Archive for the 'Packing' Category

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How To Get Along With Your Roommate

By Relocation.com

Congratulations on your exciting moving experience. Having a roommate in an apartment can be a tough experience. Even before you figure out your situation with your movers, you need to establish some necessary rules directly. You also have to learn how to confront problems in a nice manner so that your household will be peaceful. It is better to live with someone peacefully. You have to make some effort to establish a good roommate relationship, especially if you live in a dorm. It will help you enhance your college life experience. These are some suggestions on how to get along with your roommate. You need to know you roommate. Do not create unjust judgments, but find time to essentially talk and mingle with your roommate so that you can know her or him better.

Start a conversation. You can express your own habits and preferences. It is also important to know your roommate’s preferences. If in case, you are used of staying up late and you usually get up in the morning late, and he sleeps at 9 p.m., you have to make sure that you both know this and you can find a compromise. You need to cooperate with your roommate. If he usually sleeps early and you usually sleep late, make a system that can allow each of you to feel as if your needs is the same. You need to respect the opinions of your roommate, including his needs and wants. If he has an important exam or event the other day, do not insist on staying up late at night with the radio blasting and the lights on.

Set up a schedule. In order for the two of you to establish things easier without hurting one another, you should set up the rules and a schedule for chore delegations and study hours. Sticking to and planning your schedule can avoid misunderstandings and conflicts along the way. It can ensure that chores and study needs are compatible. If there are conflicts, you have to resolve them quickly. Do not let any problem fester. It will just lead both of you to further problems or complications and eventually hurt feelings that can possibly be the reason for either of you to move out. You have to remember that you are each a separate individual, both of you have distinct living styles and tastes and you cannot expect that your roommate will automatically get use to the way and manner you desire to live. You have to be open minded and flexible. Being overly inflexible about bedtime, cleaning or noise issues will bring no good. It will just create a gap between the two of you.

Make an effort to create friendship. You can do things together. It does not mean you have to share bathroom at the same time. It means you have to interact with your roommate. Do something enjoyable together and try to know her or him well. By watching a movie together, you can learn more about your roommate. Your relationship with a person or with your roommate will depend on the effort you put in to share interests with her or him.

At the start having a roommate is really tough but if are able to establish a good relationship with him, it is fun. You have to go along with the situation, create a positive energy between both of you. It can be an opportunity for yourself to learn and possibly, to create long lasting friendship.

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How to Pack Electronics for Moving

By Relocation.com

When moving to a new house, packing electronics require more attention compared to, say, your furniture. Electronic appliances need careful packing as they are fragile. They are also sensitive to dust, moisture, magnetic fields, pressure and vibrations. Pack them well to ensure you still get to use them (and they remain in tiptop condition) in your new home. Here are some of our tips:

Pack sets together. Some electronic equipment, for example stereo components and movie theater systems, come in sets. Make sure that you pack the sets together. If you accidentally misplace a part, you might be left with a hi-fi system that’s missing one speaker. You should also pack all the corresponding wires and peripherals together with the main system to save yourself the trouble of sorting them out again later.

Use moving boxes for storage. If you haven’t disposed of them yet, use the original moving boxes and paddings, otherwise sturdy corrugated carton boxes bought from the store or provided by the mover will serve the purpose.

Draw a diagram of the wiring. For reference in re-connecting wires and cables between components, draw a diagram of how the wires are hooked up to their corresponding terminals on the device. Note down the color coding scheme or attach matching tags to each wire-terminal pair. Bundle wires and cables securely and label them but do not bind or roll them too tightly to avoid internal damage. Optical fiber cables can easily break.

Secure loose/moving parts with masking tape. If you have a vinyl record player, disconnect the stylus assembly from the tone arm, put it in a small box and tape the box under the tone arm. Fix the turntable to the base with tape to prevent its movement and tape the tone arm to its rest. Lastly close the turntable cover and tape it to the base. Put small hardware items such as screws, nuts and bolts inside a plastic bag and tape the bag to the component where they came from.

Always label “FRAGILE, ELECTRONICS” on the sides and top of each box. When necessary put a “THIS SIDE UP” label on the sides of the box. It goes without saying that cargo items should be tagged with the name and address of the owner.
Before and during the move, keep components away from sources of liquids, wet surfaces, and strong magnetic fields. Provide water-damage protection by placing components inside plastic bags before packing them in boxes.

Pack to protect fragile parts. For components subject to risk of breakage or scratches like TV screens or computer monitors, pack them in such a way as to minimize stress or pressure to the delicate parts. Provide appropriate padding or spacers such as thick cardboard or styrofoam boards or pellets.

Cover speakers. Speaker units also need to be protected from possible dents to the cabinet and the acoustic cones. Cover the front of the cabinet with cardboard and wrap it over and around the edges. For heavy units, it’s a good idea to bind the box with packing tape to prevent bursting and tie it with heavy cord to provide handles for lifting.

Make sure the moving service company drives with care! Check whether the moving company has insurance coverage against loss or damage to cargo.

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Getting Rid of Your Junk When Moving

Get rid of your junk before you move.

We finally get to see the amount of stuff we actually have when moving. Throughout the years, many items are replaced and the older ones get dumped in the garage, basement or attic. We also buy new clothes, crockery, upholstery, furniture, electronic gadgets and decoration items that gets added to our pile of stuff. When everything is decorated and in its correct place at home, it all feels less. But that’s not true. When you begin packing your belongings during moving, you realize the true magnitude.

The first thing is to get rid of all the things in your garage, basement and attic that you haven’t used in months, or in some instances, even years. Here are some of the best ways to unload your old junk before moving.

Have a yard sale. When planning a yard sale, start by organizing your items into boxes and labeling them based on their price. You will then have to consider making signs and posting them around your neighborhood to get the word out about your sale. On the day of the sale, set up your items early (people will arrive before the designated time) and be flexible with pricing – this will help you get rid of more stuff quickly.

Donate your belongings. If you don’t have the time for a sale, consider donating your items to a shelter, an orphanage or a humanitarian organization such as the Goodwill or Salvation Army. These non-profit organizations usually need items like clothes, books, canned food, toys, tools, bags and more.

Give them away to family and friends. Many people prefer giving fairly new and useful items to their friends and families. Older models of cell phones, laptops and clothes that no longer fit may be useful to your friends, neighbors or relatives. You can also have a clothing swap party, which can also function as a good-bye party as your friends exchange goods with one another.

Toss it. Sometimes even the best of intentions to pass along your items will fail when you have old and smelly clothes or broken down items that can’t be salvaged. In these instances, it is best to toss your old and useless stuff.  Look into recycling centers in your area for old electronics and paper goods.

After getting rid of the garage, basement and attic stuff. Make and inventory of your belongings. For an average family, about one-third of their belongings are still “excess” and its best that you get rid of them too to lighten your load.

Less stuff makes for easier packing, easier travel and most likely cheaper moving expenses. It is also a great way to start fresh without the excess of junk that may have been weighing you down for years.

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Best Exercises to Keep you Healthy (and Sane) for Moving Day

Om - Practicing the art of yoga will help you stay sane leading up to moving day.

By Serena Norr

The activities leading up to moving day are going to be strenuous, and unfortunately stressful. From locating moving companies to finding to boxes to packing, these rigorous and draining moving day tasks have a way of living your body and mind all out of whack. Eating well, getting enough rest and exercise are sure bets to help you focus your energy on something other than moving for an hour or two – not to mention help you maintain your sanity. Here are some of our top workout picks for before and after the moving process.

Yoga.
The ultimate in zen, yoga is the art of finding peace within the mind, body and spirit. This involves flexing the body and maintaining balance through a variety of poses and postures that can benefit both the mind and the body. When moving, try to set aside a few hours a week to practice a rigorous or gentle practice of yoga such as a vinyasa-style by creating heat or more basic and controlled poses by practicing Hatha. If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to yoga, try to focus on controlled and strong breathing exercises. This will be particularly helpful on moving day.

Pilates. Pilates is another exercise model that focuses on a connection between the mind and the body.  The basic idea is to develop controlled movement from the body’s core such as by using resistance training through machines, exercise balls and bands. Strengthening your core will not only help you feel better but it will keep your mind and body energized and refreshed when dealing with the rigors of moving.

Walk. Sometimes something as simple as a walk is enough. Not only a great way to clear your mind it is an excellent form of exercise that is relevantly easy and free! Leading up to your moving day, establish a walking schedule – either an hour in the morning or after you have dealt with a stressful moving issue. Remember to load up your iPad with your favorite tunes for a much-needed break from your home and the sea of boxes.

Run. For those that want something more intense, try running. Running is ideal sport to not only improve your physical well-being but it can improve your emotional state and promote weight loss. It is also believed that after a run, you can experience a “runner’s high” where endorphins get released causing the body and mind to become intensely elated and positive. This is definitely something everyone needs during the planning stages of a move.

Zumba. Some people like to exert steam by working up a sweat. Zumba, a Latin-inspired dance, is a great way to exercise and take your mind off of the moving process through fun and intense movements. The high-energy classes will be a welcome break from packing resulting in an exhilarating workout that incorporates reggaeton, salsa, meringue and hip-hop. If you can’t make a class, try a DVD at home – ranging from Zumba Toning, Zumba Gold (for babyboomers) and Zumba in the Circuit – all of which can be adapted to all fitness levels.

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What are some of your tips to de-stress before a move?

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The Celebrity Beat: Relocation.com’s Celebrity Real Estate Report

The wacky and wild world of celebrity real estate did not disappoint this week. First, we have Charlie Sheen and his never-ending media circus has once again made the news – except this time it is within the real estate segment. He recently purchased a 9,020-square-foot mansion in Sherman Oaks, California that is reportedly for his ex-wife and their two children. On the rest of the Beat you will find homes listed on the market – ranging from Jennifer Aniston’s $42 million mansion to Julianne Moore’s $12.5 million dollar NYC townhouse. Those amounts are a bit out of our price range but we look forward to reporting on who the lucky buyers are. Stay tuned…

Charlie Sheen's New Mansion. (Image Credit: The Real Estalker)

•    Charlie Sheen Buying a New Mansion
Much has been said about the drama involved around Charlie Sheen and his media circus and now he is making news within the real estate market with his recent purchase of a mansion in Sherman Oaks, California. Purchased for his ex-wife Denise Richards, the $7,495,000, 9,020-square-foot estate includes an elevator, six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a library, a formal living room and a gourmet kitchen. The two-story gated home also includes a formal backyard with a swimming pool and spa.

Jennifer Aniston Lists Beverly Hills Home. (Image Credit: The Real Estalker)

•    Jennifer Aniston Lists Beverly Hills Mansion for $42 Million
Jennifer Aniston has recently been featured on the Beat as she has been scouring NYC for a new condo. No word yet on whether a home has been picked but there is news this week that she placed her Beverly Hills estate on the market. Listed at a whopping $42 million, the 10,000-square-foot Asian and Balinese-inspired home includes five bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms, two living rooms, a gourmet kitchen and a home gym. The home is also said to include state-of-the-art smart house technology, an extensive security system, tons of storage space, a three-car garage and an outdoor swimming pool. Originally purchased in 2006 for $13,500,000, we’ll be sure to let you know who buys this luxurious (and expensive) property.

•    Julianne Moore’s West Village Home is on the Market
Actress and children’s book author Julianne Moore originally listed her five-floor West Village townhouse for $11.995 million in 2009 – unable to find a buyer the home has been re-listed for $12.5 million. Built in the 1800s, the six-bedroom, 3 bathroom home, includes a gorgeous 49-foot garden, eat-in kitchen, a high-tech security system, a home office, media room and a laundry room.

Tom Brady's floorplan. (Image Credit: Curbed NY)

•    Tom Brady Selling Time Warner Center Condo
NFL star Tom Brady recently listed his three-bedroom condo for $14 million. Purchased in 2006, the condo, located in Time Warner Center, was then re-listed shortly after in 2007 where it has since been rented for $50,000/month. It has been reported by the Journal that the condo has a seller who is expected to enjoy a home with incredible light, oak flooring, a modern Chef’s kitchen with state-of-the art appliances, granite counter-tops and customized cabinetry.

Cher's former home. (Image Credit: The Real Deal)

•    Cher’s Former Home Reduced to $10.2 Million
The Gorce Island mansion home formally owned by Cher in the 1990s has recently listed has recently been to $10.2 million. Located off of Miami Beach, the luxurious 11,460-square-foot mansion, owned by investor Armin Mattli, includes upgrades of about $1 million dollars, a 60-foot pool, and 158-feet or water front. The three-story home also has six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and a two-story hall embraced with double staircases. Originally listed for $16.9 million in 2008 and then for $11.5 in July – making this recent drop at least 40 percent below the market price.

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Tips to Ease Moving Day Strain When Pregnant

Tips to Ease Moving Day Strain When Pregnant

By Serena Norr

Sometimes you have to move, regardless of whether you want to or not. One of those special situations occurs during pregnancy. With all of the ups and downs that occur during this time, adding moving to the mix can increase a mother-to-be’s level of stress and anxiety. No need to fret, Relocation.com is here to help you make this transition as smooth as possible; whether you are moving down the block or to another state or across the country.

1. Move in the Middle:
If you have any sort of flexibility, move during your second trimester. The nausea and tiredness from the first trimester will likely have passed, leaving you feeling energized and pretty good (in general). This will be beneficial when you move, especially since your day may involve long travels, organizing boxes and dealing with movers.

2. Prepare for the Move:
In general, a successful move is determined by how organized and prepared you are. This involves planning your move by locating movers (and picking individuals that you trust), as well as obtaining boxes, packing and locating a storage facility. When looking for moving companies, ask friends and family members for referrals. You can also locate reputable and local movers online through Relocation.com. When calling moving companies, never accept an offer over the phone and be sure to research and then invite at least two-three movers to your home for an in-house moving estimate. This is the best way for movers to actually see your belongings (thus determine the price) as well as a great opportunity to interview them and ask them specific questions pertaining to your needs.

