Monthly Archives: April 2014

Searching for a Home

If you are in the market for a new home, you may watch the various television programs, showcasing potential homeowners searching from their dream house. Unfortunately, those shows usually feature extremely picky couples, who quibble over everything from the paint color to size of the backyard. While the show might be entertaining, complaining over some elements might be a little over the top, especially if you can change those elements.

However, there are a few things you should look out for that may become dealbreakers. As a potential homeowner, it is okay to voice your disapproval over them. Check out some of the things to look out for.

If you have children or are expecting in the near future, you probably want to expand. Conversely, if you now have an “empty nest”, you might want to downsize. Regardless, space is going to be at the top of your list of concerns. Think of everything you will move into the new home. As you walk through the house, keep in mind a list of everything you intend to pack and bring with you. If the house is empty, plan in advance where you want to place your furniture or fixtures like bookshelves.

Appliances and Fixtures
While dated paint or wallpaper are easy to remove, things like an older stove or built-in fixtures that seem out of place might be a little more difficult. As the homeowner, you of course have the option to knock out a bookcase or chandelier you do not like, but do you want to spend the extra money? In the case of that or older appliances, consider making a lower offer to offset the money you may have to spend.

You likely place safety at the top of your list, so be sure to look into the history of your neighborhood or community. Various sites offer a detailed report of any crime that happened in the neighborhood and nearby. The local police department also puts out a daily or weekly crime report, so check with the precinct as well.

For your children, you also want the best schools, so look around to see what school zone you would live in, and find the ratings online.

Does your commute factor into the neighborhood you select? How about public transportation? Do you want to live near a beach or away from the Interstate? Any or all of these should also be considered, and be honest with yourself. If you do not want to spend an hour in traffic or hear planes from the local airport, chances are you may have to look elsewhere. Sure, you could eventually get used to it, but that is up to you.

Chances are you may purchase the home “as is”, where what you see is what you get and you are responsible for making repairs. If you are not very handy, you may not want an as is. In the case of a foreclosure, the former homeowner may also inflict a little retaliatory damage on the home. Your realtor should disclose any such info to you, but if you buy at auction, beware that not all listings allow you to view the home in advance.

Your search for a home does not have to be as cumbersome as the ones you see on TV. If it does, just tell yourself that you can always change a lot of the things you do not like. And who knows, it may actually grow on you over time! Also, do not let the “reality” shows reflect how the decision-making process plays out in real life.

Before You Start Spring Cleaning, Know What is Acceptable

Spring is here, and you may do a little spring cleaning, getting rid of unwanted items and creating a little more space around the house. However, you should exercise a little caution with some of the stuff you decide to throw away. Below is a brief guide on how to carefully handle a few particular items.

If you are unsure about the safety of anything you transport, check out the “Do Not Haul” list, a comprehensive chart of items banned by the Department of Transportation. The chart contains seven categories including combustible liquids, explosives and flammables. When you dispose of any flammable liquids, be sure to never pour them down a drain or sink. Instead, go to a specified waste collection or disposal company. There, you will find a can specially designed for hazardous materials.

Be sure to label the materials in advance, and do not overfill your container. In addition, any cloth or paper with flammable or combustible liquids should be disposed of in a special container. When hauling gas-powered machinery, be sure to drain the fuel and oil to prevent any spilling. With fragile objects like glasses and dishes, wrap everything in bubble wrap or newspaper.

When you get rid of electronics that seem irreparable (or obsolete), you could toss it on the curb, but many cities hold recycling events where you can throw away your old gadgets. Find out when the next one is in your area – they accept anything from TVs to laptops, even cell phones. Again, check your local center to see what they accept.

You may have old documents you want to dispose of. With identity theft being a major security concern, you probably know not to casually throw away paperwork with any confidential info printed. If you do not have access to a paper shredder, cities across the country also hold shredding events, where you can destroy your documents – all for free.

This blog only provides a brief overview, but your local recycling or waste disposal center will offer a better idea of what they will accept. Contact them to find out the rules and regulations for your city.

What to do When You Leave Your Old Home

The big day is here! You have loaded the van and the last of your boxes or personal belongings. Before you head out, there are a few last things to remember. These tips will save you time, money and any potential headaches. In addition, they will help make for a seamless transition to your new home.

  • Turn off utilities
    Make sure you have informed the electric, gas and water companies that you are moving, and give them the anticipated moving date. Have your services disconnected – or transferred if moving in state – to avoid being charged for utilities at two locations. Be sure to do the same for your cable, Internet or any other monthly expense that comes to your former residence.

