What I Learned Moving at the End of My Second Trimester

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Moving while pregnant is an adventure! When my husband and I found out the exciting news that we were expecting a baby, our first thoughts were obviously to be beyond thrilled and extremely grateful. Can you tell?

However, soon after the initial news that we were having a precious baby boy, we discovered a house for sale in our dream neighborhood, which then immediately prompted us to put our current house on the market. The sellers of our dream house accepted our offer and within 48 hours, we also accepted an offer on our current home, which we had lived in and loved for the past five years.

All while we had planned to do nothing other than being pregnant!

This series of somewhat unexpected developments was a complete whirlwind and still has us looking at one another thinking, “Oh boy! What just happened?!” That was quickly followed by, “How are we going to do this?”

Luckily, we managed to do it all. Yep, I accomplished moving while I was pregnant.

Overwhelmed by the thought of moving while pregnant? I was too.

Baby on the way—check!

New house in our dream neighborhood—check!

Moving while pregnant … eek! 

I didn’t exactly see that coming. And I was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of tackling a move with a baby on the way. For the record, I was in my second trimester when I began planning for my move, heading rapidly towards my third trimester.

Spending the final months leading up to our first child packing, moving, unpacking, and renovating was overwhelming to me. But life happens and I had no choice but to make the best of it. And I’m here to report that I survived! I learned a lot along the way.

I turned out not to be completely useless while helping.

My biggest fear when I found out we were moving while I was pregnant was that I wouldn’t be able to help with anything! For context, I’m a “Type A” personality who enjoys being busy. A surprising source of stress? The thought of leaving my husband with our entire to-do list while I sat back and watched was extremely stressful!

But I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was far from useless during this time.

My husband and I worked out a system where he would build the boxes, I would organize, pack and label the boxes, then he would stack them all up. Packing was a total team effort, which made me feel productive and my husband was genuinely grateful for my help.

Yes, I made sure to take care of my body, take it slow and avoid lifting heavy boxes during the process, but honestly, I was fully capable of just about everything else. If you find you might be moving while pregnant, one solid teammate might be the only thing you need.

Me on moving day.

Moving day was also a stressor for me because again, I felt like I was going to be totally in the way. I’m happy to report ladies that once again, I was wrong! We opted for a Hybrid Move, which is hiring movers and renting a truck separately to save a lot of money. I was fully capable of picking up the U-Haul and driving it all day. So although I couldn’t lift heavy boxes, I absolutely was contributing in a big way by driving the truck.

I was also able to help oversee the move by organizing which boxes and furniture ended up where. It turned out that it was really helpful having one point-person that wasn’t carrying boxes, but rather solely focused on making sure everything ended up in the spot we had planned.

Plus, getting each box into the correct room was super helpful towards keeping me involved in the unpacking process. I highly recommend this point-person/direction technique, pregnant or not! I didn’t have to bring a certain box to a specific room for unpacking, which meant the boxes were already there, which made getting set up in our new house a lot more efficient!

Hiring movers ended up being necessary.

Although I felt like I contributed a lot before, during and after moving day, I don’t want to give anyone an unrealistic expectation that you’ll be able to do everything on your own, given how intense moving a home truly is. I can honestly say that hiring Helpers as a part of our Hybrid Move was the best investment we could have ever made, pregnant or not. We needed them that day and appreciated their help more than we could have ever anticipated.

Having them to do all of the heavy lifting took the responsibility off of my husband, but it also kept me from feeling bad about not being able to help him with the big stuff. Our Helpers were able to pick up all of our stuff from the old house and bring it to our new house in less than three hours!

My husband and I weren’t stressed at all, which made the process a lot more enjoyable and probably kept the baby healthier. I would definitely recommend hiring help, regardless of whether you’re pregnant or not. But if you are expecting a little one, I have firsthand experience that this is money well spent.

Leaving my old home was harder than I thought it was going to be.

Okay, I blame this part on my pregnancy a little. But in all actuality, the emotional roller coaster that came with leaving our old house will probably be the case for many of you even if you aren’t pregnant. Leaving our old house for the last time was a lot harder than I ever expected.

My husband and I bought this house when we got married and I guess I always pictured we’d someday bring our baby home here. But we were already outgrowing this 1,000 square foot house well before we got the exciting baby news.

Cue all the tears here!

I guess the baby was the excuse we needed to finally make the move. But that still didn’t make leaving this house any easier, and whatever your own circumstances are, it might not be easy for you either. The good news is that the sadness didn’t last too long because there were exciting things ahead.

Starting fresh was amazing.

Those exciting things? Starting a new journey by preparing the new house for your new family! The nesting phase is no joke and may come at the perfect time if you’re pregnant and moving, like me.

I’ve been able to get so much done in the new house because of the baby deadline that is coming closer. Sure, setting up a new house is a ton – especially while pregnant –  but I’m feeling a constant fire under me to get as much done as possible so we’re settled in before the baby arrives.

Of course, I still need to be conscious of my body’s limits, and you should be too. I’m working hard to stay busy throughout my second and now third trimester. Thanks to all that hard work, I survived moving while being pregnant and now I am so thankful we were able to get the move out of the way before the baby comes. Now I can’t wait to invite our new baby into our new home!

How Much Will Your Move Cost? Here’s How to Figure it Out

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So how much does a move cost? It all depends. Years of moving experience shows that customers typically fall into one of three categories:

  • Gazillionaire
  • Employee relocating on the company’s dime
  • Confused soul wondering aloud, “Good gosh, how much is this going to cost me?”

