Archive for the 'Moving Scams' Category
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!
Oceanside, CA 92056
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.
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
Oatmeal with flaxseed and berries
Tofu Scramble with whole wheat toast
Low-fat granola with yogurt
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
Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
Fruit like melons or mixed berries
Carrots, cucumber and celery with hummus or peanut butter
apple with peanut butter
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
• AOL’s Best Cities for Renting
• Ten Cities for Real Estate Steals
• 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
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.
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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.
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
Ah, 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.
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The world of moving has its own arcane and confusing language:
* A tariff sets how much a moving company charges for a move.
* The contract you receive for your move on moving day is called a ‘Bill of Lading.’
However, your confusion about relocation terminology can start even before you start searching for moving companies.
For instance, what’s this thing called a ‘van line’?
In its simplest terms, think of a van line like a franchisor. Much as McDonald’s has franchisees that own and operate the actual restaurants independently, van lines use ‘agents’ in the same way — an agent is a van line franchisee that operates on a local level.
Moving companies that are not part of a van line are labeled ‘independents.’
There are advantages to using a van line:
* A van line agent can tap into van line’s tractor-trailers for long distance moving, which usually means greater precision in delivery dates, and fewer chances that your items will be offloaded en route and bundled together with another shipment headed toward your destination.
* Also, the van lines are pretty thorough on enforcing quality control at their agents, so an agent that gets a lot of complaints can be kicked out the van line system. You’ll be less likely to face a scam operator on the van line level.
However, because of the overhead associated with a van line, a van line move can often cost more than a move from an independent.
The van lines will say, of course, that the advantages outweigh the disadvantage of cost.
There are about 20 van lines around the country, including the biggies like United, Mayflower and Atlas, with agents nationwide in most larger cities.
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To 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
* 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.
Great article in the Chicago Tribune about legitimate Chicago moving companies getting the shaft from a flurry of unlicensed moving companies on Craigslist.
“We’d be doing a lot better if these guys weren’t skimming from us,” Ron Montanez, director of operations for Aaron’s Reliable is quoted as saying in the article.
Unlicensed movers in Chicago enjoy the same advantages that unlicensed moving companies do nationwide: much lower operating costs because they don’t have insurance and don’t have the expenses of obtaining a license; fewer regulators enforcing existing laws; and shippers so enthralled with saving money that they’re willing to take their chances.
The situation is exasperated by a chilly economy, as more folks with a truck and a pair of arms get into the business.
From the Tribune: “An out-of-work carpenter named Tom is one of them. He wouldn’t give his last name but said he started posting a few weeks ago after carpentry jobs dried up and he needed another source of income. He had what’s needed to be a mover: able body, pickup truck and Internet connection.”
The authorities are trying to keep up with what seems like a spate of unlicensed movers. They’ve ticketed 80 movers in the six-county Chicago area, which is up from 65 in all of 2008 and more than any year in recent history, according to the Illinois Commerce Commission.
Of course, going with an unlicensed mover brings up all sorts of issues, well catalogued by sites like movingscam.com.
However, I rarely hear about one of the biggest risks of all when you go with the unlicensed, uninsured fly-by-nighters: they don’t have Worker’s Comp. And if you’re moving to a new home, you might not have purchased homeowners insurance or renters insurance yet.
So if a mover hurts himself at your place, you could be on the hook for a huge legal bill.
Forget losing all your physical stuff.
That could drain every last penny you have.
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There’s a great article in the Wall Street Journal today about how an employee at an espresso-machine manufacturer was writing wildly positive reviews for the company’s products on Amazon.com.
Now this is nothing new — there have long been reports of employees and business owners writing fake reviews, either praising their own businesses or dising their competitors’.
What IS surprising is that the major review sites haven’t really figured out a way to ensure the integrity of reader-written reviews.
Even Amazon.com, which seems to read my mind every time I visit by displaying products I’m likely to buy, hasn’t figured it out, even though there’s a lot of sketchy stuff in their reviews, like people reviewing several similiar products from the same company, as in the case cited by the Journal.
Many people are now using reviews to choose moving companies, which I generally applaud.
However, you need to make them just one part of your entire search for a moving company, not the sole factor. And you need to be wary if there’s an oversupply of positive reviews — there’s just no way to satisfy every customer.
We’re collecting moving reviews from our customers now, and hope to start publishing them on Relocation.com in the near future. We enjoy a bit of an advantage from other review sites because we can near-conclusively determine if the consumer used the moving company they’re reviewing. So be sure to check back later to see our moving company reviews!
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Be Skeptical of that ‘Guaranteed’ or ‘Flat-Rate’ Moving Estimate
The more you move, the more wise you get to some of the shenanigans from disreputable moving companies.
However, there always seems to be more of these scams popping up. Here are a few you probably haven’t heard of.
‘Your Moving Quote is Guaranteed – But It’s Wrong’
Most people rightly insist on getting a “binding estimate,” which is often referred to as a “guaranteed moving quote” or ”flat rate.”
That makes sense: you pay no more than the quoted amount, and you can actually pay less if the estimate was too high.
But it doesn’t work so well if the moving quote itself is inaccurate.
Here’s what happens. A moving estimator comes to your home for an in-home visual estimate, does an inventory of your stuff, and gives you a quote that is guaranteed to not be any higher than the estimate.
But that ‘guaranteed quote’ is only good for the inventory that the moving company uses to come up with your moving estimate. And if that inventory is wrong – ‘Ooops, I missed that bedroom!’ — the moving quote becomes void, and you’re stuck negotiating with the moving company for a new estimate (on Moving Day, no less).
The simplest way to protect yourself? It’s easy: scrutinize the inventory that the estimator uses to determine your moving estimate, and make sure nothing is left off.