  • Have subscriptions transferred
    Just as you would do with your bills, if you subscribe to a newspaper or magazine, let the subscriptions department know that you are moving, and again, transfer delivery to your new address.

  • Clean up the place
    Whether you are selling the home, renting it to someone or are a tenant moving out, clean thoroughly. In the case of all three, you should leave the home in a presentable condition for a future resident. With the latter, you also increase your chances of getting a refund on your security deposit.

  • Do a final walkthrough
    Even though you are confident you have everything, it never hurts to do one last look to make sure you are not leaving anything important behind.

Be sure to check Estes SureMove’s “Packing Day Preparation” portion of our Moving Day Checklist, to get a full list of things to remember for the big day.

Organizing Your New Home and Unpacking

When you finish the moving process, you probably do not know where everything goes, at least not yet. Before you move your boxes in, figure out which one has items you will need immediately – bedding, toiletries, lighting, etc. – and put those in an easy-to-find place. This keeps you from scrambling after you move into your home. In fact, remember to mark each box before you leave your old residence, and note which boxes you will need after you complete the move.

Keep in mind that with Estes SureMove, you have three days to unload, so you do not necessarily have to rush to get everything on the truck that day. Pace yourself and remember what you really need.

Unloading the Truck – Tips to Not Break Your Back or the Bank!
As you arrive at your new destination and prepare to unload, there are a few rules you should remember. Keeping these rules in mind can help you avoid an injury or unnecessary expenses.

  • Always lift heavier items with your legs, not your back.
  • Consider using moving equipment like shoulder and forearm lifting straps, to help you carry items.
  • Never carry heavy objects alone. If you are the only one available at the moment, wait until others can help you and lift together.
  • Feel free to rent one of our rolling dollies to help you move larger objects like furniture or appliances.

The Transition

Local Culture
So you are now settled into your new town, you’re settled into the new home, but now you want to get out and explore! You have asked your neighbors and those in the community, however, you want to find out for yourself what the area has to offer. Do not be afraid to drive around and see the city. It is the best way to find out the sights and sounds of your new town, and figure out how to get around. If you have navigation on your phone or in the car, feel free to set it, or intentionally “get lost” and find your way back.

In the meantime, continue asking around and look online for various social activities, including festivals and shows. If you have a favorite hobby, consider taking a class or joining a group. You never know what new friends you may meet in doing so!

The Space Estimator Helps You Avoid any Surprises on Moving Day

As you begin packing for your move, you start considering the various elements that go into the process. You probably know the size of your current home, condo or apartment, and have an idea of how large – or small – the new one may be. However, you are not quite sure what size truck you need. You may have a general idea, but you have simply packed a specific number of rooms.

For the sake of this blog, let’s say you have a 2,000 square foot home with three bedrooms. For that amount of space, most moving companies will probably offer you a 17- or 20-foot truck, designed to carry three or four rooms worth of boxes.

However, it turns out you and your family outgrew your house, picking up additional odds and ends over the years. With another company, this sudden discovery might require you to upcharge to a bigger truck, if one is even available.

With Estes SureMove, that is never a problem, as we provide you with a 28-foot truck upfront, designed to handle more than four bedrooms. In addition, we offer a helpful Space Estimator to help you decide exactly what you need. With this estimate, you do not get any surprises on moving day. For example, for a three bedroom, 2000 sq. ft. home, you need about 20 feet of trailer space.

Now, with three bedrooms, eight additional feet may sound excessive. No problem! When you rent an Estes SureMove truck, you only pay for the space you use. In addition, to prevent you from overestimating or paying too much, we offer a movable divider to help you figure out the exact amount of space in your truck. It is a convenience you will not find at many other moving companies.

If you have a move coming up, call us today to get started, and find out how we can help you!

Do-It-Yourself with Estes SureMove’s Military Specials!

If you serve in the Armed Forces, chances are you are used to moving frequently. If you are preparing for an upcoming move, check out Estes SureMove. Did you know we offer incentives for military servicemembers?

In addition to the standard deals Estes SureMove provides, like giving you three days to load and unload, along with access to one of many regional service centers, we also offer a special Do-It-Yourself (DITY) move for military families. With this deal, you receive a $100 discount on any move that costs more than $600. In addition, we also take care of the driving, giving you time to deal with your PCS orders.

To find out more about how a DITY move benefits you, and the other incentives you receive, please check out our military page today! You may also call us toll-free at 1-866-347-2260 and speak with a representative who will help get you started.