As you probably guessed, most of us are the third one. AMSA, the American Moving and Storage Association, tells us the average in-state move costs $1,170, while interstate moves average $5,630. But take that with a grain of salt, because the real answer lies is in the details of your specific move—from off-base estimates to logistical issues, from slower-than-syrup movers to incidental expenses, all big and small.

So how is it possible to even come close to predicting the final number so we don’t go into shock when we’re handed the bill?

Some things are out of our control, but there are definitely things you can do and look out for to make the moment we get that final bill pleasantly unsurprising.

The Baseline Cost of Moves

These are the basic questions you need to ask ahead of a move:

  • Are you getting a Full-Service moving company to handle everything?
  • Are you renting your own truck, then hiring moving labor separately?
  • Are you doing everything yourself?

These are known as the three basic ways to move: A Hybrid Move, a Full-Service Move, and a DIY Move.

How much do movers cost?

Getting a Full-Service Move? That means the movers load, unload, and drive the vehicle all on their own. The estimate? Though it will largely depend on the distance traveled and volume of the move, Full-Service Moves run north of $1,500-$2,000, on average, and sometimes can be more expensive if it’s a really big move.

Hybrid Moves, on the other hand, separate moving labor from moving vehicle. That means you hire a mover to load and/or unload your stuff, then rent the moving truck on your own, saving you a lot of money. Roughly, the cost can run anywhere between $300-$1,000 for a truck and movers, occasionally more.

What’s the cost difference between a long distance and local move?

Local or state move? You’re looking at roughly anywhere between $100 to $300 for the moving truck, depending on the size needed and after accounting for mileage and insurance fees.

Moving long distance? Like, across the country? This will likely cost around $1,000 after gas and fees, plus potentially lodging and food.

As for local movers, prices vary dramatically based on scheduling and location. Moving during a busy summer is just going to cost more than during the dead of winter. Movers’ hourly rates also vary, depending on the size and distance of your move.

Here are some generalized queries on price ranges for “2 Helpers for 2 hours”, taken straight from HireAHelper.com:

  • Boston, Massachusetts: $250-$350
  • Austin, Texas: $200-$300
  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana.: $300-$400
  • Los Angeles, California: $250-$400

Of course, some movers do charge more, or sometimes less. Check out our movers’ reviews, give a few of them a call, get some estimates, and then go with who you feel best about.

You might love our:

Moving Cost Calculator

If the quote from your movers felt expensive …
Make sure it lines up with the costs reported by other Americans.

Finally, there’s the DIY Move, which hides plenty of hidden costs, such as:

  • Gasoline
  • Power tools
  • Moving supplies
  • Pizza and beer
  • Heavy stress

Not to mention what it does to close friendships and schedules. You can get away with casually moving a bedroom with some friends, but let’s just say that in the past, I wish I had spent a couple hundred bucks to have had total peace of mind for those really stressful moves. As a mover, I recognize I am biased, but I am also just a person who has moved many, many times—just like you.

Why do random internet searches for movers cost more?

Moving estimations are rarely conservative. That’s because it’s dreadful to be ill-equipped and strapped for time, versus the other way around.

No matter which one you choose, having someone come out and do a thorough visual of your place and all your belongings can be an extra useful way to get the most reliable estimate of how much your move will cost, as it’s an estimate based on time needed.

Getting an estimate over the phone? That’s cool, but keep these two things in mind:

First, if someone can’t see all the things you want moved, no matter how pure their intentions, it is ultimately a guesstimate.

Why should I avoid “move brokers”?

Secondly, unfortunately, it’s a very real possibility that the “moving company” you quickly searched for on the internet is actually just a move broker.

That’s another term for a middleman who will assure you that they can give you an accurate quote – which will sound too good to be true – then sell your move to the highest bidder. That person will then come out (most likely in a rental truck) and load up your stuff … before telling you that your final bill will be a lot higher than you were originally told.

It happens every single day. Don’t let it happen to you.

That’s why after 20 plus years of experience moving people, I write for HireAHelper, a moving labor marketplace. All the movers are real movers with real reviews, which means absolutely zero of them are move brokers. Everyone here is the real deal.

Get a Quote

See prices for local moving labor. Read real customer reviews. Easily book your help online.

Still, marketplace or not, keep in mind that the more stuff you have, the more important it is to get an in-person estimate so your movers can give you a good idea of how many people you’ll need for how many hours.

Extra, Hidden Mover Costs

How much stuff you have isn’t the only thing that determines the cost of your move. Here are some other important factors that some moving companies take into consideration when giving quotes:

  • If the path from your door to the truck involves stairs or an elevator
  • If the distance from your door to where the truck will be parked is particularly long (meaning 75 feet or more)
  • If your movers can’t get their tractor-trailer anywhere near your place and they have to use a smaller truck to shuttle your stuff from your driveway to the big rig
  • If you have any (or a lot of) heavy, bulky or unusual items, like pool tables or gun safes

All or some combination of these will likely bring your quote up. This is another reason an in-person estimate is important. But if you do find yourself having to give movers a run-down of your stuff over the phone, be sure to let them know the lay of the land so no one ends up surprised. Also, don’t forget to potentially tip your movers.

Total: 

Local Hybrid Move: ~$350+

Local Full-Service Move: ~$700+

Long Distance Hybrid Move: ~$1,300+

Long Distance Full Service Move: ~$2,000+

Optional, Accidental and Potentially Hefty Costs

There are some potentially optional costs that can add up quickly.

