How to Hack Moving to New York City

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It is said, “Once you make it in New York, you can make it anywhere”. I don’t know if “making it” is a skill I can sell, but let’s just say after years of living in the Big Apple, I’ve got a pretty strong resume.

And hey, I didn’t want all of my knowledge to go to waste. So I polled our moving experts, put our heads together, and crafted a guide to one of the most difficult (but rewarding!) undertakings you may ever experience: moving to New York City

Believe it or not, moving to New York City – and thriving once you get there – requires, above all else, a different mindset. Read on to learn much more, or skip to what you’re looking for; this is a comprehensive guide meant to be explored.

The New York City Mindset

To make the most of moving to New York City, the first thing you need to have is a new mindset. Key qualities of this mindset include being:

  • Determined
  • Clever
  • Plotting
  • Confident
  • Conniving

Ask yourself, if someone challenged to Steve Jobs to move to New York City as a young man with only $3,000 in his bank account, what would Steve do?

Steve would plot his own, unique course.

The rest of this article will help you plot your own course and cultivate a “warrior mindset”, starting with:

  • How to physically move into New York
  • How to rent an apartment in New York
  • How to enjoy life in New York

One note of caution, though: this isn’t totally a how-to article, because there is no single “how-to do it” when it comes to New York, there’s only how to think about it.

“The two worst strategic mistakes to make are acting prematurely and letting an opportunity slip; to avoid this, the warrior treats each situation as if it were unique and never resorts to formulae, recipes or other people’s opinions.”

Paulo Coelho

You’ll have to devise your own steps to take, starting with knowing when to move to New York City.

When to Move to New York City

If you have been blessed with a place to stay in the city, a sublet from a friend, an employer’s corporate apartment, then you can skip this part.

Are you an average person moving to New York City? Most everyone agrees that April is the best first-monthto move to New York City.

Normal months to

move to New York City

________________________

January – No

February – No

March – No

April – Yes

May – Yes

June – No

July – No

August – No

September – Yes

October – Yes

November – No

December – No

Crazy months to

move to New York City

________________________

January – No

February – No

March – No

April – No

May – No

June – Yes

July – Yes

August – Yes

September – No

October – No

November – Yes

December – Yes

This solution to extreme heat is not practical while apartment hunting in NYC.

Timing is crucial because both the weather and the busy moving season will have a say in how smoothly your move goes. Weather touches extremes in The Big Apple, and finding NYC movers isn’t easy when they’re all booked up in the summer, or you have to clear a city sidewalk for a huge moving truck in the snow.

As Paulo Coelho points out, don’t go ahead and move prematurely, but definitely don’t miss your window. To some extent, your own window will depend on your personal life, but it will also depend heavily on the weather.

You might believe that weather doesn’t matter, that you are hardy, and because you grew up in Saskatchewan or Texas that temperature is no big deal to you. Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter how hardy you are.

Why Weather Matters For More Than Comfort

One of the biggest benefits to scheduling your move to New York is how many hours in the day you have to view apartments. The closer to the vernal equinox you position yourself, the better off you are. You want the most daylight possible.

But as the chart earlier might suggest, being crazy confers a three-month advantage over being uncrazy.

But the problem with heat is that it makes you unpresentable to potential landlords no matter how meticulous your planning. Ride-sharing will partially mitigate your troubles, but not entirely. Why? Often there will be multiple stories to ascend by stairs and the apartment won’t have AC when you finally step inside it. Plus, there may be 10 to 50 other warm bodies sharing the same tight space! 

If you do amazingly well in hot humid weather and tight spaces, if you’re not prone to sweat, if you’re in good physical shape, if you have a ton of energy and discipline, and if you like paying more for movers, by all means, move to New York in the summer.

Otherwise, the classic spring/fall pattern applies to you.

How to Rent an Apartment in the City

There are two million apartments rented in New York City, so this should be easy, right?

Just a quick preface and disclaimer: I’m not going to tell you where specifically to live or move to in New York City. So much of that depends on you and your unique personality, means and needs. This is the only place you need to do your own research, and it’s easy to find places with opinions on the matter.

Having said that, if you are an adventurous person and want to replicate the spirit of moving to the East Village in the 60s, West Brooklyn in the 80s or Astoria Queens in the 90s, you may want to dig a little deeper. Downtown Manhattan in 2020? Meh. Some would say it’s not even “really” New York City anymore. (Of course, people have probably said that for decades, so it’s all relative).

How Much Does an Apartment in New York City Cost?

Zumper reports the average cost to rent a 1-bedroom apartment is $2,890 and a 2-bedroom is $3,330. Oh yeah, don’t move to New York City without a great cashflow or huge savings. There are definitely more and less expensive options, but that’s the modern-day going rate.

What Does a “No Fee Apartment” in NYC Mean?

Surprising to few, brokers play a big part of the New York City apartment life. When someone sells an apartment to rent or buy, they often incorporate the broker’s (roughly) five percent fee into their asking price. As brickunderground.com puts it:

Believe it or not, here in New York City, renters pay broker fees too. There are rentals that come without broker fees (and websites dedicated to helping you find them), but these deals tend to either be in less-than-great shape buildings, or for higher-end luxury apartments where the landlord either employs her own leasing agents or pays the fees of outside brokers herself. If you’re determined to avoid the broker’s fee, be prepared to do some digging.

If a landlord pays the fee for you, or there isn’t a fee, the place us usually listed as a “no fee apartment”. And it may or may not be worse off for wear. If the landlord doesn’t pay the broker fee themselves, that’s when the apartment is advertised as having some sort of “renting fee”. Make sense?

Wherever you decide to live, and especially if you’re targeting almost anywhere in Manhattan or Western Brooklyn or Queens, there are some fundamental hacks that I suggest you adopt.

And don’t forget to don your warrior mindset.

Cash Is King 

What’s the largest amount of cash you’ve held on your person? For me, it was the $4,000 in cash I carried on me to secure an apartment on first sight. There is nothing like pulling out an envelope full of cash and putting it into a stranger’s hands.

For most places in Brooklyn, Queens and Upper Manhattan, apartments require first-month rent, last month’s rent, and deposit. But first and deposit in cash is usually good enough to secure your apartment. This is even truer when you have all the paperwork ready in advance. More on that later.

By the way, if you somehow have the runway to offer greater than a six-month deposit, you have a good chance of beating out the competition. (That’s how things work in NYC.)

Being Prepared (and Being First) Is Queen

Old-timers still tell you to check the Village Voice, a Sunday print weekly, whose early editions you could grab a copy of by waiting by newsstands on Saturday night. But those days are long gone; first, they shut down the print edition, long an integral part of New York culture and life, and by now they’ve shuttered the entire magazine.

So how do you get an edge if everyone has access to the same Craiglist listings as you do? There are many ways, but the keys are having cash, being supremely prepared, and being first. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Have a $3,000 to $7,000 cash deposit on your person, depending on your target apartment. (Use 100-dollar bills and keep your grip in a cloth passport wallet under your clothes)
  • Create a printed packet that includes:
    • Rental resume, including references
    • Professional resume, including references
    • Credit score (Yes, they will run their own, but this will set you apart and build trust)
    • Background check (Same as above)
    • Bank statements and/or pay stubs
    • Color photocopies of your ID
  • Show up dressed nicely and as mentally prepared as if you were on an important job interview
  • Rely on vehicle transport, so that you will likely be the first person on site
  • Be decisive – nobody wants to wait a long time on your decision

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Be ready to go at 8 a.m in your target neighborhood; as soon as a new apartment is posted on Craigslist there, get a rideshare directly to that place. I recommend rideshares – or maybe taxis – because (a) you won’t have to worry about parking, and because (b) you can speak to apartment representative en route.

Show that you are prepared and mean business by using a checklist of questions you need to ask to feel good about putting down a deposit. Try not to bog them down with less important questions like, “How far is the subway?”.

Easy, right? Of course it’s not easy. Nothing about this is easy, which is why you will experience an extremely satisfying feeling of accomplishment once you land an ideal New York apartment.

Congratulations in advance.

