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If you are moving anywhere within the state of California, you might be hearing about a strange charge that will show up on your moving bill. The charge is called double drive time. If you’re confused about moving double drive time (and most people are), let us clarify.
Why double drive time?
The metropolitan areas in California are very large. The Bay Area alone is more than 10,000 square miles. Add to that the fact that Bay Area traffic is notoriously awful. If moving customers paid for all the time their moving company is on the road, let’s just say it can add hours.
That’s why the State of California Public Utilities Commission mandated double drive time. Any move within the state not charge for the time getting to you and getting back. Instead movers must charge double drive time.
What is the Double Drive Time Law?
Double drive time is the time it takes for getting to the point of origin to the point of destination, and then back. In other words, if you move one block away, you will be charged for that one block ride, twice. On the other hand, if you are moving from San Jose to Oakland, you’ll pay for that drive twice.
Is double drive time cheaper?
In most cases, double drive time is cheaper, and in all cases, it protects the customer. You have no way of knowing what time a truck leaves the garage or what time it returns there after your move. In fact, in many cases, your movers may be coming from another move or going to another move afterwards. With double drive time, you know exactly how long it took to get from your point of origin (your original moving address) to the point of destination (the address you’re moving to). Move time (packing, loading and unloading time), any materials used, and double drive time shall be the total of your move charges.
That’s not all. Double drive time frees you up to hire your favorite mover, no matter where they are. If you live in San Diego, for example, you can hire a mover from Los Angeles and you won’t have to pay for all the drive time it takes to get to you, if the Los Angeles mover services your area.
Do all moves charge double drive time?
All moves within the State of California charge double drive time. The double drive time law does not apply to moves outside the state of California.
If you have questions about double drive time, you can call us. Our moving consultants know all about it.
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One of the most misunderstood aspects of any move is moving insurance. Does a moving company offer full value protection or should you buy third party insurance? Here is everything you need to know about moving insurance.
Does a moving company offer free moving insurance?
Logically, you might think that a moving company insures every item they move. That’s sort of right. All licensed moving companies (which should be all moving companies) have to offer basic coverage, released value protection, or valuation coverage (just three different names for the same thing), for free. So far so good, right? Well, maybe, until you realize that valuation coverage covers your move for just 60 cents per pound per item. In other words, if a 20 pound Picasso were to jump off the truck, you’d receive $12.00.
Okay, maybe that’s not the best example. Anyone who has a Picasso would want to make sure it was covered with full value protection, right? Also, at Fairprice Movers, we would pack a Picasso so well that it could jump off the truck and into the middle of 880 without a scratch (please don’t try this at home). You probably get the idea, though. 60 cents per pound per item isn’t much, even if you don’t have any Picassos in your home.
Why doesn’t a moving company offer free moving insurance?
A moving company is a bit like the Post Office. When you ship something through the Post Office, they offer a little insurance for free, but not much. For most shipments, if you want to receive the full value should something happen to the package, you have to pay extra.
The primary reason the Post Office and moving companies don’t offer full value protection for free is that there’s no way to know what’s inside a box or the condition of what’s in that box. More to the point, though, neither are insurance companies, and as you probably know, insurance companies have to adhere to strict regulations.
Should you buy full value protection moving insurance?
In most cases, we recommend that customers purchase third party insurance. You can purchase through a company called Baker International. Their premiums start at about a penny on the dollar, depending on the deductible.
Will my homeowners or renters insurance cover my move?
Most of the time homeowners or renters insurance does not cover moves. It’s best to call your insurance company first. You may be able to purchase a rider on your policy that will cover the move.
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It’s that time of year again. It’s time to file your income tax return for 2020. If you moved during the year and were expecting to write off a portion of your move from your taxable income, you might be disappointed, but there are exceptions.
Previous moving income tax laws
If you’ve moved in the past, you may have have received a significant deduction on your IRS tax return, but since 2018, things have been a little different. It used to be that if you moved for a job, and if your new job was at least 50 miles further from your old home than your old job, there was a good chance you could have deducted most if not all of the moving expenses.
That changed in 2018 when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act replaced several line item tax deductions with a larger standard deduction.
Current federal income tax laws for moving
If you itemize your taxes, you might be in for a rude awakening when it comes to writing off your moving expenses. For the majority of Americans, there is no more moving tax deduction.
What is the one exception to moving income tax filing laws?
There is one exception to the new moving tax laws. If you are in the military and you pay for your move, you can still deduct the costs if:
- You are on active duty
- Are subject to a permanent change of station
- You are moving from your home to your first post, from one post to another or from your final post home
What isn’t tax deductible for military personnel?