Packing Costs

Doing your own packing? Be aware that boxes can get expensivea couple of bucks a pop on average.

Meanwhile, packing paper goes for around $30 per 25-pound bundle, and box tape runs at minimum a dollar per roll.

Thinking of using bubble wrap? Plan on dropping anywhere from $20-$50 a shot.

You’ll save some cash by doing your own packing, but your packing supplies can run you a couple hundred bucks, at least.

Total:

Moving boxes: ~$0-25

Packing supplies: ~$35-75

Packing help: ~$75-100

Rental Trucks

Renting a truck? You may find one for $20 or $30 or $50 a day, but gas, tolls, equipment rental, liability insurance, mileage charges and any fees included in the fine print of your rental agreement add up fast. Plus, obviously, the bigger the truck you need, the more it’ll cost. Not to mention, some days are busier than others (e.g., holidays, weekends, etc.), and you’ll get charged more for a last second rental. (Read this rental truck guide for more info.)

If you are moving long-distance, you also need to factor in food and lodging. And by the way, if you’re driving that truck, how are you going to get your car to your new home? All of this basically means one thing: get a quote on a moving truck early

Total: 

Local (or daily) moving truck: ~$75-300+

Long distance moving truck: ~$1,000-5,000+

How much does insurance cost?

Planning on getting your stuff insured? Full-service moving companies offer free basic coverage against loss or damage, equaling 60 cents per pound for any lost or damaged item. If you are okay with getting fifteen bucks in return for your newly-smashed flat screen TV, then this is the plan for you. That’s called valuation, not insurance.

If you want to be actually insured, you’ll want to consider paying for coverage that actually means something—which will cost you a percentage of what your stuff is worth in total.

 

What Moving Insurance Actually Does

(And why it might not help you!)

Total:

Insurance cost is completely relative to the item you insure (as well as how far you take it). Taken from MovingInsurance.com FAQ:

The cost of the insurance, or premium, is based on a proportional rate, relevant to the declared value of your shipment and the level of deductible you have chosen, and includes an administrative fee. Rates vary depending on your insurance type as well as based on your household goods’ final destination, whether be locally, out of state or internationally.

Storage and Lodging

And if your new home isn’t ready when you are? This unfortunate possibility comes with having to shell out more cash for the extra time your stuff has to sit on the moving truck, the extra time you have to hold onto your rental truck, or the storage space you have to rent until your home is finally ready for you. You might not include such expenses in your moving budget, but be aware of the potential for things to go wrong. There’s even the hotel cost if you’re moving for more than a day.

And what if you don’t get your life all packed up on time? You’ll have to hire packers last-minute. Obviously, this situation is entirely avoidable. All you have to do is make a careful and calculated estimate as to how long it will take you to pack everything. Then whatever time frame you come up with, multiply by two and a half. (Seriously.)

Total: 

Storage container costs depend on their size and distance driven. Taken from Moving101:

You can move locally or long distance, but moving containers are more affordably suited to local moves of small houses or apartments…mostly because you need to rent out more than one container for larger homes, which raises the fee. And the costs associated with the company driving the container long distance (read: paying the driver, fuel, insurance, etc.) all pile onto your bill, but then again, you’re not driving that massive truck 2,000 miles in 110-degree heat. Tradeoffs. Prices range from just under $500 for a local move (with the largest container) to more than $5,000 for a long-distance move (with two of the largest containers).

Incidental Costs

After moving people day in and day out for decades, I’ve heard everything under the sun when it comes to random moving costs the customers weren’t expecting. But the thing is, they almost are never random, just unexpected. The list of sometimes surprising incidental costs include:

  • Restocking your pantry/kitchen, and replacing items you got rid of
  • Paying deposits on utilities, cable, and public services at your new home
  • Sucking up any cancellation fees or broken contract penalties for things like cable, phone and health club membership
  • Repairing damage in your old home – or losing your security deposit if you don’t
  • Changing your driver’s license and car registration
  • Running a credit check to pass along to your new landlord and new utility companies
  • Picking up all the little things you need for your new home: light bulbs, shower curtain, shades/curtains for the windows, cleaning supplies because you used up and wore out everything cleaning your old place so you could get at least some of your security deposit back
  • Getting socked with penalties for being late paying bills because your mail didn’t get forwarded promptly, or you missed a bill altogether

Apartment Costs

Also, are you renting a new apartment? Obviously, don’t forget you have a security deposit as well as first and last months’ rent to shell out. Those can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to the value of the entire month’s rent. Buying a new home? That’s another topic altogether, but with that comes closing costs, realtor fees, appraisal costs, inspection fees, attorney fees and more. Yay!

Long-term Costs

There’s another part to this incidental list, which includes moving costs that are repeating or more long-term in nature.

  • Does parking cost where you live, and how much?
  • What are the average car and health insurance rates in your new state?
  • With your new home will you be subjected to building maintenance fees? Property fees? Homeowners’ association fees? Do you have to buy special trash and recycling bins?

That’s a lot of stuff to take into account, huh?

Figuring out what your own move will cost is all about specifics, not averages. So get that in-person estimate (more than one, if you are able). Use a moving cost calculator. Find a deal on a reliable rental truck (and remember to read the fine print). Check out rates for coverage against damage. Keep an eye on all those incidental charges and keep a list of things you’ll need at your new place.

And please, leave yourself plenty of time to pack!