The “CC a Lawyer” For Your Lease Hack

Renting – and existing within – a NYC apartment is sort of a low-key battle of wills between you and the landlord, unfortunately. Even if you seem to have reached a stasis point in which a long-term lease has been signed, there may still be some lingering, tacit demands put upon you. I hope this doesn’t happen to you, but better safe than sorry.

Here’s some common demands that sometimes come up from your landlord after you sign your lease: 

  • You must sort your recycling by such-and-such an hour of the day, on “X” day of the week
  • Your friends can only stay over three days, not seven
  • You can’t have a pet
  • You must pay the rent on the last day of the month, not the first day of the month, despite what the lease may say
  • The apartment above you hosts the landlord’s family member, who hosts raucous poker games five nights a week

Here’s the thing about these kinds of subtle demands: they are tests of your will. As a New York veteran, let me tell you: do not give in, do not show weakness. Show strength. And the best way to do that is to have a lawyer.

Yes, simply hire a New York-based lawyer, partly to consult on your rights as a tenant, which are considerable in New York City, and partly to subtly say to your landlord: don’t mess with me.

What’s the easiest way to maintain your renter rights? Simply CC your lawyer on all your correspondence with your landlord.

How To Get Around New York

This is really easy. Just raise your hand and get in. No phone necessary.

First of all, don’t drive. Just don’t do it. Perhaps when you first arrive, from New Mexico, or Edmonton, or Dallas, Texas, or wherever you hail from, you can take one bleary-eyed, death-defying trip up Manhattan. You might enter off I-84 through the Holland Tunnel, to Broadway, and then all the way up. Map it, you’ll figure it out.

But the first order of business with your car is to find a place to park it. More on that later in the Hudson Valley Hack.

If you move to New York City and don’t use (a) the subway and (b) NYC taxis, you’re doing it wrong. Why is that? Primarily because both transport modes offer you a uniquely New York experience, and they’re there for a reason.

The Subway Experience

Plainly spoken, getting your subway card should be the first thing you do as a resident. It’s the most practical way to get around the city.

But it’s not just a transportation method, it’s a living theatre. There is no metro train system in the world, let alone in the United States, that provide as much musical talent and other entertainment as the New York subway system.

Consider the enormous quantity of performers who have performed in on the NYC subway. In recent years artists like John Legend, U2 and Maroon 5, along with hundreds more signed artists of less renown. 

Fast forward to today and you can experience a golden age. There are on average 13,000 live performances per year on the New York Subway system – don’t miss it!

An important note on public safetythe subway system is generally safe, despite alarming reports in the New York Post or Daily News. And as Sparefoot reminds us, please stand clear of the closing door. 

The Yellow Cab Experience

Also safe? The taxi system. This includes all taxi services, but I’m referring specifically to the legendary yellow cab taxi system, a traditional way to experience living in and getting around the city.

Not to cast aspersions on ride-sharing services based on apps, but when there is enough volume of taxis, taxis become several magnitudes more convenient. This is where NYC has so much in common with European cities. In many parts of the city, all you need to do to get a ride is put up your hand. (And it doesn’t hurt to be aggressive.)

Part of the fun of this is getting preempted by other ride hailers. You will quickly learn to claim the forward most, and most visible, location of your city block in order to be first in line. You will also learn to share. And here’s the best part: you will learn to speak to a stranger about his or her life. Can you do this on Lyft and Uber? Yes, of course, but you won’t wonder whether they’re just buttering you up for a five-star rating.

What’s a Moving Container? A Guide for Everything You Need to Know

You Must Walk

“Walking is the best way to see a city.”

– William Helmreich

Finally, if you like to walk, you’re in luck!

You should walk as often as you possibly can, to as many places as you possibly can. (Biking is fine too, but cars will not watch out for you all that well.) I will spare you the sermon on the social and health benefits and put it down to this: walking is the best way to discover New York City, no matter what your borough, or where your neighborhood.

You may try to discover New York City through an app, a website, or recommendations, or even articles like this one, but all these methods fall short. The best places you’ll find will come from exploration by foot.

As you will see from the video below, William Helmreich and his partner in crime, Matt Green, are happily and blissfully walking every single block of New York City.

Now, you can cheat if you like and limit your walks to your neighborhood or wherever you end up. And that’s fine too, because if the chances are very high that there is something very interesting to see and someone interesting to talk to.

Which brings us to the next great way to hack moving to New York City.

The Hudson Valley Hack When Moving to New York

If you’re not from the tri-state area then you’ll have no idea what “Hudson Valley” means. But you’ll probably have heard of its most famous town: Woodstock.

And now you’re thinking, “Why Woodstock? I want to live in the New York City; I’m not moving across the country to live in bucolic farmland, to drink kelp-oatmeal smoothies!”. Fair point.

Here’s why this place matters: for those of you who either (a) don’t have a place to live in the city or (b) need a place to park your vehicle, the Hudson Valley can be your temporary friend; it’s the perfect staging ground from which to enter the city. Not Woodstock itself because it’s become very expensive, but the rest of the Hudson Valley. It roughly begins with Poughkeepsie and ends somewhere well south of Albany, around towns like Saugerties.

Here’s what you’ll find in the Hudson Valley:

  • The possibility of a reasonably priced short-term rental. If you look at a map of the area, you’ll see a very few places that are an hour or two from the city with lower rent. Not Long Island, not Connecticut. What does that leave? Jersey. (Enough said. Sorry, Jersey.)
  • A train which will take you from places like Rhinecliff to Grand Central Terminal, the heart of Manhattan in less than two hours
  • Reasonably-priced food which still bears the influence of the city. For example, incredible lox and bagel sandwiches. 

And here’s a protip for those of you score a Manhattan apartment but have nowhere to park your vehicle (for less than $2,000/month, anyway): park it in public parking in Poughkeepsie and merely hop on the train when you feel like escaping for a country weekend. Your vehicle will be waiting.

How to Make Friends in New York

As they say, everyone in New York is from somewhere else. Well, it turns out that nothing could be more untrue, actually.

The truth behind that saying is that everyone from somewhere else tends to interact with other people from somewhere else.

Don’t be that New Yorker. Don’t be the tourist in Cancun who never utters a word of Spanish, the backpacker in South East Asia who only consorts with other backpackers in South East Asia or the exchange student in Europe who hangs out only with other Americans. The version of that person exists far too frequently in New York City.

There are dating apps, meet up sites, and hobbyist groups. Sure, use them. But don’t ever underestimate the power of exploring on foot and talking to people in person when the opportunity arises.

There is also a misconception that New Yorkers are unfriendly. In downtown Manhattan, sure, everyone is in a rush – and wary of wasting time with a stranger. But its many nooks and crannies of the city, you will find very friendly, very native New Yorkers. These are some of the most complex and interesting people on planet Earth.

Which brings us the last reason you should get to know the natives: some of them are simply amazing storytellers.

I once knew a native New Yorker named Phil who worked in the transit police force. Part of his job was to patrol the subways, which are mysteriously labyrinthine. But I can’t do a single one of Phil’s stories justice, so you’ll have to uncover your own.

And you’re in luck – their favorite storytelling subject is the city itself.

Where to Shop, Visit and Find Peace in New York City

Katz’s Jewish Delicatessen – who hasn’t eaten here?

Food? Create your own New York Menu

A quick word on food: earlier in the guide, we talked about the importance of walking to discover your own personal version of the New York City—one that you uncover yourself.

That’s truer of dining than anything else. Longtime residents will tell you, rightly, that the remarkable diner culture is steadily disappearing.

C’est la vie. It’s been well documented in New York City that the remarkable diner culture of yore is disappearing. (Oddly enough, you might be a little more likely to find it, or traces of it, upstate; hence the Hudson Valley hack.)

On the flipside, chefs from all over the world continue to create the most diverse and accessible dining scene in the world at every possible price point.

So rather than lament missing out on the past, in addition to a few recommendations I’ll make, I advise you to create your own, new institutions. (But for old time’s sake – and while you still can – stop by the Veselka Diner at 4:30 a.m. on a tipsy mid-January night when it’s 27 degrees Fahrenheit out. And stuff yourself.)

