5 Expenses I Didn’t Expect After Graduating

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Graduating is even harder than it looks.

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

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

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

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

Moving101 Container Price Comparison

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

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

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

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

2. Crossing State Lines Can Mean More Fees

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

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

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

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

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

3. Even My Used Car Had a Major Price Tag

An approximation of how getting your first used car looks.

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

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

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

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

4. My First Student Loans Payments Shocked Me

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

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

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

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

(So I Learned a Budgeting Trick)

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

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

TheBalance.com

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

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

5. Filling Up a New Apartment Drains Your Wallet

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

How Do I Plan a Long Distance Move?

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

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

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

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

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

What if I’m driving?

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

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

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

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

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

What about my stuff?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if I’m flying?

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

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

Should I ship my stuff?

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

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

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

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

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

Moving101 Container Price Comparison

How Much Do Long-Distance Moves Cost?

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

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

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

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

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

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Are there any ways to reduce the price?

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

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

What if I’m Moving Across State Lines?

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

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

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

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

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

To-Do list for interstate moves

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

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

How Do I Pack My Stuff?

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

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

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

Should I get rid of my stuff?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

How to Find an Auto-Transport Company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How much does it cost to transport my car?

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

How do I get a quote?

Be prepared to tell the company this basic information:

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

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

How to Hire a Good Company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the most common tactic to trick customers?

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

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

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

Get a Written Contract (Then Read It)

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

What should I watch out for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do auto-shippers charge by weight?

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

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

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

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Arrange to Get Your Car Exactly Where You Can Get It

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

When will my car be available for pick up?

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

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

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

What to Do When Your Car Shows Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

When Your DIY Projects Will Fail

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

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

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

Time Will Inevitably Be More Valuable Than Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some DIY Projects Have Sneaky Costs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Honest When You Don’t Know How

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

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

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

Don’t DIY “ASAP Projects”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The DIY Projects We Recommend

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

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

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

How to Best Unload Your Moving Truck

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Loading your truck is like getting ready for prom. You want everything to be perfect.

Unloading, on the other hand, is kind of the same way; take everything off, drop it on the floor and go jump in the pool with your friends, right?

Yes and no. Unloading a moving truck is definitely easier than loading one, but like jumping in the pool, there are good ways and bad ways to do it.

Below are some tips for safety and speed so you can not only do the job right but have plenty of time for the post-party. (And this all applies for moving containers too!)

How to Prepare Your Unload

Park on a flat, level surface

If you are renting a portable container like a PODS, you can expect it will be set on even ground. The same thing goes for a rental truck.

You’ll want to park in a similar level place, to make unloading both safer and easier. If you simply have to park on a sloped surface, point the front of your truck downhill. (You can imagine why.)

Apply the emergency brake

This applies even if you park on a level surface. It also doesn’t hurt to put chocks – or rocks or blocks of wood – under one or more of the wheels. 

Open the back of the truck slowly

Your stuff will have shifted around in transit, and the possibility of something tumbling out onto the ground, or on you, is very real.

If something is about to come tumbling out, you may feel and/or hear it pushing against the door as you open it. But not always.

Keep your eyes open and have an extra set of hands ready.

Ramps slide out quickly, be careful

Rental trucks generally come equipped with a loading ramp that slides right out from under the rear door. Unlatching it, sliding it out and locking it in place is simple. So is hurting yourself if you aren’t careful.

That ramp is heavy! And pulling it too hard can turn it into a battering ram with you being the one getting battered. Ease it out all the way and set it down on something not your toes. And remember to set those hooks at the top of the ramp securely in place!

How to Unload Safely and Quickly

Get off to a pretty slow start

That’s right! Even if nothing looks about to topple over, you still want to take it easy when you begin unloading your stuff.

Your stuff will shift and resettle in transit

This goes triple if you have a freight trailer!

The pedal of the bicycle you so carefully placed on top of all those boxes might now be stuck in between two of those cartons, and pulling too hard trying to free your bike can send a whole stack of stuff cascading down on top of you. 

Remember, if your truck was packed to the gills, you won’t have much room back there for your feet. Take your time. Watch your step. Ease those first items off the truck, always aware of how close your Nikes are to the edge of that deck. One misstep and there goes your stuff (and you).

Assign a ramp person

If you have someone (or a few people) helping you, assign one person to stay on the truck to break down the load and put everything at the edge of the deck where the others can grab it without having to climb into the truck.

Not only does this save time, it also eliminates a ton of bending over.

Working like this, it’s never long before the person on the truck gets ahead of the others. This is a good time for that person to nominate someone to help carry that sofa or dresser off the truck and into the house. In addition, jumping off the truck and helping get all the stuff they’ve set on the deck into the house is the obvious way to keep the process rolling.

Tackling the unload all by yourself? Try working in a similar fashion. As you break down your load, position as many boxes and other items as possible along the edge of the deck. Then you’ll be able to make a bunch of trips back and forth without having to walk up and down that ramp every time, saving both your legs and your back.

