago, my old room, and a good chunk of the garage, were still full of my stuff. I expected to find a bunch of too-small clothes and outdated high school textbooks; what I got were mountains of childhood treasures. There were framed photos of family trips, yearbooks, and so much more.

I found myself collecting too many of what I deemed “irreplaceable” memories. The “keep” box overflowed as the “give away” box sported nothing but an old pair of sneakers and a purse with a broken strap.

One jewelry box from my teenage years made it into the “keep” pile because I had such a sweet memory of an aunt giving it to me for my birthday. I found an old Beanie Babies toy I simply couldn’t part with because it was a present from my best friend in grade school.

The Beanie Babies toy I got from a friend in elementary school, with the tag still attached, could be worth a fortune now, right?
The Beanie Babies toy I got from a friend in elementary school, with the tag still attached, could be worth a fortune now, right?

Jilly Pretzel

But of course, I couldn’t keep all these things.

I ended up taking everything out of my closet, from my dresser, and out from under my bed, in an attempt to sort through them all at once. I made piles, and soon, I noticed patterns. For instance, I had a whole pile of band shirts that reminded me of the music I loved in high school. That’s when it occurred to me that maybe just one representative T-shirt was enough. I also had a massive collection of mouse ears from Disney World visits; clearly I didn’t need them all.

So I went through each pile of similar things and picked just one “favorite”—one band shirt, one set of mouse ears—to represent those memories as a whole.

While this is a good tip for sorting through mementos, you could apply the same idea to your things even before you move. I know a family who uses this method for their children’s art. At the end of each school year, the parents collect all their kids’ drawings and encourage each child to pick one favorite piece. They have that one picture framed and throw the rest away. This allows the kids to display their art without it overwhelming the house.

Mom and I spent a lot of time packing and unpacking.
Mom and I spent a lot of time packing and unpacking.

Jilly Pretzel

2. Snap photos and share your memories with others

Yet even with some whittling, there was still a ton of stuff I found myself wanting to keep for old times’ sake, like my collection of movie stubs and collectible cups from baseball games.

While I knew all this should be easy to toss, I couldn’t get over the fact that I’d kept these things for a reason, and that’s when it dawned on me: I was keeping them so I could look back on them later, and there was no better time to reminisce than right now!

I ended up snapping photos of old flyers and ticket stubs and then posting them on Facebook or texting them to the old friends I’d shared that memory with—usually someone I hadn’t seen since high school. We’d have fun reminiscing, and feeling satisfied, then I was finally able to throw those mementos away.

3. Save room for a few surprises

When we were boxing up the garage, we found a lot of forgotten pictures that my mom wanted to hang in the living room in her new house. We knew we couldn’t just pack these pictures with the rest of the garage stuff because we’d forget about them. We needed to put them in the living room boxes. The only problem was we’d already taped those boxes closed.

After tearing open some living room boxes and resealing them with the pictures inside, we started a new system. Instead of going room to room and packing up everything, we’d leave a few boxes unsealed and half-packed in each room. That way, when we found a blanket that my mom wanted in a bedroom instead of the hall closet, it would be packed in the right box and ready to open in its new spot in the new house.

Mom and I outside her new house
Mom and I outside her new house

Jilly Pretzel

4. Consider ditching old for new

Sometimes clutter is more than clothes, toys, and books. Sometimes it’s furniture.

When I was growing up, we loved our old dining table. I have so many memories of eating dinners there, and of spreading out my homework. But when it came time to move, my mom looked at the old table, at its scratches and nicks, and said, “Maybe it’s time for something new.”

Before you sell your house, ask yourself which pieces you want in your next place, and what you’re ready to replace.

We ended up donating a lot of furniture and went shopping. Mom and I found some stylish new couches, chairs, and even a dining table.

In the end, we learned that refreshing the furniture was an important part of leaving an old home. It helped us break away from the past, and see her new home as a place to create a whole new batch of memories.

Source: realtor.com

What Can a Landlord Deduct From Your Deposit? A Primer for Current and Former Renters

Maybe you didn’t think twice when you put a big security deposit on that fancy apartment two summers ago. But now that you’re getting ready to move again, you might be wondering how much of that deposit you’ll actually get back.

Believe it or not, your deposit isn’t at the mercy of your landlord. Tenants have rights, and landlords have limitations on what they can deduct from your deposit.

