• How to Pick a Cleaning Service for your Move

    by Jackie Heath | Nov 26, 2014

    Cleaning ServiceYou’ve spent weeks clearing out your closets and organizing your belongings. You’ve coordinated moving companies and moving schedules, helped your kids say goodbye, and maybe even started a new job. Now all there is that’s left to do is clean your entire house from top to bottom.

    Sounds daunting, right? If you’re like most families, the thought of scrubbing floors and dusting empty shelves probably isn’t one you cherish—and with good reason. You’ve already done so much hard work that it makes sense to hand this task over to someone else.

    Professional cleaning companies are ideal in a time like this. Get your apartment’s safety deposit back or make sure your house gleams for the next potential owners by hiring someone else to come in and finish the job. You can even hire a cleaning service to get your new home ready before you arrive. Here are some tips for finding the best one in your area.

    > Ask for referrals. Your moving company, real estate agent, or property manager might have a good cleaning service they can recommend. (They might also be able to find you discounts if you use one of their referred providers.) Ask for referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations, as these tend to work out the best.

    > Look for moving specialists. Some cleaning services specialize in empty properties, and they’re ideal for this kind of job. They have the tools and skills to get the cleaning done quickly, and can easily coordinate with your moving schedule.

    > Hire big-name companies. Whenever you’re going to be leaving a property empty for any space of time, it’s best to stay away from want ads or online job listings. An empty house (or a house with wide open doors and your belongings coming and going) is more likely to attract thieves or squatters, so you want to make sure you’ve heard of the cleaning company and that they have a reputation for professional ethics.

    > Make sure they have insurance. Just because you don’t live in the house anymore doesn’t mean you aren’t responsible for any potential accidents that occur there. Until your name is officially off the deed, it’s important that any contract workers you hire are licensed and have insurance. This will protect all of you in the event of an accident.

    > Ask about what services are provided. Most cleaning companies are used to coming in and cleaning around your personal belongings—a big, empty house is a different kind of task. If you’re looking for deep-cleaning services (such cleaning the stove, moving the refrigerator to clean underneath it, or top-to-bottom scrubbing), you may have to make special arrangements. Most cleaning services are prepared for lighter duties like mopping, vacuuming, and dusting.

    You’ll also want to have a friend make one final stop after the job is done. Since you probably won’t be around to see how good of a job the cleaning service did, you may want to recruit a friend or family member who can check in afterwards. You’ll feel better knowing someone you trust was the last person in the house, and that everything is perfect and ready to go for the new tenants.

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  • Long-Term Expenses to Consider before Moving

    by Jackie Heath | Nov 20, 2014
    Reviewing PaperworkWhen most people buy a home and move to a new area, their financial worries are centered on immediate issues like down payments, monthly mortgages, and general moving costs. While these are all important factors to consider, some of the biggest expenses might actually come in the months to follow.

     
    Long-term moving expenses can wreak havoc on your budget, which is why it’s always a good idea to go into your new home with your eyes open. Here are a few of the more common costs you’ll encounter in the year to follow your big move.

     > Property Taxes: When you purchase a more expensive home or move to a state with higher property taxes, you can expect to pay more annually for your residence. This is a cost that won’t go away no matter how long you live in your home, so get used to paying it. Many families build property taxes into their monthly escrow costs to avoid having to pay a huge lump sum once or twice a year.

    > Home Insurance: Did you move to a flood plain? Is there a swimming pool in your new backyard? Is there an outbuilding included in your coverage? Expect your annual insurance costs to change accordingly. Like property taxes, these are costs that won’t go away even after your mortgage is paid off, so build them into your regular budget.

    > Visiting Friends/Relatives: Traveling to and from your old home is often a huge part of the settling in process. You’ll want to go back to visit friends. You may plan on spending your holidays with the family you left behind. Your children might need a few extra special trips to their old stomping grounds before they feel good about the move. These kinds of travel expenses can quickly add up.

    > Cost of Living Increases: If you’re moving to a large city from a more rural or suburban place, there’s a good chance you’ll find cost of living increases in all areas of your life. Dining, transportation, groceries, utilities…all of these things depend on location. This cost of living calculator from CNN is a good way to compare two cities to see what the differences will be.