Illustrations by Vicki Tsai

From Bartender to Moving CEO: Building a Business on ‘Happy’

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Business advice is interesting. We like it when we come across someone who has risen from humble beginnings to reach an admirable level of success. We like to read about them. We like to learn what they learned so we can do what they’ve done.

Recently, the moving world was introduced to Ross Sapir, an immigrant from Israel who took his experience as a hotel bartender and started a moving company that did a million dollars their first year. It wasn’t a direct road, though. It was his time working as a salesman for someone else’s company in between that got him wondering why moving made people so unhappy, and how he might be able to change that.

What the heck did he do differently?

“Happy” is a word that can be empty or full of meaning. For Sapir, it was the foundation of his business. In this Alister and Paine interview, he lays out a few of the ideas that got him and his company moving up fast. I’ll lay them out for you, along with some tidbits of my own.

  1. “We don’t just move stuff. We move people.”

Ross Sapir

This wasn’t just a quick phrase Sapir read on Twitter, but it was his experience working for a hotel was what taught him that. “When you go to a hotel, you don’t just sleep in a bed,” he says. “You go because of the experience.” He adds that if hotels were just about sleeping, you’d go to a Motel 6. (Of course, considering there are over 1,400 Motel 6 locations in the US, we can assume there are people who really just want a cheap place to sleep. But I digress.)

Put this in the context of a moving company. Sure, a customer may just want their stuff moved from Point A to Point B for a few hundred dollars, but if there’s a positive experience built into the process that customer becomes, as Sapir puts it, “a fan for life.”

That fan will tell other people about you and will call you again the next time they need to move. And that fan may have a lot more stuff the second time around, making their move a several thousand dollar deal. Some of you probably know how cool it is to have return customers. I definitely know I do.

  1. “We don’t hide behind limited liability.”

Sapir says if a TV is broken during a move, instead of giving the customer sixty cents per pound, he’ll buy that customer a new TV – maybe even something better than the one they had. This turns an ugly situation into a great one and an unhappy customer into another fan for life.

That advice said, we don’t advocate replacing every item that gets dinged, scratched or marred. Happy customers are good; bankruptcy is not. Rather, this unwritten, over-the-top policy of replacing an item that gets destroyed regardless of what is legally required should be the exception, not the rule, and it is the general mindset that you should highly consider adopting.

  1. “We read books.”

And we aren’t just talking about how-to guides and user’s manuals. We mean books by successful people in all areas of business and even beyond. Sapir mentions Delivering Happiness by a guy who sold his shoe company, Zappos, for over one billion dollars. (Yup, that’s billion with a ‘b’.) “I wanted my company to be built on that book,” says Sapir.

Whether you’re looking to build your bottom line, improve your company culture, become a better boss or just increase your level of satisfaction, there are tons of books out there to choose from.

And by the way…

Sapir tosses in a couple of other tidbits that are well worth heeding, including ideas that have nothing to do with moving furniture but everything to do with building a great moving company.

One, get negative and small-minded people out of your life. They’ll only keep you from reaching your goals.

And two? You have to work your butts off. In case we didn’t already know that!

Meet the World’s Most Expensive Movers

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Tired of hearing about how expensive it is to move? “Why is there a charge for shrink wrap?” “I shouldn’t have to buy more boxes, you guys should fit everything in the ones out in the garage!” “What do you mean furniture pads aren’t free?!”

Well, believe it or not, there is a cure for these experiences. Their names are Stephanie, Sara and Cassio, and apparently, they are more than happy to pay all kinds of extra charges for what they are being told is a “white-glove move”.

Courtesy of the New York Times, here are some examples of what this white glove mover service in New York City is willing to help you out with.

  • $150 extra per move for a special “low-noise” box tape: For people who “don’t like the screeching sound of regular packing tape.” (Bonus guarantee: If the low-noise tape runs out, someone will hold their white-gloved hands over your poor delicate ears for you.)
  • $180 per hour (!) to figure out your move: That means they’ll do “…everything from taking an inventory of your home, to creating a budget and interviewing moving companies.” (Just don’t expect them to lift anything heavier than a pair of white gloves.)
  • $200 for a ride to your new home: Because, my god, have you ever seen how dirty a cabbies hands can get?
  • $500 per day to call the cable and gas companies to inform them of your new address: Yup, someone out there will pay you 500 clams to be put on hold for you.

To prove that people are willing to toss their money around like this, the Times also offers a few quotes, including a couple beauties from private citizen Stephanie:

“As with many of us,” says Stephanie, “my moves have often been hideous experiences.” (My god! They’re not even wearing white gloves!)

This type of service is “extremely helpful,” she continues. “Not like having boxes in a dark basement that are stuffed with 50 dining room dishes and a lampshade.” 

Pamela Muller, co-owner of NouvelleView, the company in question that specializes in suckering customers into thinking they can’t handle an address change, says her firm will “oversee every aspect, from the initial strategic plan to seeing that every box is unpacked.” (Especially the ones in that dark, scary basement.)

“I always say to clients that we are the most expensive in the business,” says Michael Jaque, a director at the shipping company Gander & White. At least they know what’s coming.

The funniest part about all this? NouvelleView says many of their clientele, with their delicate ears and their taxi cab allergies, still hire a traditional moving company to handle the bulk of the items!

And this is where you come in. Charge Stephanie, Sara and Cassio whatever you want for that shrink wrap, those boxes and the furniture pads you’re getting back anyway.