Which Tourist Areas in New York Are Worth It

While the food and entertainment landscape can be – and is – constantly remade, the city is having a harder time recycling its fundamental public spaces (and some private ones). City planners, architects and New York’s great patrons of the Robber baron era had so much foresight, talent and commitment, even the gigantic maw of 21st Century commercialism has barely dented their majestic legacies.

So please enjoy these timeless and essential fixtures of New York. They will bring you an escape from crass commercialism and some solace from noise and insanity.

As long as you’re wise enough not to go to them on a weekend.

The Brooklyn Promenade

Have you ever seen marvelous photos of the Manhattan skyline? Chances are that it was taken from the Brooklyn Promenade. The promenade is less popular than you’d think; I’ve met many New York residents who have never been. Here’s something to keep in mind: the point is not to promenade but to sit! Every native Brooklynite who appreciates beauty has been. There’s something to that.

Best time to visit: Daybreak on any day of the week when the forecast says clear skies. Anytime after hours.

The Brooklyn Bridge

One of the many marvels of man the Brooklyn Promenade provides a view of is the Brooklyn Bridge. But the best way to experience is to walk across it yourself. And yes, it’s open all year-round. Don’t be that person who moves to New York and never actually visits the Brooklyn Bridge, except crossing it in a car.

Best time to visit: Any time after a fresh snowfall. (Unless you’re close to Central Park; then go to there instead.) Also, any beautiful day in spring or fall during a weekday for spectacular views.

The New York Public Library

As you will see when you visit it, the NYPL is a library also an architectural masterpiece. Yes, it’s overcrowded, but what venue this gorgeous isn’t? It’s more easily accessible than the British Library in London and has beautiful interiors in which to read, write and reflect.

Best time to visit: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on a Monday during a sunny day.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Like its sibling, the Museum of Natural History, the Met (not to be confused with the opera) is in a class of its own among world museums. I visited this museum for 30 days in a row at one point, but was still unable to truly appreciate the breadth of its collection. It contains art and design from every part of the world and every era of human history.

Best time to visit: 10 a.m. to noon on a Monday or Tuesday, or between 6-9 p.m. on Fridays. Any time of year.

The “Flagship” Barnes and Nobles on Union Square

I put flagship in quotes because this isn’t the actual flagship Barnes and Nobles. (That one closed down in 2014.) But it is the biggest and perhaps the best. It was here where Ursula K. LeGuin revealed her favorite book to a shocked audience (we’ll tell you why in the comments). It’s no Powell’s books (Portland), but it’s certainly “wander-worthy” and a good place to pass a couple of hours.

Best time to visit: Weekday mornings and late evenings, during the winter.

The Strand Bookstore

yelp.com

For the purist who would never set foot in a Barnes & Nobles, you are in luck. The Strand – long hailed by the literati as the world’s greatest bookstore – sits right in heart of lower Manhattan, only a stone’s throw from the aforementioned “flagship” Barnes & Noble on Union Square. It has three times the character, too, but a little too crowded for my taste. This is a great place to actually, you know, find a very good book.

Best time to visit: Precisely between 9:30 a.m. and 9:37 am on a Tuesday morning, the only time it isn’t busy.

The West 4th St Basketball Court

“Portrait of a Park”, Simeon Soffer

Yes, there are other courts with perhaps “better” basketball, like the famous Rucker’s. But there is no court which remains as ensconced right smack in the heart of a lower Manhattan neighborhood like this one. You can walk here from NYU, The Strand, Soho, even Chelsea; it lies in the heart of the West Village.

But the best is to stumble upon inadvertently and spectate through the fence for a few minutes. And the quality of play can be tremendous (or ridiculous) if you get lucky.

Best times to visit: Spring, summer, or fall on a weekend afternoon.

Joe’s Pizza, on Carmine St.

theinfatuation.com

If you get hungry while watching basketball at the West 4th st. court, this is the place to eat, and it’s just around the block. Who knows how long it will last in its current non-gentrified incarnation. But Joe’s Pizza has reigned as the epitome of fresh-served thin slice New York pizza since, by all accounts, the 1960s. That’s a remarkable run in a city whose food landscape is constantly remade. (Recent Google reviews qualifying it as “dingy” make my case).

The funny thing about New York City is the average pizza venue is pretty bad. Just warning you. But Joe’s lives up to the New York promise of wonderful pizza (if you prefer thin crust). Caveat: you must insist on a fresh slice, like a local. You’ll figure it out.

Best times to visit: During your office hours.

The Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station

One of the few remaining public dining venues which has stayed true to its roots as an everyman cafeteria. (The Met, in contrast, shuttered its traditional cafeteria and only partially redeemed itself by opening the “The Balcony Bar”.) The Oyster Bar is an informal yet elegant and interior design landmark. If you take our advice on the Hudson Valley hack, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop in here for lunch.

Best times to visit: In the winter, to cheer yourself up during lunchtime hours.

Macy’s Herald Square

newyorkerhotel.com

You may have read about the Macy’s closure epidemic sweeping the nation, but it has not, and probably will never (fingers crossed) affect the flagship Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan. And yes, this is the same building in which Santa Claus performed his miracle on 34th St. Case closed.

And by the way, don’t expect the same paltry selection of the Macy’s of your childhood in that one suburban mall. This department store offers every designer brand you’ve ever heard of (and no, it’s not cheap).

Best times to visit: Christmas Eve (so you can experience “Madness on 34th St.” firsthand).

How Long Should You Stay in New York City?

Yes, the city is exhausting.

Even the modern sanitized version of it still has the manic feel of a roller coaster ride with your phone just about to drop out of your hand while you try to prevent your friend from vomiting, and meanwhile, you catch a fleeting glimpse of the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. All while being yelled at. And you will eventually yell back.

But coming from a New York veteran, stick it out at least one year. You must live all the seasons. Have you ever stood in the snow at an above-ground subway platform in Queens, waiting for the N Train to ferry you down to your Canal St. office? No? Well, then tough it out.

Two years is the standard, and if you can make it to three, you’re automatically amazing.

But there’s no requirement to be a lifer; if you move here, work here, study here, and live here for at least one year … you can make it anywhere. 

Say Hello to the New HireAHelper Logo

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11 years. 250,000 moves. 100,000 reviews. 1 awesome new look.

Introducing the new HireAHelper logo.

Our New Look Just Moved In

HireAHelper has spent the last decade making moving anywhere in the country simple and affordable. Now we’re bringing that fresh “just moved” feeling straight to our website. Our brand new “H-logo” and green colors mark a moving adventure we can call our very own.

In other words, we just turned over a bright, green leaf.

The new HireAHelper logo in action

Is anything else new? Don’t worry, whether you’re moving or you’re a mover yourself, everything you love about HireAHelper is still here. We’re a nationwide marketplace of local movers that’s easier than ever to browse, with live help available 7 days a week. But more great additions are on the horizon. 

We’re Expanding

We’ve pioneered Hybrid™ Moving, and now we’re giving you even more options than ever before. Coming soon to select cities, we’re giving you the option to search our local mover marketplace for Full Service movers. This is a huge expansion to our moving options that will take even more stress out of your move. Stay tuned to this site for more details.


Moving soon? Want to join hundreds of local movers from across the country already in the marketplace? Come see for yourself why over 100,000 people have given their HireAHelper moves an average 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Let’s get moving.

5 Expenses I Didn’t Expect After Graduating

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Graduating is even harder than it looks.

I am one of the lucky ones who found my first job right out of school. But that secretly meant my living expenses suddenly skyrocketed after I had to buy a used car, move away from home and find and furnish an apartment.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew those purchases would be way more expensive than the usual trip to the grocery store. But there were so many details I didn’t even realize existed. It was a crash course.

Now I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. Here are the random expenses that hit me after graduation, plus how I survived a rocky first few months so that I remained intact before my first adult paychecks could make an impact.

1. Moving Costs More Than You’d Think (But There’s a Hack for That)

Moving101 Container Price Comparison

When I graduated I lived on campus, but I still somehow had a lot to move into my first apartment. The first thing I did was figure out if anyone could help me move. In return for snacks, my friends and family were happy to offer some manual labor. I got lucky!