In Florida, for example, “if the landlord fails to return the security deposit in a timely manner, or deducts for normal wear and tear, then the tenant can sue the landlord to get their deposit back and the landlord will have to pay the tenant’s attorney fee,” says Larry Tolchinsky, a real estate lawyer and partner at Sackrin & Tolchinsky in Hallandale Beach, FL.

But to avoid getting to that point, it’s important for tenants to understand the basics on deposits. In most states, the timely return of your deposit means there’s a deadline—such as 30 days—so be sure to leave a forwarding address.

When landlords deduct from your deposit, they will typically include an itemized statement explaining how the deposit was applied. In California, for example, if a landlord deducts any more than $126, they must provide receipts for their deductions.

Landlords can’t deduct from your deposit for any old reason; there has to be a legit circumstance. The rules may vary from city to city (or state to state), so read up on what your landlord can and can’t do in your area. But, in general, here are some things landlords can deduct from your deposit.

Nonpayment of rent

Unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit many tenants hard, rendering them unable to pay rent. Some landlords and management companies have offered rent relief, but others have claimed that unpaid rent is unpaid rent. In this situation, landlords can collect unpaid rent—and late fees—from your deposit as necessary.

“Rent that is not paid is considered damages when a tenant vacates,” says Eric Drenckhahn, a real estate investor and property manager, who runs the blog NoNonsenseLandlord.com. “A tenant cannot use the damage deposit to pay their rent without the landlord’s approval, but a landlord can deduct it for nonpayment after a tenant has left.”

Unpaid utilities

Forgetting to pay your utility bill happens. But if you pay for things like trash and water through your property management company, be aware that your landlord could tap your security deposit to cover any bills you missed.

Tolchinsky says there is no black and white law on this, but it is possible. It all depends on the terms of your lease and local rules governing the jurisdiction that you reside in.

Abnormal cleaning costs

If you left the place trashed and filthy, expect your landlord to dig into your deposit. Landlords can deduct from your deposit for excessive dirtiness, beyond normal cleaning costs.

Drenckhahn says the place should be “broom clean,” or as clean as when you moved in.

“Dirt and grease left behind is not wear and tear,” says Drenckhahn. “Examples of excessive dirtiness includes removing stains from the carpet, replacing the carpet due to a cat using a closet for a litter box, or replacing door trim due to cat scratches.”

Doing a little cleaning before leaving isn’t a bad idea, but it doesn’t guarantee it’ll save your security deposit.

Tolchinksy says if a tenant hires a professional cleaner, rents a steam cleaner, or buys paint to paint the walls, he or she “should maintain all invoices and receipts” to provide proof to the landlord.

Damage to the property

Security deposit laws allow a landlord to deduct from a security deposit for any damage. This is different from normal wear and tear, such as faded paint or worn carpet that is naturally occurring and not due to the tenant. Examples of damage to the property include a broken bathroom vanity, cracked kitchen countertop, or broken doors.

Tolchinsky says it’s a good idea for a tenant to request a move-in and a move-out checklist and document by pictures and video the condition of the apartment.

Items left behind

Packing and moving everything you own is a huge undertaking. But regardless of how exhausted you are, don’t leave any items behind; it could be a costly mistake.

“Mattresses and box springs left behind are expensive to get rid of, and you will be charged accordingly,” says Drenckhahn. “It is not unusual to be charged $50 or more for each piece.”

If you do need to get rid of a bunch of large items, hire a junk hauling company, try to sell them online, or look into donating them to charity.

Breaking the lease

In some circumstances, breaking your lease is the only option. But breaking your lease early makes it less likely that you will reunite with your deposit.

A landlord can keep all, or part, of your deposit to cover costs if you break your lease early, per landlord-tenant state laws and what’s written in your lease contract. If you can, try to move when your lease is up.

“In my places, you are required to be out by 10 a.m. There is no late checkout, as I have tenants generally moving in the next day,” says Drenckhahn. “When you have the place clean, and even move out a few days early, it’s very easy to refund 100% of the damage deposit.”

Source: realtor.com

5 Most Horrifying Things Ever Packed for a Move

Broken plates and a mangled lampshade are fairly standard moving mishaps. But sometimes the truly crazy, surprising, or even embarrassing things happen when homeowners need to relocate. Even with the best intentions—and mountains of bubble wrap—people end up packing some strange and just plain off-putting things in an effort to get their possessions from point A to B.