Even military personnel have limits when it comes to IRS federal income tax deductions. If you took a scenic road trip during your move, you will only be able to deduct the mileage for the most direct route. You also cannot deduct from your income tax bill:
- Security deposits
- Costs involved in buying or selling your home
- Registering your automobile
- Getting a new driver’s license
- Storage costs once you arrive at your new home, unless it’s an international move
- Expenses involved in returning to your old home, regardless of the reason
Can you deduct moving from your state income tax bill?
If you are filing your taxes in California, you might be able to deduct your move from your income tax bill. Most of the same pre-2018 laws apply. Your new home has to be at least 50 miles closer to your new job than your old one does.
How to save money on your move
At Fairprice Moving, there’s not a whole lot we can do about your federal income tax bill, but we can definitely help save you money.
Talk to us about cost-saving tips such as packing your own items. If you have a lot of books, and are moving long-distance, you can mail them book rate instead of having them shipped.
There are several items you could consider moving yourself, such as electronics, pictures and mirrors and lamps. Otherwise they would need to be packed.
Of course, we recognize that time is also money. We can save you a boatload of time if you let us do the packing for you. We can even unpack. While there is an extra charge for packing, we can usually pack you up within a day.
What are future moving tax deductions?
While we can’t predict the future, but the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will expire in tax year 2026. It’s possible that the moving tax deductions will return then, but if they do, it will likely mean that the standard deduction will decrease.
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For years, San Francisco has had the honor of one of our top moving destinations. People are still moving to San Francisco, but one of the weirdest side effects of the COVID-19 virus is that it’s turned the moving industry upside down.
We get why San Francisco has been one of the top moving destinations for so many years. San Francisco is home to the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most beautiful and iconic bridges in the United States if not the world. The city is sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. It’s also the tech capital of the world.
Then, along came COVID-19. Suddenly, living shoulder to shoulder with neighbors seemed less alluring. COVID added all sorts of new complications to roommate situations and people wanted space to spread out. Add to that the fact that many people are now working from home. As devastating as the virus has been, it’s given many workers a freedom to live wherever they want. They are fleeing San Francisco.
Top moving destinations in California
Whether your job requires you to show up at the office on occasion, or whether you simply love California, there are some hot moving destinations that offer a lower cost of living and room to grow. While more people are moving out of California than into it, two California cities made the nation’s top 25 moving destinations for people who move themselves. Sacramento and Redding are numbers 11 and 16, respectively. They’re still close enough to attend that monthly meeting in a San Francisco office.
We’re seeing several people moving to the further reaches of the Bay Area. Vallejo is one of the least expensive Bay Area cities and we’ve moved several people there in the last several months. People who want to live along the BART line are moving to cities like Richmond, where you can buy a house for the cost of a small San Francisco condo.
Top moving destinations in the United States
For many California workers, for the first time, remote work is now permanent. Others lost their jobs and need to find less expensive places to live. Not surprisingly, Californians are seeking out sunny destinations. Florida dominates the top 10 list, but so do states like Arizona and Texas. It’s not all about sunny warmth, though. Madison, Wisconsin is the 5th most popular moving destination and St. George, Utah is number nine.
Another list, one more likely to show moving company customers such as ours, also shows that people are seeking year around sun. Las Vegas is the second most popular moving destination and Reno is number 12. Denver, Colorado and Spokane, Washington at numbers four and five, are the only popular moving destinations that aren’t warm year around.
Top moving destination
The top moving destinations in the United States are a two-way tie between sunny, warm Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Fort Meyers, Florida. We concur. At Fairprice Movers, we move dozens of people to sunny Southern states. Of course, we also cover the entire Bay Area and the entire Continental United States.
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There are a lot of people talking about the mass long-distance moving exodus out of California. The theory is that between business regulations, the wild fires, escalating home prices and the increase in remote working because of COVID, people are leaving in droves.
While it is true that Fairprice Movers’ long-distance moving division is busier than ever, the reality is that not as many people are moving out of California as newspaper headlines might lead you to believe.
Are people leaving?
While 2020 statistics aren’t out yet, it is true that last year, a lot of people left California. More than 653,000 people moved from the Golden State in 2019. That’s more than any state. However, with nearly 40 million people, California’s population is much larger than any state.
As a percentage of population, Californians are among the last likely to leave. Only Michigan and Texas are retaining a higher percentage of their population.
What this year is telling us
We don’t have a lot of statistics to look at for 2020. One reliable indicator is the real estate market, which is doing pretty well. People are moving, but many are moving locally within the state. People who work within the tech industry, and others who have the option of working remotely, are moving outside of the cities into areas where they can stretch their legs and easily socially distance.
What about rentals?
