The Hidden Costs and Fees of Moving

Sharon  @GoodMigrations

Don’t be caught off guard with the hidden costs of moving. Moving is an expensive undertaking. Local moves, are estimated to cost an average of $1,250, with long-distance moves of 1,000 miles and above bound to set you back approximately $5K ($4,890 to be exact).

Thats no chump change.

One often overlooked aspect is that moving costs can spill beyond the moving fee you pay to a professional moving company.

To save you some nasty surprises during your move, we decided to compile a list of some of the unexpected moving expenses – from the forgotten, to the hidden, and some more uncommon ones – that are easy to overlook, ending up poking holes in your moving budget.

Moving Supplies

If you’re assigning packing duties to the mover, they should come with all needed moving supplies and materials – factored into the moving costs, of course.

However, if you’re going DIY with your packing, it’s easy to overlook how much packing supplies can actually affect your moving costs.

Take an example.

If we’re talking a two-bedroom house, a moving kit with 50-60 boxes and tape can fetch in the range of 150 to 200 bucks. You might also end up shelling an additional $100 for a kit that protects your china and glassware.

Elevator Fees

If you live at the top of a high rise, be prepared to part with an elevator fee.

This is a surcharge that is usually fixed, often costing an extra $50 to $100, so ask your mover 1. if this is separate and 2. if so, how much they charge for it.

Parking ticket

There is a possibility the moving company will receive a parking ticket should they be found parking “illegally” when loading or unloading your belongings. Usually, you will be the one to fork out this fee should that happen.

But there is a workaround to it. We say illegally because the proper way of going about it is to obtain a parking permit from your community’s City Offices.

If parking is an issue around your place, consider getting one a week or two in advance of your move to avoid these hidden moving costs.

parking violation

Heavy Items Surcharge

Most movers include most furniture and appliances in their basic moving estimate.

However, it is important to keep in mind that heavy or unwieldy items like a grand piano, pool table, ATV and such items are often characterized as “special items” and therefore charged for separately. So, be sure to take the time to mention these items to your movers. 

Specialized Items

Speaking of specialized, not every mover is equipped to move special items that require more care and attention – think fine art and sculptures, antique dishes, the aforementioned piano etc.

Most won’t admit to not specializing in this type of moving, despite the lack of such a service offering on their website. So, if you plan to move items like these, make sure to do your due diligence.

While you’re at it, enquire on the cost of moving these items, and understand if this will be paid for separately.

Ideally, you want to hire a multi-faceted mover who provided different services, specialized items included, as hiring two different moving companies – one for the special items and another for your other belongings – doesn’t make sense.

Moving Insurance

Every moving company is required to provide basic mover’s insurance by law.

However, don’t take it at face value when a mover tells you your possessions will be insured in transit. In reality, the basic coverage offered by movers (also known as basic carrier liability or released value) is not going to match the actual value of your items.

If you want better protection, you will have to purchase full-value protection which makes the mover liable for the replacement value of every damaged or missing item. But even this is mid-level coverage.

The best form of coverage is third-party coverage, although this is best suited for high-value items such as art collections, antiques and crystals, precious stones, oriental rugs, furs, computer equipment, cameras, and video cameras, and jewelry.

Ask your selected mover to explain the different coverages on offer and be on the same page with them as to how much the insurance will cost. Know what questions to ask regarding relocation insurance.

Overnight Fees

If for some reason the mover is unable to unload your items on the planned day, there is a chance you could end up paying an overnight fee.

However, this said reason should not be of the mover’s own making – such as delayed hours on their part, should you happen to hire some unreliable characters – of which they totally need to cater for.

But if the delay was caused by either you or something you overlooked – for example, restricted services hours in the neighborhood you’re moving into – you might be required to part with an overnight fee for the change of plans.

This is why it pays to plan for a move early on as some of these minute details can be overlooked when preparing your move in haste. Nobody wants to pay $300 or more in the name of overnight fees just because of a little something that was overlooked.