Want proof? Enjoy the following moving tales so you’ll know what not to pack, lest you become a cautionary tale yourself.

1. Trash cans full of … trash

Larry Perlstein moved cross-country from Stamford, CT, to Los Gatos, CA, several years ago and appreciated the thoroughness of his packers. Everything was neatly wrapped and boxed and made it safely to the West Coast, he reports. But when he opened his wastebaskets, he realized they’d arrived full.

“The movers packed all the trash cans—with the garbage still in them,” he says.

Lesson learned: Empty your bins before the move, or your banana peels will join you on the journey.

2. A song that wouldn’t stop playing

Soon after Jenny Lilienthal and her family loaded their belongings in a 24-foot van and started driving it from Massachusetts to Florida, they heard a funny sound coming from the back of the truck.

“After we listened a bit, we realized it was our 3-year-old’s game, Gone Fishing, which was somehow triggered and playing music,” she explains.

Unpacking the truck to turn it off wasn’t an option. So, they spent the next three days listening to this jingle nonstop until it became forever drilled into their heads, like a moving theme song.

“It played cheerfully the whole way,” she adds. “And it nearly drove us nuts!”

3. Last week’s meal

Reba Haas, a real estate agent with Team Reba of Re/Max Metro Realty in Seattle, helped sell the home of a client who had hoarder tendencies.

“On moving day, the moving company told me that there were dirty dishes in the homeowner’s sink and she somehow convinced the movers to pack them up,” Haas explains.

Making matters even grosser, this was an international move—from the U.S. to Costa Rica.

“Nothing that might attract bugs or rodents can be moved,” notes Haas, who doesn’t know whether those dirty dishes made it through customs.

The movers admitted it was the most disgusting job they’d ever been a part of, but Haas insists they don’t know the half of it: “They have no idea what I went through for months just to get this client’s home ready to sell and pack!”

4. Stolen goods

It’s hard to leave certain things when you move, but some items must remain in place if they’re included in the purchase agreement. Haas, for one, recalls one seller who proceeded to make off with things that were supposed to stay.

“This seller stripped the house of its curtains, even though she’d earlier acknowledged that all window coverings were to stay,” Haas recalls. “She even dug up plants in the front yard and took them with her. She didn’t even bother to refill the holes with dirt!”

5. A dead person’s ashes

During one move, pro mover Yuval Beton and his team were prepped in detail about a client’s vase.

“We were told it was very important and that we were to take any precautions necessary to make sure it arrived safely,” he explains. With further probing, Beton discovered that the vase was actually an urn—and it contained the ashes of the client’s late husband.

“It was a nerve-wracking move,” he admits. Luckily, the urn was moved in one piece.

Source: realtor.com

Everything You Need to Know About Moving Safely During the Coronavirus Pandemic—If You Must

Packing up and moving has always been remarkably stressful in and of itself. Moving during the coronavirus pandemic, when everyone across the nation is supposed to be staying put to lower their risk of illness? Well, that’s a tricky undertaking, to say the least.

We’re here to help you navigate moving safely with the final installment of our new series, “Home Buying in the Age of Coronavirus.”

First, a note of caution: If you don’t have to vacate your current home, consider staying right where you are. Aim to reschedule your move for when the spread of the coronavirus outbreak slows and the government lifts restrictions on movement.

“During this crisis, many customers are postponing their moves and some are just completely canceling them,” says Lior Rachmany, CEO and founder of New York’s Dumbo Moving and Storage. “However, we’re still receiving a great deal of new customers that need to move at this time.”

So if you are one of those people who absolutely have to move right now—maybe the home you own or rent was recently sold, you have to relocate for a new job, or you just closed on a new home—then here’s some info on how to move safely during this pandemic.

Checklist: Before you move

Make sure moving is allowed in your area or building

Not sure if you can move? According to the American Moving & Storage Association, moving has been deemed an “essential service” by the federal government.

Still, while moving is legal in the big picture, it might not be allowed for your specific circumstances. For instance, some apartment buildings in New York City are not allowing residents to move during the current shelter-in-place order. So check with your local and state governments (and your HOA or condo board, if applicable) before scheduling any move.