Tip: Since you are with child, make sure that you pace yourself when completing these tasks. It is best to give yourself extra time to stay on top of everything that needs to be done (writing things down helps), which will also prevent you from getting too stressed out along the way.

3. Ask for Help:
You are going to need help with your move. Even if you have a small move, be sure to ask friends and family members for their assistance with anything from packing to calling movers to locating storage. If you can, assign your helpers specific tasks in order to stay organized – having efficient and step-by-step moving checklists are great for this. You can also have your moving company do all of the packing (for an additional fee).

4. Organize your Items:
Hopefully you have some very handy helpers to assist you with your packing, but if not you can stay organized by devising a packing systems for your belongings. Through this efficient plan, organize your items into three piles: pack, donate and toss. The items that don’t work or maybe have holes in them are likely items to toss. The donate pile may be items of clothing that you no longer like or those that don’t fit to be given to friends or charity; while the keep pile are items that will move with you to your new home and can be placed in boxes. This moving system is also a great way to start fresh and get rid of old junk before the new baby. Stay organized throughout the packing process by labeling all of your boxes based on what room the items will be placed. This is also a great way for the movers to know where your belongings should go.

5. Test your Home:
If you are moving into an older home be sure to have it tested for lead. Although you likely had a home inspection, make sure that this also included looking for metals, lead and asbestos. This problem is common in older homes and even in homes that have undergone renovations where walls were simply covered and not stripped of these hazardous materials.

6. Rest and Rest Some More:
It’s finally here; your moving day! This goes without saying but be sure that you get plenty of rest before your move. During the move, be sure to take breaks to rest and stretch, use the restroom, drink tons of fluids and don’t strain your body. This includes not getting stressed out when the inevitable problem happens on moving day. Also, be sure that you are comfortable by wearing comfy shoes and loose fitting clothing and don’t lift anything heavy. Luckily, you don’t have to prove you are supermom on moving day, especially since you are prepared, organized and have a few helping hands to assist you along the way.

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Moving to Hawaii: Locating the Best Schools

Research schools in Hawaii before you make the big move. (Image Credit: across.co.nz)

Guest Post by Aloha Living.com

In searching for the perfect Hawaii home, nearby schools are often as important a factor as the number of bedrooms or the view. Hawaii is unique in several ways, from its single statewide public school system to the prominence and size of private schools. Whether you have a family or are thinking of starting one, it pays to research your education options when buying Hawaii real estate.

Honolulu is home to the largest independent school: Punahou School. And Punahou’s alumni rolls are packed with notable leaders in business and politics. U.S. President Barack Obama is the school’s most famous graduate, but AOL founder Steve Case also went to Punahou, as did eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and even Sun Yat-Sen, founder of the Republic of China.

Nestled in a valley amongst a mix of condos and historic single-family homes, Punahou houses over 3,500 students from grades K-12. Admission is fiercely competitive, with only one out of four applicants able to enroll. And the school’s prestige comes at a price: annual tuition is over $16,000.

Punahou’s closest rival is Iolani School, situated just across the way from Waikiki, perhaps the most famous stretch of Honolulu real estate. Also a private school, Iolani is known for its rigorous academics and emphasis on long-term, high-achieving career plans. If you can afford a Waikiki condo, you can probably afford to send your kids across the bridge to Iolani.

There are dozens of other good private schools in Honolulu, including the Mid-Pacific Institute in Manoa (not surprisingly, also home to some of the most expensive Hawaii real estate), and Kamehameha Schools, which focuses its efforts on benefiting students and families of native Hawaiian ancestry. Enrollment there is, obviously, pretty limited.

When it comes to public schools, choosing from among many varied Honolulu neighborhoods becomes even more important. Hawaii’s single, statewide Department of Education brings with it a few advantages, but many challenges, and compared to school systems in the rest of the U.S., it’s fair to say that Hawaii schools lag behind.

Fortunately, some Hawaii public schools have managed to distinguish themselves.

Locally, Honolulu Magazine publishes an annual ‘Grading the Public Schools’ issue that ranks all public schools in the state. And nationally, there are a number of education portals — such as GreatSchools.net — that apply their own scores and rankings to schools.

Three schools stand out in both the Honolulu Magazine and GreatSchools.net rankings.

Moanalua High School was the top-ranked public high school according to the latest report from Honolulu Magazine, and received a 10/10 rating from GreatSchools.net. Moanalua High School is located in Salt Lake, less than seven miles west of downtown. The area is among the most densely populated areas on Oahu, packed with a wide array of condo complexes.

Mililani High School also fared well in the school rankings, and it’s also one of the largest high schools in the state, with an enrollment of about 2,500. It’s located in Mililani in central O’ahu, the state’s largest planned community. Mililani is a large suburb widely known for being great for families, with thousands of single-family homes and townhomes. The commute into town is long, but the trip is often worth it to those seeking a safe community with great schools, parks, recreation centers and shopping.

Finally, there’s Kalani High School in East Honolulu, the last of the three public high schools to earn a 10/10 GreatSchools.net rating. In terms of enrollment, it’s half the size of Mililani. But because of its location near Kahala, its students generally come from more prosperous homes. East Honolulu real estate is among the state’s most coveted, and a Kahala home is often a sure sign of success.

When you’re ready to buy a Hawaii home, perhaps to start a new career or to retire, it pays to research what the area has to offer the next generation. AlohaLiving.com — a Hawaii real estate search portal powered by trusted MLS data — can help you start your search. The site includes a wide variety of neighborhood information, including school data from GreatSchools.net. Look up profiles on public and private schools, including test scores, reviews and more.

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Moving to the City or the Suburbs? Evaluating the Pros and Cons of Both Areas

Moving to the city or the country? Read our detailed list about the pros and cons of both.

Transitioning Between the City and the Suburbs?: Here’s What You Need to Know about Making the Move

By Faith Teel
Special to Relocation.com

As the old saying goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Whether you’re headed out to the wide-open spaces of the suburbs or moving into the exciting neighborhoods of the big city, you might find that you’ve gotten more than you’ve bargained for. Here are just a few examples of the things they don’t tell you in the advertisements.

Moving to the Suburbs

Long Commutes and Distant Stores – Many people move to the suburbs in search of more space to raise a family or grow a garden. Unfortunately, there is a flip side to having more space: everything is farther apart. Your commute will probably be longer, and you’ll have to drive, because most suburbs are too spread out to make public transportation cost-effective. In some places, it’s common to have an hour-long commute in each direction, which may mean 10 hours that have disappeared from your week.

The lack of public transport also means that you’re more likely to encounter the greatest terror to ever stalk the streets: the teenage driver. In cities, teens can often walk or catch the bus to socialize, but some suburbs are so spread out that a jog to the local coffee shop would be a three-hour marathon. Suburban teens usually get cars long before they get good judgment about driving them.

A Cultural Vacuum – One of the first things that urbanites miss when they move to the suburbs is the variety that cities offer. Many suburbs are extremely homogenous, with cookie-cutter houses and cookie-cutter restaurants. Even the people often seem the same, because few suburbs are economically or ethnically diverse. Don’t bother to look for museums, and feel lucky if a few of the chain restaurants offer take-out or delivery.

Where Are All the People?
– The very privacy that you came looking for can also be your downfall in the ‘burbs,’ because everyone around you moved out here for privacy as well. With everyone so spread out, it can take a long time to meet new people.

Crime is Everywhere – Yes, there is usually more crime in the city, but the suburbs are not exempt from it. There’s lots of petty theft in suburbs, and there are still gangs and drug use in the high schools. Your kids are less likely to get mugged, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your doors unlocked at night.

The Grating Outdoors
– One of the biggest surprises for ex-urbanites is the proximity of Mother Nature in the suburbs. If you’ve never had to mow a lawn or check the kids for ticks, you’re in for quite an experience.

Moving to the City

No Space – The city is an exciting place to be and a great place to find work, which is probably why you want to be there. Unfortunately, everyone else wants to be there too, and that drives up the price of real estate. If you want to live in a reasonably safe neighborhood, be prepared to pay through the nose for a tiny apartment.

For the same reasons, city parking is often impossible. People often sell their cars when moving to the city, which means you will have to rely on public transportation such as buses and cars.

Other People – Other people are everywhere in the city, and that can take some getting used to. Traffic is often worse,  but the real nuisance is the noise,  smells and constant crowds.

Goodbye, Mother Nature – It can be hard to get in tune with nature in the city. The parks are often crowded with other people (see above) and some may not even be located within a close distance to your home. If you manage to score a balcony or small yard with your apartment, keep in mind that the pollution can be hard on plants and trees. It’s also tough to keep animals in the city, especially big dogs that need room to roam.

School Roulette
– In the city, it’s easy to get to know other parents, and you’ll need this advantage when it comes to getting your kids into a good school. In the suburbs, getting into the right school is usually a matter of buying a house in the best neighborhood. In the city, finding the right school is a combination of luck and strategy, and every city’s rules are different. You won’t even have to raise this topic at your kids’ next playdate, because it will be the first thing on every parent’s mind.

Abrupt Changes in Neighborhoods – With everything in the city so packed together, it can be hard to tell at first glance which neighborhoods are safe and which aren’t. In some cities, the transition from slum to swank can happen in just one block. The transient nature of a community’s character becomes more obvious over time. One day, you could wake up to discover that your edgy, artistic neighborhood has become a slum or a yuppie’s paradise.

Whether you’re searching for greener grass in Levittown or the Big Apple, one thing is certain: you’re sure to need some time to adjust. Before you make the jump, take a little bit of extra time to explore the community that you’re moving to. No two cities are alike, and the same is true for suburbs, so if you don’t like what you see, look elsewhere. The quality of your life depends on it.

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Moving with Children: When is the Best Time to Move?

Moving with young children can actually be enjoyable!

By Relocation.com Staff

Although it is advisable to move during the summer period to start children in school during the beginning of a new school year, this is not always possible.  Given the other alternatives, experts are divided on the best time to move when you have children that are in school.  Some experts think that it is best to move during the holidays, while others believe it is best to move during the school year.

If you have the flexibility to choose when you move your family, then you should consider a couple of points when making your decision.

Moving During the Holidays:

  • The children are out of school anyway.  Their studies will not be interrupted.
  • Your children will start the new term with other new kids and therefore may not be considered the new kids on the block.
  • Other activities such as sports or extra-curricular activities may begin after major holidays.

Moving During the School Year:

  • Your children will make friends more quickly because they immediately jump into the classroom environment.
  • A quickly established routine may help your children adapt easier.

Given the inherent challenges that both of these options create for your school-age children, you will want to carefully assess all of the factors before making your final decision.  Most moving companies will provide meaningful discounts when you are not moving during the busy summer moving season, which is yet another factor that you will want to take into account when you choose your date to move.

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Best Gifts for Someone Who Recently Moved

Toast to your new place!

If you have a friend or family member who has recently moved, you must have heard how difficult moving can be – ranging from deciding on a moving company to packing up all of their belongings. Although challenging, it can be one of the most exciting experiences for your friend or family member as they explore a new town or city. To help them acclimate to this new life and ease some of post-moving day stress, we suggest one of these inexpensive housewarming gifts as a way to welcome them to their new home. After all, there is nothing better than a gift from an old friend.

1.    Wine Glasses. Nothing is worth toasting more than the end of the moving process. Purchase a set of two or four wine glasses from popular vendors like Create and Barrel or Bed Bath and Beyond, along with a bottle of wine. We also love the elegant wine carafe’s at Create & Barrel.

2.   Coffee Mugs. If your friend isn’t a drinker, consider a set of fun over-sized coffee mugs or a practical travel mug so your new friend can get their java fix and head out on the road as they check out their new town.

3.    Coffeemaker.  Coffeemakers are relevantly inexpensive these days. Choose from a 10-cup or 12-cup coffee maker such as the Capresso Digital Coffee Maker or a model from Cuisinart. A nice French press is also a great gift that would be perfect with a bag of gourmet coffee.

4.    Beauty Pack. For the female post-movers in your life consider putting a gift bag together with their favorite body wash, candles, lotion, nail polishes, cream, or facial mask. There is nothing she will love more than this mini-spa kit after moving day.

5.    Tool Kit. A sensible gift filled with screws, a hammer, a screw driver, hooks, nuts and bolts that can help your friend as they place pictures on their walls or as they assemble new furniture. Not just for after moving, tool kits – ranging from electrical to portable models – are a practical and useful gift for anyone.

6.    Food. Most likely, your friend will have gotten rid of most of his or her food before moving – at least the non-perishable items. Surprise your friend with a gift basket filled with fresh fruit, nuts, crackers and some cheese. If you live far from each other, you can order fruit baskets online from popular retailers like Edible Arrangements or sweets such as cookies and cakes from Mrs. Fields.

7.   Plants. Greenery really has a way to spruce up a home – especially as your friend’s home is filled with unopened moving boxes. You can have plants delivered from a local nursery or if you live close-by consider bringing a bouquet of flowers to their new home after moving.

8.   Pictures. Pictures such as an image of you and your friend or a scenic painting make for a nice personal gift. Consider ordering a 8 x 10 image and purchase a new frame for your friend.  This warm gift may even inspire your friend to start decorating their new place.

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How to Have a Clothing Swap Party

Have too many clothes? Swap them or give them away before you move.

By Serena Norr

Now that you are moving you can actually see how much stuff you own; and most likely, it’s a lot of items that you didn’t even realize that you had. The beauty of moving is that you not only get a chance to start fresh – whether that be for a new job or the desire to explore a new town – but you also can get rid of extra baggage in the form of your old belongings. One way to get rid of your items is to have a swap party. This is a great way to have an intimate and free clothing exchange. Add some food and drinks and you have a free going away party – as your old clothes find a new home. Party down this weekend with Relocation.com’s clothing swap party guide.