Even if you pack yourself, it doesn’t mean you won’t be subject to some extra charges when it comes to packing — and we routinely hear from consumers whose original moving estimate double just from packing materials. Here’s what happens.
You didn’t pack everything in time, or you ran out of boxes. No biggie, just ask the moving company to do it. While you understand you’ll probably pay a premium for the boxes, there is probably one thing you haven’t thought of: packing tape.
An old trick is to use a TON of packing tape on freshly packed boxes, or boxes that the movers didn’t feel had enough tape.
So they wrap, and they wrap, and they wrap. Soon, that box has more wrapping than King Tut, and you find out later packing tape ain’t cheap, perhaps twice what you’d pay for it elsewhere.
And if you’re using professional packers, you might come across the half-filled box trick — only this isn’t nearly as much fun as when a magician pulls it off.
The mover puts just a few items in the bottom, and fills most of the rest of the box with packing paper. That small item is now in a big box — and big profits for the moving company. You might also find the movers trying to use more expensive boxes like dish-pack boxes (which have double-thick sides) for items that don’t need it.
To protect yourself: if you’re packing yourself, make sure everything has enough tape, and keep extra rolls around if you need to add more on Moving Day.
If you’re using professional packers, be around for the packing so you can supervise the work. And remember: on Moving Day, the movers will INSIST that everything is in a box — they won’t take stuff you’re thrown in a garbage bag.
‘Your Move Size: Whatever I Make It’
The moving estimator looks at your stuff to be moved on a long distance move, and says that what you need to have moved comes to a certain amount of ‘cubic feet.’ Huh?
First of all, who in the world even knows how big a cubic foot is? Second, why is the moving company using cubic feet instead of good old-fashioned weight?
Here’s why: when you have an estimate by weight, the moving company must go to a certified weighing station to see how much your stuff weighs — and that scale doesn’t lie (even if your own scale lies all the time when you’re trying to shed those extra pounds before your high school reunion).
With cubic feet, the moving company measures your final move by the space your goods take up in the truck. And all of a sudden, the moving company just becomes REALLY bad at loading a truck, and it has more empty spaces than Montana. Soon, your moving estimate is much higher because the estimated cubic foot load is much lower than the final load in the truck (that poorly packed truck).
How to Protect Yourself: Get a moving quote based on weight, and if you’re concerned that there might be issues when the moving company weighs your load, tag along with the movers to the scales — you have the right to do this and should feel entirely comfortable asking.
Here are some other moving scams to be aware of when choosing moving companies and planning your move:
* The low-ball bid. You get three bids, and company ABC comes in the lowest — nearly half the cost of everyone else! What a deal, right? Wrong. The company is most likely setting you up to lard on more charges later to get your quote to where it should be for them to make any money.
* Passing your move off to someone else. You speak on the phone with a moving company that gives you a quote, but on moving day someone else shows up. You were most likely dealing with a moving broker, which sold your business to someone else. Avoid moving brokers — you want to deal with the same company from the start of your move to the end. And choose a local moving company.
* Getting an estimate over the phone, or filling out an online inventory form. There’s no way for the moving company to get an accurate sense of what you need moved until they see it in person. Insist that the moving company comes to your home and gives you an in-home visual estimate.
Another way to avoid these scams is to take these other basic precautions:
* Check with your local Better Business Bureau for the complaint record of your moving company.
* See if the mover is a member of American Moving and Storage Association. In particular, ask if the mover is a ProMover, which is a new AMSA designation for moving companies that meet a strict review of their business practices, and agree to abide by a code of ethics in their business operations.
* Read reviews online, but beware their limitations.
The ‘binding estimate’ sounds so final, so iron-clad – it’s guaranteed to be exactly what you pay for your move, right?
Not necessarily — and it could majorly mess up your moving day.
There are two kinds of moving estimates: a non-binding estimate, which is an ‘estimate’ in the true sense of the word: you might pay more, you might pay less. These are more common for local moves, where you pay by the hour according to the number of laborers you use.
The other estimate is ‘binding.’ It’s binding on both you and the moving company. A popular binding estimate is the ‘guaranteed not to exceed’ estimate – you won’t pay more than the estimated moving costs, but if your moving costs end up being less than the estimate, you pay the lesser amount.
You often see these offered up as a guaranteed estimate, or a flat-rate estimate.
However, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Here’s what can happen:
The estimator from a moving company comes to your home, sees what you need to have moved, and gives you an estimate.
On moving day – surprise! - the guys loading your truck say you have more stuff than is included on the estimate. Your binding estimate is kaput, and you will have to pay more.
How’d that happen?
1. You added more stuff to your move after you got you estimate.
2. Your moving estimator made an honest mistake, and didn’t include everything to be moved.
3. Your moving estimator purposefully underestimated your move in order to win your business. (And is now letting the driver handle the dirty work…)
Either way, you have to come to an agreement with the moving company about what you will pay. And it’s moving day. And you’re stressed, and now probably a little angry.
So you thought you were getting a binding estimate – but now you’re in a bind.
How to avoid this predicament:
* When you get a binding estimate, scrutinize the Table of Measurements that the estimator uses to give you moving quotes. This is a sheet your estimator uses to tally up the items you need to have moved. Insist on seeing this, and make sure it’s accurate. If it’s not, you’re going to have a problem on moving day.
* Beware the low bid. Even if it’s binding, your moving company can still insist on more money on moving day if it says the estimate was incorrect.
* Make sure that you won’t be adding additional items to your load before moving day. This will nullify your binding estimate.
* Get your estimate in writing.
On moving day, the binding estimate is included as an attachment to the bill of lading, which is a document you will be signing that turns over your goods to the moving company. Make sure it’s there.
More Fascinating Articles on Estimates:
How the Moving Company Sets Your Moving Estimate
The Best Estimate for Your Move