How to Hack Moving to New York City in 2019

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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 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. 

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.

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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.

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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.

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