Posted by & filed under News.

Moving seems like one of the most straightforward businesses, and in many ways it is. Big problems can occur, though, when movers aren’t prepared. Any decent mover will be prepared for most situations. Trucks should be stocked with boxes of all sizes, blankets, tape, a ramp, dollies, etc. Things get a bit more dicey, though, when movers don’t know about a few items in advance.

1. Pianos

A piano might seem like just another piece of furniture, but pianos require special handling. If your mover knows in advance, he might arrange for a piano board and potentially an additional mover or two.

2. Safes

If you have a safe in your house that weighs more than most people, let your mover know. As with pianos, safes often require special moving boards and sometimes an extra crew member.

3. Stairs

A single flight of stairs, or perhaps even two, might not be such a big deal, but more than that and the mover has to know. If the mover isn’t prepared for stairs, the move could end up taking much longer, costing more money and there could be damages.

4. Long Carries

5. Time Restrictions

If you live in an apartment or in a community with a homeowner’s association, there might be time restrictions on your move. If possible, it’s best to arrange your move to start in the morning. Afternoon moves are far more difficult to precisely schedule because you may have to wait for movers to finish up their morning job. Also, you should check with your property manager to make sure you don’t have to reserve a particular date. It’s always best to get about three time options and coordinate one of those three with the movers.

6. Building Insurance Requirements

Every licensed mover must carry liability insurance in case of damage to driveways or buildings. Many apartment buildings require written proof called a Certificate of Insurance. Any mover should be able to supply the proof.

Featured image via

Posted by & filed under Home Buying.

Should you rent or buy?

Moving into a new home in a new town might seem risky. Deciding whether to rent or buy might seem even riskier. Everything is an unknown, and while you might have the time to do your due diligence if you’re buying in the neighborhood, it can be tough when you’re hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away.

In the vast majority of circumstances, it’s better to rent than buy before you get your footing in a new city or state. Renting before hand gives you the opportunity to find out what neighborhoods you really like and you won’t be under such pressure to buy the first home you see.

There are exceptions when deciding whether to rent or buy

There are times, though, when buying might be a better alternative, even in a brand new city.

1. You have to reinvest

If you sold your old home and you made a considerable amount of capital gains (more than $250,000 for someone filing singly and $500,000 for someone filing jointly), you have only 45 days to reinvest that money before being hit with capital gains taxes. The good news is, you don’t have to reinvest it in a home. Talk to a tax professional about acceptable mutual funds or IRAs, or if perhaps you can roll it into your 401k.

2. You already know the area

If you grew up there, or if you have family there, you might be comfortable enough in a city to know exactly where you want to live. In that case, go ahead and buy. Be aware, though, that if you’ve spent a lot of time in a city as a tourist or as a business traveler, you probably haven’t gotten a good feel for what it’s like to live there. For example, you might love a particular neighborhood, but the schools aren’t quite up to par or the grocery stores aren’t that good. On the other hand, there might be a neighborhood you don’t even know about that suits all your needs.

3. It’s a buyer’s market

It seems forever since it’s been a buyer’s market, but real estate is cyclical. Just because it’s expensive right now doesn’t mean it will be expensive in two years. A temporary rental could buy you the time to find an affordable home, and one that you love. If it’s a buyer’s market right now, though, then by all means, buy.

4. You found the perfect house

If you find your dream house and you’ve researched the neighborhood (go there at night, as well as during the day, ask neighbors about their experiences, look at parking, find good schools, examine utilities), and you have a good deal, then by all means, buy it.

Overall, the decision over whether to rent of buy is deeply personal. Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith. Other times, it pays to wait.

Featured image via Joint Base Langley-Eustis

Posted by & filed under Packing.

Wardrobe boxes, which are roughly four feet high and two feet wide, can hold a lot of stuff and movers often loan you them for free.

When wardrobe boxes are delivered to you, they are typically flat and not quite as intuitive as other boxes you might receive. The size can make them rather unwieldy, but in a few short minutes, you’ll have one of the most versatile boxes you have.

1. Turn the box over and tape the bottom.

2. Turn it back upright. You’ll see that one side has a fold just above the middle of the box. This is the front and it’s designed to make it more convenient for loading and unloading. Pull that flap down. O

3. Insert the included metal bar into the two slots on the sides of the box.

4. Transfer clothes from your closet to the box.

Wardrobe boxes aren’t just for your wardrobe

The large size makes wardrobe boxes particularly convenient for light items, like bed linens or bulky sweaters. They can also be used to create makeshift crates for odd shaped items like lamps or small, delicate chairs or other furniture. Just be sure that when you pack anything fragile, you include enough packing material so there is no movement inside the box.

