• Starting the School Year after a Move

    by Patrick Redmond | Aug 27, 2014

    Moving with childrenIf you’ve recently moved your kids to a different school district or city, their transition is going to be made more challenging as they start a new school year. There are few things scarier than facing an entire classroom of new people, especially if they haven’t yet had time to adjust to their surroundings at home.

    The best way to help your children transition is to start early. Take a few weeks before school starts up to give your kids an opportunity to meet new people and prepare for the upcoming year.

    1. Arrange for a tour. Most schools are happy to meet with new parents and students to walk you through the facilities. Make this appointment away from regular class hours so your child can familiarize him or herself with the school and ask any (potentially) embarrassing questions about the upcoming year.

    2. Ask for a handbook. Every school has a handbook of sorts—a guide to class hours, holidays, extracurricular activities, and school policies. Get your hands on one of these and read through it. Look for activities or events your child might enjoy and highlight the positive in these. You can also look for sports teams outside the school.

    3. Get out in the community. During the summer, community events for kids tend to be everywhere. Day camps, street fairs, public swimming pools, block parties—you might be unsure at the idea of getting out there and meeting people already, but it’s a good time to make the effort. Your child will appreciate having a few friendly faces in the crowd on the first day of school. (The library is also a good default option for this kind of thing, since you’re sure to find local kids roaming the shelves for their summer reading.)

    4. Make each school day special. A new outfit, a shiny pair of shoes, a note in their backpack, a promise to visit the zoo after school one day—any small thing you can do to brighten up the day is worthwhile. Give your child something to look forward to, and they’re likely to be more positive about the day as a whole.

    5. Provide opportunities. Even though you might not be ready to open your home to guests just yet or you might be feeling overwhelmed trying to make friends of your own, try to provide opportunities for your kids to mingle. Allow them to invite someone over for a special dinner or participate in neighborhood rituals to encourage socialization.

    6. Give them space and time. In your desire to see your child comfortable and settled, you might push too hard or make them feel like they’re failing at making friends fast enough. Experts suggest that getting used to a new school can take up to six weeks for younger kids (longer for teenagers), so be patient. They’ll get there.

    Above all else, be sure and listen to your child. Kids may need to talk through their anxiety or verbalize their frustrations, and constantly pushing them to accept the changes may only make the situation worse. Listen more than you talk and be sure to show your child all the love and attention they need during this difficult time.

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  • Moving to the UK: How to Prepare

    by Patrick Redmond | Aug 25, 2014

    moving to the UKMany Americans dream of living abroad, of soaking in another culture and experiencing a new way of life—but the logistics of international relocation can be difficult. The United Kingdom often appeals to U.S. citizens because of our shared language (which makes a transition seem easier), but it’s still very much a foreign country with different policies and practices.

    If you’re getting ready to pack up and start a new life across the Atlantic Ocean, here are a few things you should know first.

    > Space is limited. In the United States, we’re used to being able to spread our arms and expand our personal space. This isn’t always true in the UK and Europe. Homes are smaller, closets are sometimes nonexistent, roads are more tightly packed, and real estate costs are higher. You can almost always expect to downsize your belongings and wardrobe before you come.

    > Electricity and appliances are wired differently.
    The outlets are different in the United Kingdom, and your American appliances may not have the right voltage to work with the local infrastructure. Expect to purchase all new electronics when you arrive. (The same holds true for cars. If you’ll be driving yourself, it’s best to buy a UK car with the driver’s wheel on the right.)

    > Life is more expensive.
    Groceries cost more. Homes cost more. Taxes are higher. The exchange rate favors the UK. If you’ll be living in the UK as an expat, you’ll need to figure in the higher cost of living. If you’ll be getting a new job and emigrating as a citizen, expect to adjust your way of life to make way for a smaller amount of disposable income.

    > Private education means more.
    Moving overseas with a family means you’ll want to check out the local schools. While it’s possible to get a good education in the public system, private schools tend to carry much more weight when it comes time to enter university and land a job.

    > Over-the-counter medication may be more difficult to get.
    Because the healthcare system isn’t privatized in the UK, there are longer wait times for regular doctor visits and prescription medication. If you rely on any kind of medicine, it’s important to start working with a caregiver before you move to ensure a seamless transition.

    > Leave the firearms at home.
    When you move to the UK, you’ll need to report your belongings at customs (and maybe even pay a tax to import them). Most weapons aren’t allowed, and you’ll have to fill out special forms if you want to move a pet or specialty animal items.

    Moving abroad can be overwhelming, but remember that thousands of Americans relocate to the UK every year. This means that moving companies, expat specialists, and customs officials are used to providing assistance every step of the way. If you have any questions about moving to the United Kingdom and what steps you’ll need to take to start packing, we encourage you to contact North American Van Lines today.

    • International Moves
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  • Five Great Things to Do In San Diego

    by Patrick Redmond | Aug 22, 2014

    Things to do in San Diego for new residentsAs one of the more popular tourist cities in Southern California, you won’t run out of things to see and do in San Diego anytime soon. From famous sites like the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld to the family-owned bistros and indie music venues tucked away on side streets, you could spend a lifetime exploring the area and still have more to discover.