Just make sure you pick up some white gloves at Wal-Mart on your way over.


Cover photo from The New York Times.

The 3 Things to Never, Ever Procrastinate on When You Move

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Procrastination, as a strategy, is starting to get more and more interest from the scientific community.

For example, Adam Grant points out in his book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” that Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Frank Lloyd Wright and Leonardo Da Vinci were all notorious procrastinators. And hey, it worked out pretty well for them, so what’s the big deal? This train of thought has given me plenty of ammunition to justify all the times I’ve procrastinated for a test, a presentation, or heck, a daily shower.

But I know that one of these times this strategy is going to really backfire. Life is going to punch me in the mouth and, if it weren’t for my wife, our recent move would have been a disaster.

So Abraham Lincoln aside, here are a few areas where procrastination is absolutely not the best strategy. Take it from me, I’m an expert.

Finding All Your Moving Boxes

For our move, I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say we used 50 boxes. And I’m talking good sized boxes, like the kind a kid would hop into to pretend they’re an astronaut.

So let’s compare approaches:

Procrastination Chris: “Oh, you know, we’ll figure it out. A couple nights before, we’ll go into a Wal-Mart and ask if they can spare a few extra boxes. That should be easy.”

The reality: Retailers aren’t always on board with giving away their extra boxes. I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s like going into a restaurant at the end of the day and asking for any spare food; On paper, it makes sense since they’re gonna throw it out anyways. But in practice? Places of business don’t want to deal with this every single day.

My wife’s solution: Reaching out to friends who work retail weeks in advance, then getting the boxes in. She began the process weeks before, rather than a few nights before.

Booking the Moving Truck

I feel like anyone who buys a pickup truck automatically puts a bullseye on their back. You really need to start coming up with excuses for why you can’t help everyone in town move well before you put down your first downpayment.

Case and point: I remember being at a buddy’s bachelor party down in South Carolina and everyone that showed up had a pickup truck. Ford F-150, 250, even the 550, which is a monster truck that also fires off a cannon. I looked around and thought, “Man, if you ever have to move, you’ve got a small army here!”

But in most places, a lot of people don’t even own cars, let alone pickup trucks. And no offense to your buddy with a Mini Cooper, but that’s not gonna get the job done.

Procrastination Chris: “Eh, we’ll just get a U-Haul. Easy!”

The reality: Moving trucks aren’t totally simple. For one, they don’t have a normal rearview mirror; They’ve got these big side mirrors that stick out to give you a view when backing up. If you’ve never driven one before, it’s a lot to get used to. And maybe it’s just me, but it’s amazing how accustomed you get to a backup camera once you have one in your car. Without a backup camera and none of the “beep, beep, beep-beep-beep”, I’m surprised anyone before 2007 ever had a scratch-free bumper.

Most importantly, moving trucks get booked ahead of time. Yeah, that means you’re supposed to coordinate your move date with the date you need the truck, usually well ahead of time – especially during the busy season. Oops.

My “I got lucky” solution: One of my buddies loves helping people move. It’s like having a friend who enjoys doing taxes. He once drove a U-Haul from Chicago to New Orleans, so driving this one a couple block was small potatoes. Phew.

Get Help Loading Your U-Haul Truck

See prices for movers by the hour – instantly.

Read real customer reviews.

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Getting Help From Your Friends

In fairness, I sent out a calendar invite at least three weeks, maybe a month in advance to some co-workers and another friend.

I cannot, cannot, cannot stress this enough! Without a minimum of four regular friends helping out, I don’t think any move has ever been possible. And yeah, I know there’s an exception out there: the dude who sleeps on an air mattress and only owns like two outfits. But for the vast majority of us, we actually need help moving all of those boxes.

This is where procrastination can backfire big time. If I would have reached out only the day before – nevermind the morning of – they could have all had other plans and/or they could have quickly come up with an excuse. (“I, uh, gotta walk the dog.”)

This is one you don’t want to leave up to chance. Even if it works, it’s sort of like when a basketball player fires up a terrible shot and the coach screams, “No! No! No!”, but then it goes in anyway and they let out a sigh. Yes, procrastination may work every now and then, but not a great long-term strategy. Especially for moving.

My “hope-they-still-talk-to-me” solution: Very patient, very tired friends.

Make Moving Not Suck

Everyone’s moving situation is different, whether the city, suburbs or small town. I think back to that fleet of pickup trucks in South Carolina; Some people are lucky or they’ve got all their buddies around with the right vehicles for a move. They’re all set.

But for most of us, we’re not so lucky.

Most moves involve someone fresh out of college with their mom and dad, and the dad is getting upset because his kid procrastinated, and now his back hurts, and the mom is upset because the dad is upset, and then someone’s like, “Hey, you can’t park here,” and the mom looks over at the dad before he snaps, “Carol, I know, but I have to go feed the parking meter!” All the while the kid’s younger sibling is on their phone taking a selfie (#MovingDay). And everyone is about one step away from not getting together for Thanksgiving.

It’s not worth having one of the worst days of your life with your friends and family. Find some help. If you’ve got the friend brigade of pickup trucks, awesome. If not, hire it. It’s cheaper than you think.

And whatever you do, just don’t procrastinate on this one. No matter what DaVinci says. 


Chris O’Brien is an author writing out of Chicago. His latest release, “Moving Sucks”, captures all the pain of moving day, but with a comedic twist. Watch for its release on Amazon.com this November. For more info, email Chris@mediumraresizzle.com.