1.    Gather your stuff. Before the party can happen, you’ll have to organize your items into piles of what you want and don’t want. As part of your packing plan, consider what items are of value but those that you no longer have use for. This might include an expensive jacket that you no longer wear or old worn in jeans. Devise these items into a pile for your party. If you have time, wash and fold these items beforehand.

2.    Organize a size box or items by type. During the moving process, organization is the name of the game. Place your items size into various boxes – this will also make it easier for your guests to know where to place their clothes. If you are swapping other items, consider organizing them by type – so books would go with books, DVDs with DVDs, etc.

3.   Send out the invite. Now that you know what items you want to get rid of (er, swap), it’s time to send out the invitation. You will know how many invites to send out based on the size of your home – or wherever you may be having it. Send out a mass email or an Evite to organize your guest list. In your invite, you can also ask your friends to contribute to the swap by bringing a food item or drink – no one wants to swap on an empty stomach.

4.    Get the list together. Now that you know who is coming, set up your list and do a little shopping. Since you have assigned your friends to bring some food and drink items, your shopping should be minimal. Consider some basics like hummus and pita bread, carrots, chips, wine or beer, water and fruit.

5.    Party time, excellent. It’s almost time to partay! Before your guests arrive, arrange all of your clothes into their appropriate size box (small, medium and large) and set up your food and drinks. As your guests arrive, explain your organization system and start swapping!

With any luck, your old clothes, knickknacks and books will have found a new home – clearing up some space making it easier (and lighter) for you on moving day. Taking something is also not a big deal – but be sure to choose wisely. You don’t want to end up with more items  than you had before the swap!

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Relocating On a Budget? The Alternative to Full Service and DIY: Moving Labor

Guest Bloggers: HireAHelper.com

You’re on a tight budget for your move.  You don’t want to do it yourself (DIY) and inflict the sweat and pain on your body, and you also don’t want to have to bribe your friends and family to begrudgingly help you on a Saturday.  The quotes you’ve seen from full service moving companies (they provide the truck, pack, load, drive and unload) seem too expensive.  Fortunately, there is another option: moving labor services.  It’s halfway between the DIY option and the full service option.  With a full service move, you pay for the convenience of having someone else take care of every aspect.  However, if you compartmentalize it and do the easy part yourself, you get a cheaper alternative.  You can rent your own truck and have someone else load it and unload it for you.   However, it’s very important to hire moving labor that’s reliable, experienced, and well-reviewed in order to protect yourself and your belongings.  You can find such movers and their reviews through services like HireAHelper.com, an online moving labor marketplace.

Since a move breaks down to two main components, transportation and labor, it’s easy to split up. Depending on the size, distance, and whether or not you need storage will determine the best mode of transportation for your move.  The three main options are the ubiquitous rental truck, the multi-purpose portable storage container (“pod”), or the lesser known “rent space in a commercial semi-trailer” if you’re moving long distance.  Let’s take a look at how moving labor works with each of these.

If you’re moving locally and don’t need storage, then a rental truck should work perfectly for you.  You can normally get a truck, at most, for a few hundred dollars to take care of your move. Then, you can hire moving labor to do the heavy lifting.  They can pack up your belongings in boxes if you’d like them to, or you can save money and do that part yourself, since it’s not too taxing.  You’d then decide if you need your movers to load, unload, or both.  Since you rented the truck, you’ll be driving your belongings to your new residence while the movers follow you in their own transportation.  However, it’s understandable if you’re not comfortable driving that monster rental truck with the thousands of pounds of your belongings in it, which is why most moving laborers also offer driving help.  They can drive it for you for an additional fee if you so desire. Otherwise, they’ll follow you like your own personal moving escort to your unload destination, or destinations. That’s right. If you need to load and/or unload at multiple destinations that’s not a problem.  For example, if you need to pick up or drop off additional items at a storage unit, your movers will simply follow you to each location and load and/or unload your belongings.  You can think of them as your moving entourage (they may or may not be able to get you to the front of the line at the storage facility office, truck rental counter, etc.).

If you do need temporary storage, perhaps you can’t move into your new place immediately or are doing a remodel, then a pod is a great solution.  The pod company drops the container off at your residence and then you’re free to load it as you like.  You can hire moving labor to load all or part of it.  The pod company picks it up and stores it for however long you need and then delivers it back to you.  Then, when you’re ready to have it unloaded, simply schedule some more moving labor to move your belongings out of the pod and into your new home.   With this option you get to take advantage of the convenience of a pod without having to load and unload it yourself.

If you’re moving long distance, then renting space in a commercial trailer might be a good option for you. Services like Movex have fleets of commercial trailers for transporting household goods.  However, since most people don’t need the space of the whole trailer, it’s split up into compartments which are rented out to different customers.  The shipping cost is shared and it makes it a considerably cheaper option for you.  Again, by compartmentalizing the aspects of your move, you create a much cheaper alternative.  Now all you do is hire moving labor to load your portion of the trailer and you’re all set.  You might be thinking, “Well, my moving labor company won’t be able to unload me thousands of miles away though.”  Good point.  Fortunately, HireAHelper.com has a network of moving labor companies across the country, from Los Angeles movers to New York movers, so there’s qualified moving labor for you on both ends of your move.

Remember, it’s important to know your moving labor company before you hire them, and it’s also beneficial to have a third party involved to provide accountability.  Hiring day laborers off the street may seem like a cheap option at the time, but it can end up costing you much more.  So, don’t put yourself in a position to be scammed or cheated, use a service like HireAHelper.com where you can find out what kind of company you’re hiring before you hire them by reading their past customer reviews.

Have a great move!
HireAHelper.com Staff
Oceanside, CA 92056
(866) 558-2406

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How to Get to Know Your New Town

Explore your new town on your bike.

By Vance Stevens
Special to Relocation.com

Whether you are moving across town or across the country, relocating can quickly become a trying and overwhelming task. Luckily, the difficult part is behind you: the furniture is in place, boxes are unpacked and all the pictures hung. All that is left now is to settle in and get acquainted with your new community. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

Get lost.
One of the best ways to learn a new town is simply to get lost. Hop in the car (or grab a bike) and hit the streets. There is no need to map out the trip or worry about how long you will be gone – just go. Explore the area, stopping at interesting spots and taking in the local scenery. Keep your eyes peeled for landmarks and even take a note or two on places you may want to visit later. Getting lost will bring you closer to your new home, while getting you familiar with the town’s layout and street names.

Shop locally.
Maybe the most enjoyable way to get to know the people in your community is to do a little shopping. Visit a few local shopping areas and talk with local sales reps and small business owners. This is a wonderful to get the pulse of your community as well as an opportunity to meet people who reliable on the local economy for employment. Ask for suggestions on best places to visit and where in town to go for the best cheeseburger.

Join a club.
Look around town for different clubs or organizations to join. My communities have neighborhood watch programs, offering the opportunity to meet new people and to do your part in keeping the neighborhood safe. Health clubs or gyms are another way to meet people in your town with similar interest. Look for local sport clubs such as walking, yoga or hiking groups and be sure to check the local paper for community events looking for volunteers.

Have a yard sale.
If you were not able to bring yourself to get rid of unneeded possessions before your move, here the perfect opportunity to make some additional room in your new home and meet a few neighbors while you’re at it. Putting together a yard sale is the perfect way to bring the neighborhood to you. Gather the things you won’t be using at your new home, pick a Saturday or Sunday (or both) and spend the day with your family getting to know your neighbors and ridding yourself of all those excess possessions.

Classes.
Sign up for a class at a local university or community college. Many schools offer night or weekend classes for those who work or have other obligations during the day. This is the perfect way to get know people in your area that share similar interest and, most likely, share in a similar schedule as you do.  Take this opportunity to make new contacts through group projects and to connect with local professional who may be able to suggest popular social gatherings. Take a glance at campus message boards where students and facility will post information on upcoming community events.

If you have any questions, comments or inquires, please contact me at editorial@relocation.com.

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What to Eat on Moving Day

Don't forget to pack your fruits and veggies on moving day.

By Serena Norr

You are what you eat and if you eat junk on moving day – you are going to feel pretty junk, not to mention tired, irritable and moody. The common rite of passage on moving day involves gorging on high-carb, high fat fare like pizza, chips, candy and fast food – where anything in sight is often fare game. Carb loading may initially feel great and a welcome comfort to dealing with the rigors of moving but when your blood sugar spikes causing your body to crash, it won’t be pretty. And not feeling your best is not how you want to begin moving day – especially when throughout the day, you will have to be on top of your game – dealing with packers and movers, and in some instances, the loading and the driving of the moving truck yourself. So while we believe that staying organized and double-checking your to-do list will contribute to the success of your move,  feeling good, rested and energized is also a huge part of the success of your move.

1.   Breakfast: As mom says “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Eating a nutritious breakfast is not only advisable on the day of your move, but you should do so every day to keep you energized and maintain your blood sugar so that you don’t overeat. Consider a breakfast with a balance of complex carbohydrates and high protein/fiber to keep you sustained. We like Zen Habits and their healthy breakfast suggestions like oatmeal with flaxseed and blueberries, protein shakes, muffins and fresh fruit. Spark people is also on top of the breakfast game and suggested starting the day with waffles, bran muffins and an egg white omelet.

2.    Get Snackin’: While breakfast is essential to get you through the day, so are snacks – and of course we only mean the healthy ones. Experts suggest that eating throughout the day is actually more advisable – as opposed to eating three big meals. Since you might be snacking on the road, consider snack items that are portable like trail mix, almonds, protein bars, fruit, carrots and hummus and cheese are quick snack options to keep you full until lunch.

3.    Lunchin’ on the Road: Hopefully your healthy snack will have sustained you, but now it’s time for lunch. Consider making a brown bag lunch to save you money and use some of your left over food. Eating Well magazine recently released their picks for the 25 best lunches. Simple sandwiches like their Tuscan-style tuna salad and even pizza roll-ups (great for the kids) would be easy to travel with and prepare the night before on the. You can also make a simple peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread (also great for the kids) or a spinach salad packed in a plastic container. Load up the sandwiches in a cooler, along with your snacks and water. If you can’t make lunch, be wise when on the road. Even popular chains like Mickey D’s now offer salads and fruit these days.

4.    Dinner Time: Hopefully you will be in your new home by dinnertime. Since everything will be packed away, this is a good excuse to try out a restaurant in your new area. If you are too exhausted to go out, consider take-out, but still sticking to a healthy meal. Remember, tomorrow and the next few days are going to be exhausting with unpacking, sorting out utilities and decorating your new home – tackling the madness by eating healthy is one easy way to keep you on your toes during the hectic time that is moving.

Relocation.com’s Ideas for the Best Breakfast, Lunch, Snack and Dinner Options.

Breakfast:
Cereal with fresh fruit – not the sugary kind
Protein shake with mixed berries, bananas, flax seed, oats and protein poweder
Egg white scramble with spinach, mushrooms and a light cheese
Bran muffin
Oatmeal with flaxseed and berries
Tofu Scramble with whole wheat toast
Low-fat granola with yogurt

Lunch:
Tuna sandwich on a whole wheat wrap
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Spinach salad with a lean protein like fish or chicken, carrots, beets, avocados and rice

Snacks:
Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
Fruit like melons or mixed berries
Low-fat cheese
Crackers
Carrots, cucumber and celery with hummus or peanut butter
apple with peanut butter
Protein bars

Dinner:
Lean protein like grilled fish or chicken
Whole grain rice
Sautéed broccoli or spinach

If you have any questions, comments or inquires, please contact me at editorial@relocation.com.

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The Celebrity Beat: Relocation.com’s Celebrity Real Estate Report

By Serena Norr

We never know what to expect when we research the celebrity housing market for the Beat. This week we were excited to learn that Steve Jobs was finally given the go-head to start the demolition of the historic property he owns called the Jackling House. The demolition, which took six years to approve, will involve the construction of a smaller and more contemporary space — simplifying the home and tearing down its 30 rooms that will reportedly cost Jobs $8.45 million to complete. This week, we also discovered that Larry the Cable Guy’s home was placed on the market. Listed for $1.55 million and developed by the “Git-r-done” comedian, the Florida log-style home includes a “man cave” with a pool table, TV, mini-bar and bar signs as well as a pool and a spa. Acting couple, Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber are also on the Beat this week. They placed their 4,410-square-foot Los Angeles home on the market that includes an on-site gym, a two-story guest house and six-bedrooms. We look forward to what next week brings…and the (unexpected) real estate news that follows.

Floor plan of Steve Jobs' new home -Expected construction costs: $8.45 million. (Photo Credit: Gizmodo)

•    Steve Jobs’ Construction Plans Revealed
Steve Jobs, the multi-billionaire and CEO of Apple finally received the go-ahead to renovate the historic Jackling House. The 17,000-square foot, 30-room Spanish Colonial home, built for copper baron Daniel Jackling, is owned by Jobs but he has been unable to complete or even start his plans for a full-on demolition and remodel. Architectural preservationists stated that the home was an historic piece of real estate and shouldn’t be demolished. Finally in July of 2010, the preservationists’ dropped their case but some elements of the house such as an organ, flag pole and decorative tiles are being removed and preserved. The newer and more contemporary home plans was reveled on Gizmodo – showing the elaborate floor plan created by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson – the design firm responsible for several Apple stores. The new floor plan indicates a smaller home – measuring at 4,190-square-feet – that will include five bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. The new design also indicates that there are plans to build a three-car garage, a pool with a pool house and a third building for an office. Additionally, among the six acres of land there are plans to add various plants and flowers, stone walkways and a private vegetable garden – a diminutively simpler home than the former grandiose estate. It is estimated that the home will be completed in 22 months.