But when I got a job, it ended up being located out of state. So to save money, I figured out I could rent a truck and tow my car behind it, and only hire movers to do the lifting. Getting your own vehicle and hiring labor separately for either end of your move (Hybrid Moving) costs less than Full Service moving and varies dramatically in price, but the average cost is around $660. It’s an added cost, but plenty of critical time saved, which I needed.

HireAHelper lets you compare the price of movers and customize everything, from how many people help you move to what arrival time window you’ll need. The more options you can compare for a moving process the better, as every move is going to be a little bit different.

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How can someone so young take on that expense? Well, I barely had enough to cover the move, but here’s another thing I learned — many employers offer reimbursement for moving expenses! Make a note to talk with your new employer and ask if they make a similar offer. It was a lifesaver when my company helped me out so that I could put my money toward the next round of expenses!

2. Crossing State Lines Can Mean More Fees

When you move to a new state, you’re going to have to get a new state license and plate for your car. The steps will be different depending on your move, but you can check out the process for your specific state online to know what prices you’re in for.

I had to fill out paperwork and pay fees for the process of:

  • Getting an updated title for my car
  • Printing a new plate
  • Creating a new license

All of it cost about $200! Plus, there was the time it took to go to the DMV, get my new emissions test and talk with my car insurance company about my new address and license information.

Call the DMV where you’ll be moving to ahead of time for clarification because it really is a lot to deal with when you’ve never done it before. It definitely was for me.

3. Even My Used Car Had a Major Price Tag

An approximation of how getting your first used car looks.

When I was in school, I used my parents’ old car to get around to my part-time jobs and the grocery store. But after college, I knew I had to get my own ride. I’d been saving up for a while and figured I could negotiate the price of the car down to what I had in my savings account, but it turns out there’s so much more to it than that.

The only thing I knew about buying a car before I walked into the first dealership was that you have to negotiate your final price, but fees and taxes can’t be worked down. The dealer had to explain things like document fees and dealer fees, plus the sales tax. (Again, every state will be a bit different, though some fees are the same across the board.)

It’s smart to save up some extra cash to cover these fees since they’re non-negotiable. While you’re getting your down payment together, take steps to research what these expenses will be so you can better plan for the total cost of a car.

Lastly, make sure you can handle the monthly payment. While I saved enough for a hefty down payment, I did have to take out a small loan to cover the rest. I automated my car payments through my bank once my regular paychecks started rolling in so I would never risk jeopardizing my credit score with late payments.

4. My First Student Loan Payment Shocked Me

The amount I had to take out in student loans wasn’t nearly as drastic as what some of my friends had to sign for—proud state school grad here—but there are ways those loans can pull you into paying more than you originally borrowed. For starters, I had no idea what capitalizing interest was. Basically, it’s interest that’s triggered by specific events and causes your monthly payment to not even make a dent in your overall debt. The debt increases while your payments stay the same.

I also began to panic when the loan bills came in. I hadn’t even earned my first paycheck with my new job yet, so how was I supposed to pay $350 a month after already paying for moving and buying a car?

That’s when I started to research how to consolidate my loans, and it really saved me. The Department of Education can consolidate multiple federal loans with one fixed interest rate, which streamlines the process and extends your repayment period. Rather than juggling multiple payments, I just had to worry about one.

You may also consider private refinancing if you’ve landed a steady job and worked to build a credit score of at least 690. This can both consolidate your loans and lower your interest rate — but isn’t necessarily always the best choice for recent grads. Do your research! 

(So I Learned a Budgeting Trick)

Sure, I’d managed my own bills in college, but between forthcoming loan payments and the costs of moving and a higher rent, I saw my expenses skyrocket. 

So I did some research online and began militantly tracking all of my income and expenses with a Google spreadsheet. I vowed to follow the 50/30/20 budget, which stipulates that half of my earnings pay fixed expenses, 20 percent goes to debts and savings, and 30 percent is reserved for variable expenses like groceries and light spending.

TheBalance.com

It’s tempting to have your paychecks come in and put all your extra cash toward one big thing like a savings account or credit card debt, but metering it out will help you tackle everything at once. Building my savings while decreasing my debt has helped me more in the long run than just choosing one over the other.

Now, my healthy savings account means a minor emergency like a car repair doesn’t trigger any anxiety. After upending my meager college savings to move, a steady and dependable tracking system soothed my nerves and helped me navigate this whole new world.

5. Filling Up a New Apartment Drains Your Wallet

The process of finding my apartment was easy since everything is online now. I could map out how far each apartment complex was from my work and not have to worry about it being too far away. Actually getting settled was a whole different story.

I had to buy all my own furniture, and you can bet that I didn’t have the money to do it all at once! For a little bit, my apartment décor consisted of a mattress on the floor and the most basic kitchen supplies. A good list of basic apartment supplies you’ll need will consist of:

  • Plates and bowls
  • At least two or three of each type of silverware
  • A trashcan
  • Dish soap and a sponge
  • Toilet paper
  • Basic cleaning supplies (e.g., broom, cleaning solution)

Don’t panic if your apartment doesn’t feel like home for a little while. Getting more than the basics will take time, but eventually, your new fancy budget will help you get everything on your list, and your apartment will gradually feel more like a home and less like a living space. 

Plus, if you have a roommate, that makes your quest to fill the space of essentials even easier! Me? I bought myself a couch from a killer Amazon Prime Day deal—and I’ve been treating myself with one apartment item a month since.


Some of the above surprise costs were never mentioned to me because I didn’t know to ask about them.

Give your post-college world about six to eight months to settle down. Now, I’m much more financially secure and living in a home that feels cozy and welcoming. I’m finally ready to put some money into my travel fund and I don’t sweat the occasional sushi dinner. For now, you just have to buckle in and prepare for a crazy ride after that diploma lands in your hand.


Holly Welles is a millennial-focused real estate writer and the editor behind The Estate Update. For more home tips and financial advice, subscribe to her blog for even more financial advice.

How To Move a Piano: A Piano Mover’s Guide

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How do you move your piano? As with moving anything, the answer revolves around three objectives:

  • Keeping your piano safe
  • Keeping your home safe
  • Keeping yourself safe

No matter what type of piano you have, the best way to accomplish all three is by hiring a team of piano mover pros. Moving a piano on your own (or hiring non-professionals) is simply not a good idea.

Many (but not all) moving companies you find will move pianos as part of what they do. There are even a few who specialize in only moving pianos! The former might be a bit cheaper, while specialists will likely be more expensive.

How much does it cost to move a piano?

Another common question. And the answer is always the same.

It depends.

It mostly depends on:

  • What kind of piano you have
  • How heavy it is
  • How many obstacles (stairs) the movers will have to negotiate

The ballpark is typically between $200-1,000+, touching on both ends of the price spectrum

And it’s a safe bet that hiring piano moving specialists will cost more than having a typical moving company do it as part of your overall move.

As for how many movers you need, and therefore how much it might cost, figure:

  • 2-3 movers for a vertical piano (or 4 if it’s on the heavy end)
  • 4-6 movers for a grand piano

Multiply by your movers’ hourly rate (very roughly $25-40) and there’s your estimate! 

If your total sounds a little high, remember what counts: protecting your piano, protecting your home, and protecting yourself. Hate to say it, but getting that locked down no matter the price should be music to your ears.

Who should I hire?

Who you hire will depend on these questions:

What type of piano do you have?

The two major types of pianos are vertical pianos and baby grand pianos. A baby grand piano is an entirely different beast from a vertical piano, and it will impact who you hire.

While many standard moving companies have the tools and the know-how to move a baby grand, as you move up the scale toward larger, heavier and more expensive grands, you should consider hiring a specialist.

How heavy is your piano?

Is it a three-foot, three hundred pound spinet, or a five-foot, half-ton upright? Moving a Piano

Even if you somehow don’t know this, a moving company will either ask, or take an educated guess based on the info you provide, then prepare accordingly.

Where do you live?

Surprisingly, some states have very specific laws regarding piano transportation, due to weight regulations. Unless you are a touring musician, you’re unlikely to know your particular state’s laws, as well as any sticky interstate regulations. Professional movers will likely know all this info for you already.