Even if you are using your wardrobes for their intended purpose, put bed linens and even some shoes in the bottom.

Never overpack a wardrobe box, though. A box, no matter the size, should never weigh more than 50 pounds. That’s why book boxes are small. Wardrobe boxes are wonderful packing tools, and if kept light, they can make packing much quicker and keep your clothes from wrinkling. They can also help you save some space if you are moving long-distance and are being charged based on space used.

Featured image via ULine.

Posted by & filed under Getting Ready to Move, Packing.

Becky Stern isn’t a Los Angeles resident and she doesn’t normally talk ab out moving, but she is a video blogger who has a lot of experience with renting in a super competitive market (New York). Her video on renting in New York has so much valuable information, even for California, that it’s certainly worth seven minutes of your time.

In the video, Becky (assuming we can call her by her first name) recommends doing your research and figuring out where you can compromise, before viewing apartments.

While her video is specifically about New York, she makes the point that you don’t have to live right in the center of everything. There is no shame in living in a fabulous place in say, Oakland, when the alternative is a dump in San Francisco.

One thing we have in common with New York is that the real estate market moves very fast. Becky recommends bringing looking no more than three months in advance and being prepared with all of your necessary paperwork before hand. If you are moving from out of town, she recommends a visit, or in worst case scenario, having a trusted friend look on your behalf (warning, I once did this and I ended up with a less than ideal apartment).

Becky’s video goes into incredible detail, down to recommending that you check the water pressure and whether the sink has a sprayer. She even tells viewers to research the building against code violations and complaints. You’ll probably have to Google it for your chosen city, but here it is for San Francisco.

Once you’ve secured your ideal apartment, Becky even has great tips for packing and moving. She (as do we) recommends packing early and keeping multiple boxes going at once so you can pack different types of items as you come across them. For example, a bookshelf might contain books and breakables. A closet might have clothing and knick-knacks. She also recommends making a color-coded floor plan to help the movers put everything in the right location.

Listen here. You’ll be better prepared.

Featured image via Wikimedia.

Posted by & filed under Home Buying.

If you’re in the market for a home and you don’t have a lot of cash, you might be out of luck. For most people, housing in the Greater Los Angeles area is all but unaffordable. In Los Angeles, the median home price is about $570,000 and the bidding wars are alive and well.

If you do it right, it is still possible to win a bidding war, but be prepared to make some compromises.

Get pre-approved

Many Realtors won’t even show you homes without a pre-approval letter in your hand. It shows that a mortgage broker has checked your credit and made sure you will qualify for a home loan. If you are pre-approved for $500,000, though, don’t look at houses worth $600,000 unless you have a hefty downpayment. You might even avoid going above $400,000, in anticipation of a bidding war.

Be prepared to compromise

We, like pretty much everyone else who’s ever begun the house hunting journey, had a long list of “must haves.” We had to have three bedrooms, at least two baths, a yard for our dogs, a single story for our elderly dog, must be move in ready and in a great neighborhood. While all of that might exist, we were quickly brought down to earth when we learned that none of that was available in our price range. Instead we settled on a split-level foreclosure, with two bedrooms and a bonus room, 1.5 baths, a yard and in an up and coming neighborhood. While it was technically move in ready, the kitchen is in serious need of a remodel and there are other issues we need to address.

Look for “good bones” and a good location. You can change a kitchen and in many cases add a bathroom, but you can’t move a home.

Look outside your target area

Sure, you want that great school district, or perhaps you want to be close to hiking trails or you want to walk to all your favorite haunts. The problem is, so does everyone else, including people who have a lot more money than you. There is a new exodus to the suburbs, and not because people want to escape the city. It’s because that’s where housing is more affordable. You might even find yourself in good company.

“More than ever millennial buyers are willing to look in the suburbs in order to get a more updated home and more space,” says Gabriela Venegas, an LA-based Keller Williams realtor at the Carrasco Group. “I’ve had several clients start their search for condos on the Westside, only to eventually decide that a single family home in the Valley is a better fit for them and makes more financial sense. They are willing to make the sacrifice of having a longer commute in order to get into the fast moving real estate market before they are priced out.”