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber's home - listed for $5,995,000. (Photo Credit: The Real Estalker)

•    Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber List Brentwood Home
Actor couple Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber recently placed their Los Angeles home on the market for $5,995,000. The 4,410-square-foot, two-story home includes six bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms; a two-story guest room; an on-site gym; a two-car garage and a gated and secured entry way. The European-inspired home also includes several fireplaces, an eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, a swimming pool and circular spa. The couple also owns a 2,900-square- foot condo in New York.

You, too, can have your own personal "man cave" if you buy Larry the Cable Guy's home - listed at $1.55 million. (Photo Credit: Housing Watch)

•    Larry the Cable Guy Places Florida Home on the Market
Comedian Dan Whitney aka Larry the Cable Guy known for the catchphrase “Git-r-done” recently placed his Sanford, Florida home on the market for $1.55 million. The five-bedroom home, situated on 18.79 acres, includes a lot of interesting details that Whitney himself renovated. There is a “man cave” that includes a poker and pool table, mini-bar, TV and bar signs as well as an outdoor movie theater, a pool with a waterfall, an outdoor spa, detached gym and two children’s rooms with personal murals. Whitney sited outgrowing the home as the reason for the sale.

Scott Baio's home - sold for$2.5 million. (Photo Credit: Zillow.com)

•    Scott Baio Sells Encino, California Home
Actor Scott Baio recently sold his “Spectacular Celebrity Owned Estate!” to an undisclosed buyer for $2.5 million. Built in 1964, the new buyer can look forward to enjoying 4,400-square-feet of living space, three fireplaces, four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. The Encino, California home also includes a swimming pool with a hot tub, a tennis court, a koi pond, a formal living and dining room and a sprawling back yard with luscious greenery and gardens.

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Relocation.com’s Best Cities for Coffee Lovers

Considering relocating for coffee?

By Serena Norr

We are a caffeinated nation. We wake up craving coffee, need it to perk us up midday and even enjoy it as a treat at night. We know how we like it and choose to have it black or sweet or light or as a latte or a cappuccino. It is the center of our business meetings and friendly get-togethers; it warms us when we are cold and keeps us cool when we are hot. There are blogs about coffee and magazines dedicated to it – there are even those who relocate to a new town just be near their beloved brew. Some even say that it can prevent stroke, Parkinson’s Disease and some cancers. Although we don’t know much about that we can speak about the popular cities that fuel our desire for caffeine more than others. Thanks to data from Daily Beast and Share Ranks, we complied a list of the best cities to get your (caffeinated) buzz on.

Seattle, Washington:
Some may say that Seattle is the birthplace of the specialty coffee industry. The first Starbucks was built there in 1971 (across from the Pike Place market) and we all know what happened to that little company. Seattle, though, isn’t solely about this popular chain especially when there are endless options to get a decent cup of coffee. We love the single-estate coffees (beans purchased from individual farms) from the retailers Espresso Vivace, Caffe Vita, Louisa’s Café, Zoka and numerous other independent roasters through the city.

New Orleans, Louisiana:
According to Share Ranks, New Orleans (pronounced Nawlins) ranked number two as the go-to city for coffee. As a French Market area, you won’t be able (or want) to leave New Orleans without trying their signature chicory-infused coffee. This blend is infused with a chicory root from an endive plant that is roasted and ground with coffee – creating a rich flavor and enhanced body that also softens the bitterness (and acidity) of the dark blend. We suggest accompanying your café with a delicious fried fritter known as the beignet. Check out Café Du Monde for a coffee served Au Lait style (with half and half and milk) or PJ’s Coffee and Tea where you can choose from over 20 different blends of coffee.

Portland, Oregon:
Portland often parallels with Seattle has having the best coffee where it often said that Seattle led the way but Portland has taken over the crown [kuow.org]. The home base of World Cup Coffee and Tea, Urban Grind, and of course, the popular roaster Stumptown where you can try locally roasted blends from Latin America, Africa, Indonesia and more.

New York, New York:
New York has finally gotten around to the buzz surrounding the specialty coffee market [the New York Times]. Not that we are am knocking a 75 cent cup of coffee from a truck vendor or the bodega blends, but having Ninth Street Espresso, Gorilla Coffee, Think Coffee and Café Grumpy has now given us New Yorkers more peep in this fast-paced city that never sleeps.

Denver, Colorado:
One of Relocation.com’s top healthiest cities, the mountainous Denver, Colorado – also known as the “Mile High City” – is packed with coffee roasters and independent cafes. Check out Stella’s Coffee for a gourmet blend of coffee from Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, to name a few choices or Fluid Coffee Bar for a freshly roasted cup of Joe.

San Fransisco, California:
According to the Daily Beast, San Fransisco residents spend more than $30 bucks a month on coffee that we are sure is wisely spent at the historic Caffe Trieste or the organic roaster Blue Bottle Coffee. Ritual Coffee Roasters on Howard and Valencia streets is also a signature purveyor in this hilly city where you can try their signature sweet tooth espresso as well as delicious seasonal blends.

Chicago, Illinois:
Residents of the Windy City surely love to take refuge in a warm cuppa Joe. Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea is based here where you can try a single origin, blended coffee or reserve blend. Metropolis Coffee Company and Chicago Coffee Roastery are also excellent Chicago coffee roasters.

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii:
As the only state in the U.S. that grows coffee, Hawaiian coffee comes from several regions on this tropical state, but is probably better know for its varietals from Kona. Try Bad Ass Coffee or Maui Coffee Roasters. Even better, visit a coffee plantation to test a blend fresh from the source. If interested in visiting a coffee farm, be aware that the bulk of the harvest occurs from September through December. For more information, visit the Hawaii Coffee Association.

Other Popular Coffee-Friendly Cities:

•    San Jose, California
•    Houston, Texas
•    Phoenix, Arizona
•    Los Angeles, California
•    Boston, Massachusetts
•    Washington, D.C.
•    San Diego, California
•    Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
•    Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

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Veggie Tales: America’s Best Towns for Vegetarians

San Francisco -- One of the Top Towns for Vegetarians. (Image Credit: www.nps.org)

By Joann Pan

These days being a vegetarian isn’t as hard as it used to be, but we say that from a big city standpoint. We’re not quite sure how it is for folks in small towns. Here in NYC, instead of getting a burger, there’s always an option for pizza or salad. Instead of having a sausage sandwich for breakfast, there’s always an option to get some sweetly caked waffles from a food truck. With a plethora of stands, kiosks and restaurants in New York City [average rent for a two-bedroom apartment $5,286: Figure provided by www.mynewplace.com]that seem to take up every nook and cranny of our beloved city, it’s actually hard to eat meat every day (and not that hard to eat meat ever again) when there’s so much vegetarian food around—from the cheap and delicious falafel sandwiches on St. Marks, avocado rolls in Midtown, to the meat-shaped tofu Asian place that we enjoy when we visit the beloved borough of Queens. Our vegetarian food tours of our hometown have inspired us to see what’s available in other hometowns across the U.S. This is for you current veggies or wannabe vegetarians out there: Relocation.com’s Guide to the Best Vegetarian Towns in the U.S.

Austin, Texas [average rent for a two-bedroom apartment $1,239: Figure provided by www.mynewplace.com]
Wow—who knew that there was such a big vegetarian metropolis in the southern state of Texas where the beef and poultry are abundant. Personally, without having taken a trip to out West, I only know of Texas from the old-time cowboy movies and from trying out a Texas-style steakhouse in Queens (pre-veggie days). From doing vast research online; we found out that Austin vegetarians love living animal-friendly in their city. They are really proud of the fact that they can ride their bicycles (Austin is also one of the greenest cities in the U.S., according to USAToday.com) to get to a dozen vegan trailers and cafes with ease. Some of the mentionable restaurants are: Counter Culture (we hear that their Jackfruit Philly is delicious), Korean vegetarian restaurant Koriente and Casa de Luz (picture lush green decorations and pebbled paths leading to the most peaceful meal you’ve ever had).

Portland, Oregon [average rent for a two-bedroom apartment $1,626: Figure provided by www.mynewplace.com]
Goveg.com and Relocation.com love Portland, Oregon—who recently named it “America’s Best Vegetarian-Friendly Large City” and the top city people are relocating to (in respective order). They say Portland is a big city (much like NYC) that persuades people to eat vegetarian with convenient veggie meals on wheels, amazing animal-free meals at star restaurants and vegan desserts you can only have here. Such as something called a Voodoo Doughnut that sells many vegan options that includes the “Fruit Loop Donut,” which you can imagine looks like something out of your childhood breakfast bowl and the “Old Dirty Bastard,” which actually doesn’t look how it sounds—it’s a doughnut with chocolate frosting, crumbled Oreos and peanut butter drizzle. And when we looked up vegetarian places in Portland we came up with over 1,035 restaurants, carts and bistros that include popular digs such as Vita Café in Alberta Arts District, Paradox Café in Southeast Portland, and Swagat Indian Cuisine in Alphabet District.

San Francisco, California [average rent for a two-bedroom apartment $3,969: Figure provided by www.mynewplace.com]
San Francisco
the city by the bay is a perfect location for vegetarians because of the plethora of vegan restaurants and organic food markets. I can even say that the vegetarian establishments can outnumber the city’s large number of cafes. PETA lists it in spot number seven on a list of “The Most Veg-Friendly Cities in North America.” I believe it should be higher on the list. There were over 2,777 restaurants that came up as vegetarian when we did our own search. Some of the most popular vegetarian/vegan restaurants we know of are: Weird Fish in the Mission neighborhood, Greens in Cow Hollow, Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant in Inner Sunset, The Plant Café Organic in Cow Hollow (we seriously recommend the green curry) and Golden Era Vegetarian Restaurant in Civic Center.

Asheville, North Carolina [average rent for a two-bedroom apartment $827: Figure provided by www.mynewplace.com]
Asheville
is different than the big vegetarian cities we’ve featured because it’s a small town nestled in the back woods of North Carolina. Asheville was once named “the Happiest City in America” by Self Magazine; probably because of all the vegetarian eateries and pleasant neighbors that the city has to offer. Asheville veggies love the Sunny Point Café and Bakery that serves amazing tofu chorizo, we hear, and the best mussels in town. After dinnertime, head over to the Crispycat, where you can buy and taste the very first candy bar of its kind made from fully organic ingredients. There is the chocolate sundae flavor, mint coconut flavor and the toasted almond bar, all made from real organic ingredients.

Of course, we have only skimmed the surface of the best vegetarian-friendly towns in the U.S. What are your favorite vegetarian cities? Let us know where you had the best vegetarian/vegan meal—we never pass up the opportunity for a good food story.

Here are other lists for the best vegetarian towns:
North America’s Most Vegetarian-Friendly Cities [GoVeg.com]
Top 16 Best Vegetarian Cities in the USA [Vegetarian-Restaurants.net]
The Most Veg-Friendly Cities in North America [PETA]

Joann Pan is a freelance writer and photographer based in New York City. She has interned and contributed to Buffalo Spree Magazine and Racked NY.

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How to Get Organized and Have an End of Season Garage Sale

Have a garage sale this weekend! Trust us; it's easier than you think.

By Serena Norr

Maybe you’re in the process of moving and need to get rid of some junk or you’ve been living in your home for awhile and notice that you surrounded by stuff you never use. You know exactly what we mean: old knickknacks, clothes with tags on them and your old blender from the 1970s. Clearing up the junk in your life is one way to declutter your home; not to mention it will make you feel better. But before you drop off your stuff to your local Salvation Army or pass your items along to a friend, consider squeezing one last dollar (or two) out of them by having a garage sale. As the summer is winding down (sad, but true), garage sales are a great way to get rid of your unwanted baggage aka junk and make a small profit in the process.  Here’s how to get organized and throw one this weekend.

1.    What to Sell. Before you create the buzz about your garage sale, you will need to know exactly what you are selling. Going from room-to-room, make a list and collect the items you no longer need or want (most likely you know what these are). You can also make a list of items that you are thinking of selling but aren’t 100 percent sure of. If possible, pack the ‘to be sold’ items together in boxes or garbage bags for the big day.

2.   Signage. If you have a sale, you will need to tell people about it. Word-of-mouth may work in small communities, but to really get the word out you will need signs. Enlist a crafty friend to help you create colorful posters stating the date, time and your address as well as alternative date should it rain (after all, Mother Nature can be a fickle one.)  Don’t leave any of these details out – or people will not know where to go. Your sign should also list (briefly) what you will be selling such as books, antiques, baby clothes, etc. You don’t want to make the list too long, but if you have a rare or valuable item such as a 1950s Mickey Mouse doll or a slightly used Mac laptop definitely list them. Hot items like that are sure to draw in an excited crowd.

3.    Post. You should post your sign one week before your sale. Any earlier and people will likely forget about it, not to mention your sign may be torn down. Post your signs everywhere in your neighborhood and think outside of the box. Ask your local coffee house, library, theater, grocery store or community garden if you can post your sign there. You may also want to place an ad in your local newspaper to get the word out.

4.   Internet. The internet is yet another useful way to get the word out about your sale. Post the information from your sign on a local list serve or on Craiglist. Be careful about posting your address and phone number on Craigslist, though, but rather, write your email address so that interested parties can contact you directly.

5.    Get Organized. Now that your neighbors are counting down the days to your sale; it’s time to solidify your list. If there are items that you are questioning such as sentimental items that you want to keep but is taking up space, then consider storage. Do one more assessment of your home and really try to get rid of your old stuff, consider them useful, but no longer useful to you. Two-three days before the sale, get all of the items together and start labeling. [We would advise labeling before a sale because many people are die-hard garage sale enthusiasts who will show up right when your sale begins (if not earlier).] This will also enable you to have your pricing figured out so that there is no uncertainty the day of. This is also helpful if someone is helping you with your sale – enabling you both to be on the same page and not making up prices throughout the day.

6.   Check it Twice. The day before your sale, make sure everything that you want sold is packed away and that everything is labeled and ready to go. Also, make sure that you have your table ready and food for the day of your sale. Trust us, standing outside exchanging bucks will surely make you hungry.

