• Friday Favorites: Five Real Estate Blogs

    by Patrick Redmond | Sep 19, 2014

    Top Real Estate BlogsNo one knows quite as much about the moving process as real estate agents. These professionals see families through it all—the search for a new home, the never-ending process of paperwork, the coordination to a new city, and that incredible feeling when it all comes together and the moving van finally arrives. 

    It doesn’t matter where you are in the moving process—it’s always a good idea to take a moment and learn from the best. Here are five of our favorite real estate blogs and websites to provide tips, advice, and the occasional insider’s look at the real estate world.

    1. Curbed National: If you’re interested in unique homes around the United States, decorating tips, and the latest information on home prices and celebrity real estate news, Curbed is a good place to visit. This online magazine has a full staff of writers, so it offers regular updates and interesting perspectives.

    2. Zillow: Known for being a source of home prices and home sales information, Zillow is fast becoming the most recognized name in real estate. Their blog is a good source for information on home inspection and buying tips, renovation ideas, how to pack up and move, and other interesting tidbits.

    3.
    Brownstoner: Although this real estate blog is location-specific (it’s set in Brooklyn and covers a limited area), it still offers a fun glimpse at the real estate process and local home listings. If you want to head to the opposite coast, Sacramento Appraisal Blog offers another insider’s view, or you could head north to Seattle’s Rain City Guide.

    4.
    Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos: In need of a laugh? Looking for some perspective on your own difficult home search? As the name suggests, this blog is all about the questionable choices that real estate agents—and homeowners—make when trying to showcase a home in its best light. It’s worth a visit for the comments alone.

    5. Hooked on Houses: Love learning about interesting homes for sale around the country? This blog is less about tips on moving and more about exploring all the different homes, home types, and famous houses that pique our interest (and with plenty of pictures, too!).

    Take a break from your own home search, or sit back and enjoy the best (and worst) that real estate has to offer. There’s always more to find and learn about real estate when you turn to the internet for help.

    • Real Estate
    • Friday Favorites
    • Recommended websites
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  • How to Pack for a Downsizing Move

    by Patrick Redmond | Sep 18, 2014

    Downsizing for a moveMoving to a smaller space usually happens alongside a pretty big life change. You might be transitioning from the suburbs to an apartment in the big city. You could be moving into a retirement condo from the spacious home that’s been in your family for years. It may even be a conscious decision you made to simplify your life and get rid of the clutter.

    Whatever your reasons, it takes a special approach to packing to narrow down your belongings to the essentials. Here are a few tips for helping you make the transition easier.

    > Learn Scrapbooking (Digital or Otherwise): Family photos, artwork your kids made when they were young, small mementos that mean a lot…these things can take up a lot of room (and are usually the most difficult things to throw away). Instead of tossing out cherished memories, consider changing the way you interact with them. Scrapbooking is a good way to condense photos into easy-to-move books, or you could digitize your photos and make “scrapbooks” that way.

    > Say Goodbye to Old Clothes:
    Closet space is likely to be limited in your new home, which means now is a good time to donate or toss out clothes you don’t need. Avoid holding onto clothes that don’t fit or that you haven’t worn at least three times in the past year. In fact, this “Rule of Three” works well for most of the items in your home.

    > Pare Down the Kitchen:
    Go through your kitchen and apply the Rule of Three. If you didn’t use a utensil/appliance at least three times in the past year, chances are you can live without it. There are enough old-fashioned cooking methods (hand-kneading bread instead of using a bread machine; French-pressed coffee instead of an espresso machine) that you should be able to make do without much of the fancier (larger) equipment.

    > Get Rid of Seasonal Items:
    You don’t have to eliminate all your holiday traditions, but you probably won’t be able to use that eight foot fake Christmas tree this year. Bear your new space in mind as you go through holiday decorations and outdoor equipment. Keep only the most important items and give away the rest (you can pass them on to other family members if you want to keep the traditions going).

    > Stick with “Double Duty” Furniture:
    That oversized coffee table with the elegant woodwork? Sure, it’s beautiful, but it’s not nearly as functional as the ottoman with built-in storage and a top that flips over to become a game table. A couch that pulls out to become a guest bed is going to be more useful than a traditional one. So will a TV stand with extra drawers and panels. Hold on to pieces of furniture that can do double duty as storage, and you’ll substantially increase your home’s functionality.