There is one market that’s falling pretty quickly, and that’s the rental market. Only one Bay Area county has seen an increase in rents and that’s Solano. Like with the real estate market, urban areas are taking the hardest hit while outer Bay Area counties are taking less of a hit.
Are people moving to California?
While the vast majority of Californians are staying, there aren’t a lot of people moving to California, and the high cost of living and the annual wildfires may be to blame, at least partly. Overall we lost more people last year than we gained, which might partially explain why our long-distance moving business is booming.
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Perhaps when you moved into your home, you told yourself it was the last time you’d ever move. Perhaps you knew it was just one of several stepping stones. Whether you planned for it or not, life might be telling it’s time to move. Here are some of the signs:
The house is too small
Whether you’ve added to the family or a new work at home situation is squeezing you out, it might be time to look for some extra space. Look for what accommodates your needs. A mud room might keep the family’s sports equipment organized. Maybe you need a home office for quiet, a bedroom for a growing child, or a bigger kitchen. If you have a new hobby that’s taking up room, there’s no shame in upsizing, as long as you can afford it.
The house is too big
If you’re an empty nester, moving to smaller accommodations might be exactly what you need. You don’t need to maintain an oversized house for the couple of times a year when the kids and grandkids visit. A single guest bedroom will suffice in most situations, and if the entire family visits, you can look into renting a house for everyone with some of the money you’ve saved from downsizing.
The neighborhood isn’t what you thought
One of the problems with buying a home, especially in hot real estate markets like the Bay Area, is that you often rush into the decision, or you move into a neighborhood that doesn’t suit all your needs because it was affordable and close to work. If you find that that neighborhood is too much (too noisy, too many burglaries, too much traffic, etc), it might be time to move.
A career move
At least half of Fairprice Movers long-distance moves are for people who are advancing their careers. Perhaps there isn’t a job waiting on the other side of the move, but there might be better opportunities.
Whether you’re a college student moving away from your parents, or a parent wanting to move to a better school district, Fairprice Movers can take you there.
Moving for family
Perhaps you want to live closer to your aging parents, or you want to be in your nieces’ and nephews’ lives. Regardless, moving to be closer to family is very common.
One of the least talked about reasons for moving is simply a desire for something different. Maybe you want more open space, or a different climate, or you are just sick of where you live. Regardless, we can help when it’s time to move.
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Whether for the holidays or because you’re moving across country (far more likely if you’re reading our blog), the COVID pandemic adds a whole new layer of stress to transporting yourself and your family hundreds or thousands of miles away.
We aren’t going to tackle the safety of flying, because most of our customers move across country by driving as we drive their household goods, but here are ways to stay relatively safe while you’re on the road.
Leave a little extra room in your car for pandemic supplies, which include lots of hand sanitizer, clean masks, disposable gloves and toiletries for when you have to use public restrooms.
Don’t cheap out on lodging
What’s a trip across country without a stay at a cheap motel and the stories that come after? We don’t have anything against cheap motels, but during COVID, you might have to spend a few more bucks to ensure your safety. Forbes has a list of the safest hotels during COVID, and not all of them are budget busters. If none of the hotels you were thinking about are on the list, call them and ask about their COVID policies. If they are vague, find another place to stay.
Pack as many meals as possible
Pack a cooler with drinks, sandwiches, fruits and veggies. Buy your snacks before hitting the road. Drive through restaurants are safer than eating in. If you want restaurant food without the risk of a dining room, order takeout and look for a picnic area, or eat in your car.
Wipe down common areas
Your rooms should be clean, but it never hurts to do another once-over to all the common areas with disinfectant wipes. Spray down the bedding with a disinfectant spray.
Use public restrooms safely
The key to COVID safety is to touch as few public areas as possible and to never touch your face until you know your hands are clean. One option is to wear gloves in public restrooms and dispose of them outside the restroom. Another is to wipe down the areas you might touch (including the door handles, toilet flusher, light switch and faucet) with a disinfectant wipe, wash your hands thoroughly after using the restroom and put a paper towel between your hand and the door handle.
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Whether you have extra stuff and no extra space, or your belongings need a temporary home, you might find yourself needing to rent storage space. Today there are more options than ever, which can make it confusing. What are the pros and cons to the different types of storage?
If you ask most people about storage, they’d likely assume you’re talking about self-storage. Self storage is the garage door type storage. If you rent a self-storage unit, it’s a lot like renting an apartment, only with no amenities.
You are free to rummage through whenever you want, as long as the facility is open. You can add to the room and take from it as you see fit.