What is the path out of your location like?

This is strictly the path from piano to truck. Distance is not a problem. Staircases are significant. The more you have and the heavier your piano, the more expertise and number of movers becomes a factor.

How does an upright piano get moved?

Very carefully, we hope. But if there are no staircases to negotiate, don’t be surprised if only two movers show up. Even for a heavier vertical piano, all it takes is for one person to lift one end and one person to position a 4-wheeler underneath.

Centered and balanced on that wheeled wooden rectangle, your piano will be a piece of cake for your movers to roll down the hallway and out the door. (If you clear the way for them beforehand, they’ll appreciate it!)

On average, the process of handling a piano – from wrapping it to moving it to securing it on the truck – only takes about an hour. Multiple flights of stairs and tight pathways will, of course, require more time. 

How to move a piano

But just like every other piece of furniture, a piano needs to be wrapped in thick, protective moving pads. It might seem strange if – potentially – your movers don’t wrap your piano before moving it. However, pads can make it tough to get and keep a firm grip on just about anything bulky and heavy. As a professional mover myself, I personally prefer to wait until the piano is on the truck before wrapping it up. Your movers might want to do the same.

Your movers will also likely have no problem negotiating a step or two (or three) without the aid of a third set of hands.

An entire staircase almost always requires a third person who (absolutely) should be helping out on the lower end of the piano, whether going up or down. The mover handling the higher end, meanwhile, will be bent over trying to keep their side under control. Here, too, a second set of hands is helpful, if not crucial.

But this is a professional’s job. Resist the temptation, if one arises, to jump in and help. Please, trust me on this.

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Though I’ve never done it myself, it is entirely possible as a last resort to turn a vertical piano upside down. If your movers do this in order to slide your heavy upright down a flight of stairs, understand it is not for any reason but the safety of your piano and your home – and possibly the movers themselves. (You may, however, question them if they try to slide your piano, on any side, across a bare floor or bare steps if that piano has not been pad-wrapped!)

What should I expect if I have to move a baby grand piano?

A grand piano requires an entirely different approach, not to mention totally different equipment. And if only two movers show up? Get between them and your piano and demand they call the office and double, if not triple their manpower. The steps for moving a grand piano show us why.

How to move a piano

Don’t try this at home. When you hire a professional to move your baby-grand piano, this is exactly what you should expect them to do:

  • Your piano is wrapped – across the top and all around the sides
  • All but one of the crew grab hold around the left front corner of the piano
  • The one remaining mover crawls under the piano to remove the bolt from that corner leg. The crew lifts the corner slightly off the floor
  • The mover under the piano (gently) bangs the leg loose from its bracket with a rubber mallet
  • Half the crew holds that now-legless corner up while the other half grabs hold of the piano along the opposite side
  • Legless corner gets lowered to the floor while the movers on the opposite side lift up to keep the weight of the piano off the two remaining (and now diagonal) legs. (This is critical to make sure those legs don’t crack under the piano’s considerable weight.)
  • The left side of piano – the longest side – is set on the piano board the movers need to have brought. This strong narrow platform is padded, has a raised lip on one end, and sports two metal brackets on each side for the ratchet straps necessary to keep the piano strapped tightly to the board
  • Once the piano is strapped firmly in place the remaining two legs are removed, the piano is tilted so a 4-wheeler can be placed under the piano board, and the crew keeps it steady as they get rolling

That’s a lot of technical stuff. Could you even keep up?

Normally, the grand piano will remain on the piano board all the way to the owner’s new living room. But if you rented a rig from Budget truck rental and are using local moving labor like HireAHelper provides, expect the move-out crew to take your piano off their board once it is on the truck. They’ll set it on extra pads and strap it tight to the (inside) wall of the truck, and the unload crew will put it on their piano board to haul it into your new home.

Don’t worry, many of HireAHelper’s movers are well-qualified to handle your piano. Just make sure to checkmark that you own a piano while browsing the nationwide marketplace. And be sure to let the winning mover know what kind you have so they can bring all the right equipment – and enough manpower – to do the job right. Your piano deserves it.


Illustrations by Subin Yang

How Do I Plan a Long Distance Move?

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Moving long distance requires patience, stamina, and grit. But it doesn’t have to be an awful experience. With some planning, a little know-how, plus some research, you can make the process of moving much easier. But just to help you out, we went ahead and did all the research for you.

After all, settling into a new, far-away land shouldn’t be anything less than transformational! 

How Am I Gonna Get Me and My Stuff Where I’m Going?

You have a number of options when planning a long distance move. Your options will all depend on these three things:

  • How much stuff you’re hauling
  • Your budget
  • Personal preference

What if I’m driving?

Some people decide to drive across the country, especially if they are bringing a vehicle or two. Beforehand, however, you should consider:

  • Car’s age and how many miles it has clocked
  • How many people and things it needs to hold
  • If it can handle a long trip without breaking down

If you need to get repairs ahead of time, then trust us, do that first. If that seems like it could be an issue or you just don’t wanna add hundreds of miles to your car, consider getting your car shipped.

Your other options are hitching it (to a truck for towing) or just ditching it. You can always try selling it or trading it in if you decide this is the end of the road for the car.

Are you driving with small children? Transporting pets? Both of those have special considerations, so click those links to learn everything you should know first.

What about my stuff?

The most hands-off option for getting you and everything long distance is a Full Service moving company. If you have the money for going that route, you need to find one with proper licensing, especially for interstate moves, as opposed to somebody off Craigslist.

What other options are there? Some people who make a long distance move opt to rent a moving truck for loading up their stuff and driving it themselves, then only hire movers for the lifting part, not the driving. This is called Hybrid Moving and can save a lot of money (if you don’t mind the drive). 

If you want to leave the driving to somebody else but still want to save money as compared to a Full Service Move, you can opt for portable moving containers like a PODS container. With those, professionals drive your stuff to and from destinations.

A final option to explore is to rent space in a freight truck that a professional driver hauls to your final destination, or sometimes to a warehouse for pick up.

The pros, cons, and prices of all of these options (and much more) are covered extensively on Moving101.

If you opt for a moving crew, make sure you get the answers to these questions:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How much experience do you have serving clients moving long distance? How does that compare with the number of local moves you conduct for clients?
  • Do you have proper, up-to-date licenses? Are you legally able to work in both states and cross state lines?
  • What kind of feedback do you get from clients?   
  • How would you describe the value you provide for the price you charge?
  • What are your policies regarding damaged or lost goods? What are your policies regarding re-scheduling or canceling service?

And you shouldn’t just take their word for it either. Get genuine opinions by consulting verified reviews on HireAHelper or anywhere you look.

What if I’m flying?

If you’re taking a plane to the final destination, you should obviously consider bringing some things with you in luggage or handbags to save money on however you’re moving the rest of your stuff. Pack clothes and personal items that won’t break in the luggage, and bring fragile stuff, such as laptops and digital devices, in your carry-on bag. Paying for extra luggage on a flight is sometimes cheaper than shipping it via snail mail! Pile up your stuff, do the calculations and see what works best with your budget.

Looking to maximize your flying budget? In “The 10 Best (and Worst) Airfare Search Sites,” Frommer’s shares some of the best places for you to seek hot deals for air travel. When researching prices for flights, consider the following online travel agents and booking sites, but recognize that being better known does not necessarily mean being the best.

Should I ship my stuff?

You could theoretically choose to ship some of your things via UPS, FedEx, or the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Yes, it’s cheapest to send through USPS, but after packages get to only two pounds, pricing typically levels out. (That said, check out media shipping rates if you want to ship out a parcel or three that each weigh around 20 pounds.)

Of course, you probably have more than a few pounds worth of stuff. In this case, moving containers are a savvy pick for getting your stuff driven to where it needs to go for you. Not only do shipping containers come in different shapes and sizes, but you can plan to keep them placed somewhere for usually as much as a month at a time, so there’s lots of flexibility with using a moving container for a long distance move.

There are several things to consider when thinking about using a moving container:

  • Do you care if it’s wooden versus metal?
  • How many do you need?
  • How long do you need it to wait for you before unloading it?
  • Do you need help loading and unloading it?

