What States Are Saying About Those 2017 Migration Reports

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So maybe you read our massive migration report roundup we published last month. You can bet the states in those reports did too.

What do the states themselves make of all that inconsistent and sometimes flat-out contradictory information—especially the less than flattering states? Let’s see what our journalists and analysts across the country have to say about the numbers.

The Word From Inbound State Winners

Oregon

Oregon’s Register-Guard touts their home state as “among the nation’s top moving destinations”, though according to Atlas, they are merely in America’s top 16%. The Register backs up their United and Atlas references with a few figures from the US Census Bureau as they state that “Oregon added nearly 57,000 residents between July 2016 and July 2017, and more than 80 percent of that growth was from people moving in, rather than from births outpacing deaths.”

Forecasting a sustainability issue with these US Census findings is this report from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis which tells us that “expectations are for population growth to taper in the short-term.”

In addition, we are told that “moving forward, Oregon’s population growth will increasingly rely on migrants.”

In other words, if Oregon wants to continue to grow they’ll need to reverse the tide carrying them toward balanced migration.

But some remain bullish on Oregon’s future. Portland’s KOIN News tells us that not only was Oregon the nation’s ninth-fastest growing state in 2017 but the housing crisis – putting the average Portland home in the $350,000 range and a two-bedroom apartment around $1,300 per month – may be starting to abate.

Apartment List says that after rising through August 2016, rents in Portland dropped the rest of the year and are now down 1.7 percent from last January, including a 1.0 percent drop last month,” goes the quote. “Abodo (another apartment finder) also says the rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Portland dropped 0.95 percent last month…Rents may continue to decline through 2018 because so many new apartments are coming online in Portland.”

This, naturally, is good news to those of us serving all the apartment-renting DIY movers out there.

Idaho

Meanwhile, In Idaho, Oregon’s neighbors to the east are taking a less constrained, less empirical view of the recent migration findings. Realtor Lynette Neibaur tells KMTV of Twin Falls, Idaho “I think people are just kind of realizing how cool Idaho can be.”

United’s stats, however, suggest otherwise as roughly one-third of Idaho’s inbound moves were based on employment, with the influence of family not far behind. Granted, Idaho may be trending as a cool place to live as close to half of the state’s inbounders gave retirement or lifestyle as a reason behind their relocation.

Alabama

Down in Alabama, the new mantra for economic development is not “follow the money” but, as Lawrence Specker of AL.com puts it, “follow the furniture”. After a six-year inbound stretch starting in 2003 Alabama fell into a balanced funk in 2009. This year they once again join the inbound ranks at #10, perhaps causing one to wonder if the Gem State may be getting their mojo back.

But all is not crimson as a rose down in Birmingham. “It’s only one data point,” says University of South Alabama associate sociology professor Doug Marshall. “United’s report blurs regional differences and omits some possibly relevant factors.”

Also significant are the age breakdowns of inbounders and outbounders. Alabama lost residents in the Under-35 bracket as well as the 45-54 age group. Their 55-and-overpopulation, meanwhile, is evidently on the rise. This could be taken as an indication that Alabama’s workforce is getting older as their retired population increases. 60% of inbounders gave employment as a factor in their move (but so did 75% of outbounders).

Then again, Professor Marshall points out that United’s numbers “are all about who’s moving, not who’s working.” Alabama’s goal “hasn’t been to attract new workers to the state, it’s been to provide jobs for people who are already here.”

So where is the bulk of Alabama’s workforce coming from? And is that workforce really getting older? Is Alabama really on the cusp of another six-year inbound stretch?

Only time will tell. For now, we’ll just let them bask in the glow of their inbound status. And their college football national championships.

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Nevada

The Las Vegas Review Journal starts out its report on United’s findings on a high note, reveling in the high number of people moving to Nevada to retire and an even higher percentage moving in for employment. But that news is tempered with the fact that an even higher percentage is leaving the state for employment. Before we get to deep into these particular numbers we turn to economist Michael Stoll, who appears in countless news articles on the subject of United’s numbers.

“The numbers are deceiving,” he says, claiming that the recent decrease in people moving to Nevada for work “translates to an increase in people moving into Nevada under 35” since that sector of the workforce is generally less able to afford a full-service moving company like United.

While Mr. Stoll might sound a bit overly-speculative, some numbers from the US Census Bureau back this up. Specifically, the median age of adults in southern Nevada has fallen from just over 40 in 2000 to just under 36 in 2016. Couple this with the fact that the apartment rental market has been trending toward higher rents and lower vacancy rates, and there’s reason to believe that there are plenty of younger professionals moving in without the help of the major van lines.

