A Sad Photo Essay That Sums Up What It’s Like to Sell Your Housewares Online

Long ago, I learned that I lack the fortitude or tenacity to ever host another garage sale. So when I looked around my home this past spring and saw a bunch of items I no longer wanted or needed, I decided it was time to try something new: Sell them online!

Whether you’re moving to new digs or just decluttering the home, it’s hard to resist the opportunity to turn your castoffs into cash. And, if the idea of Craigslist also gives you qualms, online consignment groups on Facebook —where you post your wares to local members who then swing by to take a look—are a more sheltered alternative, since only members get to view the goods (translation: fewer randos).

As I began photographing and listing my inventory, my hopes were high … yet I soon found myself in an oddly depressing, albeit comical, vicious circle.

So, to prepare the rest of you for this roller coaster, check out these pics of the stages you’ll endure if you dare to sell your housewares online.

You’re excited

Your heart’s beating a little faster just thinking about that sweet combination of cash in hand and more room in your home. Even though you haven’t touched your stationary bike since the Clinton administration, you’re certain someone out there is going to want to ride this beauty right out of your basement. Maybe you’ll even get multiple offers—your very own bicycle-based bidding war!

This recumbent bike brought in $50, though several people offered to take it off my hands for $25. If you're in no rush, wait for your asking price.
This recumbent bike brought in $50, though several people offered to take it off my hands for $25. If you’re in no rush, wait for your asking price.

Liz Alterman

You hone your photo-taking skills to the max

We all know the old saying, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” Well, what if it’s worth a thousand dollars? (OK, maybe a couple of hundred?) Surely, if you take the perfect photo from all the right angles, crop out your cat’s litter box and those unsightly carpet stains, you’ll have buyers beating down the door for that old sofa. After all, staging is everything! (Right?)

When my kids outgrew this Pottery Barn Teen furniture, I sold it for $200, a fraction of what I paid for it, but still, it's out of my basement!
When my kids outgrew this Pottery Barn Teen furniture, I sold it for $200, a fraction of what I paid for it, but still, it’s out of my basement!

Liz Alterman

You use a little poetic license

Want to attract as much interest as possible? You’ll need a description that proves to the public they can’t live without that hand blender you never figured out how to use. But you’re not a copywriter! Looks like it’s time to plagiarize a description from whichever website you purchased that contraption from and hope that’s not illegal.

You post your item, then check your computer and phone every 10 seconds

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! You’ve posted your item and your listing looks so good, if you didn’t already own that outdoor bar cart, you’d be tempted to buy it all over again. Any minute, someone is going to let you know they’re interested. Wait, is this what online dating feels like?

You plan how you’ll spend your windfall

Now that you look at it, that corner will look awfully bare without your kids’ drum set. You should probably get right on Pinterest for ideas on what to put in its place. Bookshelf? Funky ottoman? Exotic plant? Because, why not? You’re about to have oodles of cash coming your way any moment. And also, how else would you pass the time as you wait for would-be buyers to realize this is their chance to raise the next Ringo Starr?

Despite the fact that I noted all the dimensions on this "kid's" set, many adults came calling believing it was adult-sized. Awkward.
Despite the fact that I noted all the dimensions on this “kid’s” set, many adults came calling believing it was adult-sized. Awkward.

Liz Alterman

You get your first nibble

OK, you’ve got your first potential buyer. You’re elated! You assure them, yes, this weed whacker is still available. This is going great … until your customer asks more questions than a CIA interrogator. Why are you selling? Will you throw in a can of gasoline and/or an extension cord? Would you be willing to demo it, preferably in their yard? Uh-oh.

You get several more (equally annoying) interested parties

You thought that by joining a local group, you’d avoid the hassle of the packing and shipping. Not so fast. People are interested in that hand-painted toy chest, but they’ll only buy it if you deliver it. Oh, and by the way, they moved out of your town months ago. Oh yeah, and they’d also like to pay half, or maybe a third, of your asking price.