Your options will depend on where you live, due to which moving container companies are available to you. Beyond PODS containers, check out this massive break down of the best moving container companies for your exact situation.

Moving101 Container Price Comparison

How Much Do Long-Distance Moves Cost?

Long distance and interstate moving companies charge based on weight, distance, and any extra equipment or insurance options you opt into.

The average cost of an interstate move is $4,300 for an average distance of 1,225 miles and a shipment weight of 7,400 pounds, according to the American Moving and Storage Association and as reported by numerous outlets.

But ultimately, as we’ve explained above, the price will depend on:

  • Your exact starting and ending points
  • How much you need to move
  • Modes of transportation
  • Who, if anyone, you decide to hire

One more big factor to consider is if you have any specialty items to move, such as a baby grand piano or gun safe.

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Are there any ways to reduce the price?

Here are some money protips you should know as you collect estimates:

  • Binding vs. Non-Binding Estimates: This is important to know if you’re pursuing a Full Service move. A binding estimate means you will pay the final price of the estimate regardless of whether your stuff ends up weighing less or more than expected. A non-binding estimate means you could end up with a different final tally, either less or more, depending on the weight
  • You can bring the price down by being flexible with travel dates; weekdays, especially in the offseason (read: not summer) are often cheaper
  • Ask moving companies for discounts. For example, members of the military and veterans often get cheaper rates for rental trucks and containers
  • If you have time before you have to move, you should try to start a moving fund
  • Be sure to keep track of spending and make a written out or digital budget
  • Those who are moving for work should see if the company reimburses for any or all of the move

What if I’m Moving Across State Lines?

Doing your homework on what is required of you for your specific interstate move is the first step.

Interstate moves are particularly complicated due to state laws. You have to know what you are responsible for when you cross into another state.

Hiring movers? Some moving companies can’t even provide service for interstate moves because they lack the proper license. Check in with your mover ahead of time. (Of course, typing in your ZIP code into HireAHelper filters all that stuff automatically.) 

In addition, you have to know both state and local laws and ordinances that may be relevant to you. Both your departure and arrival towns likely have parking rules, which will be a consideration as you’re loading and unloading, especially if you’re leaving a PODS container somewhere for a week or more. (You think you can just park a big truck on a busy New York City road any time you want?)

Also, some states have certain laws restricting what you can bring in. For instance, there are a number of items that are illegal to bring into California, including certain firearms and fruits. Yes, your pet ferret, among other things, can’t join you if you’re headed for the Golden State.

To-Do list for interstate moves

What do you need to do if you’re moving to a new state? This is what your to-do list should look like:

  • Forward your mail. Regardless of distance or state, do this first. This requires filling out a change of address form with the United States Postal Service (USPS)
  • Get a new driver’s license and plates. Typically, states require you to get your new license within 30 days, so make this a priority. Unfortunately, this will probably require standing in line at the DMV. One thing we can guarantee is it will be as annoying as nails on a chalkboard no matter what state you’re in
  • Establish domicile for tax purposes. In other words, that means becoming a resident (No matter where you go, they’ll have taxes!)  
  • Transfer your utilities
  • Get a license for your pets if you have any (as long as they aren’t ferrets in California!)

How Do I Pack My Stuff?

Anyone who has ever moved can tell you that packing up your entire world is maybe the most stressful part of the journey. Getting sturdy cardboard boxes and wisely packing them is one way to ensure the process is easier. Refraining from making any of the boxes too heavy and keeping items that will go in the same room in one box are obvious tips.

Make sure to label everything. Most importantly, make use of soft items, such as pillows, to serve as buffers between breakables and harder items. Use appropriate packing material – such as bubble wrap and newspapers – to protect glass, china and other delicate items. You can learn more in “How to Pack a Moving Box.”

If you want to be extra cautious with your stuff, then turn to professionals for help with packing your things.

Should I get rid of my stuff?

Take a look over the vast empire you’ve established. You must recognize that the less stuff you have to move, the better off you’ll be. After all, professional moving companies generally charge you based on the weight of the stuff you need to be transported. In other words, both literally and figuratively, you will have lifted a weight off your shoulders if you downsize.

“You’ll almost certainly want to bring some of your stuff, but the vast majority of what you own is replaceable,” writes Scott Meslow in GQ. “And the cost of moving most of what you own across the country is comparable to the cost of just buying something similar—or better!—once you actually arrive.”

The good news? Purging can be cathartic. Discover some ways you can unload your stuff before moving day:

  • Sell stuff online through Craigslist, eBay, or Etsy
  • Have a traditional garage sale
  • Give away things to your friends and family
  • Donate items through charities or religious organizations
  • Throw away old, worn out, or unusable items

Experts suggest taking photographs, especially for anything of great value. You may want proof of exactly what condition the chosen ones – items with which you simply can’t part – were in before they get on the moving truck (or whatever mode of transportation you choose).


Moving long distance is a tremendous undertaking. But if you prepare and research your options, you can make the move successfully without pulling out your hair. As you deal with the technical aspects of the move, give yourself a break if you – or others in the family – get emotional. Starting a new life in a new place is never easy. A stress-free move is the first step to arriving at this new world. 

HireAHelper Named to ‘Inc. 5000’ 2018 Top Entrepreneurs List Four Years Running

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HireAHelper has graced Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 5000” list for the fourth time, earning recognition as one of the nation’s top businesses, with an impressive 99 percent revenue growth year over year.

What can we say? Moving people is what we do, and we love doing it.

The full press release is readable below. To see the full list of companies, check out the Inc. 5000 website here.

SEATTLE – August 20, 2018 – HireAHelper, an online marketplace for those looking to hire well-qualified, local movers by the hour, today announced that it has been named to the 2018 Inc. 5000 list, an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies by Inc. magazine. Companies are ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2014 and 2018. HireAHelper ranked 3,724th nationally with 99 percent revenue growth.

“Being listed among the Inc. 5000 is an honor that every member of our HireAHelper family can be proud of,” said Mike Glanz, Co-Founder and CEO of HireAHelper. “It’s through their collective effort that this honor was achieved. I’m very grateful to serve alongside such a stellar group of highly-dedicated moving professionals each and every day.”

Started in 1982, the Inc. 5000 list represents a unique look t the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment – its independent small businesses. To qualify, companies had to be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent – not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies. The minimum revenue required for 2014 is $100,000; the minimum for 2017 is $2 million.

“If your company is on the Inc. 5000, it’s unparalleled recognition of your years of hard work and sacrifice,” says Inc. editor in chief, James Ledbetter. “The lines of business may come and go, or come and stay. What doesn’t change is the way entrepreneurs create and accelerate the forces that shape our lives.”

Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at https://www.inc.com/inc5000.

The 37th Annual Inc. 5000 Conference and Gala will be held in San Antonio on October 17-19, 2018 at the JW Marriott Resort & Spa.

About HireAHelper

HireAHelper is an online marketplace for moving labor, providing both commercial and residential customers with the additional help they need to complete their relocation project. Since its launch in 2007, the company has served 250,000 do-it-yourself movers from across the United States.

 

Media Contact

Jeff Pecor

Tailwind Public Relations

206.948.1482

jeff@tailwindpr.com

 

Car Shipping: How to Ship Your Car (Safely) If You’re Moving Long Distance

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Every year, a large number of people moving to a new state ship their cars for the first time. Shipping a car isn’t hard, but a few common mistakes can cost you a lot of time and money, especially when trying to juggle the logistics of moving your house too.

So I’m using my decade of expertise to help. Here’s how to (safely) do an auto transport using a step-by-step process.

How to Find an Auto-Transport Company

If you reside in a big city, these days it’s as simple as typing “my city auto transport” into Google. The “my city” being either the city you are shipping to or from.

Literally hiring a company online to move your car is usually the easiest part of the entire auto transport process. It’s cheaper than hiring a professional driver, keeps miles off your tires, and it’s helpful if you aren’t able to drive the car to your new place yourself. 

Does the company have to be located where I’m going or where I am now?