 

Form a box brigade

Building on above, if you are lucky enough to have two or more people helping you unload:

  • Keep one person working on the truck
  • One person carrying stuff from the truck to a staging area (usually the garage or the front door)
  • One person working inside carrying everything from the staging area to where it all belongs

Naturally, the person on the truck will start getting ahead of the person carrying stuff to the staging area, who will in turn probably get ahead of the person running back and forth inside the house. Periodically jumping off the truck or stepping inside to help your buddy catch up keeps everyone moving – and quickens the process of emptying out that truck or portable container.

Which, of course, leaves more time to enjoy the pool.

Use a dolly

When you are unloading your moving truck, a hand truck (also known as a dolly) is your best non-human friend.

Rolling heavy stuff means you don’t have to carry it. Rolling a stack of boxes means making one trip instead of three or four! The bigger your load and the heavier your stuff, the more you will thank yourself for having that hand truck around. It’s an essential item to rent of your moving truck doesn’t come with one, or if you don’t hire moving labor.

Make sure, by the way, to use that hand truck correctly. You should always be higher than the dolly when rolling stuff down that ramp. If you are hand-trucking something large and/or heavy, have an extra set of hands at the lower end to keep that thing moving steadily—and slowly!

Want to really learn how to use a dolly? Check out this post.

Center everything before it goes off the truck

It goes without saying that when you’re unloading major appliances and large pieces of furniture – or anything for that matter – you want to be doubly certain neither your feet nor the wheels of your hand truck miss that ramp.

But you also want your hand truck to hit the ramp squarely; if one wheel starts going downhill before the other your hand truck will start to tip to one side. Your buddy on the bottom end will naturally try to steady it, which can send one of his feet off the side of the ramp, and things will just keep going downhill from there.

Whether you are rolling or carrying that big heavy appliance or piece of furniture, you want to get centered on the back of the truck before you head for that ramp.

Again, when using a dolly, those wheels go down before you do. If you and a buddy are carrying that item, whoever is holding the bottom end needs to travel down first. In either case, the person on the lower end is responsible for maintaining a straight line of forward progress. 

Ready to unpack?

That’s a whole other thing, so make sure to read our unpacking guide too!

Protip: If you have to walk up a slope or up any stairs, it’s good practice to turn yourselves around so the person holding the top of that big bulky piece is again in a higher position.

Going upslope, however, the person on top takes over steering duty. The person on the bottom then will have the responsibility of providing most of the upward momentum. (This is especially true when going up a staircase.)

In other words, the person on bottom pushes while the person on top does their best to avoid banging into the walls and tripping up the steps. 

Get Some Quick Help

And if all else fails (or you realize you have more stuff than you thought you did after loading your truck), do yourself a favor and double-check our movers’ prices for unloading trucks.

Get Help Unloading Your Rental Truck

See prices for movers by the hour—instantly.

Read real customer reviews.

Easily book your help online.

 

From my decades of experience moving people, an unbooked mover is pretty motivated to come out, as opposed to sitting around doing nothing. Do a quick fly by on HireAHelper if you were wondering, “But are there any local movers near me available to lend me and my friends a hand?”

I’ve saved plenty of people’s moving day who thought to check, even last second.

Illustrations by Emily Roberts

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

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If you’re planning a move and have done the slightest bit of research, you might be wondering, “What’s a moving container?” Most of us can understand rental trucks, which we often see passing by us on the highway.

Well if you’re still confused, think of moving containers as the younger, hipper cousins to rental trucks.

Basically, moving containers are portable storage units. They are metal or wood containers in which you can store your stuff.

Because they are portable, they can be loaded onto a truck for transport down the block (or across the country!). Moving containers make it ultra-convenient for people to load, pack and transport their stuff.

They can be delivered to your home or office, where it remains on the grounds while someone loads it up with your stuff. When you’re ready to move, you can call the company to have a professional driver pick it up and deliver it to the next location. There, you unload the goods and move in! You might have seen them on the grounds of your neighbor’s home or local businesses.

Once you know what they are, you’ll start spotting them everywhere.

What Do They Look Like?

It varies, but by and large, moving containers just look like big boxes. Container sizes vary. Some are as big as 16 feet long, while others are as small as 7 feet long. Their heights differ, too. Some are skinny and taller to take advantage of the height to pack in more stuff. Others are shorter, which is really convenient for loading but, of course, might not allow you to fit as many things.

Where Do I Go to Get a Moving Container?

PODS claims to be the founder of this niche in the industry, and it is arguably the best known of the container companies. But there are other big names, including 1-800-PACK-RAT, Smartbox, and Go Mini’s, to name a few. Even U-Haul has gotten in on the act with U-Box.

What Are the Differences Between Companies?

PODS offer customers the chance to rent up to three different sized containers based on their needs. Others, such as Smartbox, rent out just one size container. (In their case, it’s 8 feet wide and 7 feet tall.) Containers are also made of different materials, depending on which company you choose. PODS are steel-framed. U-Pack’s containers are made of “weatherproof metal.” Some others are made of wood and usually include some weatherproof type of covering instead.

People frequently debate the merits of each type of container. Some say the metal containers – the likes of which can be found at PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT – are best because of their sturdy construction and ability to stand up to any kind of weather. Others argue they lack air circulation, which can potentially cause mold, mildew, or at the very least, musty smells. The wooden containers, such as the pressure treated plywood ones that U-Haul/U-Box rents, might allow for more ventilation, but they are not necessarily as weather resistant.