You wonder why you ever thought this was a good idea

After writing to tell 11 potential buyers that, yes, your big inflatable water slide is still available—but, no, you’re not renting a truck to drop it off—you begin to experience self-doubt. You banish all thoughts that resemble, “Time is money,” because you’ve already invested at least six hours in trying to sell something that may, if the stars align, bring in $75. Even though you’re fundamentally and ideologically opposed to it, you’re approaching the point where you’d be happy to see this plastic behemoth upside down in a landfill—so long as it’s out of your backyard.

Think of the hours of backyard fun your kids could have on this baby!
Think of the hours of backyard fun your kids could have on this baby!

Liz Alterman

Finally, a real buyer emerges

After some haggling and hoping you haven’t just welcomed a Craigslist killer into your basement, you sell your foosball table and bask in the splendor of having that cold hard cash in hand. “That wasn’t so hard now, was it?” you tell yourself.

What’s next?

Who knew you’d experience inexplicable feelings of joy, akin to a runner’s high, after watching a father and son leave your driveway with those gently used, left-handed golf clubs? You immediately begin looking around your home for more items to sell. Who needs a stove? It’s summer, after all!

OK, true confession time. These never sold. They're still available for $30. Any takers?
OK, true confession time. These never sold. They’re still available for $30. Any takers?

Liz Alterman

See Step 1 and repeat ad nauseam

Source: realtor.com

7 Surprising Items Many Moving Companies Won’t Ship

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

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

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

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

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

1. Photos and photo albums

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

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

2. Unsealed personal care products

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

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

3. Expensive clothes and accessories

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

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

4. Flat-screen TVs

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

5. Nail polish

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

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

6. Fine art

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

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

7. Food in glass containers

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

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

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

Source: realtor.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

Checklist: Before you move

Make sure moving is allowed in your area or building

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

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

Choose car travel over air travel

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

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

Carefully research your movers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decluttering? Call ahead if you plan to donate

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

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

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Watch: The Essential Quarantine Supply List

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

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

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

Use new cardboard boxes you pack yourself

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

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

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

Stock up on cleaning supplies for you and your movers

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

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

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Checklist: On moving day

Don’t involve more people than necessary

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

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

Time your move carefully

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

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

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

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

Disinfect all points of contact

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

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

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

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Checklist: After the move

Wipe down your moving boxes and furniture

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

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

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

Canceling or changing your move if you’re sick

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

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

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

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

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

Source: realtor.com

Often Overlooked Spots to Check During a Move-In Inspection

Flower vase on a granite kitchen countertopSummer is the season for pool parties, vacations, and fun. But it’s also the season most people move from one apartment to another. Having a thorough moving-out checklist is one thing, but what should you keep top of mind when you move in?

You may have found the perfect apartment and done the apartment walkthrough and basic move-in inspection, but excitement over the move-in stage could cause you to miss some issues that might affect your security deposit down the line. So, if you want to know how to get your security deposit back, use this list of often-overlooked spots to check during your move-in inspection.

Closets and pantries

It might seem frivolous to give the inside of your closets and pantries a good look-over. But this is a perfect place for things like water damage, holes in the drywall, or faulty lights to be hiding. (Not to mention any pests that might currently be residing in your new closet. Freeloaders.) So, don’t be shy. Grab a flashlight and check all those nooks and crannies.

Soft spots in floors

If the previous owner had pets, there’s a chance those pets had accidents. Unfortunately, these accidents can ruin spots on hardwood floors, even if they are covered in wall-to-wall carpet! And if you have a pet, the last thing you want is your landlord blaming your furry friend for those damages when you move out.

If your apartment has hardwood or laminate floors, then checking for pet urine damage is fairly easy. Look for any places where the floor is buckling up or spots where the floor planks are separating. Make note of these areas and notify your landlord.

If your apartment is carpeted, it’s not as easy to tell if your subfloor or carpet has urine damage. One way to do it is to get down and start sniffing. Pet odor can linger for quite a while, so if you detect a weird smell, inspect the floor in that area for soft or spongy carpeting. Take a mindful stroll through each room, making note of anywhere that feels or smells unusual.