7.    Take Care of Yourself. Make sure to get enough rest the day before since you will likely be on your feet and outside for five or more hours. On the day of your sale have a hearty breakfast and begin setting up your items at least 30 minutes before the sale – like we said before, people will come early and they will be ready to shop.

8.   Be Flexible. Try not to be too firm on your price (unless there is a reason) and be open to negotiating. Sometimes taking five bucks off your asking price will enable you to get rid of more stuff.

9.    Enjoy Yourself! You worked hard to make this day happen, take it all in and be happy that your old items are now finding their way to a new home.

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The Great De-Clutter: Getting Rid of Your Belongings While Packing for a Move

Does this junk pile look familiar? Don't relocate with stuff you don't need.

By Kathy Woodard

So, you finally found the perfect home, congratulations! The next step is planning for your big moving day, and the first thing you need to think about is packing. While packing for a move, getting rid of unneeded or unwanted belongings can save you time, money and a whole lot of aggravation. Here are some great ideas for The Great De-Clutter!

Room by room:
Most of us have a whole houseful of clutter that we don’t even realize we move! It can feel overwhelming to consider everything you need to go through, so start by breaking it down into smaller jobs.  Sort through each room one at a time; don’t try to tackle the whole house in a weekend. Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to decide what’s worth keeping, and what needs a new home. Have three piles; one for trash, one for give away, and one for packing. When you finally get through all the rooms, move all your give away piles into a garage or empty floor space, and begin the de-cluttering! Here’s what to do with all that stuff…

Sell it:
Lots of the things you no longer want may be old for you, but may be a great find for someone else. And guess what; they may be willing to pay you for it. Items often in demand are electronic equipment, furniture, books, entertainment and items of value, such as jewelry. You may even sell enough stuff to help pay for your move! Great ways to find buyers for your unneeded belongings:

  • Craigslist.com
  • Local classified newspaper
  • Bulletin boards at apartments, churches, and health clubs
  • Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter
  • Friends and family

Speaking of friends and family…
Many times the people you love the most have similar tastes and needs as you. They may have had their eye on that dog painting above your fireplace for years, and now is their chance! Host a “Moving On” party. Move all your give away items to a garage space, a yard, or an unused room. Now invite all your friends and family for pot luck, inviting them to bring both a dish, and plenty of extra space in the car for the ride home A good time to be had by all, and everyone gets to pick and choose what they would like. Everyone wins!

In the case that not all your treasures are snapped up by those who know you best…

Give it away

There are many benefits to donating items you no longer need, or just plain don’t want to pack. Donating so items can be reused is environmentally responsible, can give you a tax savings and most of all, will help you to accomplish the main objective… de-cluttering! Many charities will even come to your door and pick up for free. When you have sold all you can sell, and given away as much as you can to family and friends, this is your next step. Make sure to get (and save) a receipt from the charity you choose to donate to so you can deduct the value from your taxes. You might want to call several weeks in advance of your move if you want to get a pick up; some charities book far in advance for those services. Here are some great ideas for charities to donate to, but there are many more. Check your local phone book, or ask at a local church for more ideas.

Also, consider the website Freecycle.com. You can post your items to give away in your local area, just like on Craigslist. Things tend to get snatched up pretty quickly, so it’s a good place to try if you can’t wait for a charity pick up.

Getting rid of your belongings while packing for a move is a necessity not only for the packing process, but to help you enjoy your new home as well. After all, why start over in a new home with all your old stuff? On top of all that, having a little less stuff is sure to save you on some money when using movers.

Want free home and garden ideas? Kathy Woodard, is an author, columnist and home decorating expert. Visit her at her website  www.TheBudgetDecorator.com and also at www.DecoratingYourSmallSpace.com.

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Your Must-Have Moving to England Guide

Landscape of London, England — (Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/whata1derfulworld/4759561759/sizes/l/)

By Joann Pan

Having been to London, England a couple times during my college years, I got little tastes of British life during week-long trips over official breaks from school. Now thoughts of these trips have amounted to a desire not only to vacation, but to relocate to England. I imagine myself visiting Harrods for fresh seafood or some other awesome concoction in their renowned cafeteria or to spend my days visiting the cool (and free!) museums or simply taking a stroll thinking of all of the people I would meet. I now reminisce about the fields of green that I walked through, juxtaposing itself with the busyness of the City of London. This feeling of longing to move is one shared by many other Americans who have thought of ditching their hurried way of life—fueled by Starbucks—for something more abroad. There are 195 countries in the world today; why live in just one?

England is one of the top places for American expatriates simply for the fact of the common language. Communication is huge, but more of us are moving to England due to the areas stark commonalities to the U.S. such as its similar food, entertainment, technology and cultural amenities. We are also convinced to know England because we’ve seen all the movies based out of English cities like Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Bradford, Nottingham and others. We want the UK-typical adventure being offered up in “Wuthering Heights” (1936) or the “Harry Potter” series. So, here’s the plan: trade in my 9-to-5 routine and daily treks through the concrete jungle for afternoon tea, run-ins with The Queen and   stopping every so often to sample the best fish and chips in the world.. My plans may be far-fetched, but what we need to get there isn’t. Stay a while and read Relocation.com’s guide to moving to beautiful England. Even better, Scotland is right above, Wales adjacent on the West and the English Channel to the South, along nearby Paris and Belgium. But before you go, check out some of the essentials you’ll need to traverse the sea as you make one of the most exciting moves of your life!

Pack your bags -- it's time to relocate to England! (Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dpattinson/412897896/)

Number 1: Obtain a Work Visa

Now, you didn’t think the United States was going to make it easy for you, did you? The first hurdle of moving out of the country will be obtaining for visa, which will grant you permission to work in the U.K. You can’t show up with a Holiday Visa and expect to find work—you will be turned away at the airport, most likely. There is a variety of visas you can get. They seemingly are tailored to what you need abroad—whether you are a student, temporary employee or trying to start a business. Available visas include: a Work Permit that requires you to receive sponsorship from an employer in England, a Tier 1 Visa for Highly Skilled individuals or a Tier 1 Entrepreneurs Visa that allows someone to set up or take over a business in the UK. We recommend going to the Skillclear Website or the UK Border Agency’s official Website for more inquiries about the different visas you can obtain.

Number 2: A Bank Account

In order to obtain an bank account in England you will need your passport, a letter from your current employer in England and proof of residency. These documents may be hard to obtain, if you are in the middle of the move and haven’t found a job yet. If possible, you should check with your local bank to see if you can switch to a UK branch before departing America with your global bank such as Citigroup, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and others.

Number 3: Health Care

The National Health Service (NHS) provides free hospital care and medical consultations to those with UK Work Permits and their dependents. Anyone who is in an accident or emergency situation gets free medical attention and treatment, no matter what the status of their visa. Most people in the UK see a general practitioner. We recommend going to the NHS official website to find a general practitioner in your new English home: www.nhs.uk/England.

Number 4: A Car

You will probably need a car to get around most parts of England because of the great disparity in rural parts and suburban parts of town. You will notice people drive on the left side of the road. American drivers will have to get used to the narrowness of all the roads and the lack of billboards on the highways. This is an effective way to move around different cities and towns in England. But, before experiencing the open roads, you will need to get a driver’s license as well as other paperwork. Licenses issued in countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa may be traded in for a Great Britain driver’s license. More information about licenses may be found here at: www. Dvla.gov.uk. Once, you buy a vehicle, you will have to register it in the UK to be taxed. For more information: www.direct.gov.uk/.

Number 5: Moving professionals to help you move

Whether it’s storage or moving overseas with international movers, you will need professional, experienced help with such a big move you are planning. You will have to hire a company that can handle shipping all your furniture, clothes and other life necessities by ocean in a large metal container. To ensure you have chosen the best moving company with the best prices, compare prices early of licensed moving professionals [More on how to choose a mover].

Here, you have it. Just a condensed version of what you need to ensure you have the smoothest ride to your new life based in England. For those who are in the middle of a move or for those who have already moved, please leave your own ideas and tips for Americans hoping to move to England.

Additional tips for your next move:
•   Don’t make these five overseas moving mistakes
•   Tips on Moving Internationally
•   Before an Overseas Move, Check on Customs Regulations

Joann Pan is a freelance writer and photographer based in New York City. She has interned and contributed to Buffalo Spree Magazine and Racked NY.

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The Celebrity Beat: Relocation.com’s Celebrity Real Estate Report

The ornate abode of Rush Limbaugh -- Sold for $11.5 million. (Photo Credit: Corocan via the Wall Street Journal)

By Serena Norr

A few politicos made “the Celebrity Beat” this week. The “Lion of the Senate” aka the late Ted Kennedy’s Washington, DC home was recently placed on the market for $7,995,000. This massive Colonial-style estate includes five bedrooms, six bathrooms, a wine cellar and a personal gym designed by “the Terminator” or Governor Schwarzenegger, as he is referred to these days. On the right side of the political spectrum, Rush Limbaugh’s Upper East Side penthouse was sold for $11.5 million to an undisclosed buyer. Limbaugh has been stating he has wanted out of New York due to the city’s high property taxes — but if you have an $11 million dollar home, we are thinking you have sufficient funds to pay good-old Uncle Sam. To light things up a  bit, comedians Cheryl Hines and Adam Carrolla are both selling their California homes. Hines’ home is situated in Brentwood overlooking the mountains; while Carrolla’s home overlooks downtown Los Angeles that was also personally designed and renovated by Carrolla.

Exterior Shot of the Late Ted Kennedy's Home -- Listed at $7,995,000. (Photo Credit: Zillow.com)

•    Ted Kennedy’s Home on the Market for $7,995,000
The Washington, DC home of the late Ted Kennedy (Kennedy passed in 2009 after a long bout with brain cancer) is on the market for $7.95 million. Purchased in 1998 for 2.7 million, the 8,900-square-foot home includes five bedrooms, six full-sized bathrooms and two half baths, a wine cellar, an indoor and outdoor pool, a secret hideaway from the library and an indoor gym designed by no other than the movie star-turned-gobernador Arnold Schwarzenegger! Described as a “Colonial-style home” whose decor features long white columns, French doors, high ceilings, an outdoor terrace, gardens and a massive dining room that is customized to fit 50 people. Listed by Vicki Kennedy (Kennedys’ widow), who is seeking a smaller home in Washington, DC. According to the Wall Street Journal, the home is “quietly being shopped around” with no current buyer.

Exterior View of Cheryl Hines Brentwood Home -- Listed at $4,249,000. (Photo Credit: Paul Barnaby via the Wall Street Journal)

•   Cheryl Hines Lists Brentwood Home for $4,249,000
Comedian and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Cheryl Hines recently listed her walled and gated Mandeville Canyon-area estate for $4,249,000.The 4,908-square-foot home sits on an acre of land that features stunning views of the nearby California mountains and new furnishings and renovations throughout the properties open-floor plan. If that isn’t enough, perhaps the homes six bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms, a guest house and an outdoor pool with massive trees throughout the property may entice you to buy?

Joe Torre's home includes an indoor swimming pool -- Listed at$1,175,000. (Photo Credit: Zillow.com)

•    Joe Torre’s Home Listed for Auction at $1,175,000
Joe Torre, former coach of the New York Yankees and current coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers has recently placed is New Rochelle, New York to be sold via a public auction. Located 30 minutes from Manhattan, the 6,500-square-foot home is listed at $1,175,000 that is expected to exceed the asking price. Some notable features about the two-level property includes six bedrooms, five bathrooms, an indoor pool and a three-car garage all of which is situated on 1.01 acres of land. The first level features a family room, a fireplace, and a large kitchen; while the second level has a master suite, guest rooms and a laundry room. Owners of the property will also become stockholders of the estate property company. For more information on the auction, visit BidOnTheCity.com.

Rush Limbaugh's master bedroom complete with a ceiling mural -- Sold for $11.5 million. (Photo Credit: Corocan via the Wall Street Journal)

•    Rush Limbaugh Finds Buyer for NYC Penthouse
On another side of the political spectrum, conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh has found a buyer for his Upper East Side NYC penthouse. Originally listed for $13.95 million, the undisclosed buyer will pay $11.5 million for the condo, according to the Wall St. Journal. The full-floor penthouse overlooks Central Park and features 10 rooms, four terraces, a 30-foot-wide living room and a private elevator. The new buyer will also enjoy personal decorating touches of the conservative talk-show host such as ornate wall designs and a mural of clouds and birds in the master bedroom, along with various ceiling murals throughout the penthouse featuring palm trees and the beach. Limbaugh is relocating from New York due to the high property taxes, which he announced in February on his radio-show entitled “El Rushbo to New York: Drop Dead.”

Adam's Carolla's Home for Sale-- Listed at $1,395,000. (Photo Credit: the Luxist)

•    Adam Carolla Lists Home for $1.3 Million
Comedian, Adam Carolla recently put his Beachwood Canyon home on the market. Carolla – who also owns two other properties in the Los Angeles-area – personally did all of the renovations on this three-bedroom as stated on the Luxist, “the home was totally rebuilt, piece by piece, like a restoration of an old car with modern equipment.” With a contractor background, Carolla spent at least $350,000 in home improvements on his 2,281-square-feet French-style home. The “ultimate bachelor pad,” that was “overbuilt,” as stated by Carolla, includes some interesting features such as an office, an indoor and outdoor bar, an updated kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances and a soundproof basement. The exterior of the house is also pretty impressive, which resembles a castle and overlooks downtown Los Angeles and views of the Hollywood sign.

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The Celebrity Beat: Relocation.com’s Celebrity Real Estate Report

Paul Allen's New Malibu Home -- Sold for $25million (Photo Credit: Westside Estate Agency)

Paul Allen's New Malibu Home -- Sold for $25 million (Photo Credit: Westside Estate Agency)

By Serena Norr

Whoa, baby it is sure hot over here in NYC (recent temps have hit the 101 mark), but even the scorching weather hasn’t slowed down the celebrity real estate market. One example: Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) who recently purchased a $25 million Malibu, California. Not only is this contemporary mansion covered in glass and white stucco, but the home is located along the über luxurious Carbon beach aka “Billionaire’s Beach” — where music mogul David Geffen, Courtney Cox-Arquette and Jennifer Aniston also have homes.