    > Schools: There are some parts of the United States where the public schools offer a high-quality education. There are also some where the majority of parents opt for private schools. If you’re going to be switching to private schools, expect costs associated with tuition, uniforms, and fees.

    > Home Updates/Repairs: It takes about a year to get to know a new house. Until you’ve lived in a residence through all the seasons, you’ll never know if the wind rattles the chimney in spring, whether or not you need to invest in a snowblower for winter, or that the windows let too much cold air escape in the heat of summer. If you expect to discover hidden flaws as the year progresses (and you will), you won’t be so surprised once the repair bills come around.

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  • Pack Up, We Are Moving To…Mars?

    by Ryan Cox | Nov 19, 2014
    Moving to Mars
    There is a question that humanity has been asking itself for a long time now, is Earth the final frontier for the human race? Many scientist and others believe that the Earth is dying, leaving us the responsibility to find a new home for the future generations to come. Many have explained that our neglect and irresponsibility for taking care of the planet is leading us down a path of no return. Others just believe that it is out nature to keep exploring. Like other explorers who have come before us, their bravery led to the construction of civilizations, ideas, technology and other advancements that are thriving even in present day. So is there legitimacy in our growing curiosity in creating a home on Mars?

    The thought of moving to Mars has been taken seriously by several organizations. There are currently communities who are ready to launch today, allowing for citizens to secure their seat on the first exploration to put the first human settlement on Mars. Foundations like Mars One have been strategically planning taking people to Mars and establishing civilization on the planet. The organization has been conducting several simulations creating a living space necessary to support life, produce food, allow for recreational activities and much more. But do they have a legitimate case for launching a mission to Mars? I think information and data gathered will help and hurt their case.

    Let’s take a look at the environment and conditions that we would encounter on Mars. For one, there is no breathable air on Mars. The atmosphere is mainly comprised of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Oxygen is extremely limited which would present the issue of creating a manmade environment that would allow humans to survive. Mars One has developed a “Living Unit” that seems to solve the issues of creating a livable home on the surface of the planet. The inflatable living area would provide breathable air, efficient space, flooring, electrical outlets and more that would compare to your living quarters on Earth. Some questions that might arise are how many can live in one unit or how durable is the unit to withstand the weather conditions on Mars? But this strikes a curiosity that maybe living on Mars might not be so different than our daily lives on Earth.

    The Mars atmosphere is not one that is capable of supporting human life. The temperature alone presents its own difficulties. The surface of Mars is very cold, ranging from -113 degrees Celsius to 0 degrees Celsius during the summer season. A special suit will be required for a human to be able to explore the Mars surface. Mars One explains that the “Mars Suit” provides the proper safety equipment to keep one safe while moving through the atmosphere of Mars. Along with the temperature inhabitants would encounter air pressure, ultraviolet rays and much more that would have to be protected by a sophisticated suit.

    The discovery of water however, drives the thought process of our species being able to survive on Mars. Being that the Earth is composed of around 71% of water, it is difficult to dismiss the thought that this could be the key factor in life flourishing on this planet. Through data collected by NASA missions to Mars, the planet might have consisted of conditions that would have supported life effectively. But would we be able to generate the necessary amount of energy, food, minerals and material required to support daily life for an incalculable amount of time? Mars One believes through its “Life Support Units” that we will be able to create an environment that humans can in inhabit. Allowing for a team to generate electricity, cultivate a water source, provide breathable air and grow crops. The capabilities are remarkable and would produce the necessary elements for a society to thrive.

    So, what if you had to move to Mars? What would you be able to take with you? Would it be worth it to move to Mars? That is something that you would have to decide for yourself. I kind of like it here on Earth, but one day we might not have an option, but until then it would not hurt to consider the “what if” scenario. There are many questions that still need to be answered. Is our planet really dying? Could another planet really be a new home for the human race? When could all of this happen? There are too many unknowns, but the fact that there are individuals creating a plan of action helps in preparing us for our future. When the time is right, I am sure the moving industry will adapt with the times and there will be moving companies available to help.

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  • 5 Deal Breakers When Buying and Selling your Home

    by Jackie Heath | Nov 07, 2014

    Home Deal BreakersThere’s a pretty good rule of thumb to follow when buying or selling your home—if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Whether you’re checking out potential buyers or getting ready to put a down payment on a new residence for your family, here are five red flags you should always watch out for.