Furniture Disassembly and Reassembly

This is another cost you definitely don’t want to be surprised with at the end of your move.

Let the mover clarify if they levy extra charges on furniture disassembly and reassembly before you sign up.

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Money Moving Tips

5 ways expats can stay mentally healthy during quarantine

Sharon  @GoodMigrations

As countries across the globe continue the battle against Covid-19, a ‘second curve’ is threatening millions of people – the consequences of the pandemic on our mental health. For expats, feeling isolated and lonely are often very common emotions. These feelings are likely to intensify by the travel restrictions that are preventing us from returning home.

It is vital expats look after their mental wellbeing while social distancing in order to stay focused and healthy. Here are some ways for expats to address their mental health whilst isolating in their homes.

1. Establish a routine

The first step is to establish a daily routine that you can realistically stick to. Its easy to get into the habit of waking up late, not getting properly dressed, as well as eating and sleeping at irregular times. Having an active daytime routine, and sleeping regularly at night, has been proven to improve overall mood and cognitive functioning. A good night’s sleep has also been shown to decrease the risk of developing depression and other mental health disorders.

If you’re an expat working from home, try to maintain normality by waking up at the same time and sticking to a regular schedule throughout the day. Not only will this help your productivity levels, but it will also help you to maintain a work-life balance. It is also extremely important to set aside time every day to go outside for some fresh air.  This will help with mental health but will also positively affect your productivity and creativity.

2. Pick up a new hobby

If you’re in need of a distraction to fill the hours outside of work, picking up a new hobby can be a great solution. This may not apply to those working remotely and looking after children and their remote learning. However, this could be really great for those with extra time after working hours.

Some hobbies to adopt might be trying out yoga for the first time or using online videos to learn the basics of a new language. If you enjoy reading, set up a virtual book club with your family and friends, helping you to stay connected with your loved ones simultaneously. Other calming hobbies include meditating, sewing, reading, gardening, journaling, baking, and much more.

3. Avoid the news

Many expats will feel the need to keep up with developments both within their host country as well as back home. However, the bleak news cycle can be very damaging to our mental health.

If you’re reading or watching the news regularly throughout the day, try cutting this down. Maybe instead of a constant flow of news limit it to once in the morning or evening for under 15 minutes. This will be more than enough time to see if there have been any important changes you need to be made aware of without falling into a spiral of reading or watching too much negative news. For those who enjoy catching up on global developments, try searching online for positive news stories instead to help boost your mood.

4. Stay in touch

Under normal circumstances, expat life presents its own challenges of visiting family. Availability and the cost of travel have always been obstacles for expats.  However, with many expats across the globe still not being able to travel, the possibility of visiting family and friends can still seem like a distant reality.

With research showing that 9 in 10 expats often feel isolated, it is important now more than ever to reach out for human contact. Whether by video calling a family member, texting a friend, or catching up with a colleague, there are many ways to integrate communication with others throughout your day. In fact, with evidence regularly telling us that loneliness can have long-lasting, detrimental effects on both our physical and mental health, reaching out to others should become a part of your daily routine.

If you’re a busy expat, trying to set aside times throughout the week for catching up with family and friends, can seem daunting. Persist. It is important to keep the lines of communication open. Keep dates and times in your calendar for when you are due to call different family members and friends back home.

If you’re an expat in a country such as the UK where lockdown rules are being eased slightly, you may now even be allowed to meet up with a select number of individuals in an outdoor space, or even visit another person’s household. If possible, use this opportunity to catch up with some colleagues or friends while keeping your distance and wearing a mask. The last thing we want is carelessness to keep social distancing in place for even longer.

5. Accept help

If you’re struggling with your mental health during this time, it’s important to understand this is entirely normal. Undergoing such drastic changes to our daily lives is likely to have negatively affected many individuals so it is important to reach out and accept help. Being isolated abroad may have encouraged many expats to keep in touch more regularly with family and friends back home, but for many taking the first step can be difficult.