If you really want to dig into all the pros and cons of each company, including average prices, reviews, pictures and more, check out the moving container page at Moving101.

How Much Do Moving Containers Cost?

Moving containers can be pretty affordable relative to other moving services. They are especially good for those moving to and from smaller homes and apartments. 

Prices can range between around $500 (to move stuff to and from a small home or apartment in a local move) to $5,000 (for multiple containers making a long-distance move with many items from a large home). The cost really depends on the amount of stuff you plan on transporting and the distance the driver will be traveling.

How do you figure out exactly how much your containers would cost? These are the questions to ask:

How Big Is My Place I’m Moving Out From?

When you have a bigger home, you generally need to rent more containers, which of course elevates the price.

In addition, you have to be able to park these containers somewhere without violating local ordinances; with multiple large containers, you might have trouble—especially in a city where parking can be challenging. Sometimes, more containers also require more drivers or trucks. This all matters when gathering estimates.

Where Am I Moving To and From?

As you might imagine, the cost also depends on which company you choose, based on which container is better for your stuff and if they’re available in your area.

For example, PODS typically charges a little more than $600 for a local move and more than $3,000 for a long-distance move. On the other hand, Door to Door charges about $1,700 for local moves and more than $2,300 for a longer move. (UPDATE: Door to Door has been purchased by U-Haul and absorbed into their U-Box service.)

Moving101 Container Price Comparison

Clearly, all the prices are more than you would spend on a rental truck that you would drive yourself. That makes sense if you think about it. Companies are baking in the costs of the professional driver, their moving trucks, maintenance and fuel. (The cost will also rise the longer you keep the container for storage, as well as the more stuff you have to pack.)

Generally, moving containers remain economical for many of those planning a move and looking for a little more convenience and storage. It will cost more than a full-fledged DIY Move that includes renting a moving truck, but it won’t break the bank in the way a Full-Service Move would cost.

When Would I Use a Moving Container?

Moving containers are a good fit for people who want to conveniently load and unload their stuff in a specific location, on their own schedules. (There’s also no question it’s a better fit for those going a shorter distance and moving less stuff.) But there are plenty of times a portable storage is your best option.

Let’s say you can’t get the key to your place until the 25th of the month, but your lease ends on the 14th. What do you do? You call a moving container company.

How Does Booking a Moving Container Work?

Then typically, you go online or get on the phone, pick out a container, then schedule a date to drop it off wherever your stuff is. A sales representative will help you schedule based on how long you plan to keep the container for loading. You might ask about keeping it longer for storage purposes, in which case you can keep it on the grounds of the old place, or have it transported to the new place if you can get permission from owners or those moving out. Or you could even keep the container in one of the company’s storage facilities if they offer one.

You might need the container a few days to load it up. This is one of the differentiating factors between moving containers and trucks (and sales reps love to point this out). After all, rental trucks usually lock you into a schedule with little to no wiggle room.  

But there’s a catch with that flexible schedule. Sure, you can keep the container for long periods of time. However, if you keep containers longer than one month, you will pay much more than the original estimate because moving container companies generally charge by the month.

That means you have one month to load your stuff, schedule a pickup and delivery at the next destination, unload, and finally plan for the final container pick up.

About that pickup: usually, the container company sends out a driver to load up your container onto a big truck and drive it to where it needs to go. Another reason people might find containers appealing is the fact they don’t have to drive a van or big rig themselves. You leave the driving to professionals. Anyone hesitant to maneuver one of those big trucks on a highway or a long distance could see this as a major selling point.

Can My Movers Help Me with Moving Containers Too?

Yes! Professionals can load and unload containers just as they would a rental truck. You just have to ask!

Moving containers can be a smart choice for people who are looking to make a Full-Service Move at a fraction of the cost, or especially to pull off a Hybrid Move. It’s also a great option for those who need storage. Getting professional help moving can make the move actually not stressful. If you want to save your back and your relationships (by not having to ask family and friends for help), then they’re worth consideration.  

Where Should I Start?

  • The first step is learning about the different companies and types of containers they have. Check out Moving101 for all the info you’d ever possibly need. Since every moving container company’s reviews and prices are gathered there in one spot, you can easily find your best option for you, based on your budget, availability and type of container.
  • The second step is to call up the sales representatives to get the low down on their availability, find the best fit for you, and book it!
  • The last step is to decide if you’re going to hire professionals to help you complete tasks like loading and unloading the container. Remember, don’t feel boxed in. You have the power to choose how long they work for and what items they move for you.

Get Help Loading Your Container

See prices for movers by the hour – instantly.

Read real customer reviews.

Easily book your help online.

 

With a little planning, moving containers fit nicely into any Full-Service Moving hack or Hybrid Move. You can keep your stuff somewhere while you’re moving, or have someone drive your stuff to wherever you need it. If you’re moving, you’d be a little silly to not compare prices and see if a container could save you a lot of money, or if using one would just be way more convenient.

The Best Way to Unpack After Moving

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Unpacking should be the best part of the entire moving process. No, really!

