• Moving to Germany: How to Prepare

    by Patrick Redmond | Jul 28, 2014

    Moving to GermanyWith a recent World Cup win on their shoulders and one of the most stable economies in west-central Europe, Germany is a country seeing an influx of American residents these days.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean making the transition is easy. Whether you’re going as a young person studying abroad, a professional taking advantage of the business opportunities that exist in the larger cities, or a family undergoing a relocation, expect there to be a few changes in your lifestyle and approach to packing.

    > Sell Old, Buy New: The German economy is strong, and not so different from the United States that you should be able to easily adjust. Although you can expect to pay more for consumer goods and going out to eat (between 10 and 15 percent more, in fact), the rents and grocery prices tend to be much lower. This balances out to so that you don’t have to be afraid of buying new furniture and large essentials when you arrive. Most Americans making a semi-permanent transition to Germany prefer to sell their larger, bulkier personal belongings in the United States and start fresh in their new home.

    > Different Appliances: Appliances and electronics fall under the “leave at home” category. Because the voltage and electrical outlets are set up differently, few of your technological belongings will work in Germany without an overhaul or adapter. Save yourself the trouble of packing up your TV, microwave or even your hair dryer and plan on buying those at your destination instead.

    > Public Transportation: It’s almost always best to leave your American car in America (either sell it or have it stored). Although Germans also drive on the right side of the road, there are differences in emissions and standards that may require you to upgrade your vehicle before it’s allowed in. Public transportation in Germany (especially the larger cities) tends to be well-planned, so you may want to start thinking about doing less of your own driving.

    > Temperate Climate: The climate in Germany is temperate and seasonal, making it comparable to the majority of the United States. Expect warm summers and cold winters, and don’t forget to take advantage of the great skiing that takes place here during those chilly months. Fashion is pretty standard for the European Union here, so you should be fine either packing your own clothes or taking advantage of the local shopping.

    > Prepare for a Medical Wait: In terms of technology and availability, the health care in Germany is comparable to that in the United States. However, getting the initial appointment and setting up your private insurance can take some time (you won’t get to take advantage of the universal health care until you’re officially a resident). Always plan to find a doctor right away and pack a few months’ worth of your regular medication so you don’t run out.

    You’ll also want to be aware of customs regulations in Germany before you start packing. Because Germany is part of the European Union, they’re held to the same standards as many other EU countries. Expect to pay duties on household goods and furniture, to encounter restrictions in moving pets, and to find other standard restrictions like those related to food and beverages.

    If you are planning a relocation to Germany or any international relocation, reach out to North American Van Lines to be connected with a specialized international relocation coordinator who can provide you with a free moving quote and help you through the moving abroad process.

    • International Moves
    • Moving to Germany
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  • Friday Favorites: 5 Things to Do in Orlando, Florida

    by Patrick Redmond | Jul 25, 2014
    5 things to do in Orlando

    Once you’ve moved to Orlando and unpacked your belongings, it’s time to start exploring the area. We suggest you skip the usual trips to Disney World or Universal Studios and discover these gems—just as exciting, but much more a part of the local lifestyle.

    1. Lake Eola Park: Located in the heart of downtown Orlando, you can find this beautiful, green park surrounded by dozens of buildings and a bustling urban setting. Visitors here can walk along the mile-long trail or rent paddleboats to cruise the lake. Regular concerts and a weekly farmer’s market only add to the appeal—and it’s a quick walk from the rest of the downtown activities.

    2. Kennedy Space Center: Although it’s not technically located in Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center is only a short drive away. Visitors are invited to view exhibits, artifacts, displays, and attractions related to space travel, and if you time things right, you can even watch a rocket launch take place.

    3. Gatorland: Part theme park and part wildlife refuge, Gatorland offers 110 acres of activities and reptile education for families. Recent additions include a gator zipline to add more of an appeal to those seeking theme-park-level thrills.

    4. Amway Center: If you’re a sports fan, a visit to Orlando’s Amway Center is a must. Most famous as the home of the Orlando Magic basketball team, you’ll also find ice hockey, arena football, and countless concerts taking place here. Because it’s located in the Orlando downtown area, you also have access to shops and restaurants nearby.

    5. Winter Park Shopping: For some of the best shopping Orlando has to offer, skip the tourist areas and head for the suburb of Winter Park. National chain stores like Pottery Barn and Ann Taylor are located alongside local shops, boutiques, and cafes—and because the whole area is only about 10 blocks long, it’s very pedestrian-friendly.

    Of course, you can always hit the major tourist sites, as well. One of the best benefits of living in Orlando is that you can avoid the peak tourist times and see the sights on your own terms—and get to know the rest of the city’s hidden pockets in the meantime.