If buying is out of your range, you can always rent like Tracy Morgan recently did. Or you can stay in Malibu — on a temporary basis — in Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne’s home. Then again, the $40,000 a month rental fee is a little out of our range. Stay cool and we’ll see you next week.

•    Tracy Morgan On the Move…To Midtown
“Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star, Tracy Morgan has recently relocated to a luxury condo in the West 50s. Morgan made the move after his previous Trump Place apartment went on fire (a fish tank lamp was to blame). His new $14,900 a month rental comes complete with “four bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, private parking and a 1,000-square-foot terrace with views of the city” according to NYMag.com.

•    Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne’s Home for Rent
The market for rentals is surging and this can also be said for celebrity homes. Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne recently listed their 4,500-square-foot Malibu home for rent for $40,000 a month for the rest of the summer. For approximately two months, you can reside in the rock star’s cottage complete with five bedrooms, five bathrooms and views of the ocean. The home also features a modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances, flat screen TVs, a fireplace and French doors leading to an outside area with a terrace and to-die-for views of the beach.

•    Pierce Bronsan Puts His Malibu Home on the Market for $3.9 Million
Actor Pierce Brosnan of “James Bond” movies recently listed his Malibu mansion for sale for $3.9 million. His gated beachfront home “designed as an artist’s retreat,” according to the LATimes.com includes an office, a media room, a library, five fireplaces, three bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. The Mediterranean-style home also features several balconies facing the ocean and nearby mountains. There are no reports as to why Bronsan is selling his luxurious property.

•    Michael Imperioli Lists NYC Townhouse for $6.995 Million
According to the NYPost, “Sopranos” star Michael Imperioli has recently listed his TriBeCa townhouse for sale for $6.995 million. Imperioli’s four-story, 4,720-square-foot home features four bedrooms, three bathrooms, high ceilings and a roof top-deck. On top of all of that, the cast-iron building is described as a “movie set” with draped curtains, gothic décor and an interesting color scheme of deep reds and purples.

•    Paul Allen Purchases Malibu Home for Approximately $25 Million
Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) recently purchased an oceanfront home in Malibu for $25 million. This modern home features a clean interior finish with floor-to-ceiling glass doors and white stucco. Located on a strip of the beach dubbed “Billionaire’s Beach,” the 5,800-square-foot home features five bedrooms, a deck with a pool, a gym and a screening room, according to the WSJ.com. Allen also owns numerous properties in Seattle.

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Best Children’s Books for Moving Day

Moving Day by Stan and Jan Bernstein (Image from: Amazon.com)

"Moving Day" by Stan and Jan Bernstein (Image from: Amazon.com)

By Carolina Pichardo

Although adults can deal with the stress and changes that come with moving into a new home, children will probably tell you a different story.

Their toys, furniture and clothes are missing. They’ve said goodbye to everything that’s familiar to them, including best friends, parks,  school and the familiar surroundings of their neighborhood. Depending on the age of the child, this could all be a very frightening and stressful period.

One of the simplest, and probably easiest way to prepare and facilitate the transition for your child is to connect their moving day experiences through a story. This will not only change their perspective, but can answer several questions and allow them to relate to someone their own age who had a similar experience. Whether it’s a concern about making new friends, or what to do with the ones they’re leaving behind. Also, understanding that moving away doesn’t mean that they’ll have to change anything else about themselves.

Surely, there’s a lot that your child will like to talk about. So before the moving companies arrive, why not be ready to start your new adventures with the following books.

1. “Moving” by Fred Rogers (Ages 2-6): If it has to do with neighborhoods and friendly neighbors, Mr. Rogers has it covered. This book helps kids understand the process of moving and eases their worries and fears by showing them the bright side of everything that’s happening, from the confusion of packing, saying goodbye to the people and places they love, to making new friends.

2. “I Want to Go Home” by Sarah Roberts (Ages 3-5): “Sesame Street” is where the air is sweet and friendly neighbors meet, which is what Big Bird misses the most when he goes on a trip to the beach to visit Granny Bird. It seems that everything reminds him of his friends back home, until he meets a boy named, Wally. Wally has his own special cave, which reminds Big Bird of his friend back home, Mr. Snuffleupagus. After a while, Wally and Big Bird begin to share more moments together and enjoy the rest of the vacation playing games, sharing a popsicle, and becoming the best of friends. Certainty a sweet tale for younger kids as your family gets ready to move.

3. “The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day” by Stan and Jan Bernstein (Ages 3-6): When it comes to anything pertaining to kids, these bears are the specialists, and moving day is no different. This book marks the beginning of the family’s move to their new and now very famous tree house. Although it’s an exciting time for everyone, Brother Bear is hesitant and not sure if he’ll be able to make new friends.

4. “Maggie Doesn’t Want to Move” by Elizabeth Lee O’Donnell (Ages 5-8): Third-grader, Simon doesn’t want to move. He doesn’t want to leave his friends, favorite playground, old house or his understanding teacher. However, instead of telling his parents exactly how he feels, Simon decides to blame it on his little sister, Maggie. He then places her in his little red wagon and runs away to his friend’s house. His parents realize what’s going on and give the kids a tour of their new neighborhood, including the beautiful country park. Simon enjoys this very much and decides that he, er—Maggie, does want to move after all.

5. “Hey, New Kid” by Betsy Duffey (Ages 8-11): Being the “new kid” is a lot of pressure of a child. Children often ask themselves questions about whether they’re cool enough, or have the right skills? Will their ordinary life be exciting enough to fit into their new school? This is what happens to the new student, Cody. He decides that being a regular kid isn’t enough, and prefers to be Super Cody. He tells his new friends at school that his father is FBI agent, his pet emu, and of course—his great rollerblading skills. The kids are fascinated with his stories, and Cody doesn’t think much about it. That is until someone decides to throw a skating party!

Moving is hard and adding anxious and scared children to the mix doesn’t make for a pleasant transition. With these books and a lot of open communication, your kids will understand the move better and probably even be excited about their new area, new home and new set of friends. It is also important to tell them that just because you are moving, it doesn’t mean their old life is gone…only that new experiences await them.

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Home Improvement Project: How to Garden for Beginners

A flourshing garden begins with our simple gardening tips.

Start small and your garden will grow

By Kathy Woodard

Whether you are moving to a new home or have lived in your residence for a long time, there are certain home improvement projects that can spruce up your landscape and add value to your property, while also being an enjoyable activity for you and your family. As the top hobby in the country and a fun home improvement project, gardening beautifies your property, relieves stress, offers good exercise and even supplies you with fresh herbs for your dinner. Not to mention, it allows you the opportunity to commune with nature in your own backyard! Not knowing how to garden can stop many people from picking up that first trowel or planting that gorgeous rose they have long admired. No need to fear those hydrangeas, beginners can easily learn how to garden by following these simple tips.

Learn, learn, learn.
There are so many resources now for learning about gardening. Libraries and book stores overflow with gardening books and the internet has a wealth of information. Consider joining a local gardening club or online forum.  Start a notebook where you can keep magazine pages of yards or plants you’ve admired, notes from online searches, or snapshots of your yard, both before you start gardening and as you progress.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
The biggest mistake beginner gardeners make is to start with too large a garden, or to use plants that require an expert’s care. You can always add more to your garden as you gain experience; nothing is as off putting to a newbie as a huge garden that turns, practically overnight, from gorgeous blooms to overrun weeds. Talk about taking the bloom off the rose! It’s common to quit gardening after a bad experience, so don’t let this mistake choose for you. Start small. Start simple.

Plan… but be flexible.
Make sure you spend some time drawing out a plan for your new garden. Make lists of plants that you would like to try, and research what times of year they bloom or fruit and what their special needs are. Group plants with similar needs together. Make sure shade plants are planted in shade, and sun plants in the sun. All that have been said don’t be afraid to try something new. Sometimes a volunteer plant will pop up and look just gorgeous right where it is. Other times you will have chosen a certain plant for a site and find that even after all your preparation, it doesn’t do well there. So, move it! Head to the nursery with a list, but don’t be afraid to substitute a plant for a new find. (Be careful with this one, you may come home with twice the plants you need!) Also, make sure that you purchase the proper gardening tools and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Find a passion within your garden.
Once you learn a bit about how to garden, most beginners find a niche in gardening that ignites their passion. Find it, and enjoy it. Wildlife gardening, growing your own food, growing flowers for your own arrangements or water gardens complete with koi and living water plants are common passions. Letting yourself find that connection with the outdoors that speaks to you will only enhance your love of gardening all the more.

Consider hiring help.
If you love the idea of having a garden, or have gotten in a little over your head, hiring a gardener can be the perfect solution.

•    Decide what kind of help you need. Do you need just regular mowing and fertilizing, while you take care of the flower beds? Do you want your gardener to do it all?  Are you somewhere in between? Knowing what you need and what you can afford is the first step.

•    Ask for reference from family and friends.

•    Choose a garden service you can communicate with well. The last thing you want is for your new “help” to cut down the prize hydrangea you have been growing all season, or to use pesticides on your organic vegetables.

Learning how to garden is a fun and healthy hobby for beginners. Just follow these tips to get turn all your fingers into “green thumbs”!

Want free home and garden ideas? Kathy Woodard is an author, columnist and home decorating expert.  To read more articles by Kathy, visit The Budget Decorator and The Garden Glove.

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Let’s Get Physical: Where are the Healthiest Cities to Live?

Biking in the City

Biking in the City

Let’s Get Physical: Where are the Healthiest Cities to Live?

By Serena Norr

A wise person once said: “Your health is your wealth.” Although this can’t more true, living in major metropolitan area such as the great (and stressful) New York City makes it rather challenging to stay on top of the healthy game – both physically and mentally.

Regardless of what stressors plague their way into our lives, we try our best by eating well, exercising and staying mentally stimulated (oh, do we try!). But despite what we do, some geographic locations are prone to induce stress and affect our health more than others.

While some cities are major detriments to our health, there are others that actually encourage healthy living; ranging from those with numerous outdoor parks and facilities to those that focus on eating healthy from local resources. Centrum and Sperling’s Best Place recently uncovered the healthiest cities to live; ranking how they stack up in the categories of mental, lifestyle, activity, health and diet and how they contribute to ones overall well-being. From the looks of this survey, cities in California are leading the pack, with Indiana not doing so well—which oddly enough is one of the most affordable places on our buy vs. rent report. Check out what healthy spot would be ideal for your next relocation.

Sperling’s Best Places Healthiest Cities

1.    San Jose, California — As the third largest in California, San Jose is renowned for its spacious gardens and parks (Almaden Quicksilver County Park, Alum Rock Park and Kelly Park, to name a few), outdoor festivals and cultural attractions such as the San Jose Museum of Art and the Tech Museum of Innovation. Being the number one healthiest and cleanest cities, San Jose residents rank highest for health, diet and lifestyle. And its no wonder, since residents have access to numerous outdoor trails for walking, running, camping and mountain climbing, as well as other recreational sports that encourage exercising outside. With rents averaging $950-1,200, according to apartments.com and two-bedroom homes at $450,000, San Jose, California is also an affordable moving destination.

2.    Washington, D.C. — As the nation’s capitol there is never short of something to do in Washington, D.C. According the cities website-Washington.org, D.C. is the number one city for walking, which is a great way to discover the areas historic monuments and museums. Residents also rank the highest for mental health and diet, along with affordable living that features modern and historic neighborhoods. Homes average $330,000 and increasing in sales of 2.36 percent in March, 2010, according to ziprealty.com.

3.   San Francisco, CA— On top of being number three on Sperling’s list, San Francisco, California residents were recently surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation for the state of their health and wellbeing. The results? 71 percent of residents reported being in excellent or good health. And it’s no wonder why with a city that encourages walking, biking and running up and down its uphill and windy streets. Activities don’t fall short here either with golf, trips to Fisherman’s Wharf, the Yerba Buena Gardens or simply taking in the views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Rents range from $1,000-1,200 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to apartments.com and homes average $799,000, according to zip realty.

4.    Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA— It’s not all rain and coffee (although this is part of the Seattle, Washington experience) in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett areas of Washington. This healthy city is renowned for their outdoor activities— biking, fishing, running and exploring— that is also considered one of the cleanest cities to reside. Residents can also enjoy the Space Needle, visits to the Pike Place for fresh fish, local fruits and vegetables, walks to the waterfront and exploring the areas many zoos, sporting facilities and wildlife trails at the Northwest Trek.

5.    Salt Lake City-Ogden, UT — This outdoor lover’s paradise is home to the historic temple square, national parks (The Bonneville Salt Flats, Kennecott Copper Mine and Miller Motorsports Park) and attractions such as The Utah Museum, the Historic Temple Square of Natural History and Great Salt Lake. A healthy culture, Salt Lake City is also all about outdoor recreation where residents can enjoy skiing, golfing, biking, hiking, camping and extreme sports such as scuba diving, rafting, paragliding and skydiving to keep you busy and very active. The average two-bedroom rental in Salt Lake City, Utah is $804, according to mynewplace.com.

6.    Oakland, California — Another California City-are we starting to see a trend? Oakland, California ranks very high on the list for its healthy lifestyle choices and activities available to its residents. Visits to Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, Preservation Park and local attractions (Chinatown, Oakland Museum of California and the Chabot Space and Science Center) are a part of life in Oakland; along with access to healthy dining options, farmer’s markets and walking that keep residents fit. Apartments average $895 for a two-bedroom place, according to mynewplace.com and homes averaging $895,000, according to zillow.com.