If you aren’t bringing a pet with you to your new apartment, then it will probably be easier to get off the hook for damages caused by pet urine when moving out. But if you are moving into your new place with a pet, a little prep work can help make sure you aren’t penalized for prior accidents.

Kitchen cabinet shelves

You’ve probably opened and closed every cabinet while admiring all the potential storage space in your new apartment. But did you check every shelf in each cabinet? You probably should. If the previous tenant put dishes away before they were dry, moisture could have built up inside the cabinets and caused water damage. Double check every shelf. Even those top ones you never plan on using.

Bathroom floors and walls

Bathrooms are pretty good about keeping water where it needs to be. But leaks happen (and so do messy tenants). Check the floors for water damage by looking for buckled or raised areas, and ensure there aren’t cracks or mold in the shower.

Additionally, steam from hot showers can create excessive moisture in the bathroom that condensates on the walls. Check for any soft spots in the walls and ceiling where water may have accumulated over time.

If your new apartment isn’t well ventilated, you’ll want to check spots on your walls around the bathroom where excess moisture could have caused damage, too.

Bathroom drawers

Like your kitchen, it’s best to check every bit of storage space in your bathroom for existing damage. Open every drawer to make sure it isn’t warped, and the drawer slides are working correctly. While you’re at it, check for water damage, as well. You can’t be too careful.

Blinds

Go through every room in the apartment and check if the blinds are in good shape. Look for any broken slats, faulty tilt mechanisms, or missing pull cords. Make sure they go up and stay up, as well as go down without getting stuck.

Lights and outlets

You probably used most of the light switches already during your walkthrough of the apartment. But to be as thorough as possible, you’ll want to make sure you check every light switch and outlet. Place sticky note tabs on each light switch and outlet as you inspect them so you can see which ones you’ve examined. Mark the sticky notes for ones (if any) that are defective.

Adding these items to a written move-in inspection report is a great way to hopefully keep your landlord from nickel and diming you to death when you move out. But the most foolproof way to avoid worrying about getting your rent deposit back is not to have one. It’s hard to do, but possible! Use ApartmentSearch to find apartments near you with little to no security deposit.

Want more apartment tips?

Check out our Moving Resources guide to help make your next move the smartest one yet.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

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

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

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

When to hire hourly movers

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

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

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

When to hire a flat-rate moving company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: realtor.com

Things to Consider When Moving From a House to an Apartment

Moving from a house to an apartment has its perks and its challenges – and planning your move strategically can help with the latter! Whether you’re looking for a fresh start in a new town or moving cross-country for school, there are several things to consider as you downsize to an apartment.

1. Measure your new space.

That plush, overstuffed couch may look incredible in your house’s open-concept living room. However, it might be a bit overwhelming in a smaller apartment. The same goes for your six-person dining table and king size bed.

Don’t spend time or money (or elbow grease!) lugging your furniture to a new apartment only to discover it won’t fit in the door! If you’ve already picked out your specific apartment, you’ll be able to get exact measurements of each room you’ll be furnishing. Use those measurements or your apartment’s floor plan to figure out what can stay and what needs to go.

Haven’t selected your apartment yet and not sure how to downsize? You can still start determining which furnishings need to go. For example, if you know you’ll be searching for a one-bedroom apartment, you can probably get rid of your guest room and home office furniture.

2. Ditch the (unnecessary) past.

Aside from losing the excess or oversized furniture, you’ll likely have plenty of belongings to sort through as well. The beautiful thing about apartment living is that you won’t need everything you needed in a house. Appliances are provided, so don’t worry about transporting your stove. Lawn care is officially a thing of the past, so you can get rid of your gardening and landscaping tools. One downside of moving from a house to an apartment is that you’ll likely lose some storage space. However, this makes your move a perfect opportunity to declutter, donate, and sell stuff you won’t need.

3. Look into storage units.

If you’ve got things that won’t quite fit in your new apartment, but you can’t fathom getting rid of them, check out your local storage options. You can use a storage unit for keeping the things you only use sporadically, like a camping tent, seasonal décor, family heirlooms, and so on. This is also the perfect option for someone moving into a temporary apartment, who needs to stash their extra things for the time being.