Arizona

Speaking on behalf of Arizona a year ago, the folks at AZCentral.com got all excited with their “Arizona Cracks Top Ten” article. “Arizona might be emerging as a hot destination for newcomers,” they begin, soon adding the fact that they didn’t make the top ten in 2015.

In their excitement, however, they missed the fact that North American had them ranked as the nation’s number two top inbound state, not only in 2016, but in 2015 as well.

This year they managed a 55% inbound rate on United’s survey, which matches Alabama’s numbers. United, however, put Alabama in their #10 slot, nudging Arizona back off the top ten list. This may be the reason we’ve had no luck finding any talk coming out of Arizona this year about their inbound-outbound migration.

They really should really take a look at the 2017 report by North American Van Lines—where they are ranked number one.

The Word From Outbound State Losers

Illinois

No matter which van line survey Illinois looks at, they find themselves the outbound “champion”.

FOX32 News in Chicago handled it by simply breezing over the story (And since they certainly won’t say it, we will: Illinois has been an outbound state every single year for United since 1979, the earliest year shown on United’s interactive map.)

The folks at Illinois Policy are less shy about confronting the situation, pointing out that their state fared worst on every major van line report out there before offering up a variety of sobering stats: Pennsylvania has moved ahead of Illinois in terms of overall population.

Since 2010, Illinois has lost the equivalent of their largest four cities after Chicago; in 2015 the state lost $4.75 billion in revenue from outbound migration, which further stresses the already heavy property tax burden shouldered by those still around.

With the very real prospect of more Illinoisans leaving the state to escape what are among the nation’s highest property taxes the situation seems like a downward spiral that will prove extremely challenging to reverse.

Indiana

Poor Indiana. Our economist friend Michael Stoll echoes that sentiment in this Indiana Public Media piece, suggesting “once a state becomes high outbound, it’s hard to reverse.” The same article features billboards in Indiana that essentially rip on Illinois’s high taxes (“Stillinnoyed?”) in an effort to lure people across the state line.

And yet, Indiana ranked as an outbound state on United’s study every year from 1993 to 2009. Since then, they’ve managed to rank as balanced, except in 2015, when a dozen states formed an “outbound yellow” line stretching from Massachusetts clear out to Kansas.

Indiana may have slowed (if not entirely halted) their outbound migratory trend – they were still 54% outbound in 2017 – but the outlook isn’t all Little House on the Prairie. “They’ll have to increasingly rethink their economic base,” says Stoll. “Indiana is a more diversified economy now but specialization might be something that Indiana will have to think about.”

On a side note, almost half of Indiana’s outbounders (48%) were from the Under-45 population while a little over half (51%) were over 55.

Unfortunately for Indiana, this graying-over may be about the only thing they have in common with Vermont.

Iowa

On the other side of Illinois, the folks in Iowa aren’t shy about expressing their utter confusion on the subject. “Are we coming or going?” asks the Des Moines Business Record. A fair question, perhaps, as Iowa in 2017 was 56% outbound according to Atlas, balanced (51% inbound) according to North American, balanced but precariously close to outbound (54%) according to United, and, taking U-Haul’s figures into account, the nation’s twelfth-ranked state for 2017 in terms of growth.

Maybe Iowa should go with the US Census Bureau’s stats. From 2016 to 2017 Iowa gained a grand total of 11,018 people. Which may mean they aren’t really going anywhere.

Ohio

East of Indiana, the folks at the Toledo (Ohio) Blade lumped their state’s #7 outbound ranking by United with the larger picture of the northeast and Midwest populations choosing to “leave cold, gray climates for warm, scenic places.” We’re not sure we can wholeheartedly with such a simple summation since 65% of outbound responders cited employment as a factor in relocating while less than 7% mentioned lifestyle.

But the Blade deserves kudos for looking at the in-state success story of Columbus – “among the fastest-growing cities in America” – and raising the issues that Toledo needs to address if they want to see similar growth and progress.

New York and New Jersey

In a similar spirit of facing their failings head-on, New York’s NBC News 4 pulls no self-directed punches, leaving #1 Illinois out with their headline “New Jersey, New York, Connecticut ‘Most Moved From’ States in America.” I’m sure New Jersey appreciates that.

“People are continuing to flee the tri-state area,” the article begins before tossing out various factors and percentages from United’s report (and a quote from Mr. Stoll) before finally, down at the bottom, mentioning that Illinois was the top migration loser.