No. Finding a company based in either your origin or destination city isn’t crucial. You can absolutely hire a company from anywhere in the country to ship your car. But companies based on where you are or are going are ideal because of the flexibility they might offer with scheduling. The shippers will be in your city of origin or destination for a few days, as opposed to passing through, which usually leads to more flexibility.

What if there is no auto-transport company near me?

Unfortunately, finding an auto transport company specific to your city isn’t always possible, especially if you live in a rural area.

If you live where there are few options near you, your first step is to search for a company based in the opposite place that you are shipping your car either to or from. Every state typically has at least a few auto transport companies that can help.

If you still can’t find one (or you don’t like any of the ones that you do find), move on to just a general search for auto transport companies elsewhere in the country. Yes, you can still receive fine service from a company not based in your state, it’s just an advantage to have someone familiar with your route to work for you.

I always recommend calling them, as opposed to emailing, because you get a much better feel for what working with that company will be like.

Also, call more than a few of the (reputable) companies that show up in your search. (More on finding reputable companies below.)

How much does it cost to transport my car?

This will vary significantly based on lots of factors, but transportreviews.com reports that the average cost is $983, based on the average distance of 1,662 miles. Obviously, this price will fluctuate lower or higher, depending on where you’re transporting your car, as well as how big your vehicle is.

How do I get a quote?

Be prepared to tell the company this basic information:

  • Where is the car is coming from?
  • Where are you going?
  • When do you want to have it shipped?

Knowing the basics is all it takes to get a quote. Want to be really sure what your best option is? It’s standard to get as many as four different quotes to get a good idea of what a fair price is. (Or at least tell them you’re collecting quotes.)

How to Hire a Good Company

How do you know who a bad company is? Knowing this begins with understanding what is happening behind the scenes. There are two types of car shipping services, and first-time shippers usually have no clue which they are (or how good they may be) until well after they ship their first car.

What’s a “Broker” and what’s a “Carrier”?

Brokers are companies that don’t actually own the truck that ships your car.

Almost all of the companies that you find online are brokers and don’t actually own the transportation. Their purpose is to find the carrier who will actually ship the car. This can sometimes be a necessary step because finding a carrier without the connections that brokers have can be extremely difficult.

You generally want to avoid brokers who are not upfront that they themselves are not shipping your car!

Brokers charge a set fee for their service and make an educated guess on what the rest of the transport will cost when they give you a quote. Whether or not they tell you they are a broker upfront depends on what kind of company you find.

Carriers are the companies that own trucks and employ drivers. This is the company that will do the actual relocating of your vehicle. The reason brokers are necessary is due to most of these shipping companies being extremely small.

It’s not uncommon for the owner of the company to be the driver and sole employee. These small companies don’t have websites and don’t do any marketing because they rely on brokers for their freight. If you are not already inside the industry, finding a company on your route and on your schedule would require hours of work.

With the magic of the internet, it’s easier than ever to check who is and who isn’t legit. Before you request a quote from a company, check their reviews. Car shipping companies have many different sales tactics to trick you once they get your information.

What’s the most common tactic to trick customers?

After ten years of experience, I know it’s simply to promise impossibly low prices in order to get you to book right away.

Do not simply request quotes from as many companies as you can. By giving away your info, you will run into very persistent sales people that will never stop calling you. Furthermore, there are some companies that look like transport companies but are actually what are known as “lead generators”. This means the information you put on their site is going to be sold to 10 or 15 different companies. Your phone will not stop ringing for days!

You want to get as many quotes as you can, but you need to make sure the company is a legitimate broker or carrier before you inquire. How? Check for and read verified reviews before requesting quotes. This will help you avoid bad websites. Did you get an extremely low quote? That’s a red flag.

Get a Written Contract (Then Read It)

If you found a good broker, getting an easy to understand contract should be a breeze. But you still have to be careful (just like you should with every contract you sign!).

What should I watch out for?

Read through the contract very carefully. If your contract says anything – and it will be small – about the price “not being guaranteed”, this is a major red flag.

I have heard plenty of stories from customers about how they signed a contract with a broker, only to be told at the last minute that the price is a $100 to $500 more “than expected”.

Just imagine the moving truck has all of your things, then the broker calls and says they have a carrier but it is going to cost $150 more. You won’t really have a choice by that point.

Correctly Prepare The Inside and Outside of Your Car to Be Shipped

It is standard practice to get your car inspected by the shipping company, but first, you need to clean the car so that an accurate inspection can be done.

If the car is dirty, the driver might miss something when they do the inspection on pick up, or you might miss something when the inspection is done on delivery. An accurate inspection is vital in case there is a problem.

Do auto-shippers charge by weight?

Yes. Lighten your car as much as possible. Auto shippers will charge you by the weight of your car, and bigger vehicles will cost more to ship.

Most drivers allow 100 pounds or less for free. (Remember: the personal items you put in the car cannot be insured.) If you exceed 100 pounds, you could be charged extra for the added weight. For a totally packed small car, the driver will ask for around $200-$300. A totally packed large SUV or truck could be from $300-$500 extra, or the driver might even refuse the shipment. If you need to put things in the car, let your broker know ahead of time when you are booking so that they can arrange it with the carrier.

Drivers also prefer you leave the car with a quarter tank of gas. That’s enough so that they don’t have to worry about it running out when moving it, but not so much that they haul additional weight for no reason.

Get Help Unloading Your Rental Truck

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Read real customer reviews.

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Arrange to Get Your Car Exactly Where You Can Get It

Now that you’ve found a good company, you’ve signed the contract, and you’ve readied your car, you need to tell the company the best place to have the car picked up.

When will my car be available for pick up?

If you are flying, think about which end you need the car more. Is it the city the car is being picked up in, or the city it is being dropped off at? Trust me, in my experience, you will definitely beat the trucker to your destination. Remember that all delivery dates are estimated.

Moving trucks have one pick up and one drop off, so you can imagine that a moving truck estimate is much more accurate than auto transport trucks, who routinely have to deal with around 10 different pickups and drop-offs a day! Because of this fact, make sure that you have a backup plan on the day of pick up and drop off.

If the car isn’t delivered when and where you need it, ask a friend that can hold onto the car for you, or maybe a neighbor. It’s not even unheard of for a hotel manager or car dealership to offer this as a service.

What to Do When Your Car Shows Up

When the truck comes to pick up the car, make sure the driver does an accurate inspection and that you get a copy of the inspection report on pick up. This ensures the state of your vehicle cannot be altered. The inspection report is the only thing that can support your claim if any damage occurs.

The delivery driver does the inspection on pick up, you do the inspection on the delivery. Remember that if you sign the inspection report, you are releasing the driver and the company from all liability. That means if you notice something later, there is nothing you can do!

In my experience, damage doesn’t happen often and the process for getting reimbursed is not difficult if you do everything right. Almost all damage during transport is extremely minor. Small scratches or a dent is the most common of these things.

Most companies will prefer to handle the matter directly rather than have you go through their insurance company. The most important thing is that you do not sign the inspection report until you have received your reimbursement. Again, damage almost never happens in the first place, but you need to make sure you handle the paperwork properly if it does.

Do I have to do anything else after the car is delivered?

Hopefully, everything is done correctly and the process will be seamless. But if not, leave a review.

If you were happy with the service it’s always nice to leave a review saying so. The best place online to do this is on transportreviews.com, which in my experience is the biggest and most sincere community for car transportation reviews online. By leaving an honest review, companies know what they are doing right and you’ll help the next person transporting their vehicle make a more informed decision.

Similarly, if you weren’t happy with the service, let your broker know. Some things are out of the control of the broker and the driver, so be understanding if your car was a day late. Like I mentioned earlier, dates are always estimates in the auto transport industry.

If however, you feel that your experience was poor, then it’s especially important to leave a review. This helps future customers and the companies that are doing good work out there.


Max is the owner of MiG Auto Transport. He has been in the auto transport industry for over seven years. Originally from New York, he now lives in (sometimes) sunny Jacksonville, FL. He loves his wife, dog, cars and (sometimes) the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The 2018 HireAHelper Dream Team Winners Announced!

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The moment is finally here.

Your moment, to be exact.

Quick rewind. Back in June, we announced the contest to celebrate HireAHelper’s 11th Anniversary. It was the chance to be named the best of the best with Dream Team voting.