7.    Sacramento, California — The state capital, Sacramento, California ranked very well in the lifestyle, activity, health and diet categories, which is apparent by the areas attractions that includes historic buildings, museums, and recreational parks (Old Sacramento national and California state historic park). Residents can also take advantage of the areas natural surrounding area by biking, hiking, camping, golfing and partaking in numerous recreational sports throughout the year.

8.    Orange County, California — Much as been chronicled about life in “The O.C” by reality shows, but little is discussed of the high quality of diet, lifestyle, activity and metal health in Orange County, California. With 42 miles of coastline, numerous beaches and recreational parks that include historic sites and open spaces, for biking, camping and hiking. Recreational activities such as surfing, running, tennis, volleyball, basketball and golf also keep residents of the O.C. healthy and active. All the healthy amenities are great, but real estate in the area is a bit steep, averaging 1.5 million for homes, according to zillow.com.

9.   Denver, Colorado — Residents of Denver, Colorado have access to historic western and cultural attractions (Denver Art Museum and the Denver Zoo) and natural beauty to hike, raft, horseback ride and camp. The Mile High City also has affordable rentals with $978 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to mynewplace.com.

10.    Austin-San Marcos, Texas — Dubbed the “live music capitol of the world,” Austin, Texas is also one of the healthiest cities for its high ranks in physical activity. The area also has the highest number of gyms and health clubs in the U.S, along with being a biker friendly area and one that is very eco-conscious, aptly named the “Greenest City in America,” by MSN. The city also has affordable apartments with the average two-bedroom rental at $1,065, according to apartments.com.

And now for the low-ranking cities…

1. New Orleans, LA
2. San Antonio, TX
3. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN
4. Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, OH
5. Orlando, FL
6. Columbus, OH
7. Detroit, MI
8. New York, NY
9. Las Vegas, NV-AZ
10. Indianapolis, IN

Listing Courtesy of Sperling’s Best Places

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Buy or Rent? The 10 Best Cities in the U.S for Both Markets

Buy or Rent? The 10 Best Cities in the U.S for Both Markets

By Serena Norr

The great debate lives on: Should you buy or rent? Both sides of the discussion are very passionate about their stance. Renters scuff at the idea of buying due to an inability to put down a sizeable down payment or perhaps they live in an area where renting is favorable to buying a home. Buyers, on the other hand don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to own their own property in order to build a home for themselves or their families, as well as own a piece of real estate that may increase in value over time. This friendly debate has seen a bit of a shift with the upturn of the economy where some renters can now afford to buy due to foreclosures and financial assistance from the $8,000 tax credit for new homebuyers. Whereas, some homeowners have been forced out of their homes and can now only afford rent.

Of course, the complexity of the housing bubble isn’t so black and white. Location also plays a huge factor in an individual’s decision and ability to buy or rent. For example: in New York it is cheaper to rent than to own; whereas in Boston the market is stronger for buyers. As this paradigm continues to flip, we at relocation.com won’t be taking any sides; but we can offer a list of the best cities (area amenities, price, thriving job markets and real estate growth) for both markets. Now if we could just solve the mortgage crisis, we would all be one big happy family.

10 Best Cities for Renters

1. Columbus, Ohio: According to apartments.com, the average rental in Columbus, Ohio is $837 for a two-bedroom apartment—pretty amazing deal for the largest city in Ohio and home of Ohio State University. Real estate is also expected to pick up, but for now it is certainly a renters market.

2. Indianapolis, Indiana: As the largest city in Indiana, Indianapolis is experiencing a steady job market that is also renowned for its job market within the manufacturing industries and home of the Indianapolis 500. Residents of this Midwestern area also have access to numerous cultural attractions such as the Indiana State Museum, the NCAA Hall of Champions and the White River State Park. Renters can also look forward to affordable apartment prices with an average monthly rent of $751 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to mynewplace.com.

3. San Antonio, Texas: As the second largest city in Texas, San Antonio has cultural ties to Mexico and the U.S. where residents can see a rodeo or check out exciting cultural attractions such as the Alamo and the River Walk. The area is also home to major universities and research centers such as South Texas Medical Center. The area is also ideal for renters where months rents average $850 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to apartments.com.

4. Salt Lake City, Utah: The average two-bedroom rental in Salt Lake City, Utah is $804, according to mynewplace.com. This outdoor lover’s paradise is home to numerous ski resorts, golf courts and national parks and attractions such as The Utah Museum, the Historic Temple Square of Natural History and Great Salt Lake.

5. Austin, Texas: Dubbed the “live music capitol of the world,” music and Austin, Texas are often mentioned in the same sentence, which is evident by the numerous musical festivals (South by Southwest and Austin City Limits Music Festival) that are held here. Austin is also the corporate headquarters of Whole Food Market, Dell and recently a new office for Facebook. The city is also a biker friendly area and one that is very eco-conscious and not to mention affordable with the average two-bedroom rental at $1065, according to apartments.com.

6. Charleston, South Carolina: An exciting southern city, Charleston, South Carolina features numerous recreational amenities such as beaches, campgrounds, museums (Gibbes Museum of Art and the Charleston Museum) and an historical downtown area. The area also boosts a mild climate throughout the year to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle. What’s even better is that you get all of this for a monthly rate of $ 825 as stated by mynewplace.com.

7. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: As the largest city in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City is renowned for its livestock industries and oil production. This western city is also home to the Ford Center to check out a basketball game or a concert, the American Banjo Museum and Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Renters will also love the price of $665 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to apartments.com.

8. Sacramento, California: Sacramento, California is known as a lively area for its recreational amenities (Sacramento Zoo, national parks, museums and marina). There is also favorable rent in this area of $934 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to mynewplace.com.

9. Tucson, Arizona: Dry, arid climates are in the norm in Tucson, Arizona where residents can enjoy outdoor adventures such as rock climbing, hiking at one of the areas numerous parks and nature reserves. New construction is also promising for renters with an average two-bedroom apartment at $723 a month, according to apartments.com.

10. Denver, Colorado: If surrounded amongst natural beauty and access to historic western attractions aren’t enough, cheap rents are sure to entice you to move to Denver, Colorado. According to mynewplace.com the average rent in the Mile High City is $978 for a two-bedroom apartment.

10 Best Cities for Homebuyers

1. Boston, Massachusetts: A vibrant college town, Boston, Massachusetts is the home of Harvard, Boston University and the Boston Conservatory of Music. The area is also experiencing a strong housing market with a 2.17 percent increase in home sales and an average single family home priced at $359,900, according to ziprealty.com.

2. Atlanta Georgia: Dubbed the Sun Belt for its hot temperatures, Atlanta, Georgia is the headquarters of CNN, the Coca-Cola Company and Delta. Not just a mecca for big business, this area is a hot market for homebuyers with the average single family home costing $146,500, according to zillow.com.

3. Baltimore, Maryland: Centrally located in Maryland, Baltimore is a vibrant seaport city situated along the Patapsco River. The area also has a downtown commercial district and nine surrounding neighborhoods for your pick of a suburban or city environment. According to ziprealty.com, the average home is $194,000 whose area is experiencing a steady increase since January 2010.

4. Minneapolis, Minnesota: The average single-family home in Minneapolis, Minnesota aka the Twin Cities is $184,000 , according to zillow.com along with a 2.33 percent sales increase in March, 2010 that makes this area favorable for buyers. In addition to affordable homes, the job market is seeing a slight increase, along with area amenities such as the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center, recreational parks and parks and historical tours that makes for an ideal (and affordable) location.

5. Washington, D.C.: As the nation’s capitol there is never short of something to do in while living in Washington, D.C. Exploring the White House, Arlington National Cemetery and the Smithsonian Museum are just some of the many area attractions residents can take advantage of. This area also has a combination of modern and historic neighborhoods that is favorable for buyers with homes averaging $330,000 and increasing in sales of 2.36 percent in March, 2010, according to ziprealty.com.

6. Sacramento, California: Famous for the home of the gold rush in the 18th century, Sacramento is now a thriving city situated along the Sacramento River. The area is also the state capitol of California that is a hub for parks, modern museums and music (Crocker Art Museum and the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra), theatre (Sacramento Theatre Company) and colleges (Sacramento State). Buyers can also look forward to affordable housing prices with homes averaging $239,900, according to ziprealty.com.

7. Charlotte, North Carolina: Known as the “Queen City,” residents of Charlotte, North Carolina have access to numerous artistic and cultural attractions such as the NC Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, the Discovery Place: a hands-on science museum, a vibrant financial center located in downtown Charlotte and historic neighborhoods. On top of all that buyers can score a major deal with the average price of home at $148,900, according to zillow.com.

8. Dallas, Texas: With a motto like: “Live Large, Think Big,” Dallas surely lives up its credo with its diverse culture, modern restaurants and access to one of the largest arts districts in the U.S (the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas City Arts Festival, and Shakespeare Festival of Dallas are just a few of the many cultural offerings.). This vibrant city is also very affordable with the average home at $189,750 and a steady increase in sales at 2.57 percent, according to ziprealty.com.

9. Jacksonville, Florida: The largest city in Florida, Jacksonville is sure to please sun worshippers but will also be favorable to individuals who seek a diverse area whose job market is steadily rising. Jacksonville is also home to the largest park system in the country, according to coj.net, along with beaches and a vibrant downtown area. Home buyers will also love this area for its affordable home prices. In March, 2010, the average home in Jacksonville was $165,000, according to ziprealty.com.

10. Las Vegas, Nevada: Hit pretty hard by the housing market, real estate in Las Vegas is starting to see signs of growth with a 1.19 percent increase in home sales in March 2010, as opposed to the -4.95 percent loss in December 2008. This dessert city is sure to be exciting for residents (and not just cause of the Vegas Strip), but an area that features natural beauty, an arid climate and established neighborhoods whose homes feature modern amenities and access to great schools. Houses typically range from $169,900 and new construction is promising for this dessert city.

Resources:

•    MyNewPlace.com
•    Apartments.com
•    Ziprealty.com
•    Zillow.com
•    AOL’s Best Cities for Renting
•    Ten Cities for Real Estate Steals

City Pages:
•    Columbus, Ohio
•    Indianapolis, Indiana
•    San Antonio, Texas
•    Salt Lake City, Utah
•    Austin, Texas
•    Charleston, South Carolina
•    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
•    Sacramento, California
•    Tucson, Arizona
•    Denver, Colorado
•    Boston, Massachusetts
•    Charlotte, North Carolina
•    Dallas, Texas
•    Jacksonville, Florida
•    Las Vegas, Nevada

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Watch Out for Movers’ ‘Hidden Charges’

People often complain about ‘hidden charges’ on their move.

While I sympathize with them, I’m also reasonably sure that somewhere in their estimating process, the moving companies either told them about extra charges for their move, or spelled out these charges in their contract.

I’m also reasonably sure that these charges weren’t highlighted in glittering gold or shouted from the mountain-top.

For example, I got a pitch from a moving company the other day via voicemail. The company went through an extensive list of things they include in their base rate. Then at the end of the call, she said: “The only things we charge for are non-reusable packing material like tape, shrink wrap, moving boxes and bubble wrap.”

In other words: most everything for packing.

Most people either don’t catch this, or they assume these charges won’t amount to much.

Then comes moving day, and they spend a couple hundred bucks on packing materials.

So when you’re planning your move, read your estimate thoroughly. Here’s a list of particular items to look for:

Packing materials: It’s often just moving boxes, tape and shrink wrap, but if you haven’t done a good job packing, this can quickly add hundreds of dollars to your moving costs. The contract should have what isn’t covered, and how much the items cost (See this article for more on moving-day packing charges.)

Moving blankets: Most companies don’t charge for this item, because they’re reusable. However, some have taken to charging RENTAL fees for them. Look for this charge.

Shuttles: If you’re in a big city, the moving company probably can’t bring a moving van into your neighborhood, and will need to shuttle stuff in a smaller truck.

Charges for stairs: You need to do two things before you move: Make sure the moving company knows about stairs at your new and old homes. And check the contract to see if they charge for stairs, and how much they charge.

Long carries: If the movers have to walk a long distance from your house to the moving van, they’ll charge for it. Just like stairs, make sure the moving companies know the layout of your new and old homes, and look for these charges in your contract. (Also, if you’re making a local move, you’re paying by the hour anyway, so you shouldn’t be paying this charge.)

Gas surcharges: Companies can levy a gas surcharge when prices are high.

Travel time: What constitutes travel time for the mover?

Credit card charges: Some moving companies levy a fee for paying by credit card. However, major credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard do NOT permit merchants to do this. Check your credit card’s policy on it. If they forbid their merchants from doing it and you got charged anyways, dispute it to get the fee reversed (a fee can be significant on something as pricey as a move).

This last one isn’t a charge, but it’s a huge annoyance: Your delivery window.

Make sure you know when you will get your things. And be wary of anyone who gives you a specific day.

For long distance moving, it’s impossible to be precise for when you’ll get your items: there are the hazards of the road, and the movers might be making stops on the way to pick up other items to fill their truck (this is a common part of moving and nothing to fear).

However, it’s very important to check your contract.

The moving company must give you a window of when you’ll get your things. And if you don’t get your things within that window, it should spell out any compensation that is due to you for hotel rooms, etc.

Check closely: I heard from a reader who said they found the delivery window buried in a section about furniture disassembly.

I don’t know if it’s true, but it should hammer home the point:

READ YOUR MOVING PAPERWORK!

Oh, and do it BEFORE moving day.

Related Stories:

Five Easy Ways to Save $1000 on Your Moving

8 Major Mistakes When Picking a Moving Company

Don’t Commit These Moving Day Sins

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Don’t Get Shocked by Moving-Day Packing Charges

the-screaming

Psst, wanna hear a little secret about moving?

It’s not the moving charges that will kill you — it’s the packing charges.

That’s right: moving boxes, shrink wrap and tape. (Yes, tape.)

If you’re doing your own packing, you probably don’t think you need to worry about packing — you did it all yourself, right?