Speaking to a medical professional about any concerns you may have about your mental health is still a viable option available despite being locked down at home. Especially during these uncertain times, consider using virtual health care services, some of which can be easily accessed if you have a global healthcare plan in place. Virtual health care services allow you to discuss your physical and mental health worries from the safety of your home. This will ensure you get the help you need while maintaining social distancing.

Reaching out to a healthcare professional or trusted confidant is the best way to address any issues you might be facing. These strange and uncertain times are likely to be challenging for the vast majority of us. Supporting each other throughout this pandemic by providing mental and moral support will be vital.

 

How to Keep Your Phone Number When Moving Abroad

Sharon  @GoodMigrations

*Originally published on September 15, 2017 but has since been updated to reflect new information.

A decision many expats must make is how to stay connected with family and friends back home after they move overseas. For individuals moving within the EU, the dilemma of keeping a phone number when moving to a new country is not as great and sometimes not present at all. If you live anywhere in Europe and are planning on moving elsewhere in Europe, Africa or Asia (with the exceptions of Japan and Korea), your phone will work. If you are moving to the Americas, make sure your phone has the 1900 and 850 MHz bands. For those of us trying to keep our USA phone number when moving abroad though, it’s a time of frustration and lots of research.

 How to stay connected overseas Read more…

The 10 Hardest Visas to Get in The World

Sharon  @GoodMigrations

You wouldn’t be wrong to assume the hardest part of traveling the world is saving up to cover the costs of flights. However, have you ever considered whether you can even get a visa or how time-consuming it will be? Some of the most epic journeys you can take, such as the Trans-Siberian Railway or walking the Great Wall of China, will mean navigating countries that have strict visa laws. If you are looking to take a longer trip or move or study abroad, then you will also have to pay extra attention to visa requirements. In this article, My Baggage covers the ten hardest visas to obtain and how you can get your hands on them!

10 Hardest Visas Around the World

North Korea

We’ll start off with the elephant in the room – the hermit kingdom of North Korea. It might not surprise you to learn that there are harder countries to get a visa for. You cannot apply for a visa independently and can only get a tourist visa through the tour operator you are traveling with – and the tour operator must be registered with the State General Bureau of Tourist Guidance. Spend some time researching tour operators online to find one that is registered and has great reviews. Make sure you get in touch with them well ahead of when you are planning on traveling to ensure you have given yourself enough time to obtain the visa.

As a country with such a complicated history, North Korea is worth visiting for a number of reasons. First off, there’s the capital city Pyongyang, with sites such as the Juche Tower, Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, and Kim Il-Sung Square. There’s Heaven Lake, a crater lake on the border between North Korea and China. There’s Kaesong, a city near the border of South Korea where you can find Manwoldae Palace. Certain areas of North Korea, however, tourists aren’t allowed access to even with a visa and require prior approval from the North or United Nations command, such as the Demilitarized Zone.
North Korea Passport- Visa

Russia

Getting a visa to Russia has always been notoriously hard. If you are traveling via a tour, they will be able to assist with this. However, if you are traveling independently expect to deal with Russian bureaucracy at its finest. Russia has also recently introduced biometric applications, meaning you must give your fingerprints and facial image when applying so will need to apply at the embassy in person.

Before you even get to this stage it is essential that you have a letter of invitation which has been issued by a Russian travel agency that is registered with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If this sounds like a nightmare, you can get help from a private visa agency, as even one mistake on your application will result in it being denied.