You’ve already coordinated all of the logistics of renting a truck and hiring Helpers, you’ve packed everything up, moved, and unloaded your rental truck. Now all that’s left to do is go through all of your boxes and get everything in its place so you can enjoy your new home!

So why do some people still dread unpacking? Well, imagine sitting amiongst a mountain of boxes with no clue what’s inside any of them or where everything is going to go. Okay … yeah, that does sound pretty dreadful. But it doesn’t have to be that way! By planning your unpack, you can save time, money and headaches.

How to Make Unpacking Easier Before Moving Day Happens

We all know the quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” The most important step to a smooth unpacking experience is proper planning before your move. 

Of course, you’ll have some planning to do if you’re getting movers and renting a truck … but you still need to spend some time packing. And no, we’re not talking about randomly throwing items into boxes and calling it a day.

Here are some things you should do before moving day to make unpacking easier.

Take Photos Before You Start Packing

Before you touch anything, we want you to take out your phone and have a little home photo shoot. 

Here are things you especially need photos of:

  • Bookshelves
  • The back of your TV
  • Kitchen drawers
  • Desk area
  • Tool shed

We urge you to snap pics of the areas in your home that you love! We know all too well how long it can take to get a shelfie looking just the way you want it. By snapping some reference pics now, you’ll be able to replicate that new look in your home in no time.

Create a Number and Color-Coded System For Your Boxes

After the photo shoot, gather all of your packing supplies (boxes, paper, tape, scissors, markers … the works!) and start packing boxes like a pro.

Try to only pack up items from one to two rooms inside every box. This will make your life much easier when it’s time to unpack later.

Got a bunch of stuff on shelves? Create a numbered system to remember where everything goes. That way it’s easier to get them unpacked and into their new permanent spots.

And we can’t forget our favorite tip of all … our color-coded box systemWith this technique, you get to use our most beloved crafting tool—washi tape! Get the full instructions from this post, but the short version is that you need to separate your boxes by the room, marked with bright washi tape so your movers know exactly where to deliver them. Genius and oh so colorful!

Make it Much Easier to Unpack Essentials

There are 7 items you’ll want to have on hand for moving day, but we also think you should create a box of moving day essentials. Because imagine the night of moving day when you’re tearing open boxes trying to find pajamas, your toothbrush, and your medication for the night. Sounds like a disaster to us.

This is what should go in your “Moving Day Box” so you don’t have to tear through your moving truck:

  • A change of clothes
  • Utensils
  • Toiletries
  • Prescriptions
  • Phone charger

Be sure to label this box and keep it near you!

Get Help Unloading Your Rental Truck

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Read real customer reviews.

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Clean The 5 Most Important Things

We know you have approximately 10,000 things to do to get your rental deposit back. But trust us, now is the time to give your new place a thorough cleaning because it’s empty. You simply put items in place rather than cleaning and unpacking at the same time. Want to know the five most essential things to clean?

  • Kitchen cabinets
  • The Refrigerator (and refrigerator fan)
  • Bathtub and any tub jets
  • Outside (and Inside) the stove
  • Washing machine

If you want to know more, click here.

Unpacking Tips

You’ve done the prep work (even the cleaning, you rockstar, you!), and now moving day is here! Even if you hired help for your unload (great call), there are still things you can do to make unpacking time a little easier. 

Place Your Boxes in Rooms by Color

It may sound easier to just have your Helpers pile up all of the boxes in one spot of your new place, but unpacking will be a lot easier if you follow your color-coded box system to get each box in the correct room. If you followed our washi tape tips, you should have each door in your new place marked so the Helpers can easily drop the box in the right spot!

Protip: Get your “Moving Day Essentials Box” opened right away so you have everything you need to make it through the next day or two.

Use Washi Tape to Figure out Your Furniture Layout

As long as your movers are there, have them get your furniture in the spot where you want it! We love the idea of using painter’s tape to mark out the layout of furniture right on the floor.

Before you move (or even while your movers are bringing things in and out),  go around your place and put tape on the ground to outline your furniture. That way the movers will know exactly which wall to put your bed on and where that long dresser goes. You can always move things later on, but getting items in the correct space will make your life a lot easier in the coming days.

Unpack the Bathrooms and Bedrooms First

Moving day will be exhausting, so if you’re going to unpack anything immediately, make sure it’s your bed and bedding. Once your movers get the mattress into place, find the sheets, comforter and pillow and make your bed. If you have kids, do theirs too. Having a comfy spot to sleep at the end of the long day will feel amazing!

Unpack your bathroom boxes too. That way you’ll have all of the toiletries and medications on hand for the night and morning. A fresh shower after a long day of moving will be heavenly, trust us!

Save the Kitchen for Tomorrow

The kitchen is the most time intensive room to unpack, due to the amount of tiny and heavy items, so don’t unpack it on moving day. Your brain will be tired by the end of moving day, and you’ll want to be refreshed and recharged before you tackle this space. Save the kitchen until morning when you can make a fresh pot of coffee.

How to Stay Organized After Moving Day

You’re into your new home and you’re surrounded by all of your possessions. First, take a deep breath. You’ve made it this far! Now it’s time for the actual fun part … making your house a home.