New Jersey previously held the top spot for 5 consecutive years,” they add in a seeming effort to keep the attention, no matter how negative, on themselves.

Even the photo at the top of the article contains a measure of failure. (Note the bottom box on the mover’s hand truck.) And like Arizona, they fail to make themselves look any better by ignoring other van lines’ reports. According to North American, New York only ranks #8 on the outbound list. Similarly they are #7 according to Atlas, who doesn’t even have New Jersey or Connecticut in their top ten.

Then again, who would expect New York to bring up any report that makes New Jersey and Connecticut look better than them?

Connecticut

Connecticut, on the other hand, did use the Atlas findings to contrast their dismal standing with United. “Connecticut had only a small number of outbound households outnumbering inbound moves,” they report. Then they use some metropolitan area-related numbers from the US Census Bureau to point out that in the past year “southwestern Connecticut drew roughly twice as many new arrivals from New York as households headed in the opposite direction.”

Expect New York to comb through the US Census Bureau’s stats next year to find a way to jab back.

Connecticut could also take a page out of Iowa’s playbook and use U-Haul’s numbers to pretty up their picture. According to this piece on Cision, Connecticut comes in at #8 in terms of one-way U-Haul truck rentals throughout the US. Taking into account their rise from #42 in 2015 and #17 in 2016 Connecticut could almost claim they are on the inbound comeback trail.

And hey! Illinois! U-Haul said that you’ve been replaced by California as the biggest net loser! Better luck next year.

For a New York Mover, a New Form of Payment Accepted: Bitcoin

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The Roadway Moving Company in New York has a new question for their customers:

“Would you like to pay by cash, credit card or Bitcoin?”

From this Business Insider report, it sounds as though Roadway is not the very first moving company to begin accepting payment in Bitcoin. Apparently, there are others, which points to the birth of a new trend in the moving industry.

Roadway owner Ross Sapir (yup, the very same Ross Sapir) says the acceptance and use of Bitcoin is a sign of advancement and progress. He points to several advantages in using the cryptocurrency, including

  • Safety – Bitcoin transactions don’t involve personal, identifying information.
  • No third-party involvement – meaning no banks or other institutions to get in the way of – or extract fees from – the transaction.
  • Low fees – lower than using credit cards or other forms of virtual payment.
  • Untaxed purchases – with no identifying information tied to transactions, they cannot be traced and therefore cannot be taxed.

“We as a company are always looking to be the leader in providing the newest and most advanced services to our client,” Sapir tells us. “I’m confident that this form of currency will soon be mainstream in the moving industry and I’m thrilled to be leading the charge into this new era.”

If you want to start using and accepting Bitcoin, or just want to learn more, this is a good place to begin if you want to take the plunge like they are.


Cover photo by Alister & Paine Magazine

The Rise of Plastic Storage Companies, and What It Means for Movers

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You don’t have to be an industry insider to know that the self-storage industry is booming. Drive around Anytown, USA and it’s almost impossible not to notice those orange-and-gray, or orange-and-purple, or green-and-white facilities popping up all over the place. Even if you round down SpareFoot’s numbers from 2016, the country is currently at over 50,000 self-storage facilities generating over $30 billion in annual revenue.

Crazy numbers, for sure. And guess what? Things are only just beginning to get interesting. We’re seeing the emergence of a lot of small (for now) companies offering services beyond typical self-storage – services that were virtually unheard just a few years ago.

MakeSpace and Clutter Surge

MakeSpace.com

Consider MakeSpace, a New York City outfit that has raised $47.5 million in venture capital in just the last two years. Not your average self-storage provider, MakeSpace packs, picks up their customers’ excess belongings and brings it all to their storage facility. Customers don’t need to think about how much storage space they need because they don’t actually have to rent storage units. They don’t have to worry about getting their stuff moved to a certain place and time because MakeSpace does all the back-and-forth for you. And since their storage facilities are located in what TechCrunch describes as “less desirable areas” outside prime real estate locations that are fairly removed from the residential areas they serve, MakeSpace can rent space at a lower cost, thereby reducing operating expenses.

Besides New York, MakeSpace operates in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., serving tens of thousands of customers, that according to CEO Sam Rosen.

Meanwhile, Clutter of Culver City, CA, operating on a similar business model, has expanded beyond Los Angeles to serve San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, and states New York and New Jersey. As of June 2017, they have raised $96.5 million in venture capital – double that of MakeSpace. According to Forbes, they plan to infiltrate every major city in America and several more abroad.