Lifehack: How to Pack Big Shelves So You Don’t Go Crazy

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Usually, if you have a shelving display in your home that you absolutely love, chances are it has taken you quite a long time to arrange and re-arrange the decor to get it “just right”. Now it’s time to move, you’re taking the shelves with you, but you don’t want to lose the successful setup you have worked so hard to perfect, right?

The great news is that we have a super simple moving hack that will not only help you preserve this treasured look but will also make unpacking it in your new place a breeze. Allow us to explain.

Create a Numbering System

The first thing you have to do is create a numbering system for your shelving unit. You can use any method you want and don’t need to make a fancy graphic like this, you just have to make sure you remember which shelf corresponds with what number. Some may be able to easily memorize the number system, but if you’re not confident in your ability to do that, you can always put a piece of painter’s tape on each shelf with the corresponding number so you remember. This trick will take about 1 minute and won’t damage the shelving unit at all.

Start Emptying Your Shelves

The next step is to start emptying your shelves and carefully wrapping the items to eventually add to a moving box.

But the trick of this moving hack is to take careful note of what you are removing from each shelf as you start packing each box. Carefully wrap and box the items like you would normally do, but try to keep as many of each shelf’s contents together in one box. For example, the grouping of books, the picture frame and planter in box #4 should all make their way into the same moving box.

5 Sweet Garage Upgrades That Up Your Home’s Value

Garage additions and upgrades like the five in this list can produce an estimated 65 percent return-on-investment.

Pack and Label

Each of your moving boxes can hold far more than just one shelf’s contents. So feel free to add several of your shelves’ decor into one moving box, just be sure that each shelf’s decor stays together with its counterparts.

After you fill up your moving box, assess what shelf decor is inside of it. In my case, I added the decor from Shelf #4, #7 and #10 into this box so I simply noted that on the top of the moving box. This way I know that when it’s time to unpack this box and refill this shelving unit at my next house, I know exactly where to put this decor in order for it to look just like it did before! 

Repeat this packing/labeling process over and over again until your shelving unit is emptied. You should be left with a pile of moving boxes with clear labels and a precise plan on executing this look at the new house.

All you have to do in the new house is set up the shelves and simply place each item right back in the place it used to be. You don’t have to waste time trying to remember what goes where because those labels will take the guess-work right out of it, making unpacking these boxes in the new house a total breeze!

‘What’s an SEO?’ Simple Strategies to Drive More Traffic – and Customers – to Your Moving Website

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Rare is the person who has never heard of “SEO”, or Search Engine Optimization. Or at least someone who doesn’t know that someone out there is paid a lot to know how it all works.

SEO is critical for driving more traffic – and more potential customers – to a website. But how do we movers “do” SEO? How do we convince those internet search engines to point more people to us?

There are actually tons of ways. Some are easy to implement, while others … not so much. Today we offer up three easy strategies you can put to use right away (plus a tip for holding onto those potential customers who come to your virtual door).

Keywords are everything.

Keywords are what bring your customers and you together – provided you are using the right ones! So what are those magic words? Just think: What would people type into that little search box on Google if they want to find a moving company in, say, Boston? That’s right: “Boston moving company”. But how many moving companies are there in Boston? You’ll want to set yourself apart somehow so those search engines will pay you some attention.

How? People moving in to or from Boston aren’t usually just looking for a moving company. Really, they’re searching for “Boston movers that can assemble furniture,” or, “insured Boston movers.” What specific services or features do you offer? When you’re writing your webpage, build one that cleanly and clearly explains each feature you offer, so that as Bostonians search for “Boston area pet-friendly movers”, they’ll find your animal-lovin’ crew at the top of their search results.

7 Embarrassing Lessons I Learned While Moving People

7 Embarrassing Lessons I Learned While Moving People

Lessons I, Kevin The Mover, learned during my earliest days on the job through the mistakes of others (and my own).

There’s a website for that.

As good as your plain guesses might be on what people are searching, go one step further with these free SEO keyword tools that help unearth even more magical keywords:

Moving Company SEO Tips

With Moz’s Keyword Explorer, you can do 20 free searches per month. Plugin your best guess at a search phrase and Moz reveals data for that phrase, including how many times that phrase gets searched, its ranking difficulty, along with a list of additional keyword ideas.

Google Keyword Tool

Google’s Keyword Tool is also a great tool. It’s powerful, offering long lists of related keyword suggestions alongside search volumes for each phrase. It’s true that you have to log in to use it, but anyone can sign up for a free Google account. (You might benefit from using Google’s advertising tool, Adwords – but that’s a post for another day!) Keep in mind – Google purposefully does not show all the keyword suggestions they have in their secret vault. They also only report an estimate of the search volume (the times a keyword phrase is searched). That means if you’re seeing phrases estimated at 10-50 searches per month … it could actually be double or triple that.

There are about a million other keyword suggestion tools out there – Übersuggest, SEO Book’s keyword tool (requires a free account like Google), and others each offer their own spin and data on keyword search ideas.

What do you do with these words?

Now that you’ve got your master list of keywords, the question arises: Where do we put them?

Answer: all over your website! This piece on keyword placement suggests several places to put them, from the obvious (the title of your website) to the semi-technical (your META description) to the biggest, broadest aspect of your entire website: your content. 

This does not mean you cram a keyword phrase into every corner of a page. Using a phrase 100 times on a page to try and rank for it in searches will actually get you “in trouble” with the search engines (you won’t rank). Use the phrase normally as you would on any page talking about that topic. A page talking about pet-friendly movers will naturally mention being “pet-friendly” a decent amount of times.