Avoid Distractions, Don’t Unpack Games or TV

We might suggest making a playlist of music to entertain you, but we don’t think you should get your TV setup and turned on right away. You may find yourself sitting on the couch instead of unpacking if you have a TV show or movie on. So much temptation…

Another distraction? Little ones. You’ll additionally want to make a plan for your pets when you’re moving and unpacking, so they don’t get in the way. Same goes for kids. Have a plan to keep them occupied or if you can, drop them off at grandma’s house so you have uninterrupted time to unpack. It’s all about keeping the distractions to a minimum so you can devote enough hours to get your house in tip-top shape!

Unpack Only One Room at a Time

Instead of hopping from space to space, we suggest making a list of your rooms in order of importance. Then, don’t move onto another space until the one you’re on is done.

The kitchen, bedrooms and kids’ rooms should be up high on the priority list, while the guest room and garage may not need TLC right away. Also, make sure you have furniture and appliances setup before you get too carried away going through boxes. Did you clean your counters first? You’ll want to have spots to put all of the items as you whip them out of the boxes, so having dressers and cabinets ready to go is a must!

Break Down Boxes as You Go, in Real Time

As you unpack boxes, it may be easy to just throw empty ones in a big corner. But trust us, that pile will quickly get out of control and soon you won’t be able to walk around your house without an empty box tumbling down on you. Take one box and make it the designated paper box. As you unpack boxes, crumple up the paper and shove it into that box. Then, be sure to break down boxes as you unpack. You’ll want to have a utility knife on hand so you can do this quickly.

(And Don’t Unpack Everything)

There may be some boxes that don’t actually need to be unpacked. We’re looking at you, Christmas decorations. Make a large pile of items that may be heading to storage or the garage. Then be sure to get those items to that space in the coming days.

What to Do After You’re Unpacked

You’ve made it! You survived moving day and every box in your place is unpacked. You should be feeling pretty darn good about yourself right about now, but the fun isn’t over just yet. There are still a few things you can do to really get your unloading and packing done.

Make Use of Those Moving Boxes

If you will be moving again soon, then you may want to hang onto some of the boxes that are still in good condition. Organize your boxes and find a spot to neatly tuck them away. Are you thinking, “What the heck do I do with all of that cardboard?!” Don’t fret! Instead, try out some of the cardboard hacks.

If getting creative with cardboard isn’t your speed, you can recycle your moving boxes. Check out this searchable database that’ll let you know the closest place to recycle anything (including moving boxes!). Just be sure to set a deadline for yourself to get those moving boxes out of your new place, so they don’t stay piled in the garage forever.

Use These Organization Protips

We’re all guilty of just shoving random items into a cabinet or closet and calling it a day. But to really feel settled in your new home,  be intentional with what goes where.

Whenever we’re on an organization spree, we go room by room with a notepad and write down areas that need our attention. Then we’ll spend 30 minutes each night giving those spots some TLC. Those short increments of time seem much more doable than an entire day spent organizing an entire home.

Let the Decorating Begin! (In a Month)

We always say that you need to live in your home for a while in order to decorate it well. So many people quickly buy furniture and accessories for their place without ever giving each room a test run, and they end up with design regret. Yep, don’t paint the walls until you’ve spent a little time in your new place!

We promise that you’ll make much smarter decor decisions after 2-3 months.

Here’s how to get started when it’s time to begin: 

It may not seem like it, but unpacking can be the best part of the moving experience! We promise that these tips will make your unpacking experience easier and more efficient.

The sooner you unpack, the sooner you can enjoy your new life!

Every Major Moving Report of 2017 Analyzed: Where Is Everybody Going?

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Migration reports are out in full force, including the famous United Van Lines yearly report.

But while United handles more moves annually than any other mover network in the country, their numbers are not definitive across the industry board.

North American, Atlas and Allied all see slightly – and in some cases, wildly – different results in their migration study results. Not a surprise, because as a Full Service move provider, United handles a somewhat different clientele compared to companies like ABF, U-Haul and PODS – companies whose numbers might look a lot different. Then there’s that little thing called the Census.

Yep, the state-to-state migration numbers for 2017 are out – and folks, we have new inbound state championsHere are the results:

United Van Lines

Vermont Takes United 2017 Inbound Crown

In 2015 they came in at third on the inbound rankings. In 2016 they inched their way up to number two. Now, this tiny state known mainly for skiing and maple syrup has captured the coveted top inbound spot on United’s 2017 National Movers Study.

Yes, the champagne is indeed flowing like syrup in Stowe, Killington and Montpelier as Vermont looks back on a year that saw a whopping 68% of their interstate moves coming in. 

Reasons

According to United’s survey, “family” was the most common reason respondents gave for relocating to the Green Mountain State. Retirement, lifestyle and job also figured fairly evenly into the equation.

On the other hand, a full 75% of people moving out of state gave employment as their reason. This helps explain why half of all outbounders fell into the Under-35 age category – and another 25% were between 35 and 45 – while 40% of those moving into the state were 65 or older.

Those mountains may be green, but with those unemployment numbers, it looks like the valleys are starting to turn gray.

But before we start replacing all those ski lifts with wheelchair-friendly escalators, let’s take a step back and look a little closer at where the stats behind Vermont’s inbound crown come from. Keep in mind we don’t know how many moves Vermont actually saw by their report. (68% can be broken down to 17 inbound moves and 8 outbound moves – which hardly amounts to a mass migration to this land of wooden bridges and Bernie Sanders.)