Millions in capital, global plans … there must be a lot more people out there with a lot of stuff willing to pay extra for this ultra-convenient, self-storage service.

The Rise of Plastic Bins

Of course, not everyone is looking for self-storage. Some people just need to get their stuff from Point A to Point B. Unsurprisingly, the range of services for these people has exploded too, starting with the U-Haul revolution and the rise of ABF Freight, followed by the portable storage container craze and – ahem – the wild growth of the moving labor sector.

It turns out this is the one place eco-conscious people choose plastic over paper.

Yes, we’re seeing now that people want to be green as much as they want to save green – and we see that customers are looking for even more alternatives when they move. And one of those alternatives involves cutting back on all that cardboard and tape.

Enter the gorillas and the kangaroos.

Redi-Box.com

Since 2011, Gorilla Bins of New York City has been renting out black plastic bins two weeks at a time. (They know it takes a lot more than a day to pack and unpack!) And they aren’t the only ones touting the three-point “We drop them off – You use them – We pick them up” service line, inspiring plenty of imitators. Redi-Box is ready with their red bins in Chicago and Portland. Rent a Green Box covers Los Angeles and Orange Counties with their (of course) green plastic bins. Hopping around the Springfield, MO area we have Roo Rent a Box and their stacks of gray bins.

There are many players in this plastic bin rental game. Their prices and policies may vary, but they all operate on the same fundamental idea. (Really, the biggest question right now might be who will end up buying out who down the road.)

Also of note, a company named Bin-It is running a similar operation out of their northern New Jersey headquarters, serving not only the New York area but Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Nashville. Yet unlike the gorillas and kangaroos, Bin-It also offers storage, bridging the service gap between valet storage and simple moving bin rental.

It probably goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that this plastic bin rental business is a local thing. It’s conceivable that in the future we’ll see this change as some of these bin-renters extend their reach further across the country and can handle the logistics of tracking and managing their bins in the same way U-Haul manages their trucks.

For now, despite the impressive growth of this eco-friendly niche, it looks like the trend of renting plastic bins instead of using cardboard boxes will remain an aspect of the local move market.

How Does This Impact Movers?

So what does this have to do with all of us in the moving labor industry?  

It surprisingly doesn’t, directly. But say someone calls you up asking if you offer storage services. “No,” you say. But your conversation shouldn’t end there. This person needs a service and seems not sure where to turn. By pointing them in the right direction, you are not only helping them, you’re also tossing a biscuit of friendship to the people you are referring them to. “Tell them Kevin at HireAHelper sent you,” you might say. Or Mark at Mark’s Movers, or whatever the case may be.

You recommend them, they recommend you, and everybody gets a business boost. This dynamic works especially as long as storage bin companies exist as a local enterprise.

The same dynamic can work with the valet storage niche, as well as the emerging plastic moving bin rental market. These companies are directly tied to the storage and moving industry, just like us. Yet they occupy a different niche. So rather than competing, our services are almost always perfectly complementary.

Likewise, those customers looking for that environmentally-friendly alternative to cardboard boxes are potential customers too. The bin-renters generally don’t offer actual moving services, so the door is wide open.

At the same time, be aware that a few other valet storage providers and bin renters have had the same brilliant idea, and have begun creating those collaborative partnerships with a few local movers. So don’t wait! Get online, get on the horn, pick up the phone and get out there! Meet these new players in the storage and moving industry. There may never be a better ally, or imposing competition, depending who gets there first.


Header image by MakeSpace.com

Everyone in Town Moving at Once?! Welcome to Allston Christmas

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It was chaos in Boston once again this past Sept 1st. No, not because of the Patriots, or the Red Sox, or any sort of civil demonstration. Instead, this was just the latest edition of an annual event.

“Bedlam descends upon the Boston area every Sept. 1,” the Boston Globe explains. “Moving vehicles clog the streets, parking is a nightmare, and sidewalks are buried in trash and household items. The cause of this annual headache is known as Allston Christmas, a moving day made popular by identical contracts where an estimated two-thirds of the city’s 165,000-plus apartment leases turn over.”

What? Over 100,000 moves happening on one day? In one town?? Why would any city put their people through such a crazed ordeal?

The reason, ironically, is a matter of practicality. The city’s huge college student population is a major component of the citizenry, and it is only natural that they’d all be moving back to school at the same time.

What’s the logic?

BDCWire.com

The logic goes that with everyone’s leases ending and beginning on the same day, there are no renters stuck having to wait a few weeks between apartments and no pressure for others to break leases early in order to get into their next place. It’s a highly-visible (and, arguably, insane) solution to the unavoidable college student situation.