What does “content” mean, exactly?

This is the meat of your website – It’s about writing high quality, authoritative content around topics you’re already an expert on.

Search engines have gotten surprisingly good at doing more than scanning your content for the right keywords like they did in 2000. Now, search engines basically read your content and separate which content is high quality versus keyword fluff. That means if you’ve spent the last 10 years training your crews in the intricacies of moving pets (and have had a website that whole time), Google will detect if you write content that’s from your expertise… or just “words words words keywords words keywords”.

Don’t get me wrong, the keyword phrases on your list need to appear in the content at least a few times. In fact, after you’re done writing, it’s important to search your content for that keyword phrase to make sure it’s in there. But like I said before, don’t cram the keyword into every line. Your content should sound natural and informative to any reader. Just like you would want to read.

Protip: Search engines tend to pay more attention to websites that are updated regularly. This means it is advantageous to add content to your site once in a while. The most common, and perhaps most relevant way to do this as a moving company, is to maintain a blog! It can have tips for packing, guidelines for moving or even stories about your company. Just make it clear, quick and fun. And yes, find a place for those keywords!

Keeping a blog takes time, but it can be time well spent when those blog posts start bringing in interested customers.

Putting links to other people is essential.

The “World Wide Web” is exactly that: a web. And in this massive, intertwined virtual community, where would you rather be? Off by yourself hanging out in a remote corner? Or in the middle of thousands of people?

“Backlinks” are a specific type of links, which in themselves are just electronic threads that connect your website with other websites. From a technical standpoint, backlinks are links on other websites that transport people to your website. The best (not the quickest or easiest, but the best) way to create these backlinks is by creating content for other websites – content that either contains or ends with a link or links that will bring people from that website to yours.

That means giving other websites reasons to link to you!

The important point to note here is that with backlinks, you aren’t solely attracting the people who read those guest articles you write for other websites. It turns out that when other sites link to your site, search engine starts thinking you must be something special and will bump you up higher toward the top when someone does a search using the keywords you’ve embedded in your site.

It’s all coming together!

To score a couple of backlinks, you might start out by writing moving-related articles for your local paper or an organization like your Chamber of Commerce. Or go big and shoot for a place like the Huffington Post that draws millions of readers every month. Not everyone will read what you’ve written, but the mere fact that you now have a backlink from a site as heavily-trafficked as the HuffPost means search engines will really think you are something special.

One last thing protip!

Speed. Let’s face it. People are impatient. Once upon a time, we would be excited if the postcards we sent from our tropical vacation got home to our friends before we did. Now we get frustrated if we can’t upload our selfies right there on the beach.

Same with using the net. People don’t want to wait. So if your site doesn’t appear within no more than a few seconds, your potential customer will start hitting that back button to move on to someone with a faster homepage. 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, according to Kissmetrics. This is particularly relevant with the mobile version of your site – Google itself reports that 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. And what takes the most time to load? Images!

There is a myriad of ways to minimize the time a potential customer has to spend waiting for your site to load. Many of them require a bit of technical know-how. But reducing the size and thus the load speed of your images is simple. Want to know how? Try tinypng.com to compress your images – as they get smaller without losing quality, you’ll see how much faster your site moves!

Taking over your block.

So will this SEO advice really work for you, the small moving company with big ambitions? We think so. For a real live example of how a moving company figured out how to boost their SEO situation, check out this story on SLC Moving of Salt Lake City.

Go the extra mile to map out a strategy for increasing your traffic, your customer base, and your bottom line. That’s what the big moving companies are doing.

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

How Much To Tip Movers? A Mover’s Perspective

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What’s the meaning of life? Where does the universe end? How much to tip movers?

For some questions, there are no simple answers. But we’re going to give it a shot.

First off, let me say that as a mover: I never thought I was entitled to a tip. Like my fellow crew members, I operated on the idea that it was completely up to the customer to decide whether to tip or not. All we movers could do was provide great service and hope (and we did hope!) that our customers would be impressed enough to loosen up their wallets.

When they did, we were appreciative. When they didn’t, there wasn’t much we could do but shrug our shoulders and head home.

The reasons you might want to tip your movers are many: they were professional and courteous; they did great work; they handled all of your questions and requests gracefully; they arrived on time, finished on time, and didn’t waste any time in between. Maybe they just did their job, not scratching or cracking a single thing.

On the other hand, perhaps your movers didn’t live up to your expectations. Maybe they took too many cigarette breaks or used a lot of bad language. Maybe your situation makes tipping your movers tough. Bottom line is, the decision on how much to tip movers is yours.

If you do decide to tip, great. Your crew will be delighted. Now the question is:

How much do I tip?

How much to tip movers - picture of mover carrying couchThe most common answer you’ll hear or read is $10 per mover for a half day, $20 per mover for a full day.

Other recommendations call for $4-5 per hour, per mover, or $6-8 per hour if you are really impressed with their service.

Another way to figure how much to pay movers is by using a percentage of the cost of your move – 5-10% seems to be the standard range. In some cases – like hiring HireAHelper movers for the day – this will work out because you know what the total cost of the day’s move will be. But if you are moving long-distance, a good chunk of the cost of your move goes toward transportation, making it pretty tough to figure out the cost of a single day’s labor.