Choose car travel over air travel

“In order to be safe and to protect others from possible exposure to the coronavirus, drive instead of fly for your long-distance move,” advises Ali Wenzke, author of “The Art of Happy Moving.”

It may take longer for you to arrive at your new home, but driving is better for the safety of everyone.

Carefully research your movers

Hiring movers should always be a process that involves careful research before signing a contract. Now that missive is even more important. So is using professional movers rather than a cheaper man-with-a-van option, which could involve unknown rental equipment and multiple trips to get everything moved.

These days, many companies have transitioned to contactless moving, which means customers leave their homes while the crew comes in to pack up and load the truck. Many movers are also using video chat technology to see customers’ homes and offer quotes.

At Bellhops, a company that provides moving services in 30 states, “the customer provides instructions and takes a video and sends it to us,” says Luke Marklin, the company’s CEO. “We do a FaceTime walk-through when we arrive and a final FaceTime walk-through to show them the truck and the house, then repeat that process for the unload.”

Make sure to ask all prospective movers about their COVID-19 policies and practices, and make sure to ask the following:

  • Do you provide virtual or digital estimates?
  • Are the trucks and movers equipped with hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves?
  • Will the truck transporting your furniture and boxes be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before your belongings are packed inside?
  • Will all equipment—such as hand trucks and sound blankets—be cleaned before your move?
  • How often are high-touch surfaces in the trucks sanitized?
  • What is your cancellation/rescheduling policy?
  • How are the movers ensuring employees aren’t sick? This could include taking their temperature on the day of the move and asking if anyone in their household is ill or experiencing symptoms.

These best practices don’t just apply to the movers but to you as well.

“We advise that anyone who is planning to move right now to get gloves and masks to wear during the move,” says Rachmany.

Decluttering? Call ahead if you plan to donate

Moving is a natural time to sort through your closets and set aside items to donate. This unusual time period doesn’t have to be an exception to this.

But if you plan to drop off old housewares, clothing, and other items at your neighborhood Goodwill or Salvation Army, call ahead—not all stores are open or accepting donations right now, and you may need to take additional steps to sanitize donated items.

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Watch: The Essential Quarantine Supply List

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Plan ahead if you need to set up new internet or cable service

If you need a technician to come to your place to set up internet or cable service with a new provider, schedule that installation ASAP so you can get connected as quickly as possible and avoid delays.

Appointments are harder to come by these days, says Jenna Weinerman, vice president of marketing for Updater, a moving app. “You can’t bank on getting an installation appointment as easily as you have in the past.”

Use new cardboard boxes you pack yourself

“In normal times, I recommend using neighborhood sites like Nextdoor or Craigslist to get free moving supplies,” says Ali Wenzke, author of “The Art of Happy Moving.” However, during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s safer to buy brand-new moving supplies.

Don’t use plastic bins, either—the coronavirus can survive up to a day on cardboard, but three days on plastic.

You should also pack your own china, books, and clothing rather than hiring movers to do it. The fewer items the movers touch during your move, the safer you will be from exposure to the coronavirus.

Stock up on cleaning supplies for you and your movers

Don’t pack up your cleaning supplies quite yet. Even though your movers should come equipped with their own supplies, you can help by providing plenty of opportunities for the crew to wash their hands before, during, and after the move—and to wash your own hands before and after making contact with any surfaces.

“At a minimum, you want adequate supplies of antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes on hand,” says Matt Woodley, founder of MoverFocus.com. “You will need to disinfect all common areas before and after your movers arrive, too.”

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Checklist: On moving day

Don’t involve more people than necessary

Many moving companies are reducing crew sizes to comply with guidelines to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people. Homeowners and renters should also try to reduce the number of cooks in the kitchen.

“Designate one person to manage and oversee the entire move to ensure best social distancing practices are observed,” Woodley says.

Time your move carefully

If possible, plan your move so that the crew drops off your belongings first, then wait at least 72 hours to move yourself or your family into your new place—by then, the virus is less likely to remain on any surfaces.

If you have to move at the same time as your items, Weinerman suggests packing a designated “open first” box that you drop off before the rest of your items. Fill the box with essentials like disinfectant spray, paper towels, snacks, soap, toiletries, bed linens, phone chargers, and a change of clothes.