    Just in case you don’t have enough to keep you busy, here are five great San Diego destinations to add to your list.

    1. Torrey Pines State Reserve: San Diego is known for its healthy lifestyle and outdoor adventures, and Torrey Pines State Reserve is a large part of that. Covered with hiking trails that run along the bluffs of the Pacific, you can enjoy the entire scope of the San Diego landscape, from pristine beaches to forested retreats. A hang gliding port (Torrey Pines Glider Port) nearby offers a little more high-adrenaline activity, if you want more than just a walk through nature.

    2. Del Mar Dog Beach: Also known as “North Beach” to locals, Del Mar Dog Beach is a perfect place to run free with your four-legged friends. A popular beach and surfing location all on its own, this dog-friendly park is open nine months of the year to all your canine companions.

    3. Seaport Village: Considered one of the best areas to go if you want shopping, dining, and entertainment all in one location, Seaport Village is a must-visit site for every San Diego tourist and new resident’s list. Because these 14 acres are on the water right next to downtown, it’s got a great location for sightseeing or merely enjoying the weather.

    4. San Diego Sand Castles: If you have kids (or if you love art and the beach), you might want to check out San Diego Sand Castles. This beachside artists offers personalized classes on sand sculpting and also often works on the beach so that spectators can sit back and watch. It makes a perfect stop on a day already spent out in the sun.

    5. San Diego Food Trucks: There’s no denying that the cuisine in San Diego is one of its biggest draws. With hundreds of fine dining and family restaurants to choose from, you’ll have a difficult time eating your way through the entire city. That’s why we recommend you start simple. Food trucks are very popular in this part of the state, and you’ll find many different delicious options all over the place. Learn what the choices are and where they’ll be at this handy online site.

    Your journey into San Diego’s many attractions is just beginning. Above all else, remember that the lifestyle here is one that encourages you to slow down, enjoy the sights, and bask in some of the best weather the United States has to offer.

    • Location Specific
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  • Help us Support your Community with Go North Habitat ReStore Donation Program

    by Patrick Redmond | Aug 19, 2014

    Habitat for Humanity PartnershipWe are excited to share a new partnership between northAmerican Van Lines and Habitat for Humanity International! Together our organizations have developed a first-of-its-kind national partnership in the moving industry with Habitat ReStore resale outlets called the Go North Habitat ReStore Donation Program.

    The new program will allow northAmerican customers with local Habitat ReStore locations in their area to donate household items to their local ReStore through a northAmerican moving team. Donated materials are tax deductible and will be sold by Habitat ReStores to raise funds to support their local house-building efforts.

    northAmerican customers can participate via donations through a participating northAmerican agent in the U.S. and Canada. The partnership provides an easy connection between local Habitat ReStores and moving customers who are looking to donate lightly used home goods such as appliances, furniture or even building materials in preparation for their move.

    For more information on the partnership and other ways northAmerican is supporting Habitat for Humanity International, please visit www.NorthAmerican.com/Habitat-for-Humanity.  If you are preparing for a move and are interested in participating in the Go North Habitat ReStore Donation Program, contact your local northAmerican moving agent for more information.

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  • Five Outdoor Living Spaces Great for Summer

    by Patrick Redmond | Aug 15, 2014

    Outdoor living spacesWhenever you’re selling or buying a home, it’s a good idea to check the outdoor living space as well as the indoor living space. With the right patio furniture, a cool breeze, and a drink in hand, you can almost double your home’s livability factor.

    These five incredible homes make the most of their landscaping to provide a wonderful escape. Which one would you prefer to call your own?

    1. Sunken Fire Pit: With or without the oceanfront view, this outdoor patio encourages entertaining and conversation. Fire pits add a visual appeal and help warm up those chilly summer nights, and creative homeowners can also do some cooking on site.

    Outdoor Kitchen: Most of us have a barbeque set up out back for all those summer culinary treats, but these homeowners take things one step further by setting up an outdoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchens run from the elaborate to the simple, but we like this one for being both accessible and cost-effective.

    Outdoor Stone Shower/Bath: You’d need quite a bit of privacy to make this one work, but there’s something about a rugged, outdoor bath that appeals to the nature lover in all of us. To make the most of this outdoor feature, it’s probably a good idea to live somewhere with year-round summer temperatures.

    Landscaping a Small Yard: You don’t have to have a huge yard in order to make a great outdoor retreat. You may not be able to head outdoors to toss a football around back here, but this space is great for entertaining and enjoying your own private retreat. 

    Apartment Balcony: For some people, even a small yard is a bit of a stretch. If you live in an apartment or condo, you might have only a few square feet to call your own. With the right furniture and some creative lighting, you can still enjoy an incredible balcony.

    While an unlimited home renovation budget can help in making an unforgettable outdoor retreat, not all the options require a mansion or millions of dollars. For many families, it’s all about making the most out of the space you have!

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