Searching for the Right School

When moving to a new city, you consider a lot of factors like proximity to shopping, public transportation and nightlife. Being close to your job is probably another important factor. However, when you have children, there is something else to consider – schools. You want the best education for your son(s) or daughter(s), so finding a competitive school is important. However, when you are moving to an unfamiliar city, you may not know your resources. Below are a few you should consult to help you narrow down your options.

Each year, publications like Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report compile a list of the top high schools in the country, taking into account numerous factors like graduation and college acceptance rates, average SAT/ACT scores and the number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses. U.S. News’ list also provides a detailed look at the demographics of the student body.

If your child is into sports, check out USA Today and Max Preps, both of which offer rankings on the top high school programs across the country. If he or she plays for a team at a respected school, it could help his or her college prospects.

Message Boards
Online forums like Urban Planet and City Data are a great place to get input when moving to another area. There, posters – often natives of that area – offer insight on the best neighborhoods, and can provide a realistic view of what to expect in your new town.

Word of Mouth
Depending on how far away your new home is, you might want to take a weekend and visit prior to the big move. Take time to drive around and check out a few neighborhoods. You may have relatives in that area; have them show you around as well. Then, talk to the locals and ask for opinions on the best and worst areas.

When moving, do not forget to use one of our Regional Centers, located in various cities across the country. These centers are designed to help you with your move, and you never know…you might pick up a little advice from one of our trusted workers there as well!

Making Moves…a Checklist to Keep in Mind Before You Pack Your Boxes

When you have lived in a city for a while – or all your life – you may love where you live and proudly call it your hometown. You may want to explore another town, or you may long for the day when you can finally flee your hometown. If you fall into one of the latter two categories, it may be time to start compiling a list of future cities. However, the decision-making process is not as easy as spinning a globe and heading to wherever your finger lands (or at least it shouldn’t be). Read our little checklist of things to consider when looking for a new city to call home.

Cost of living
This should be at the top of your list. If you currently rent or own, think about what you spend on your (town)home, condo or apartment. You probably want a comparably sized space, so look at what rents or mortgages go for in that area; Zillow and Trulia are great sites for both. Obviously, if you move from a small country town to a place like NYC or San Francisco, you should expect to pay more. A lot more.

Job Market
In addition to housing prices, see what the average salary is for someone in your potential future city. Keep in mind that the figure you get is just that – an average. You could make more, you could make little less. You could also make less than what you do in your current city, so prepare for that, especially if the housing runs a little higher.

Are you looking for a school that suits your major or personal interest? Maybe you want good schools for your child(ren). Education at any level should be important for you, so be sure to see what each city offers. Many sites offer ratings of schools in the area, from preschool, all the way up to college and the postgraduate level.

Proximity to Family/Home
While you want to get away and live life on your own, there is a chance you may still want to be close to family, especially elderly or ill relatives. You might look for a city that allows you to drive or fly home within a few hours. If this is you, look at cities within a reasonable distance from you.

Sure, the idea of moving to Los Angeles is a great idea, right? You have beautiful weather, beaches…and traffic. And L.A. is not alone on high-traffic cities. So, when you check out new locations, see if any of your future destinations made the Top 10 list above. See the average time spent in traffic, and look into public transportation offered, just to have an alternate option.

Nightlife and Culture
Looking for a nightclub or lounge to party at on weekends? Maybe a street or park festival is more your speed. Perhaps you would rather spend an afternoon in the art museum. All of these are things to look for in other cities. Also look for other nearby amenities – or options within a short drive – like beaches or mountains.

There are a few other things you should also consider, but above are a few major factors to get you on your way. If you need help with your move, or have any general moving questions, please contact Estes SureMove today to get started.

Some Tips for Moving Your Home’s Furniture

So you are all packed up for your big move, and now the only thing that remains is the big, heavy stuff. Items like furniture, electronics or appliances are probably your biggest issue, and you will have to decide whether you want to move that first or wait until everything else is gone. When the time comes, remember a few tips for the big move.

Whether you have hardwood floors or carpet, dragging heavy items is going to wreak havoc on the floor. Furniture legs or parts under a large appliance can rip or scar the carpet/hardwood, and if you live in an apartment, good luck getting your security deposit back! If something is a little too heavy for you and your crew, use sliders that protect the floors or anything else in your residence.

Lift with Your Legs
When it comes to heavy items, the age-old rule is to lift with your legs and not your back. In case you need a refresher, crouch with your back straight, then lift and carry the furniture or appliance. This way, you avoid a serious or lingering back injury. If possible, use a dolly to lift some items for the same reason.