4. Consider “double duty” furniture.

When downsizing to an apartment, it’s wise to be savvy with your furnishings. For example, buying a pullout couch can instantly turn your living room into a makeshift guest room. Opting for a storage ottoman instead of a coffee table can offer extra functionality. In an apartment, multi-tasking furniture like futons, modular couches, and expandable dining tables can help you make the most out of every square foot.

If you’re just testing the apartment life, you don’t need to spend a fortune on new, “multi-tasking” furniture. Avoid the upfront costs and hassle of furnishing a new space by renting furniture with CORT. When you shop at CORT, you don’t have to empty your life-savings to furnish an apartment for a one-year lease!

5. Embrace everything apartment living has to offer!

One beautiful thing about moving from a house to an apartment is the ability to take advantage of the amenities of the property. For example, an on-site gym means you can cancel your pricey gym memberships and sell your home gym equipment. Additionally, some apartment complexes offer free internet and cable, giving you one less bill to pay. There are plenty of things to look forward to when moving to an apartment!

Considering a grander life in a smaller space? Make sure you’re happy with your new home’s amenities, neighborhood, and square footage. Find your next place on Apartment Search and downsize to the perfect apartment.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

How to Get a Moving Estimate That Won’t Become a Moving Target

Newsflash: Moving stinks—and it can be even worse when you don’t know how to get a moving estimate you can trust. This can lead to massive misunderstandings, when movers quote you one price before you move, and whole different (and much higher!) number after it’s over.

So what gives?

The fact is, there are many ways to get a moving estimate, and each come with their pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know to get an estimate that won’t become a moving target.

How a moving cost calculator can help

For starters, you can get an instant estimate for your move using a moving cost calculator, which will ballpark the cost of your move based on the number rooms you have, how far you’re moving, and other variables.

In general, the average cost of a professional in-state household move is $2,300, according to the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA). That number climbs to a whopping $4,300 for an out-of-state move, based on an average weight of 7,400 pounds and an average distance of 1,225 miles.

But keep in mind that a moving calculator is just a ballpark start. To get a more accurate estimate, you’ll have to actually contact a moving company and get its take on the situation.

Binding vs. nonbinding estimate: What’s the difference?

So you want to know precisely how much your move is going to cost? Get a binding estimate, where a moving company tells you upfront all of your moving costs, including fees, taxes, and insurance. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), movers who provide a binding estimate can’t require consumers to pay any more than the estimated amount at delivery.

There are a couple of caveats, though. Getting a binding estimate upfront may incur an initial fee. And with a binding estimate, “movers will often charge more money to build in an extra cushion, in case the move takes longer than expected,” says Scott Michael, AMSA’s president and CEO.

By comparison, a nonbinding estimate is free, but the cost that you’re quoted is only an estimate, and is subject to change. If the nonbinding estimate is based on weight, the movers can charge up to 10% more once they get the official weight on your goods, after packing them into the vehicle and stopping at a weigh station.

How to get a moving estimate that won’t change later

You can obtain a moving estimate over the phone, by email, or in person. Michael recommends getting estimates from at least three movers in person.

“Doing it in person ensures that the mover will see all the items that need to be shipped, and can identify any complications in advance,” Michael says. “For instance, if there are low-hanging tree branches that would prevent the moving truck from being able to pull up to your house, that’s something you want to know ahead of time.”

To obtain an accurate estimate, you’ll want to do a walk-through of your home with the mover a couple of weeks before your move. Michael recommends going room to room with the mover, “showing the person every single item the company is going to move.”

Point out items that you plan to transport yourself, and flag valuables, like artwork or antiques, that need to be handled differently or insured at a higher rate. “You may need to get an insurance policy from a third party to cover extraordinary artwork,” Michael says.

How to find reputable movers

To find a reputable moving company, make sure it has a state license to operate—and it should be happy to show you proof.

If you’re moving out of state, you’ll need a mover that also has a unique license number, issued by the United States Department of Transportation.