Sept. 1st is also when families with school children need to get moved in, claims the Globe (apparently unaware the majority of families moving to and from the rest of the country seem to prefer June). But the tradition, dating back decades, “was almost certainly dictated by the market demand of the area’s many college students,” we are told.

“It makes it difficult to manage,” adds realtor Edward Zuker. “But that’s what the market is.”

Damn college students.

New York City once had a moving day like Boston

Moving Day, 1907. Chicago Historical Society

But unlike their counterparts in New England, New Yorkers had common sense and the guts to stand up to a bunch of college kids and were able to do away with the idea.

Actually, moving day in New York seems to have originated with a custom in the Netherlands where, the Encyclopedia of Chicago tells us, servants would change employers at one of two annual hiring fairs. These took place in early May and November, and, for reasons not given, Dutch immigrants settled on May 1st as the day to continue tradition – which may or may not have had any practical value in the New World, but no one seems to have put up a stink about it.

That is, until 1922, when new rent laws went into effect, protecting renters from being kicked out of their places every year. We also see in this New York Times article from May 2 of that year that there was some competition among landlords who were lowering rents along the fashionable Concourse in the Bronx down from $23 to $22 or even $20 a room. Meanwhile, side street rooms were going for $13 to $15.

Ah, the good old days.

In Chicago too we see that May 1st was, as early as the 1840s, the day to move. Giving credence to the idea that some traditions simply should be done away with, the Encyclopedia of Chicago describes moving day as “a very unpopular event, with families facing greedy landlords, exorbitant rates charged by movers (known as expressmen), and the risk of breakage and loss of furniture and belongings.”

We’re not sure much has changed.

Montreal moving day. Toronto Sun

North of the border in Quebec, Canada, we see the moving day tradition is alive and well. The history here goes back even further, to the middle of the 18th Century when the French colonial government of this “New France” forbade the semi-feudal landlords of the time to evict their tenants before the winter snows had melted. By 1866 this had evolved into a requisite

of the Civil Code that urban leases begin on May 1st and end on April 30th.

This was fine with everyone for about a hundred years until it was decided that May 1st as a moving day was much too inconvenient for families with children in school. (Damn students again.) Thus in 1973, the Quebec government moved Moving day to July 1st – which, incidentally, is also Canada Day.

Now it may sound silly to make all those people move when they would rather be out celebrating Canada’s birthday. But this Toronto Sun article suggests that those French-speaking Quebecers, particularly those in Montreal, aren’t much interested in Canada Day.

We won’t get into that conversation.

We will say that, for all craziness of the summer season, we sure are glad that the millions who move do it over the course of a few months instead of all on one day.

Now if we could just convince a bunch of colleges and universities to start their school year in the middle of the slow season…


Header image by Boston Magazine

Florida and New York Grapple With New Sex Offender Laws for Movers

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On June 9th Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill directed at moving companies and the former sex offenders they may hire. (more…)

7 Things I Learned When Downsizing From a House in California to a Shoebox in NYC

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Full disclosure: I’m a child of the suburbs. I grew up in sprawling northern California, where trips to used bookstores and the mall are practically pastimes. There wasn’t much spatial constraint when it came to accumulating things. If I picked up a tchotchke, there would definitely be a place for it somewhere in my home.

(more…)

5 Things to Ask Before You Move Into a City Apartment

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So you’re all set to move into your new downtown apartment! Congratulations! You’ve got your life loaded up and your old life is in the rear view mirror of a U-Haul. Nothing to do now but set up the new pad and get your new life in the city rolling!

Wait!

There’s more to moving into a new apartment building than just picking up your key and having your buddy hold the elevator. City buildings likely come with a whole list of rules and regulations for moving in, so whether you are moving by yourself or hiring movers to do it for you, it’s wise to contact your building manager ahead of time for the complete run-down. With that in mind, here’s a list of five questions that should top your moving day FAQ.

(more…)

Which States Gained and Lost the Most People From Moving Last Year? We Break It Down

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[Synopsis: As United, Atlas reveal their annual migration stats, states try to explain themselves.]

United Van Lines has done it again!

They’ve released their nationwide migration statistics for the year, that is. And right off the bat, we see some small surprises.

(more…)

The Man Who Paints With Packing Tape

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Scour the internet long enough and you’ll feel like there’s nothing you haven’t already seen. And yet, there’s always something that comes along that makes you throw your arms up in disbelief. So with that in mind, let’s meet the latest from that arm-throwing tradition.

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