Although it’s a long and difficult process, obtaining a visa to Russia will allow you to see many of the great cities and sights it has to offer. No trip to Russia is complete without visiting St Petersburg, the former capital, with the Mariinsky Theatre and the State Russian Museum. The current capital, Moscow, is also worth visiting, if anything just for the beautiful architecture, such as the impressive Saint Basil’s Cathedral. If you prefer nature to cities, then take a trip to the beautiful Lake Baikal, or head to the Kola Peninsula between August and April to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

If you are considering moving to Russia to study, there are some brilliant universities with exchange programs for English speakers – although it’s always a good idea to try to learn the language, even if it is just the basics. Read more…

Visa

How to find a roommate in Seattle, WA

Michael Boateng @GoodMigrations

With Seattle’s gorgeous mountains and lakes, a bustling tech scene, and abundant coffee culture, it’s easy to want to call this the Emerald city home. However, with housing prices around all major US cities rising it can be difficult to live on your own. According to Zillow, Seattle’s average $2,000 rental price for a 1 bedroom home, is above the national average of just $1,200. So it’s no surprise that this competitive market has left Seattleites now spending 35 percent of their annual household income on housing, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How does Seattle compare to other major cities?

London is 4% more expensive
New York is 24% more expensive
Los Angeles is about the same
Toronto is 15% cheaper
Sydney is 11% cheaper
Singapore is 7% cheaper
Paris is 11% cheaper

Source: Expatistan

For many expats, temporary furnished housing is a great option while you wait for your freight furniture and other household goods delivery to arrive. Nestpick is one online platform where you can search Seattle for furnished rentals.

But if paying the $2000 or more is not in your budget, then maybe it’s time to find a roommate. Whether moving to Seattle for work or school, a flatmate could be a great way to meet new people and save some money.

Finding someone that syncs up with your living style can be difficult and frustrating.  You have to ask the right questions: when’s the last time you washed a dish that wasn’t yours, how often do you bring partners over, how loud do you listen to your music, have you ever secretly hidden a cat inside your apartment and pretended the noise was coming from YouTube videos? The list goes on and on.

Once you’ve settled on the questions to ask. It’s time to start looking. But where? Where and how can you as an expat, find a flatmate share in a Seattle? Here are some great resources to check out.

Online resources for finding a flatmate:

  • Craigslist – Yes, it may seem creepy to some but with Craigslist’s new “Rooms Shared” sub-category it’s easier to focus on those who’ve put the time to post rooms they already have.
  • Roommates – Has a Seattle section as well.
  • Spareroom -Spareroom lets you search based on what’s important to you, to make sure you find your perfect match.
  • Facebook – With over 56K members, join the Seattle Housing Group’s page to search apartments and roommates.
  • Internations – A social media site for expats has a Seattle Housing forum. Check here to see if any other expats posted about needing a roommate. Alternatively, you can also post requesting a roommate if you already have a place or apartment.

Apps to help you find a roommate:

  • Roomi – Say goodbye to yearlong leases. Roomi helps you find flexible, affordable housing and connect with roommates who make the big city feel like home.
  • Roomster – A trusted name for people to post & and search for accommodations around the world with other like-minded individuals. Roomster connects people at all price points, in 192 countries.

Our Seattle City Guide is also a great resource for navigating the city. It’s got information on how to get around Seattle, navigating the education system, and basics like getting a phone or setting up a bank account. Most importantly, you can use the Seattle neighborhood guide to zero in on the neighborhoods that are a match for you.  will help summarize information about costs of living, the average annual weather, safety as well as go into detail about each neighborhood.

Before we go, here are some apps to make roommate life waaaaaay easier:

Money/Finances

  • Splitwise – Keep track of your shared expenses and balances with housemates, trips, groups, friends, and family.
  • IOU – IOU (I owe you) tracks people who owes you money. It’s simple and fast.
  • Venmo – Make payments, get payments, transfer money to your bank account and stay connected to friends.
  • Cash – Request money and make payments as easy as using cash.
  • Roof – Share a home pleasantly with your roommates. Collect rent and chat effortlessly with your tenants.

Shopping and Chores

  • Our Groceries – simplest way to keep your grocery lists instantly synchronized on all the smartphones in your household—and it’s free!
  • Wunderlist – custom lists and to do’s that can be shared with roommates or part of a group.
  • Handy – Instantly book highly rated pros for cleaning and handyman tasks at a fixed price.
  • ChoreBuster – The ultimate family chore chart, ChoreBuster lets you manage and assign chores to each roommate member of your family, for free!

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