“Place the rest of your boxes away from your ‘open first’ box,” she says. “Cover it in colorful tape or use colored markers to make sure it doesn’t get swallowed up in a sea of brown boxes.”

To be safe, disinfect the box and the items inside when you open it.

Disinfect all points of contact

As you come in and out of your new and old places, you’ll need to frequently disinfect doorknobs and cabinet pulls, along with wearing a mask and gloves. Keep windows open to promote airflow and circulation.

If you’re moving in or out of a multiunit building, take extra care in common areas like the lobby or mailroom where your neighbors pass through. Don’t forget to sanitize any surfaces you touch, including elevator buttons.

“It’s really helpful to reserve a dedicated elevator,” Marklin says. “One of the worst situations is to be crammed together in a crowded elevator.” He also suggests scheduling your move early in the day to avoid running into neighbors.

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Checklist: After the move

Wipe down your moving boxes and furniture

Even if your movers take every precaution to keep you and your belongings safe, the coronavirus can be spread by asymptomatic carriers. So you will need to thoroughly clean and disinfect everything after the movers leave.

“Even things that are wrapped in moving blankets, like tables or couches, should be completely disinfected before using them again,” says Rachmany.

To play it safe, also give your boxes a good cleaning once they’re placed in the appropriate rooms, and make sure to thoroughly wash your hands after handling any items the movers touched.

Canceling or changing your move if you’re sick

Feeling under the weather? Don’t think twice about canceling or postponing your move; it’s not worth putting others at risk.

In most cases, your agreement with a moving company is nonbinding, Weinerman says, which means you can change your plans without penalty.

“However, if your moving company collected a deposit prior to your move, it may be nonrefundable,” she says. “Contact your moving company about your deposit. Many reputable moving companies will be flexible or make an exception considering the pandemic.”

Companies like Bellhops have waived cancellation and rescheduling fees for anyone who needs to change plans due to illness.

“This is a pandemic, so all of the previous rules need to be thrown out the window,” Marklin says. “Everything needs to be viewed with heightened care and concern.”

Source: realtor.com

7 Surprising Items Many Moving Companies Won’t Ship

A long-distance move can be tricky. In addition to having to pack up every possession you own, you’ll also have to figure out how to get it all to your new home. While some people choose to drive their stuff themselves across state lines, that might not be feasible with an entire household’s possessions. That’s why shipping is sometimes the preferred method when moving a considerable distance. It’s simple, really: The bulk of your possessions get boxed up and shipped to your new home, and you take all the invaluable items (e.g., your ID, birth certificate, medications, etc.) with you on the plane.

Many homeowners will hire a moving company, but did you know there are limits to what most companies will ship? Some items are just too fragile, valuable, or hazardous, and your movers won’t be allowed to take responsibility for them.

Of course, different moving companies will have their own rules for the types of items they won’t ship.

“Talk directly to the moving company and ask them what they are willing and not willing to do,” says Justin Hodge, co-founder and president of Muscular Moving Men based in Phoenix. Good communication with your movers will help reduce the number of last-minute surprises on move-out day.

While you’re in the throes of planning your move, consider the following items many movers won’t touch—and then plan accordingly!

1. Photos and photo albums

Photos and photo albums are very fragile and could easily get destroyed. Although they might not be of high monetary value, photos can have high sentimental value. Plus, once photos are ruined, they’re likely gone for good.

“If there was a situation where everything was damaged, you would have peace of mind of knowing you’re in your own control, not the moving company you’re working with,” Hodge says. Many movers opt to avoid the risk.

2. Unsealed personal care products

As obvious as it may seem, unsealed lotions, shampoos, and skincare products will likely give your moving company pause. If one were to spill, it could ruin your entire shipment, and your moving company doesn’t want to be on the hook for that.

Hodge says you could pack sealed personal care products in your suitcase, give them to a friend, or just throw them out if they’re nearly empty. Hey, you have a new place to live—buy some new stuff!

3. Expensive clothes and accessories

If you own any expensive or unique designer clothes, formalwear, or accessories, it might be better to take them with you on the plane.

Nancy Zafrani, general manager of Oz Moving & Storage in New York, recommends creating an inventory of your truly upscale items.