Empty Everything Out
A great way to lighten your load – figuratively and literally – is to empty everything out. For something like a dresser or chest of drawers, take the drawers out, making the dresser hollow. The same goes for furniture like tables or bed frames. In the case of a couch, consider removing the cushions as well.

Dress Appropriately
If this is your first move, think of it like going to the gym. You will definitely get a workout moving everything, and you will want to dress accordingly. Wear comfortable clothing, especially shoes. If you plan to lift heavy items, consider wearing gloves to protect your hands.

Get the Proper Equipment
The final suggestion, at least for this list, is making sure you have everything you need. The right materials make all the difference in your move going smoothly. Make a checklist of the smaller things you need, i.e. boxes, tape, etc. For heavy items, consider a dolly to assist you and your crew. Moving day is a hectic process; a lack of preparation is not going to help you in any way. Make sure you are fully prepared, and even have a few “backup plans” ready in case something goes wrong.

As always, we are here to help. If you have any questions, just give us a call. In addition, if you would like to use a professional moving service, call us today to see how we can help!

You’re Ready for the Move, But What About Your Kids?

This particular blog post is a little different than what we typically discuss. Instead of offering packing, storage or moving tips, this one revolves around another precious belonging – your children. When you have a child(ren), moving can be a difficult process. You are the main one doing the packing and arranging a moving truck, so that may seem stressful enough. However, your son or daughter may have issues of his or her own to worry about, primarily leaving friends behind and figuring out how to make new ones. And while it seems like a trivial issue, it is one to keep in mind. Meanwhile, there are a few things to consider to help make the move easier for everyone.

Start by sitting your children down and explain what is happening. There is no need to beat around the bush or hide anything – uprooting your life is just as big of a deal for a child as it is the parents. While there will be reluctance to leave everything behind, the good news is that technology makes it easier to communicate with classmates and friends, even if you move cross-country. In addition to connecting through Facebook and Twitter, children can now communicate via email or Skype. If your son or daughter has a cell phone, he or she may also text or chat that way. Just be sure to monitor the activity and keep things to a minimum when school is in session.

While there is nothing wrong with keeping friends from your prior city or town, have your kid keep an open mind that he or she is sure to meet new people in the new school and neighborhood. As a result, he or she should find new activities to keep him or her occupied. Just keep in mind that there will still be a bit of a learning curve. And who knows? Some children may be perfectly okay with the idea of moving.

Before you move into the new house, check out the neighborhood and community. Drive or walk around and see the surroundings. Look for places like community or rec centers, and find out if they have afterschool programs. These are great ways to get your child involved and keep him or her active. Take your kid(s) with you, so that they can see what is in the area. They may find a few activities to enjoy, for example a bounce house, go-kart track or karate studio, just to name a few.

No matter what, remember that you are all in this together as a family. You will have just as many things to get used to yourself. Just keep yourself grounded to set an example.

How to Handle the “Permanent Houseguest”

You have company coming over, but it is not for the weekend. No, this guest is staying for an extended time, if not indefinitely. You may be ready for the “permanently temporary” houseguest, but if not, do not worry. It might take a little effort and/or money, but it can be done. Below are a few suggestions to get you started.

Do You Have Furniture?
Before you invite someone over to stay, make sure your accommodations are in order. If you have a spare bedroom, make sure you have a functioning bed, with a few other materials such as linens. It might sound silly, but you do want your guest to be comfortable, and part of that includes having the proper sleeping arrangements. If push comes to shove and you have minimal furniture to offer, consider offering your room or space in the living room/den until you can get another bed.

Consider the Children
If your guest has children, there are a number of things to consider. Again, do you have the right sleeping arrangements? Even as a guest, you want the child to be more comfortable, and if you know setting up shop for one person might be difficult, think about how a younger person could complicate things even further.

Also, you will want to consider “safe proofing” your home for anything that might be considered inappropriate for younger children. That could mean a number of things, but use your discretion and talk to the parent about how the child about what is in your home. Conversely, that child should also know to respect your privacy.

Clean Up
Make your space presentable for the new guest. You want him or her to feel welcome, and a clean house is the first step. Keep the guest room simple and clear out any unwanted items, or store them elsewhere. Find a safe place for valuables and keep them out of sight, if need be.

Ask for Help
Depending on how long your guest stays in your home, do not be afraid to ask for a little assistance, if he or she does not offer it in advance. This could range from charging rent to asking for help with groceries and utilities. Without being too demanding, you may also have a list of rules.

Those are just a few suggestions to consider, and feel free to come up with some of your own. Hopefully, your guest will not “pop up” in the middle of the night. If it does happen, though, just take a deep breath and remember this list.