Inbound:

1. Vermont
2. Oregon
3. Idaho
4. Nevada
5. South Dakota
6. Washington
7. South Carolina
8. North Carolina
9. Colorado
10. Alabama

This past year saw some familiar names on United’s Top Ten Inbound States list. Oregon, Nevada and North Carolina are all there, as they have been every year since 2011. Washington, Idaho, South Dakota, South Carolina and Arizona are also back after making 2016’s inbound list. Newcomers include Alabama and Colorado. Meanwhile, Florida has dropped off the inbound list after a strong three-year run.

This past year’s top inbound states are also fairly spread out around the country. The same cannot be said about United’s outbound states.

Outbound:

1. Illinois
2. New Jersey
3. New York
4. Connecticut
5. Kansas
6. Massachusetts
7. Ohio
8. Kentucky
9. Utah
10. Wisconsin

As with the previous few years, the major exodus seems to be coming out of the Northeast and the Midwest, with Utah adding a little “outbound yellow” to the otherwise blue western region on United’s interactive migration map.

Perennial outbound states New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois have been the most unfortunate ones; we’d have to go back to 2010 to see any of them as balanced. (New York and Connecticut were both spared the shame that year).

North American Moving Services

northamerican.com

Arizona Takes North Americans 2017 Inbound Crown

North American’s inbound champ is Arizona, with 67% of their interstate moves coming into the Grand Canyon State. Other top inbounders not on United’s list include Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and Texas – all south and southeast states. (Those North American drivers must really love the south.)

Inbound:

  1. Arizona
  2. Idaho
  3. North Carolina
  4. South Carolina
  5. Tennessee

Outbound:

  1. Illinois
  2. Connecticut
  3. New Jersey
  4. California
  5. Michigan

Like United, North American has Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut at the top of their outbound list (with New York a notable #8). But the rest of their top outbounders – California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Maryland (#4-8 on the map) aren’t even on United’s radar.

Interestingly, North American’s #10 outbounder is Washington, which ranks #6 on United’s inbound list.

In accounting for these discrepancies, it is worth noting what North American says of their report’s methodology:

We define the top inbound and outbound states as those that have the highest proportion of moves where the absolute value difference of inbound and outbound moves is greater than or equal to 400. This weeds out states that had a small number of moves but would have a high ratio of inbound/outbound moves.”

This may explain why United’s 2017 champ Vermont and #5 South Dakota (United’s #1 in 2016 by the way) aren’t anywhere on North American’s Top Ten.

Atlas Van Lines

atlasvanlines.com

Washington Takes Atlas 2017 Inbound Crown

Atlas Van Lines offers some relative surprises too. Idaho, Washington and Nevada as their top three inbounders may not raise any eyebrows. But Alaska, Maine and New Hampshire at #5, #6 and #10? Oregon is a familiar name, but seeing them at #8 seems in contrast to their recent United Van Lines inbound championships.

Atlas’s top outbounder, meanwhile, is Illinois (same as both United and North American – those Fighting Illini have a real stranglehold on that top spot!). And their #2, West Virginia, was a strong outbounder for United for six years straight before balancing out in 2017.

But Nebraska at #3? Nebraska has been balanced for United since 2001! And #4 outbounder South Dakota has been an inbound darling for United the past three years.

Rounding out the Atlas top outbound list are Hawaii, Indiana, Delaware and Louisiana, all of them somewhat surprising since three of them have spent the last ten years on United’s “balanced” register. Only Indiana has managed to make a blip on United’s outbound radar in that time frame.

Inbound:

  1. Idaho
  2. Washington
  3. Nevada
  4. Tennessee
  5. Alaska
  6. Maine
  7. North Carolina
  8. Oregon
  9. Alabama
  10. New Hampshire

Outbound:

  1. Illinois
  2. West Virginia
  3. Nebraska
  4. South Dakota
  5. Hawaii
  6. Indiana
  7. Delaware
  8. New York
  9. Louisiana
  10. Kansas

In contrast to the percentages United and North American provide, Atlas gives actual numbers of inbound and outbound moves for each state. Here we see that Vermont has seen just a fraction of the moves so many other states see, so it’s easy to imagine why they wouldn’t have made it onto North American’s list. (Meanwhile, once again, Canada’s Yukon Territory has seen zero moves. We’ll blame it on the roads.)

Allied Van Lines

allied.com

Florida Takes Allied 2017 Inbound Crown

Allied Van Lines keeps it all very short and sweet. They report only their top fives:

Inbound:

  1. Florida
  2. Arizona
  3. North Carolina
  4. South Carolina
  5. Texas

Outbound:

  1. California
  2. Illinois
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. New Jersey
  5. Michigan

Based on this limited report, we’re able to come to at least one solid conclusion: Allied’s drivers love moving people south even more than North American’s do.

U-Haul

Texas Takes U-Haul 2017 Inbound Crown

Because news outlets predominately focus on Full Service van lines, it can easily be argued this eliminates an entire sector of the migrating public. (In fact, Full Service van lines actually conduct less than half of all moves performed in the US every year.)