4. Flat-screen TVs

Many movers are reluctant to ship flat-screen TVs because they’re pricey and notoriously fragile. Plasma-screen TVs are especially delicate and need to be kept upright to avoid damaging the glass panels inside. If you do have a flat screen you need to ship, be sure to mention it from the get-go before hiring a moving company

5. Nail polish

If you have an extensive nail polish collection, you’ll probably have to transport it in your luggage on the plane. Zafrani says polish is a perfect storm of shipping badness.

“It’s a liquid and in a glass bottle, and if the bottle is not securely tightened, it can leak and cause damage,” she says. It’s also flammable and could catch fire during the move. Pack it with you it, toss it, or give it to a friend.

6. Fine art

Need to ship a one-of-a-kind Picasso? While fine art doesn’t show up on everyone’s inventory list, if you do need to transport artwork of value, your standard moving company probably won’t be up for the task.

To make sure your precious cargo gets to your place safely, look into professional art shipping services. Many of these companies will offer insurance and white-glove service.

7. Food in glass containers

You know that fancy bottle of olive oil you brought back from Tuscany this summer? Delicious! Too bad it’s simply too fragile to ship. The same goes for other glass containers filled with food.

“Glass bottles are pretty thin, and if the box is accidentally dropped, the bottle can crack,” says Zafrani.

Broken glass—and spilled food—will be the last thing you’ll want to contend with when unpacking. You already have enough to worry about.

Source: realtor.com

Which States Have the Lowest Cost of Living for Renters

couple holding hands while walking through urban park Is one of your goals this year to finally get your budget under control? You have plenty of company. After all, that’s one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions!

One way you can achieve your goal is to start with a plan for budgeting for your first apartment. Another cost-cutting hack is to move to a state with a lower cost of living! That way, you can get more bang for your buck — kind of like giving yourself a raise. Go, you!

The Cost of Living Across the U.S.

What is “cost of living?” It’s a measure used to compare cities and states based on affordability. Cost of living uses the aggregate price of typical living expenses to see how expensive (or inexpensive) it is to live in one location versus another. Generally, the living expenses used to calculate a city or state’s cost of living include average housing values, utility rates, and grocery prices. 

The Cost of Living Index (COLI) ranks cities and states across the U.S. for their affordability. As of 2019, the ten urban areas with the lowest COLI were: 

  1. Harlingen, TX — 75.6
  2. McAllen, TX — 75.6
  3. Kalamazoo, MI — 77.7
  4. Muskogee, OK — 78.6
  5. Pittsburg, KS — 79.6
  6. Conway, AR — 80.4
  7. Knoxville, TN — 81.3
  8. Memphis, TN — 81.4
  9. Statesboro-Bulloch County, GA — 81.5
  10. Tupelo, MS — 81.5

To put those scores into perspective, the city with the highest COLI is New York City, with an index of 254.7, while the city with the lowest COLI is Harlingen, TX, with an index of 75.6. In other words, Harlingen, TX, is three times less expensive than New York City. And a move from NYC to the lesser-known HRL would allow you to maintain your standard of living at a third of the cost!

Those kinds of savings can make a huge difference in your life. It also proves that everything IS bigger in Texas — even your savings!

Making a Move Based on Cost of Living

If you’re wondering what the cheapest state to live in is, the data shows that Texas is in the running with two of the most affordable cities.

However, if Texas is not your jam, you can compare your preferred cities and states using Bankrate’s cost of living calculator. Once you decide which affordable city you want to live in, find an equally affordable apartment to move into!

Cost of Living by Region

The list of cities with the lowest cost of living includes urban areas in the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest regions of the US. But what if you want to live in a northwestern state? 

If your heart’s set on westward expansion, this study from The Balance names Idaho as one of the most affordable states in that region. 

Are you dreaming of the Northeast? According to a study by World Population Review, Pennsylvania has the lowest cost of living out of the states in the Northeast. However, it’s still more expensive than many other states in different areas of the country. In fact, the entire Northeast region can be pretty pricey. So, if New England is calling out to you, prepare to pay up.

Lastly, if you’re craving some vitamin sea and want to live on one of the coasts — check out the best values in east coast cities or the top value spots for renters on the west coast

Move to a More Affordable Apartment

Ready to pack your bags and make a move to a state with cheaper rent? Find budget-friendly apartments wherever you go with ApartmentSearch.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com