    > Top and Bottom: Whenever you’re looking at buying a new home, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to the very top (the roof) and the very bottom (the basement) of the house first. Repairs to the main part of the house tend to be fairly straightforward, but anytime the foundation or roof isn’t in good shape, you’re going to be looking at a huge investment to fix them.

    > Location, Location, Location: The one thing you absolutely can’t change about a house is its location. If you don’t like the neighborhood, if there are city plans to put in a freeway a few years down the road, if the noise level is too high for young family…all these things can quickly turn a dream home into a nightmare. Don’t settle for the perfect house in an imperfect location. Your home can be improved, but you can’t change your address.

    > “Off-Limits” Areas: Whenever you’re touring a house for sale, make sure you have access to every room for an inspection. Yes, this might be currently serving as someone’s home, and yes, they might want to keep some of their privacy intact. However, any time you’re restricted from an area, it’s a red flag that they could be hiding something. If you can’t get in, at least make sure your home inspector can.

    > The Appliance Shuffle: You might be in love with a kitchen because of its brand new Sub-Zero fridge and gleaming Kitchen Aid stove, or you might choose one house over another because it includes all the appliances. Don’t let these details impact your decision. Many home sellers will take that beautiful fridge when they go, leaving only a low-end refrigerator in its place.

    > Scenery without the Acreage: A home that’s settled next to a beautifully wooded park, a pond and meadow just outside your backyard, miles of hiking trails in every direction…all of these are great reasons to buy a house, but unless you’re actually purchasing the acreage these features are settled on, you may want to think twice. Whether the land is privately or government owned, there’s always a chance you could be someday looking out over a view of a cell phone tower or wastewater treatment plant.

    Buying a home is a major life decision that will impact your quality of life for years to come. Make good choices during your home hunt, and always make sure you look at the big picture before you sign on the dotted line.

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  • When to Splurge: What to Spend Money on During a Move

    by Jackie Heath | Oct 31, 2014

    When To SplurgeIf you’re like most people, you’ve set aside a certain amount of money to make the move to your new home. It might be that your company set a budget on how many moving costs they’ll cover, or you might have built in your own financial cushion when you sold your home. Whatever the reason, now that you have your money saved up, you’ll need to figure out where it will best be spent.

    Professional Moving vs. DIY

    One of the biggest decisions you’ll make is whether to hire a moving company to help you move or to do the bulk of the work yourself. Much of this will depend on how much time you have to devote to moving and how physically capable you are of taking on the task yourself, but also keep hidden costs in mind. When you hire a moving company, you not only get the manual labor to do the heavy lifting and driving for you, but you’ll also have many of the boxes, packing materials, basic insurance, and gas mileage included.

    New Packing Materials vs. Recycled Boxes

    One popular way to save money on a move is to ask grocery and liquor stores for free boxes and to use crumpled up newspaper in place of bubble wrap. While this can work for some of your belongings (non-breakable items like clothes and can be easily transported in used boxes), more important valuables and kitchenware should be placed in safer containers. Boxes you purchase have the advantage of being in good condition and similarly-sized, which means you’ll be better able to stack items inside the moving van or truck.

    Specialty Packing for Large-Ticket Items

    One area we strongly suggest you spend a little extra money is on specialty packing and moving for important heirlooms and items. A piano that isn’t properly handled could suffer internal damages that will cost thousands of dollars to repair. Televisions, glass-top tables, and electronics can shatter if not handled properly. And artwork is always worth a little extra care.

    Extra Evaluation Protection

    The easiest place to cut back on moving costs is to avoid the extra policy protection for your personal valuables. This is an area where you want to tread lightly, however. Accidents can and do happen on the road, and many families find that the extra peace of mind is worth the cost. If you have any anxieties about your valuable items, look into extra policies or possibly even transporting the items in your own car.

    Self-Care and Babysitting

    Although you might not have planned to factor self-care, childcare, and pet care into your budget, you might want to consider the possibility. Moving (especially with young kids or pets in tow) is an incredibly stressful experience. Try to set aside some money to hire a babysitter for the day of the move, and give yourself some wiggle room to not have to cook meals in the days leading up to moving day. You’ll appreciate the chance to get out of the house and relax for a few hours.

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