Moving Across State Lines? Here’s What You Need to Know

Moving is stressful enough, but when you throw an entirely new state into the equation, the process gets exponentially more challenging. However, whether it be for work, family, or medical reasons, there are times when the decision to move out of state is less of a choice and more of a mandatory requirement. Don’t worry, though, your move doesn’t have to be as stressful as you may think. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the things you need to do to make your life a little easier.

Renting an Apartment Without Ever Seeing itState1When a move is sudden and far away, there isn’t always time to visit the city and go apartment hunting. While this can be stressful – and is far from ideal – don’t let it worry you too much. There are ways of renting an apartment without ever seeing it – and, yes, it’s possible to be happy with your selection. However, as you may guess, there are also plenty of ways to mess up along the way.

The key to the entire process is research. Absolutely everything needs to be researched and verified. Think of it like online dating. While a person may have a profile picture fit for a super model, what are the chances that person is actually online and ready to mingle? If you see an apartment with incredible pictures, but the price is far below market value, you have reason to be suspicious. Anyone can upload pictures, and the last thing you want to do is show up and realize you were duped.

There are a few solutions to this potential problem. First, run the address through Google Maps and take a look at the street view. This will allow you to not only verify the exterior of the building, but it also lets you explore the area. After all, it’s possible the apartment building may be nice, but do you want to live there if it’s on a questionable block?

Next, ask the landlord to take you on a Skype walk through. This is the best solution and allows you to see the apartment in its current condition, without fear of image manipulation. Ask the landlord to show you everything from the inside of the apartment, to the stairways, to the outside. This will give you an uninhibited picture of the situation.

Finally, you should try to get some local opinion. Do you know someone who lives in the city you’re moving to? If you’re moving for work, does your company have a physical office nearby with someone who would be willing to check out the property for you? Having a local opinion can go a long way in letting you know if everything is as good or bad as it appears online.

Document Your Move-InState2When you move-in, make sure you document the condition of the apartment and make the landlord aware of any issues. If you want to get your security deposit back at the end of your lease, you have to be meticulous and careful. It’s best to take pictures before moving all of your stuff in. You can then email those images to the landlord for proof. If there are ever any discrepancies at the end of the lease, you can use them as references.

Changing DocumentationState3Aside from the actual moving process, one of the more stressful things about moving to a new state is switching all of your documentation. This may include your driver’s license, health insurance provider, vehicle tags and plates, car insurance, voter registration, and other forms of identification. Try not to get overly worked up about these things in the first week. Focus on moving in and then take an afternoon to research all of the things you need to do, what proof of residency you need, and how the transfer process works for each item. DMV.org offers a helpful page that explains some of the things you need to take care of when moving to a new state, and what time requirements there are.

In order to do most things, you’ll need some sort of proof of residency. This typically needs to be a bill with your new address on it. Calling one of your service providers and asking them to provide you with an advanced bill may be necessary. Otherwise, you might not get bills until the end of the month. Gas, electric, water, and cable companies are familiar with the need for proof of residency documents and shouldn’t give you any trouble about acquiring them as quickly as possible.

Locate Schools and PhysiciansState4If you have children, two of the most important things to do after a move are locate their new school(s) and find a family physician. Schools are likely already assigned to you, but you may have other nearby options if you’re considering the private school route. If you’re looking for an easy way to identify schools and colleges in the city you’re moving to, this tool by the National Center for Education Statistics is extremely helpful.

As for doctors, you never know when you’ll need a doctor – so go ahead and find one in advance. If possible, find a primary care doctor that can treat the entire family. Aside from asking people for references, you can also use a resource like the American Medical Association or Doctor Directory to find a reliable and honest doctor.

Get Familiar with Your SurroundingsState5Moving into a new environment can be intimidating, but it’s critical that you get out and learn as much as possible. Meet your neighbors, locate the nearest hospital, find out where nearby supermarkets and restaurants are located. Study maps and find the quickest way to work. Taking care of all of these things in the first couple weeks helps a place feel more like home. You’ll learn a lot about your new city in the coming months, but why put off for tomorrow what you can get done today?