Unfortunately, every year, thousands of people fall victim to moving fraud, according to the FMCSA’s “Protect Your Move” campaign. To avoid getting scammed, steer clear of moving companies that ask for a deposit, list a P.O. Box or a residential address, or offer a ridiculously lowball estimate.

Once you have an estimate, it should be part of a written contract that’s signed by both parties before the move. That way, if the numbers come back different after your move is done, you have documentation that argues otherwise.

Source: realtor.com

6 Tips for Moving Back in With Family

mother and daughter cooking togetherWhen one door closes, another one opens — and it may just be to your childhood home. When you’re closing off a chapter in your life, moving into your parents’ always-open house may just make good financial sense. No matter why you’re moving back in with your family, there are a few things you should consider, including budgeting, boundaries, and handling day-to-day interactions under the fam’s roof. Learn how to navigate your old stomping grounds in new ways with these tips.

1. Contribute financially.

Yes, saving up may be the number one reason you moved back in with your parents. But that doesn’t mean you should expect them to pay for everything. Offer to pay “rent,” pitch in on groceries every other week, or take over additional payments like Netflix or utilities. Chances are they’ll push back at first, but more than likely, they’ll end up appreciating it. Losing a job may have been the final push back into the nest, so pick up something part-time while you’re job searching. Save as much as you can, but don’t abuse your family’s generosity.

2. Do your chores.

Your mom may have done your laundry and made dinner every night when you were a kid, but don’t fall back into that routine. Do your own laundry, and offer to do theirs, too. Keep your room clean and pick up after yourself in shared spaces. Pitch in on the rest of the housekeeping, too, like taking out the trash, unloading the dishwasher, and dusting the furniture. It’s simply part of being a good roommate.

3. Set rules and expectations.

Ask them what “house rules” they have for you. Do they prefer you to take your shoes off by the door or use a coaster on the coffee table? Respect those wishes. You’d probably roll your eyes at the mention of a curfew (after all, you haven’t had one in years!), but while you don’t need to be home by 9 p.m. every night, it’s polite to let them know how late you’ll be out. After all, they’re still your parents and worry when you’re out late, no matter how old you are now. Agree on ground rules for having friends over, too.

Keep as much of your routine intact as possible — moving back in with parents doesn’t mean you have to change your day-to-day or lose your social life; it just means you should respect your parents’ routine and vice versa. It may be helpful to create a written agreement before you move in. It’ll be easy to fall into the parent-child roles, so making things more formal can help them see you more as an adult roommate than an underage dependent.

4. Be patient and talk it out.

Communication is vital in any relationship or living situation — especially adults moving back in with parents — so be sure to talk through things together. Over-communicate about issues when they arise, aim for common ground, and be respectful. Don’t sweat the small stuff, either.

Learn how to deal with irritating habits and let the little annoyances roll off your back. And while you deserve to be respected as an adult, be prepared for unsolicited parental advice! Most of all, be patient with each other. This is a big adjustment for everyone involved.

5. Have a plan.

Avoid moving back in with your family “indefinitely.” Whether you’re trying to save money or get a new job, set your goals and a timeline for reaching them. The plan doesn’t have to be set in stone, but having a general end date will help keep you motivated and focused on the next chapter of your life. Additionally, create a budget and a savings strategy. Bonus: your parents are less likely to pester you with questions if you share your game plan with them from the get-go.

6. Make the most of your time.

Spend quality time with your family while you’re under one roof. Prioritize family meals, tag-team dinner with your dad, take the dog on walks together and stay up late playing your favorite games. If you let the time pass without investing in your relationship, you’ll regret the missed opportunity. Having to move back home can be fun if you let it!

You love your family, but living under the same roof can make it harder for you to express that love! When you’re ready to move out of your parents’ house, find an affordable apartment to call home with ApartmentSearch.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

5 Dire Mistakes People Make Moving Their Pets to a New Place

Moving involves so many tasks: planning, packing, hiring movers, enlisting emotional and physical help, and lots more. Moving with pets can add even more to your to-do list.