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Think it’s getting too complicated? Let me let you in on a little secret: movers don’t care about the math. So instead of getting hung up on hourlies and percentages consider setting a baseline tip you can afford (maybe the $10 or $20 per mover mentioned above) and then bump it up or down depending on how skilled, polite and professional your crew members were.

Another factor to consider when calculating how much to tip movers is the difficulty of your move. Did your movers have a lot of heavy stuff to deal with? Were there a lot of stairs, or was it all uphill from the truck to your front door? Did they disassemble or reassemble a bunch of furniture for you? And did they handle it all like true professionals?

Protip: There are two ways movers can get paid:

  1. Hourly, as is the case with HireAHelper movers.
  2. By the job, which is usually the case for a long-distance move.

Getting paid hourly means your movers will automatically be compensated for the time it takes to negotiate those extra stairs and carry all your stuff up your sloped driveway to your front door and finally, into your home. Getting paid by the job means they won’t. Just something to keep in mind.

Note: Some van lines will charge fees for “accessorial services” like extra flights of stairs or long distances between truck and front door. The movers doing the grunt work, however, may or may not see much of these added charges.

How do I tip?

While it may be quicker and easier to hand your lead mover some cash and ask them to split it up among the crew, the sad truth is that the occasional unscrupulous leader will pocket the cash and tell the crew “Sorry, they stiffed us.” It’s probably quite rare, but it happens. (Never to me, I could say, but then again, how would I know?)

Handing out tips to your movers individually ensures no one gets stiffed. More than this, it’s a powerful and personal gesture. I always appreciated being given any tip directly, accompanied by a thank you and a handshake.

Want to really show your appreciation? Call your movers by name throughout the move, as well as at the end. When you are tipping them, thank them for something they did well, or something that you appreciated. This kind of positive feedback puts you in rarified “awesome customer” territory. It can also, in your movers’ minds, make the money seem secondary. (Well, almost.)

What if you notice one or two of your movers working harder than the others?

Is it okay to give them a little extra? Absolutely. How much to tip movers can depend directly on each individual’s performance. Should you be secretive about it? That’s a trickier question to answer. One customer once whispered in my ear as he slipped me a great tip: “Don’t tell the other guy how much I gave you.” To be honest, I thought the other guy worked just as hard as I did, so the ride back was pretty uncomfortable. (On other days I would have felt fine if the customer gave me more than the slouch taking all those cigarette and pee breaks.)

If you feel you should reward one or more of your movers for going above and beyond, go for it. Saying something more like “Thank you for the extra effort” as you hand them their tip is one way to articulate why you are giving them a little extra.

When do I tip?

The answer to this may seem obvious: At the end of the move! But once or twice I had a customer hand everyone on the crew a ten or a twenty before we got started and say “Take care of my stuff guys, okay?”

If this is how you operate, great. Your movers won’t mind being tipped for showing up. But if you’ve hired a reputable mover – one with a nice number of 5-star reviews – there will be no need for bribes.

You could, however, prepare something to drink for the guys. People don’t work well when they are dehydrated. This goes double or triple or whatever–ple for movers. So offering your movers water or sports drinks right from the start is not just a nice gesture, it’s a smart investment.

A cooler filled with bottled water and Gatorade set out in the garage or on the front porch is a welcome sight for your movers – and more practical than paper cups in the kitchen. Just let your crew know where it all is and tell them to help themselves.

Moving on a cold, rainy day? A freezing winter’s day? Coffee or hot cocoa is a nice and much appreciated gesture, and the five-minute chance to warm up makes for a positive start to the day’s move. (Once your crew is warmed up and moving, that Gatorade will go down much better!)

7 Embarrassing Lessons I Learned While Moving People

7 Embarrassing Lessons I Learned While Moving People

Lessons I, Kevin The Mover, learned during my earliest days on the job through the mistakes of others (and my own).

Is pizza a tip?

This is another question with no set answer. I can tell you, though, that pizza is like a tip: not necessary, but never turned down.

Pizza is easy, and they deliver. For something different, and if you have the time, take sandwich orders and run down to the deli. Or do what one awesome customer did and put out a bunch of sandwich stuff – cold cuts, cheese, rolls, mayo and mustard, a couple bags of chips. Enough for a couple of sandwiches per mover should do everyone right.

But can pizza take the place of a tip? Let’s just say that if lunch is how you want to show your appreciation for your movers, that’s your call. What I don’t recommend is saying “This is your tip, by the way.” Or “The pizza was your tip, guys, I hope that’s okay.” Remember: you may be the second or third move of their day.

Even a modest tip on top of lunch would mean a lot to your movers. But if you can’t swing it, if lunch is their tip, if there’s no tip at all, then don’t worry – there’s no need to say anything.

Except thank you, of course.

What if something went wrong?

Good question. Accidents do happen. Just remember that your movers, no matter how careful and conscientious they may be, are also human. The big thing is not if something goes wrong, but how they handle it if it does. Imagine if at your work, breaking your back for five hours was invalidated after a minor accident!

Remember also that you are tipping the movers, not the moving company they work for. Sales representatives, the office staff, customer service folks – these people are all separate from your move crew. Keeping this in mind if things get crazy is both helpful and appropriate.

Regardless if something goes wrong, if you feel your movers did a great job, please take the time to give your movers one last tip – in the form of a positive review. What costs you nothing but a few moments of your time can help the people who busted their butts for you to attract more customers and land way more work. And that helps put more cash in their pockets.

The meaning of life? I’m not sure how to answer that. How much to tip movers? We have some ideas.

But the answer ultimately lies with you.

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