Source: LA Curbed

Don’t tie up all your hopes in one house


Posted by & filed under Home Buying, Home Improvement.

If you’re anything like me, moving into a new home can mean several sleepless nights. Every sound is new. Every flickering light, every shadow, can mean something scary.

After a few nights, of course, I get used to my new surroundings, but still, I sleep better knowing my home is secured and there are more options available than ever. The biggest problem for many new homeowners, is how to choose the right security system.

Make it natural

Security systems don’t have to be high tech. In fact, one of the best deterrents is landscaping, as long as it’s done right.

Bad guys can hide behind bushes, so keep them away from your house, unless they are thorny. A few well-placed rose bushes or native California fuchsia is both beautiful and a great “keep out” sign.


Nothing beats a good set of locks. Buy the strongest deadbolts you can find and always lock them, even while you are home. You should also install locks on your windows, and use them.

Security doors and windows

The days of bars on the doors and windows may not be completely gone for up and coming neighborhoods, but there are many more esthetically pleasing alternatives. Heavy duty security doors and reinforced windows can offer the same amount of security, but are a lot better looking.


Secure your backyard with a heavy iron gate and a tall fence.

A dog

34% of convicted burglars said they would think twice before entering a home with a barking dog.

Motion detector lights

The last thing a burglar wants is to be seen. Motion detector lights will illuminate the way for passers by and discourage bad guys by shining a literal spotlight on them.

An alarm system


Posted by & filed under Long-Distance Moving.

Moving is tough enough for adults, but when children are thrown into the mix, they often feel like they have no control, and worse, they feel like they are losing their friends. Fortunately, there are ways you can help your children make friends at their new schools.

Talk to them

Encourage your children to take their time. They can make a mental list of the types of qualities they are looking for in a friend. Perhaps they are looking for someone who’s funny or perhaps they are looking for kindness. Whatever they’re looking for, have them observe first before introducing themselves. Advise them not to talk about their old home too often. Other children won’t be able to relate and it will sound to them as if your child is insulting their home city.

Have them bring goodies

Treats or trinkets can go a long way toward making friends. Be cautious, though. Ask the teacher about school rules and potential food allergies.

Join the PTA

Perhaps you can get to know some of your children’s classmates through their parents. Set up playdates or throw a party.

Encourage extracurriculars

Both children and adults have an easier time bonding with people if they have things in common. Ballet class, music, art, soccer or debate club is an excellent way to meet people who share common interests. Find out what truly interests your children.

Sit with the lonely kids

There are always those kids in the cafeteria with empty seats next to them. It’s okay to join them. It won’t scar your child’s popularity for the remainder of his or her school career. They might even make some good friends.

If your children have a hard time making friends, don’t pressure them. They’ll make friends on their own time.

Featured image via Max Pixel.

Posted by & filed under News.

When people hire a mover, especially if they are paying for full packing and unpacking services, they expect full service. They expect that each and every item will be taken care of without much thought on the part of the client. They’re right, to a point. Unfortunately, though, there are some things that a mover, at least without help, cannot do.

What are the things movers can’t do?

1. Disconnect or reconnect gas appliances

In many cases, especially in California, appliances move with the customers. If any of those appliances are gas powered, though, a plumber is required. It’s simply not safe for movers to be disconnecting or reconnecting gas lines.

2. Tune pianos

This one might seem sort of obvious. Anyone who owns a piano knows that piano tuning is a finely honed skill. You’d be surprised, though, at the number of people who assume that a piano will be tuned exactly as it was before it was moved. While most movers are skilled at moving pianos, and are extremely careful at making sure the piano remains upright at all times, changes in environment and the act of moving can put a piano out of tune. It’s recommended that you hire a piano tuner for after the move.

3. Decide what is trash and what is treasure

On more than one occasion, I’ve heard customers complain that their movers moved trash. While that may seem wasteful (no pun intended), it’s just movers doing their jobs. Without proper instruction, there’s no way for them to know if something is actually trash or may be something valuable to you. It’s not unheard of for people to hide valuables in the bottoms of trashcans.

Certainly, literal trash is an extreme example, but it’s never a mover’s job to determine what is worth moving and what is not. That’s why we always advise supervision and sticky notes are always helpful.