    > Think Vertically:
    In large homes, we tend to have enough room to spread out and buy shelves/furniture that takes up a lot of floor space. In small spaces, storage and shelves work better if they use the vertical space of your walls. As you pack up your belongings, try to visualize your new home vertically instead of horizontally. Anything you can hang, stack, or shelve is going to be more valuable than items that take up space on the floor.

    Downsizing doesn’t have to be a negative thing. For many people, moving to a smaller home is an opportunity to simply life and de-clutter their surroundings. Just make sure you start your packing early and have a solid plan for donating or selling the items you won’t need. It’s always nice to head into your new home with a clean slate and a lighter moving van!

    You can also check out North American’s tips for holding a pre-move garage sales and long-term storage options to help you downsize as you pack.

    • Pre Move: Packing & Planning
    • Preparing to move
    • Packing
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  • 5 Ideal Home Maintenance Projects for Fall

    by Patrick Redmond | Sep 12, 2014

    fall home maintenanceMost people equate summertime with home improvement projects. When the kids are out of school for a few months and the weather is willing, it seems like a good use of time to tackle a few of those maintenance issues you’ve had lined up on your to-do list. Unfortunately, the extreme temperatures of summer don’t always lend themselves to intensive home improvements, and you may find that you’re much too busy enjoying the beach to worry about renovations.

    These five home projects are ideal for the cooler, more accessible temperatures of fall. As the kids head back to school and the leaves start to change, it’s your chance to improve your house and get ready for the colder months.

    1. Seal the Driveway: Concrete and asphalt always suffer the worst when winter rolls around. Cracks in the driveway can expand in the ice and snow, and you may notice bigger gaps and more wear and tear every spring. Fall is a great time to paint the driveway with a commercial sealer to extend the life of your home’s exterior.

    2. Clean the Carpets: The carpets in your home should be deep cleaned at least once a year, making this a perfect annual fall project. Because the kids are in school and life is probably settling into a more predictable routine come September, you can plan better and ensure that your floors have enough time to properly dry before they start getting used. 

    3. Brighten the Interior: If the cloudy, colder weather gets you down this time of year, you’re not alone. Many people find the transition from summer to winter to be a difficult one, especially as the days grow shorter. Beat the winter blues before they arrive by choosing a room in your home to paint in a bright, vibrant hue. A Caribbean blue or sunny yellow paint can really help lift your spirits—and your home’s overall value.

    4. Plant the Grass: Most landscaping experts agree that spring and/or fall are the best times to sod or seed your yard. Too much sun and heat in summer makes it difficult to keep the yard damp enough to foster growth. Although you might have a shorter planting season in fall than you might in the spring, this is still a good time to boost your lawn to a lusher, greener look.

    5. Winterize Your Home: Okay, so this one might not sound like very much fun, but fall is always the best time to winterize your house. Re-caulk the windows, upgrade your water heater, clean the chimney, reverse the ceiling fan direction, have your HVAC system inspected…anything that will help keep you warm this winter and lower your monthly heating bills is worth a second look.
    • Seasonal Fun
    • Post Move: Advice & Home care
    • Fall Moves
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  • Preparing for a Relocation to India

    by Patrick Redmond | Sep 09, 2014

    moving to IndiaAny time you relocate to a country that has a vastly different infrastructure from your own, there are likely to be a few barriers to making a smooth transition. India’s unique way of life—when combined with an enormous population and high rates of poverty—can make for quite a few culture shocks. Of course, it can also make for an incredible experience, as well.

    If you’re getting ready to relocate to India, here are a few things you should remember while you’re packing up your home.

    > Most of your electronics have too much wattage. India doesn’t have the power structure the United States does, and there are about a billion people trying to tap into it. Even if you get a converter to use Indian outlets, there’s a good chance that even your smallest appliances will have too much wattage. Expect to buy most of your appliances when you arrive or to downgrade to more old-fashioned methods. Even then, you may experience occasional power outages, so prepare to have to do without your coffeemaker from time to time.