You can hire a mover to move everything into and out of the storage unit, but in between, you’re on your own. Unless you pay for moving blankets, your furniture will not have that extra layer of protection from heat, cold and humidity. Regardless of how empty a storage locker is, you will have to pay for the entire space. As for security, there is usually either keypad entry or a front desk. There are generally cameras in the hallways, but once people get past the entry, they’re free to roam everywhere. Nothing is inventoried.
Container storage, a.k.a. Pods storage, has become very popular compared to other types of storage in recent years and for some pretty good reasons.
Container storage offers flexibility that self-storage can’t offer. The storage company delivers the container(s) to your home. You can either load them yourself or hire help. The container(s) can stay at your home for as long as you need them. After you’re done, the company can take them away to their facility and even move them across country.
You are ultimately responsible for loading and unloading the containers, even though you can hire help. Without proper loading technique, items could become damaged. Once containers are loaded, it’s difficult to rummage through to find things you might need. They take up a considerable amount of space and they’re eyesores, which can be a problem if you’re trying to sell your home. They aren’t very secure when in front of your home. You pay for the entire container, whether or not you fill it. Nothing is inventoried, so you would have no proof if anything goes missing.
Most movers, including Fairprice Movers, offer warehouse storage, which means items are taken to a warehouse and remain in the movers’ possession until you’re ready to accept delivery.
Warehouse storage is the most secure of the different types of storage. No one is allowed access once the warehouse closes for the day and there is manned security while the warehouse is open. Everything is inventoried. Professional movers move your items in and out of storage and everything stays wrapped and protected in a climate controlled environment. You only pay for the space you use and in most cases, everything is inventoried. Whether you want to move your things locally or long-distance, the mover can take care of it for you.
The customer is not able to rummage through stored items. If they need to pull something out of storage, they will need to arrange it with the moving company.
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We see it every single day. Sometimes in life, the unexpected happens. Perhaps you get a great new job several states away. Maybe you lose your job and can’t afford your great apartment. Then there is marriage, babies or buying a home. You might even want to travel for a month or two. There are any number of reasons to move and they don’t always coincide with the end of your lease. The good news is, there’s a chance you can sublet your apartment, but not always. Here’s what to do:
Look at your lease
In California, you can sublet your apartment unless your lease specifically forbids it (San Francisco almost always allows subletting). In some cases, your lease may require you to get permission before subletting. Even if it’s not required, it’s never a bad idea to get permission. It might help you once it’s time to get your security deposit back.
Find a tenant
There’s a very good chance your landlord will require your tenant choice to go through the same application process you did. However, you will still be the main lessee.
Your landlord cannot just flat out disapprove of a potential tenant unless they present a potential danger, have bad credit, or provide false or incomplete information on the rental application. Whatever you do, you should get your landlord’s approval in writing. Unless your landlord allows you to void your lease and start over with the new tenant, you are still ultimately responsible for payment and for the move-out condition of the apartment, so choose wisely.
Create your own subletting agreement
Clearly spell out everything, including who will pay for utilities, the term of the lease (if your subtenant wants to extend for another year, they will have to go through the landlord), the areas to which they have access, the security deposit, and grounds for eviction. It is customary to ask for one month’s security deposit. Note that it is difficult to evict a tenant in California. You should also run the subletting agreement by your landlord and give him or her a copy.
Do a walkthrough before and after the term of the sublet
Grab your phone and record the condition of everything in your apartment, including the state of cleanliness.
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A Post Office Box might seem like a relic of generations past, but for our highly mobile society, it could be time to bring them back. For many of our Bay Area moving customers, post office boxes are unnecessary, but there are a lot of exceptions. Should you get a one?
What is a Post Office Box?
A Post Office Box is a very simple concept. It’s a locked box inside a mail facility. Once you sign the paperwork and pay the small fee, you get a key. You can choose from varying size boxes, depending on how much mail you get, whether you receive packages, and how much you anticipate your mail might pile up.
How much do Post Office Boxes cost?
Depending on the size and location of your box, expect to pay from $20 – $75 for a six month rental. If you live in San Francisco, you’ll probably pay more than if you live in the outer reaches of the Bay Area.
Who should get a box?
If porch pirates are a regular occurrence for you, if you’re rarely home to sign for your mail, if you move locally within the Bay Area a lot, or if you don’t like giving out your home address, a box is a great solution!
Limits and solutions
There are some limits to the boxes. Not all are open 24 hours, 3rd party delivery services don’t deliver to Post Offices, and some mail might not be deliverable.
Post Offices do have solutions, though. Many Post Offices offer 24 hour access to their boxes. Ask first. As for the other limits, you can pay a small fee for an actual street address where 3rd party delivery services will deliver, and you can fill out a signature card which can be used when you have to sign for mail.