Do U-Haul’s numbers reflect what the van lines suggest are moving trends?

Nope.

Inbound:

  1. Texas
  2. Florida
  3. Arkansas
  4. South Carolina
  5. Tennessee
  6. Washington
  7. North Carolina
  8. Connecticut
  9. Colorado
  10. Vermont

Outbound:

  1. California
  2. Illinois
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Michigan
  5. Massachusetts
  6. New Jersey
  7. New York
  8. Arizona
  9. Maryland
  10. Georgia

Texas tops U-Haul’s 2017 Growth States list. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, as Texas has fared well recently in the inbound-outbound game. In 2017 their inbound percentages with United, North American and Atlas were 54, 53 and 53, while Allied put Texas down as their fifth biggest inbound state.

Oddly, Texas won U-Haul’s Growth State crown by bringing in – get this – a whopping 50.3% of all one-way truck rental traffic crossing Texas’s borders. That’s right. Fifty. Point. Three.

This hardly lends a whole lot more understanding to the migration trends we’re trying to dissect. But here we are, so let’s keep moving.

U-Haul rounds out its top five Growth States with Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee. Yes, Arkansas – which has been balanced on United’s report 37 of the last 40 years. Then again, Arkansas remained balanced in 2017 on United’s ledger with a 54% outbound rate, so that they are U-Haul’s #3 Growth State is rather surprising no matter how minuscule their positive U-Haul balance might have been.

And who comes in at #8 on U-Haul’s list? That big loser with United and North American (but not with Atlas), Connecticut.

On the flip side, U-Haul has Colorado at #9 – exactly where United and North American have them.

United States Census Bureau

Idaho Takes United States Census Bureau 2017 Inbound Crown

Yes, the Bureau has all the moving numbers we could possibly want. So many, in fact, that it could take until next January to weed through them all.

But thanks to Business Insider we don’t have to.

In this piece with the strangely long title: While the Bureau considers “a variety of components” in determining what’s happening among the more than 325 million people who make up the US population, Business Insider brings us what we need: domestic migration.

Here we see the net population gain or loss for each state for 2017. Births, deaths and international immigration are not counted; this is simply and strictly an account of how many people moved into or out of each state. (Again, not moves, but individual people.)

Inbound:

  1. Idaho
  2. Nevada
  3. South Carolina
  4. Oregon
  5. Arizona
  6. Washington
  7. Montana
  8. Florida
  9. Colorado
  10. North Carolina

And in this, the winner is Idaho, with a net domestic migration gain of 14.6 people per 1,000 residents. In second place comes Nevada, with South Carolina, Oregon and Arizona rounding out the top five. The second half of the big ten winners are Washington, Montana, Florida, Colorado and North Carolina.

These results actually mirror the van lines’ findings to a striking degree. Only Arizona, Montana and Florida don’t show up in United’s top ten. Seven of the Census top ten are also on North American’s top ten. Unbelievably, Colorado is #9 on all three lists.

As for the Net Domestic Migration losers? Yes, Illinois is up there, but at #5, maybe this is the survey they should be talking about in Chicago.

Outbound:

  1. Wyoming
  2. Alaska
  3. New York
  4. Hawaii
  5. Illinois
  6. North Dakota
  7. New Jersey
  8. Connecticut
  9. Louisiana
  10. West Virginia

The big loser in the 2017 migration tournament is Wyoming, a surprise since the Equality State doesn’t show up on any van line outbound lists – or inbound for that matter. United had them at 53% inbound for 2017. North American had them at 54% in. Only Atlas has them as outbound – based on a grand total of 330 moves.

The Bureau’s next three biggest net migration losers are Alaska, New York and Hawaii. Alaska and Hawaii, neither of which show up anywhere for United or North American, are Atlas’s #5 inbound and #5 outbound, respectively. North Dakota, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana and West Virginia complete the Bureau’s top ten.

Again, while there are outbound wild cards, we still see some consistency between the Bureau and the van lines. Atlas and the Bureau actually have seven migration losers in common between their top tens. Looking at the US Census Bureau’s Net Domestic Migration map we can clearly see the winners clustered in the south and west with the losers dominating the northeast and midwest.

What’s The Takeaway?

Remember, the numbers put together by each of the van lines represent the migration trends among the customers they’ve served. Van lines count moves, the Bureau counts people.

This may not account for the reason United’s inbound champion Vermont is somehow a net loser according to the Census Bureau’s numbers, but it does suggest that, despite the discrepancies, the van lines and the Census Bureau can give a decent overall on what is going on out there.

But in the cases where data remains too contradictory to be meaningful, evaluating regions rather than individual states might give us a slightly more reliable picture of the migration trends playing out across the US. At the end of the day, we are only looking at a mere slice of the American migratory pie.

There’s More Realistic Data Out There

We need another, more encompassing way to look at where America is moving to and from.

DIY Moves and Hybrid Moves (besides U-Haul), which by far and away are the more common ways to move, are sorely misrepresented. When you move, do you routinely call up $2,000+ movers? Have you ever saved money by having your friends move you? What are these Full Service reports actually reflecting?