Countless submissions were submitted from all across America.

The voting was lion-like fierce.

The list ‘twas long.

But, after much review, sweat, tears and reflection, we narrowed down to the chosen top 11.

It was the most outstanding stories that ultimately revealed the top crew members in the whole country for 2018. Yes, these are the crew champions for all humans across the 2.3 billion acres of USA.

In no particular order (no highest to lowest in this totem pole), we turn the spotlight onto you:

The final Dream Team


#1. Roland Johnson – Elite Enterprise (Jacksonville, FL)

#2. Marcos Guerrero – Go2Movers (Austin, TX)

#3. DJ Reese – Smart Move, LLC (Raleigh, NC)

#4. Alex Gonzalez – LeDoux Moving Solutions LLC (Aurora, CO)

#5. Corey McCants – Tuttle’s movers (Jacksonville, FL)

#6. Michelle Harvin – All A-list Movers (Dayton, OH)

#7. LB (Levy) – Pack Man Moving Services (Tamarac, F)

#8. April Rose Hernandez – Moms On The Go (Phoenix, AZ)

#9. Jim Tanner – Full House Family Movers (Lowell, MA)

#10. Nate Bendele – C&C Moving Services (San Antonio, TX)

#11. Antoine Jones – Moving Genius Pro Movers (Pensacola, FL)

Player of Honor:

Kelsie Lauren – JTR of OKC (Oklahoma City, OK)


Whoa. What Else Does this Honor Include?

Is there anything else included besides this merry email and virtual confetti?

Yes.

Each Dream Team Member Will Receive:

  • A special certificate declaring: “Top Crew Member of 2018”
  • A badge on the public checkout for all customers to see. It shall read: “Top Crew Member of 2018” (This honor adds even more credibility and increases the likelihood of customer’s final selection!)
  • Endless bragging rights, of course

Player of Honor, There’s More.

Out of the many submission receives, one story stood out the most.

It was too powerful to go unnoticed. We were called to do something extra special for this dedicated, tenacious person. Our 2018 POH will receive:

  • The Dream Team Prizes (certificate, badge…) +
  • Hand-written “thank you’s” from the grateful HireAHelper Headquarters
  • $100 #CashMoney

Well deserved, one and all.

It is thanks to you that HireAHelper has marched on for 11 years in operation; this simply wouldn’t have happened without your continued support. We are so thrilled for each of you and, again, want to send our most sincere thanks.

Please look forward to additional correspondence regarding prizes and good ‘ole fashioned bragging rights.

Congratulations again. Cheers to another successful year!

-Your HireAHelper Team

When Your DIY Projects Will Fail

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We love a good do-it-yourself project. There’s just something about improving your home all by yourself without the assistance of a professional that feels so darn good! (Heck, our blog is called The DIY Playbook, so obviously we are obsessed with all things DIY.)

But it may shock you that we firmly believe that there are many instances when you should not do a project yourself. (Ever heard of “nailed it”?)

Yep, we’ve outlined all the times when you need to call in a pro to get the job done below.

Time Will Inevitably Be More Valuable Than Money

Many people assume that just because a project is easy, they should do it themselves. However, even simple tasks take time.

Here’s a real situation we were both in recently. Painting a room only takes 1-2 days. The problem is that it takes an entire 1-2 days of your time, and we were moving.

If you have 1,000 things on your to-do list for a big move, then it may make sense to call in a pro to get it done quickly and efficiently. (Hiring help to move is another bright idea when that to-do list is bursting with items!)

It cost us each about $1,000 to hire this DIY out, but we weighed that against packing up one house to move to another, closing on a home, and finishing things up at your old pad. So yeah, painting a room will only take about 1-2 days and costs roughly $100 in supplies, but sometimes you don’t have an open schedule.

In our particular case, an additional $900 was a resource well spent, because hiring it out ensured that we could subtract our labor, plus have a crisp white trim and fresh paint on the walls as we moved our new items in.

Don’t worry DIY fans; as we’ve designed each room in our homes later on, we’ve re-painted a few spaces with new colors ourselves. From experience, what sounds like a great DIY project is only realistic after you have the time.

Some DIY Projects Have Sneaky Costs

People turn to DIY to save money. And it’s true, often times labor is the most expensive part of a large project. However, there are some sneaky costs that you need to keep in mind before you decide to handle a project by yourself. Here are the two biggest ones we’ve figured out are the worst.

Transportation: This line item is way too often overlooked when it comes to large-scale projects. If you need a lot of large materials for a project, figure out how the heck you’re going to get those supplies home before you consider it worthwhile.

DIY Playbook has lived it. We decided to add a large decorative wall treatment to a guest bedroom, not realizing that we would need 12-foot wooden boards from the home improvement store. We had to rent a truck on the fly (which cost about $75). It made us question the savings.

Tools and Supplies: The more you DIY, the more tools and general DIY supplies you’ll acquire, making this a thing of the past. But the first time you tackle a project, you’ll probably have to buy all.the.things.

We recently completed a large tiling project for the first time and that meant we had to buy trowels, sponges, and a wet saw for the job. That added up to a couple hundred dollars pretty quickly! Of course, the next time we do a tiling project we will be prepared (and won’t have to spend quite as much), but buying all new supplies is something you’ll want to consider.

However, by making that investment in purchasing and learning how to till ourselves, we saved about $2,500 in labor. (Granted it took us two months to get the bathroom done, but heck … that’s still some big saving!)

Think through a project carefully, jot down some numbers, and add everything up before you start a project on your own.

Be Honest When You Don’t Know How

As DIY’ers ourselves, we always encourage people to expand their skill. However, if you’re an average homeowner, there are projects that will be far too advanced for you.

For instance, while we think most people can easily learn how to install a faucet online, we’d advise hiring a plumber to move plumbing lines in a bathroom. Sometimes it isn’t just safety to you and your materials, but not knowing regulation and keeping things to code also matters. The project don’t necessarily have to be too advanced for you to need an expert opinion.

And of course, some projects are incredibly dangerous if you handle them yourself! Gas repairs or extensive electrical work are not DIY projects. Know your limits and hire out when necessary.

Don’t DIY “ASAP Projects”

As a homeowner, you’re bound to run into emergency issues that need to be fixed ASAP. Whether it’s a flooded bathroom or a busted hot water heater, you’ll want to have a professional on call immediately.

When we were renovating our bathroom, we accidentally bumped the toilet valve and it immediately started leaking. Not wanting to flood our new bathroom, we called in a plumber to swap the old valve with a new one. This set us back about $275, but the job was done correctly and in about an hour. Plus, we felt much more at ease knowing our new bathroom wasn’t going to flood from that pipe!

These urgent issues should be handled by a professional. When you don’t have the time to research and buy the correct supplies, you can make a mistake trying to do an extensive repair yourself. If it’s a home emergency, call it in.

Don’t Experiment If You’re Gonna Stare at It Every Day

If there are any perfectionists tuning in, this category is for you. You may be stuck looking at the results of your DIY for years, so if you are someone who may constantly critique minor (or major) mistakes, then DIY-ing a large project may not be worth the money saved.

We recently renovated our guest bathroom (more on that here!) and I stare at all of the tiles in there when I shower. I’ll always focus in on the corners where I know a tile is 1/8 of an inch off from our handiwork. It’s minor, but it really bugs me!

We know this question sounds like a silly one to ask yourself, but DIY-ing is never worth it if you’re not going to love the end result, or even worse, hate it more than when you started.

The DIY Projects We Recommend

There are lots of DIY projects that you can (and should!) tackle on your own. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing…

  • Changing Doorknobs
  • Painting your Front Door
  • Changing a Faucet
  • Installing a Ceiling Fan
  • Swapping out Light Fixtures
  • Changing an Outlet
  • Adding Cosmetic Woodworking to Walls
  • Installing a Smart Thermostat
  • Fixing a Screen Door
  • Painting a Room
  • Changing out your Baseboard

To DIY or not to DIY? Sometimes the answer is crystal clear. But when you’re unsure, we hope you consult this list so you make the right decision for you (and your home!).

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