But you probably didn’t box some things that need to be boxed. You probably didn’t use shrink wrap on upholstered furniture. You might not have taped your boxes securely enough.

The movers will want you to do all this because they want to keep your belongings safe during the move, and make your move more efficient.

And if you haven’t done it, they’ll do it for you on moving day — and they’ll charge you for it.

Now, not all moving companies will insist on billing you for your packing materials. But some will. When you get estimates from movers, you need to ask them what’s considered extra, and what is not.

If packing materials are extra, and you’re packing yourself, you need to make sure we’ve done a thorough enough job to avoid extra charges come moving day.

If you’re packing yourself, here’s what the movers will insist on:

* Anything that can go in a box, should be in a box — it’s easier to carry, and it’s much more efficient for the moving company to load into a moving van. See more tips on what needs to go in a moving box.

* Shrink wrap is the clear film that movers use on items that are too big to go in boxes, but still need to be protected during the move. This includes upholstered furniture. See this article on what needs to be shrink-wrapped.

* Moving tape can be expensive — some readers have told me they’ve paid up to $10 a roll. The movers will use this to seal any boxes they packed, as well as any boxes you packed if you didn’t use enough of it. See this article for other reasons movers might use tape, and what kind of tape they use.

Related Content:

Want to learn more about how to pack? Check out our video series:

Want to learn a simple packing method that will help you get and stay organized?

Learn the most common mistakes when hiring a moving company

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Moving Day Expense: Watch for Stretch Wrap Charges

ph-stretchwrap1sAh, the humble stretch wrap.

This saran wrap-like substance is used by moving companies to protect items that won’t fit in boxes and can’t be pad-wrapped (ie, protected by moving blankets).

However, just like you have to watch for crazy charges on moving day boxes, watch out for moving day charges for stretch wrap.

First off, do your movers even charge for it? Many companies, particularly the van lines, do not.  Moving companies don’t use much of it, so stretch wrap is a minor expense and they don’t pass the cost on to the consumer.

However, some companies do charge for this. And it can be hefty – I heard from one woman who said she got charged $1 a yard. Compare that to a large roll that you can buy yourself for 5 cents a yard.

If your moving company does charge, you can wrap items yourself to save on the expense (whether they charge for it should be broken out on your contract; I’d also ask specifically WHAT materials they charge for).

Which items will the moving companies want stretch-wrapped?

* Any upholstered furniture or headboards

* BBQ grills so that no grease gets on anything else

* Lawn furniture to protect from scratches

* Children’ s toys

* Some tools

And that’s, um, er, a wrap.

Related Articles:

Major Mistakes When Choosing Movers

5 Easy Ways to Save Over $1,000 on Your Move

3 Moving Scams You’ve Never Heard Of

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What You Need to Know About Moving-Day Boxes

moving_boxesTo save money on their relocation, many people are doing their own packing.

However, this can be a source of confusion and problems with moving companies when it comes to moving day — and it could cost you.

Moving companies want to be able to move things as quickly as possible out of your house and get it on the moving truck. Once on the truck, they need to be able to load thSAe truck like they’re putting together a puzzle so your items fit snugly.

The easiest way to do this is by using uniform, sturdy moving boxes.

Not only does this make the move go more smoothly and efficiently, it also cuts down on the risk of damage to your items, because a box is just a more stable way of moving things with less risk of dropping it.

So if it can go in a box, put it in a box.

If it’s not in a box, the movers will box it for you on moving day – and charge you for it, creating a sometimes hefty extra charge you hadn’t planned for.

We’ve created a list of items that customers often incorrectly leave unboxed. It’s generally anything that cannot be stacked evenly when loading the truck — for example, a statue that cannot be square with the stacked boxes.

* Clothes: Many people will put these in trash bags. They need to go in boxes. Trash bags easily rip and create a mess and they don’t stack neatly in the moving van.

* Stools and furniture small enough to fit into a box

* Lamps and shades

* Throw pillows and bedding

* Small rugs

* Fireplace equipment

* Tools

* Pictures and paintings

* Curtains and window treatments

* Children’s toys

* Vases and planters

Also, don’t try to pack items in small boxes. Some customers will pack things in shoe boxes, or they’ll pack collectibles like figurines into their original packaging.

It’s fine to do that, but those small boxes are a hassle for your mover to carry, they’re easy to drop, and they can’t be stacked neatly on the moving van. So consolidate them into a larger moving box.

Related Stories:

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Last-Minute Move? Packing Tips for the Rushed Mover

This is a guest article from MovingDayBoxes.com

It’s crunch time, do or die: You have to move this weekend and you haven’t done anything. You need to start packing but you don’t know where to begin, and the whole thing seems completely overwhelming. Take a deep breath — we’ll show you how to pack like a pro.

Divide your clothes into four categories:

1.) Clothes you will use before you move

2.) Clothes you will definitely be wearing in the weeks after you move

3.) Clothes that are off season

4.) Clothes that you are ready to donate.

Pack up the donation clothes first — be aggressive here, when was the last time you wore that ugly olive sweater? Purging your closet of the things you don’t wear anymore will give you a feeling of progress and the positive momentum to keep moving forward.

Pack up the clothes that are off-season and the clothes you won’t be wearing in the next two weeks next. Leave the clothes you will be wearing in the next two weeks in the closet and pack those the day of the move.

Order some affordable moving supplies that can be delivered for free the next business day. On average, somebody who is moving spends two and half hours trying to locate moving boxes, comparing prices and picking up the boxes. Save yourself this step get the boxes delivered for free.

Pack dresses, suits, and pants that can’t be wrinkled in wardrobe boxes. This is important because if an important garment is thrown in a regular moving box, they can be so thoroughly wrinkled that they make become hard or impossible to un-wrinkle.

A common novice mover mistake is to purchase many extra-large boxes. This is a mistake because as you fill an extra-large box they often become too heavy to carry. A good rule of thumb is to use as small a box as possible and use more of them. Small boxes also won’t obscure your vision as you are going down stairs or walkways.

Make sure to put your mattress in a heavy-duty mattress bag. Mattresses tend to get very dirty and grimy during a move. They are dragged from spot to spot because they are difficult to carry.

Lastly, enlist friends to help you. Perhaps somebody can watch your pets and/or kids the day of the move and Don’t forget to keep your cell phone charger handy often this gets packed into a box early on and when you need to talk with your mover they can’t reach you because your phone is out of batteries. Good luck!

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Could It Be? Move Green AND Save Money

geami-rollI’ve always been impressed by people who are more action than talk when it comes to moving environmentally — during the stress of moving, it can be easy to just take the easy way out and forego your green ethos.

That’s why I was so taken with some of the cool new environmental moving products out there, particularly those from Earth Friendly Moving, which is based in California (where else, eh?).

This company has gone beyond the reusable packing crates and found alternative products for just about anything you might need on your move. Most impressive of all, it says the products are cheaper than their non-green counterparts — which is key in an economy where price might trump environment.

Two of the cooler products:

When it drops off its reusable packing crates, Earth Friendly will create  a bubble-wrap alternative called Geami Paper that it presses from something called ‘cardboard sludge ’ — which it does right on the moving truck into rolls of 100 to 200 feet. It claims the material is more protective than bubble wrap — and cheaper.

When you’re done with it, re-use it throughout the year, or Earth Friendly will take it off your hands and recycle it for another customer.

The other cool product is ‘Recocubes,’ which are a replacement for syrofoam peanuts. They’re made from newspaper sludge — only 40% of recycled newsprint is usable; this product uses the other 60%. Just as the name suggests, it’s pressed into a sturdy, card-board-like cube that will cushion your belongings.

When you’re done with moving, you can just toss the relocubes into the garden, water them, and voila! Compost for those new plants at your new place.

The video segment below shows the owner eating one, which I don’t know if I’d recommend in a daily diet, but hey, to each their own. Check it out for other cool product ideas for your move, and ask your own moving companies about ways to make an environmental move.

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5 Easy Ways to Save Over $1,000 on Your Move

No matter how much planning, study and shoe-leather you put into it, moving isn’t cheap.

dollar sign

But there are some easy ways to save on your move. Relocation.com came up with 5 that could help you shave more than $1,000 off your relocation expenses (OK, that’s more than a shave, more like a full cut and trim). We also offer you some other resources for easy ways to save on your move. (Savings are based on someone making a 3-bedroom, coast-to-coast move, which carries a roughly $7,000 tab.)

1. Negotiate Your Move Date – Save $300 to $600
Many moves take place at the same times: end or beginning of the month, or Fridays or Mondays. Consumers who are able to move on “off” days might be able to work a deal with a moving company. You can save even more if you move during the off-season — essentially November through April.

After you get moving quotes, ask the moving company if you could catch a break if you agreed to move at some other time. They might be willing to give you a discount.

2. Dump 10% of Your Stuff – Save $250 to $400
It’s simple in theory — most less stuff, pay less for your move, and have less headache. In practice, it’s usually harder. It needn’t be. For every 9 nine things you pack, throw away 1 thing. Other tips:

• Only move stuff you’ve used in the past year. If you haven’t used something in the past 12 months, you probably won’t use it again, so there’s no point in paying to move it.
• Use two plastic bins in each room you pack, and designate a ‘definite’ throwaway bin and a ‘maybe’ throwaway bin. When finished packing the room, throw out everything in the ‘definite’ bin, decide on the ‘maybe’ items and then move on to the next room.
• In the months before the move, divide a clothing rod between ‘must-move’ and ‘not-to-move’ clothing. After an item of clothing is worn and washed, put it on the ‘must-move’ side of the clothing rod. When it’s time to pack, get rid of all the clothes on the ‘not-to-move’ side of the rod.

3. Pack Half of Your Stuff– Save $400-$600
Roughly 50 percent of what you need to move is breakable, such as dishes and glassware. Let the movers handle packing these, since they are the most difficult to pack safely. Also, moving insurance usually will not cover items that are not packed by professionals, unless there’s clear damage to the outside of the moving box. You want coverage on these items.

The other half – items that won’t break, like toys and books – can be loaded into boxes relatively easily and don’t require special handling or supplies. Not using packers for these items can some money, it just requires a bit more work on your part.

4. Disconnect It – Save $150-$200
If the moving company provides any third-party moving services to handle disconnecting electronics and appliances, you will pay for it. Eliminate these fees altogether by learning how to safely dismantle any electronics systems and how to disconnect/connect appliances.

5. Don’t Move Large, Breakable Items – Save $200-$300
There are certain items a moving company won’t move without special crating, such as glass tables, flat-screen plasma TVs and specialty artwork such as pottery or big oil paintings. Here are some options to cut down on the need for expensive crating services.

• Glass items like shelves or tables, are generally cheap to replace compared to how much it costs to ship them. Consider the costs of moving them versus buying a similar type of shelf or tabletop at the new home.
• For a flat-panel TV, the least expensive method is packing it in the box it came in. If that’s not an option, search online for boxes designed specifically for TVs, which contain special foam inserts for extra protection.
• If you’re moving long distance, you can also pack fragile or valuable items in your car, rent a separate small moving van, or rent a trailer in which to tow them. You will pay more for this, of course, but you might have greater peace of mind about damages, and if you have enough that would require crating by the moving company, you might come out even.

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Get Organized When Wiring Your New Place

One of the biggest challenges on move day is setting up your electronics at your new place. It’s a long list these days:

• Find a provider for your phone, Internet, cable TV and cell phone
• Hook up your TV entertainment system
• Set up the network for your computer — both your Internet access and any networking system if there are multiple computers in your home.

It’s important to plan this well BEFORE you move, because during your move-in, you’ll be dealing with a cat that keeps trying to escape its new home, a crying toddler, and boxes packed to the sky.

To ease your pain (and make some more money), some movers are teaming up electronics shops to offer this service as part of your move.

For example, moving behemoth Mayflower has teamed up with Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” to offer setup for your PC and home theater system. There are also businesses and individuals who will set these up for you (for a fee, of course).

If you choose to do it alone, here are some helping hints for moving electronics

* When you disconnect wires, label them so you know where they connect. I know, they’re usually handily labeled according to color, but even a simple numbering sytem (1 to 1, 2 to 2), which help you set everything up quickly when you get to your new place.
* Take a picture of the assembly as it is now. When you move into your new place, you’ll just need to take a look at the picture to see what goes where. Don’t assume you’ll remember. I thought I would when I moved. I ended up connecting my DVD Player to the microwave.
* Keep all common wires and parts together – just put them in a simple plastic baggie, and then tape that bag to the component itself or have it in the same box as the component. Be sure to label the bag as well.

These articles can help you determine which home services you want at your new place.

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If You Pack Yourself, Beware This Huge Pitful

Many people struggle over how to pack fragile items — glass items, picture frames, that beloved neon beer sign from college.

Here’s a suggestion: stop worrying about it and have the moving company pack it. You’ll pay for it, of course, but you could end up saving in the long run.

How?

When you pack items yourself and the items inside get broken, you won’t be covered by insurance. That’s right. All the bubble wrap and good intentions in the world won’t protect that awesome ceramic cat if it gets broken in a box that you packed yourself.

Unless the box itself has visible damage and was obviously dropped or somehow damaged in the move itself by the moving company, the only coverage you’ll have is the minimum valuation that moving companies are required to provide: 30 cents per pound for local moves, 60 cents for long distance moves. That won’t go far in replacing the item.

Here’s another sobering fact: You’re bad at packing. Oh sure, you’ve moved 3 times and like to think yourself a whiz with tape and those little syrofoam peanuts.

But you’re not that good. Sorry. And even if you are good, you’re not as a good as a guy who does it full-time, every day, every week of the year.

But in the end, it’s not about who’s the best: it’s about what happens if something gets broken. And if something does, it might be the best route to make sure your items are protected by insurance.

For more information about insuring your move, check out this article on moving insurance. This article can help you learn how to pack fragile items.