That’s something to keep in mind when the local news sounds off on “moving trends” based off a single Full Service Moving company’s report. 

6 Reasons Why Planning Your Summer Move in the Winter Saves You Money

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My wife thought I was nuts. It was only the end of February, but I was already hauling in piles of used boxes so I could start planning my move. “We’re not moving until the end of June!” she cried, visions in her head of sleeping on the floor between stacks of cardboard boxes, I guess.

I told her I knew what I was doing and disappeared into the basement. And in fact, I did.

There are plenty of understandable reasons not to start planning your move four months ahead of time. But those reasons don’t seem so smart when you suddenly realize you’re moving in three days. 

If you’re looking to move sometime between Memorial Day and Labor Day (along with about 20 million other people) you have even more reason to get a jump-start on things. These are the most practical reasons why.

Researching the Right Things

There is one major reason people end up with crappy movers – or in some cases end up getting scammed by people posing as movers: They didn’t do their homework before hiring them.

What does “homework” mean?

  • Find and read real reviews on your local moving company
  • Look up a moving company’s Better Business Bureau rating
  • Research if a mover is a legally registered transporter of household goods

Particularly if you are moving in the summer (seriously, literally millions and millions of people move between June and August), you want to give yourself time not only to find the right movers – i.e., movers who will treat you right – but you don’t want to miss out on hiring the movers that would have been perfect for you because somebody beat you to it. If you think hiring movers could be expensive, you should see how much hiring bad movers could end up costing you …

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.

And true, you may not know several months in advance exactly what day you’ll be moving. But don’t wait until a week before you’ve written “Moving!” on your calendar to start doing your homework. Get on it!

Your Sales-Rep Walk-Through

As the summer approaches, moving company sales representatives are just as busy as movers. Sometimes they’re even busier. But having a grasp of what you need ahead of time will prevent from your two-hour move turning into a six-hour one.

Conventional wisdom says you should get at least three in-home estimates if you want an estimate you can be fairly confident in. If you wanted to be absolutely thorough by price and quality, you not only need to find three solid moving companies, you need to find times that work for their three sales reps and for you. The closer you are to move day, the busier you will be. The closer it is to summer the busier they will be.

The good thing is, you don’t have to know when you’re moving to get your estimate.

You do, however, have to know what you will be moving. Of course, you can make some changes down the road if need be. Just be sure to communicate these changes ahead of time, not on move day!

Protip: Your sales rep might notice things you wouldn’t even think about, like the fact that the big office desk you assembled in the spare room isn’t going to fit out the door, or that your massive fish tank will probably need to be crated.

Having the luxury of time to get these unexpected extras taken care of may prove to be a lifesaver.

Creating a Rapport With Your Mover

If you want to be efficient, you don’t want a bunch of perplexed strangers showing up on moving day.

While you won’t have much to worry about if you hire movers through HireAHelper (after 70,000 5-star reviews, we can say things like that), getting to know each other before the actual move day creates a good vibe for both parties. More than this, having time to ask questions and bring up concerns helps your movers prepare for the job ahead. 

By the same token, you can expect your movers to be as busy as you are in the lead-up to your move. Say hello, let them know what you need, let them know you appreciate it, and then step back and let them do their thing. 

Likely a Better Rate

We can’t absolutely guarantee that you’ll end up paying more if you hire your movers in the middle of May rather than the middle of March, but we are dead-certain you won’t save yourself any money by waiting until the last minute to book your movers. Unless of course the only movers left available are sketchy guys with a string of bad reviews. 

If you’re a couple months ahead of the game you’ll likely also get a much better deal on your rental truck. And your chances of nailing down the right size truck for your move also goes way up. (If you do find yourself having trouble scoring a rental truck check the tips we offer in this post.)

Get Help Loading Your U-Haul Truck

See prices for movers by the hour – instantly.

Read real customer reviews.

Easily book your help online.

 

Avoiding Last-Minute Expenses

As move day approaches you’ll be going absolutely nuts tackling a thousand last-minute tasks, from canceling utilities to meeting with your landlord/realtor, to cleaning your apartment well enough to get your deposit back to getting all that non-perishable food to the soup kitchen. It will be in these final frenzied hours and days that you’ll be glad you got a three-month head start.

Packing Costs and Timing

Even if you book your movers (and your rental truck) early, if you have a decent amount of stuff and you’re moving a fair distance, you’re going to have to shell out a good chunk of change for

That’s simply the nature of the beast.

Protip: But while there may be nothing you can do about how far you have to move, you just might feel extra motivated to lighten your load by getting rid of all the stuff you know you don’t really need. (You might also feel a sudden urge to save some bucks by packing up the entire house yourself. Both are easier when you have a bigger window to work in.)

We do guarantee, by the way, that once you start packing, you’ll realize that you have about three times as much stuff as you thought and it’s going to take you quadruple the time.

Yep, if you’re like me, you’ll likely be so tired that you’ll have no problem sleeping on the floor between those stacks of cardboard boxes. But just to be safe, pack your bed last.

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For rookies or veterans alike, our "I'm a Mover" section is filled with extensive industry news, crucial protips and in-depth guides written by industry professionals. Sharing our decade of moving knowledge is just one way we help keep our professional movers at the top of their game.
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