When we moved a couple of years ago, I never really considered how our two Lab mixes, Coco and Cookie, would handle it. That was a big mistake. I looked up a few tips online and tried my best to put them into practice. But, for the first few days in the new house, my dogs were stressed and anxious, got into fights with each other and barked all the time—all unusual behavior.

After a couple of weeks, they started to adjust, and their anxiety subsided. But it got me wondering what I could have done to make this move less traumatic for them.

My two dogs
My two dogs

Erica Sweeney

To help keep your animals calm and safe when moving to a new place, we’ve highlighted some top mistakes pet owners make in the process. Here are some moves that experts say pet owners should avoid if they want a smooth transition.

1. Keeping pets around on moving day

Moving day will probably be chaotic, so boarding pets, or having them stay elsewhere for the day or overnight, is a good idea, says Nicole Ellis, a pet expert and certified professional dog trainer with the online pet sitter and dog walker network Rover.

Cats can be confined to a specific room in the old or new place to keep them away from the activity, says Mikel Delgado, a cat behavior expert at Rover. She suggests placing a sign on the closed door that reads, “Cat Inside: Please Do Not Open Door,” to prevent escapes.

We boarded our dogs for a few days during our move, which gave us time to start unpacking and get their things set up before bringing them home. Knowing they were safe and out of the way made the move less stressful.

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Watch: For Floors’ Sake! Smart Tips for Housetraining Your Puppy

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2. Washing pets’ things before the move

Familiar smells ease pets’ anxiety, Ellis and Delgado say. It may seem like a good idea to wash your pets’ belongings or buy them new things before a move for a fresh start, but don’t.

Beds, blankets, toys, litter boxes, and food and water bowls bring the scent of the old home into the new one, and this substantially reduces pets’ stress and helps them adjust, they say.

Delgado also suggests not packing pets’ items until the last minute, so they’ll feel at home while you’re preparing to move.

3. Not keeping an eye on them in their new environment

Once you’ve moved, Ellis recommends watching your pets closely as they explore their new place—and checking (inside and outside) for possible escape routes. For instance, even if your new house has a fence, “Dogs can jump higher than we are often aware, so keeping them company outside is always safest,” she says.

She also suggests walking them around the neighborhood one step at a time to ease them into new sights and sounds, which can be overwhelming.

Another tip: Introduce yourself and your pet to neighbors. Give your number to neighbors and explain that your pets are still adjusting to a new place, so if they’re barking too much, neighbors can politely tell you.

4. Changing their setup too much

For cats, “Home turf is everything,” Delgado says. Cats are territorial and feel safest in familiar spaces; moving can cause unusual behavior, such as hiding, fearfulness, and being more vocal. Setting up a “safe room” with your cats’ necessary and favorite things for the first few hours, days, or even weeks helps them adjust.

Once cats get comfortable and are acting like their normal selves, they can be free to explore the rest of the house, Delgado says.

Ellis recommends arranging beds, crates, and toys as close to the old setup as possible. Giving dogs a sense of familiarity with where their stuff is located makes them feel more at home.

This is a tip I found online that seemed to work for us. We placed our dogs’ beds next to the couch in the living room of the new home, similar to where they had been in the old home, and put their water bowl in a similar spot in the kitchen. I also didn’t wash their favorite blankets and bedcovers before we moved, even though it was tempting.

5. Changing your pets’ routine

Routines are important for both dogs and cats, so sticking to regular feeding schedules, walk times, play activities, and other familiar tasks creates stability.

“They really rely on their favorite blankets, beds, and scratching posts to feel safe, and routine is very important to cats,” Delgado says.

Our dogs love their routine. They wake up at 6 a.m. every morning, ready to go outside to use the bathroom and then have breakfast. We kept up this schedule in the new house.

The bottom line is that settling pets into a new place will take time. How much depends on the individual animal, the pet experts say. Ellis urges pet parents to have medical records, microchip numbers, and current photos on hand, in case a pet gets lost.