4. Move living things

Most customers understand that pets (even fish and reptiles) shouldn’t be moved in moving trucks, but for the very same reasons, it’s also a bad idea to move plants. Moving trucks are hot and the air is stale. They also take up a lot of space, since it’s impossible to stack plants. If you’re moving across town, that might be one thing, but if you’re moving across country, you want to bring all your living things in your car.

<2h>5. Hoist

If an item was too big to fit into your home through the door, there’s a good chance it was hoisted in. Hoisting can require ropes or even a crane, depending on the difficulty. While some movers might hoist with ropes, very few have cranes. For that, you’d need to hire a company that specializes specifically in hoisting and it can add hundreds if not thousands to the cost of the move.

While it’s true that moving companies can’t do everything, you’ll find that most have a wealth of information. They have connections with professionals who can do nearly everything they can’t.

Featured image via Wikimedia.

Posted by & filed under Moving Estimates.

From the moment you contacted your moving company, they put their best foot forward. Your sales people were likely personable, they might even feel like friends. Once moving day hits, though, you may find a crew of people who are far more abrupt and if you pick up the phone, you might find dispatchers who are downright curt.

While this might be a little intimidating, it’s far from personal. Movers’ and dispatchers’ number one priority is to get you from point A to point B in a timely manner and without incident.

Still, it’s not unheard of for movers or dispatchers to come across as a little rude. That’s not acceptable.

Identify your point of communication

A moving crew always has a foreman or crew leader. He or she should be your main point of contact. While the rest of the crew should never be rude, any instructions or criticisms should be directed at the crew leader.

Take them on a tour

Do a walkthrough of your home. Point out any items that might need special care and note the items you would like the movers to pack. If there are items you plan on moving yourself, let the movers know and set them aside.

Don’t be afraid to call the dispatcher

Dispatch is one of the most stressful jobs in the moving industry. It’s their job to assign the movers, make sure they arrive on time and provide them with all of the instructions. It’s also their job to supervise the move, completely sight unseen. You can see why it’s so stressful. If the dispatcher seems somewhat short on the phone, don’t take it personally. They want you to be happy, but they also want the move to go smoothly and as contracted. If, for example, there’s more packing or more items than anticipated, it’s the dispatcher’s job to instruct the movers, but they also have a bit of flexibility to help alleviate misunderstandings.

Call your sales person

Your sales person shouldn’t drop the ball once the movers arrive, but don’t be surprised if they don’t immediately pick up the phone. If there is a misunderstanding, though, it probably begins with your sales person. It’s in their interest to straighten it out.

Posted by & filed under Moving Estimates.

If you watch the move, you’d almost think moving is as risky as jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. It’s not. While it’s true that there are a lot of scam companies out there, most movers are legit. With just a little homework and by looking for a few clues, it’s easy to find a reliable moving company and to avoid getting scammed.

Screen movers before getting estimates

If you go online and search for movers, you’ll see enough options to make your head spin. You don’t want to call most of them. First off, click on their link. Are you immediately prompted to enter your personal information? Close that link. That will take you to a lead provider or to a broker. It will not take you directly to any moving company. While brokers and lead providers might be fine, they don’t all screen the companies to whom your information is being sent.

If clicking on the link takes you to an actual mover’s website, scroll to the bottom. They should list their licensing information. Enter their licensing information in the US Department of Transportation website. Ideally, you want a company that’s been in business at least five years.

So, their licensing checks out, that’s a good start. Now check out reviews through Yelp, Facebook and Google. Take a look at Angie’s List. Eye both five and one-star reviews with suspicion. Look at those reviewers previous reviews and read them. See how the mover responds to the one-star reviews.

Get estimates

You should always get approximately 3-4 estimates, preferably in-house (although a virtual tour should be fine) and preferably a “binding” or guaranteed estimate. Don’t be lured in by the lowest quote. Moving costs are relatively fixed. One company can’t get your goods across country for half the price of another. It would be impossible. The low-ball estimate is likely from a scammer and they’re the people you read about on the news.

Be realistic

A moving estimate is a two-way contract. A mover agrees to move a certain number of items of certain sizes, pack agreed upon items and to perform the move under agreed conditions, such as distance from the truck to the front door, stairs, etc. If those agreed conditions change, it will be reflected in the bill.

Move sensitive items yourself

We’re not talking about your 60 inch TV or that wall-sized masterpiece. Any reputable mover should be able to care for those. You do want, however, to move sensitive documents and valuable jewelry yourself. In fact, movers are not legally responsible for those items.

For more information, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website.

Featured image via Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier/Flickr.