    • Location Specific
    • Friday Favorites
    • Moving to Florida
    • Moving to Orlando
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  • Moving to Orlando: Real Estate and Top Neighborhoods

    by Patrick Redmond | Jul 23, 2014

    Orlando neighborhoodsBecause Orlando is such a sprawling and populated city, finding the best place to live can be a challenge. Pocket communities and closely-knit neighborhoods tend to crop up in unlikely places, but with a little research ahead of time, you should be able to find one that suits your lifestyle.

    > Altamonte Springs: A northern suburb of the Orlando area, Altamonte Springs offers a slice of family living with great access to the city center. Commute times are low, but the area is far enough from the urban spaces to offer good schools and low crime rates.

    > South Eola: If you want to live in the heart of the downtown area and enjoy city living (complete with a high level of walkability, great local shops and restaurants, and more urban lifestyle), South Eola might be a good fit. Expect to pay downtown prices and for homes to be more along the lines of condos and apartments.

    > Thornton Park: Offering an almost European style of scenery and construction, this family-friendly neighborhood is beautifully green and centrally located to many city amenities and businesses.

    > Winter Park: Located in the northern part of Orlando, Winter Park offers one of the best areas for historic homes and upscale living. Museums, Rollins College, and a great arts scene provide the center of this neighborhood, with plenty of gorgeous homes and fine dining venues to complete the scene.

    > College Park: This area isn’t named for a nearby college—it’s called College Park because the streets all take after famous universities. Although close to the downtown area, College Park is more affordable than many other neighborhoods, and offers a younger, more low-key approach to life.

    > East Orlando: Home to the University of Central Florida, this area is teeming with students, apartment-style living, and a young and hip nightlife. Although not always ideal for families looking to own their homes, you can find quite a bit of culture and activity here.

    > Dr. Phillips: Although this sounds more like a talk show than a city, Dr. Phillips is actually one of the most desirable neighborhoods for families. Named for the citrus magnate who owned the area, it’s close to Universal Studios but not so much that the tourist trade overtakes the family-focused neighborhoods and affordable homes.

    > Celebration: As the name suggests, Celebration is one of the more “Orlando-like” areas in the city, close to the theme parks and focused on fun and activity. Modeled after the historic towns of the 1900s, life here is more of a vacation than a year-round way of life. Many residents enjoy these homes as second homes or vacation homes, though you could live here all the time to take advantage of the pools, parks, and great walking trails.

    Because Orlando is such a diverse city, you can enjoy almost any kind of home and lifestyle you want. Urban neighborhoods that rival those in other metropolitan areas, family-friendly areas with great schools, and theme-park like vacation centers are all here to explore—and in many different price ranges.

    • Real Estate
    • Location Specific
    • Moving to Florida
    • Moving to Orlando
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  • Moving Tips: Start Early!

    by Patrick Redmond | Jul 22, 2014
    Start planning your move early

    Very simple advice, but very important. Don't procrastinate when it comes to planning your move. Start preparing as early as you can, especially if you plan to move during peak summer months. Start planning about two months prior to your move if possible. This includes starting to pack and researching and booking your moving company.
    • Moving Tips
    • Preparing to move
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  • Five Things to Explore in your New Town

    by Patrick Redmond | Jul 18, 2014

    5 places to visit in a new hometownAs you settle in to your new town and get to know your surroundings, there are certain places you should put at the top of your To Visit List. Not only will you be likely to encounter new friends, but you can also get a firsthand glimpse of your local culture and flavor.

    1. Farmers’ Markets: Although you’ll be restricted by season, most cities and towns have a weekly farmers’ market. Here, you can learn about the agriculture of your area and get to know some small business owners. You can also sample things like local music and artisans’ wares, since many farmers’ markets go beyond food to offer entertainment and art.

    2. Tourist Traps: Every city has them—that one tourist site or monument that it’s famous for. From the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to the Space Needle in Seattle, there’s always a big tourist trap somewhere nearby. Even smaller towns tend to have their primary point of interest. Discover what your city’s claim to fame is and stop by for a visit. You’ll appreciate learning the history and being a part of the community.

    3. The Best Place for Coffee: Whether it’s a chain like Starbucks, an out-of-the-way diner just outside town, or this great café in the courthouse, every city has its “best” cup of coffee. Don’t believe us? Ask around—everyone will have an opinion. Make it your mission to stop by each one and sample the coffee. This is a great way to get to know both local people and local business.

    4. National or County Park: Get outside and get to know the un-touched and protected natural state of your new home. Exploring a National or County Park or protected lands can educate you on the surrounding nature, wildlife and history of the region. You can find local parks near you at a number of sites, including the National Parks Conservation Association website or Wikipedia, which has a listing by state for protected lands and parks.

    5. The Highest Elevation Point: Whether you’re a nature lover excited about taking a hike to a local peak, or if you’d rather drive up a nearby mountain and park on the cliffs overlooking the city, you should take a moment to see your new town from above. Almost all cities will have a record of the highest local point. If it’s not open to the public, look for a reasonable alternative. A trip to the top of the tallest skyscraper is also a good option. 
    • Post Move: Advice & Home care
    • Exploring a New Town
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