Pets may show signs of stress and anxiety for several days, but there should be signs of improvement, Delgado says. If not, or if pets aren’t eating, call the vet.

Source: realtor.com

How to Find an Apartment in Houston

Man in backpack going down an escalatorThere are over 2.3 million people in Houston, reports the U.S. Census Bureau. On top of that, the HTX metro area spans more than 599 miles! So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed about your move to H-Town — we don’t blame you! But, before you say “screw it” and move into whichever decent place you can find, read our insider’s guide on how to find an apartment in Houston.

Finding Apartments in Houston, TX

Consider your commute.

Despite its advanced infrastructure, Houston has some of the worst traffic in the U.S., reports KHOU. Even using HOV lanes and toll roads, the average Houstonian commutes 50.56 minutes, says Robert Half.

If you can’t stand the stress of long commutes and traffic, finding an apartment in an area near your work can save your sanity (and your gas money). Luckily, there are plenty of pleasant suburbs, happening neighborhoods, and even hotspots for singles in Houston for you to pick from. Here’s a quick list of neighborhoods to consider if you work in certain areas of town:

  • Do you work in downtown Houston? Check out apartments in Montrose, River Oaks, The Heights, and The Museum District.
  • Is your office in North Houston? Start your apartment search in Houston suburbs like Spring Branch, The Woodlands, and Humble. These communities are generally family-oriented, so you may be able to find lower rent prices by seeking out studios, one-bedroom apartments, or even duplexes!
  • Headed due south for your daily drive? If you work in south Houston (or just south of downtown) look for places in the vicinity of the medical center and Astrodome area, or check out apartments in Central Southwest and Crestmont Park for a more suburban feel.
  • Are you commuting to East Houston? Before you sign a lease on the other side of town, look for apartments in the Greater Eastwood neighborhood and the Manchester/Harrisburg area. If your budget is on the higher side, you can also check out apartments in EaDo — the up and coming east downtown region.

Pick a Houston neighborhood.

When picking a neighborhood, don’t just focus on being close to work. Also, consider what you like and need to do before and after the daily grind. If you’re really trying to avoid traffic, live in an area that contains all the “necessities,” like grocery stores, pharmacies, and excellent schools (if that’s a priority for you).

Remember, we all need some fun, too! So, find a neighborhood that’s close to your needs and wants — whether that means pubs and eateries or churches, gyms, and art galleries. Soon enough, you’ll find a community in Houston that fits your lifestyle and your work or school schedule.

Browse apartments in your desired area.

Once you’ve zeroed in on the perfect Houston neighborhood for you, it’s time to find the ideal pad, too. Find apartments in your desired neighborhood by entering your fave HTX ‘hood or zip code in the search bar on ApartmentSearch.com. That search will pull up rental housing options in that neighborhood, showing rent prices, apartment reviews, and even open availabilities in each property.

Find budget-friendly Houston apartments.

A general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t spend more than a third of your gross income on rent. However, the lower your expenses, the better — regardless of how much you make!

Crunch some numbers and figure out how much rent you can afford. Then, use the settings on our apartment finding website to filter your search results by rent prices. You’ll get a list of available apartments that fit your budget and are in your desired Houston neighborhood!

Pick your favorite!

Last, but certainly not least — it’s time to pick your ideal apartment in Houston! If you’ve followed the steps above, you now have a list of properties to choose from. Narrow that list down further by deciding which “extras” (a.k.a., amenities) you’d like your rental community to include.

Make a list of amenities you’d enjoy, ranking them from most to least important. Consider renter favorites like gated access, resort-style pools, fitness centers, and free WiFi. Once your list is ready, find properties in your ApartmentSearch that offer what you need and use the “Contact Property” button to request more info.

Once you’ve found the one, give the lease a careful read before signing. Don’t forget to tell them ApartmentSearch referred you — it’ll help you qualify for our exclusive $200 reward!

Make Houston Your Home

Whether you want a pool-front studio in The Woodlands, or you’re looking for an apartment with access to a fitness center in River Oaks, ApartmentSearch can help you find a place to call home in Houston!

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com