    >
    On the topic of electronics, ovens are a rare commodity. In India, few dishes are baked the way traditional American meals like turkey and pot roast are. Instead, most things are cooked on stovetops or individual burners, so you might want to leave most of your cookware at home. Although you can buy an oven once you arrive, don’t expect there to be one waiting for you—and when you do get one, expect it to be smaller than you’re used to.

    >
    Take your furniture with you. The cost of living in India is considerably lower than most U.S. cities, but furniture doesn’t fall into that category. Quality pieces tend to cost quite a bit of money to buy new, so you may want to make arrangements to have your bed, dining room sets, and couches shipped.

    > Bring your medication (at least to start). In larger cities, Indian medical care (from private hospitals and providers) is similar to what you’ll find back home. In more rural spaces, it could be more difficult to find providers you’re comfortable with. Until you’re comfortably settled and you have all the insurance kinks worked out, try to have a generous supply of your regular medications with you.

    > Pets aren’t always welcome. India has a huge homeless animal population, and it’s not uncommon to find cats and dogs on your doorstep at all hours of the day and night. While you can bring in your own animals (with the right microchips, vaccinations, health checks, and an Indian-issued No Objection Certificate), you may want to consider relocating your four-legged friend instead of contributing to the animal overpopulation.

    It’s also a good idea to focus on making your home your castle right from the start. Because it can be so overwhelming to take on an entirely new way of life, it’s a good idea to put your focus on making your home a place you want to spend quite a bit of time. Splurge on decorations and a calm, comforting setting. Take the time to settle in properly. You’ll love having somewhere warm and inviting to come home to every day.

    • International Moves
    • Relocating to India
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  • Moving to New York, NY

    by Patrick Redmond | Sep 03, 2014

    moving-to-new-yorkThere is no city in the United States quite as famous as New York, New York. The Big Apple, NYC, The City that Never Sleeps—there are almost as many nicknames for this city as there are people who live here.

    Considered the economic and cultural seat of the entire country, New York is where people go to pursue their dreams and enjoy a fast pace of life found nowhere else in the world. Whether you’re moving here for school, work, or to experience a way of living like no other, New York has something to offer everyone.

    Living and Working in New York

    With a population of eight and a half million residents spread out over five boroughs, life in New York is exactly the high-energy, diverse environment you’d expect it to be. People from all over the world move here hoping to take advantage of its personal and professional opportunities, settling in one of the many areas with its own distinct way of life.

    > Manhattan: The most famous of all the boroughs, Manhattan is what most of us picture when we think about the city of New York. The cost of living is high, traffic is wall-to-wall, and there’s something going on every hour of the day. This is also where you’ll find most of the financial district, including the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ.

    > The Bronx: The northernmost of all the New York boroughs is the Bronx. More residential in its makeup than the other boroughs, the Bronx is also most famous as the home of the New York Yankees.

    > Brooklyn: Brooklyn is the most populated borough of the five, and is in fact large and strong enough to be its own city (if it were to be an independent city, it would be the fourth largest in the country). In addition to finance, which provides a strong economic base for all the boroughs, Brooklyn employment is centered on technology, entertainment, and accounting.

    >
    Queens: Like the Bronx, Queens is more residential than many of the other boroughs, and its location to the east of the city means it has a little more space to spread out and provide room for families to grow. It is the location of two of the three New York airports as well as the New York Mets.

    > Staten Island: The least populated borough, Staten Island doesn’t always take the spotlight when it comes to New York, but it has plenty to offer area residents. Popular among tourists for the ferry views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, it’s also the home of the Staten Island Zoo and a living history museum.

    Welcome to New York!

    If you’ve never visited the city before, you’re in for a big surprise as your moving van rolls in. New York can be overwhelming to first-time visitors and residents, but it’s important to remember that there’s a reason so many people consider this the best place to live in the entire world. 

    An economic stronghold, one of the richest cultural resources you’ll find anywhere in the United States, and full of opportunities in education and entertainment, New York is almost like a country unto itself—and one that over eight million people consider the best in the world.

    If you are planning a move to New York City and any of its boroughs and surrounding region, stay tuned all month as we share important information and resources for new New York residents.  You can also reach out to North American Van Lines for a free price quote and more information on a potential move the New York.

    • Location Specific
    • Moving to New York
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