By following these tips and making a positive effort to embrace your new city, the process will be less stressful and more exciting. Happy moving!

RentHop Brings More Online Listings to Renters Across the US With AppFolio

We’ve been working hard to add more listings to our site so that you have the best variety of listings to choose from. With that in mind, we announced today a partnership with AppFolio, the leading provider of web-based property management software, to distribute rental listings from AppFolio’s database to our site.

Headquartered in Santa Barbara, AppFolio Property Manager is a comprehensive, Web-based solution designed expressly for the needs of property management professionals. Tailored to solve the specific challenges of the property management industry, AppFolio Property Manager provides Web-based features appealing to modern renters while driving higher productivity and business ROI. For more information, please visit AppFolio.com.

We’re very excited to welcome AppFolio to the fold. Keep an eye out for additional partnerships to come!

Demo Day: Why hundreds of Y Combinator alums keep coming back

Twice a year, Y Combinator holds Demo Day to officially debut and graduate a batch of startups presenting to investors and press.  An event called Alum Demo Day takes place the night before.  It’s the last chance for the startups to practice and rehearse their presentations to a field of YC alums [1].

Next Tuesday is the 19th YC Demo Day.  Mine was the 9th, in the summer of 2009 (usually called S’09). Back then 26 companies presented for about 6 minutes and YC partners encouraged us all to include live demos of our product if possible (apparently the audience pays much more attention if there is some chance of the demo going awry).

In more modern times, over 80 companies deliver Demo Day speeches lasting only 2-3 minutes, each deck running off a shared computer with screenshots, graphs, and occasionally videos and physical stage props (robots on a Segway or Back To The Future like hover boards).

Even more drastic than the format, the audience at Alum Demo Day now spans representatives from 9 years of  founders (and I definitely see 05 through 08 alums in addition to my fellow S’09 batch mates).  Some alums have long sold their startups and become angel investors.  Others graduated only 6 months prior.  In any event, a nearly standing-room only audience of founders fills the auditorium each session and I’m perplexed by a simple question:  What keeps everyone coming back?

Obviously, first and foremost, we are there to help our fellow YC founders.  All of us received tremendous amounts of aid from the YC community and we love giving back whenever we can.  Still, with literally hundreds of founders in attendance, are there other benefits for attending Demo Day?   Here are my guesses, mostly my own reasons for going, and I’d love to hear from other alums and compile some results:

1.)  Mini-reunion with other YC Alums — It’s always great to see my batch mates but we’re often very busy running our startups!  Twice a year is a great frequency to hold a reunion and Alum Demo Day becomes a great catalyst and rally point.

2.)  Scout the latest wave of ideas – We know many YC companies pivot mid-program and others iterate and refine niche ideas into grand visions. In any case, many of the startups spent time scouting out the latest and most promising pitches.  I consider the evening a tour of the newest ideas swirling around Silicon Valley.

3.)  Early Look for Angel Investing – Quite a few alums make occasional angel investments.  In all of my (very few) angel deals, I only invest a tiny amount in companies that happen to interest me.  I probably wouldn’t have even made it into the round had I not introduced myself to the founders prior to the swarm of professionals on Demo Day.

4.)  Meet with YC partners – A great YC benefit is lifetime office hours as needed.  Usually that entails giving some high-level updates and asking a few specific questions about the road ahead.  Demo Day is a terrible night for office hours because the partners are preoccupied, but it’s a great chance for a quick chat and follow up to get on the calendar.

5.)  Watching your friends graduate – I had several close friends participate in earlier batches than me.  That’s how I first heard about YC and decided to apply.  Over the years I’ve encouraged many friends to follow and it’s always great to see them on stage.  Don’t worry, I believe admissions to YC is as merit-based as can be, but like lines in a fraternity, the social connections between alums are quite complex [2].

6.) Bdev, Sales, and Networking – Fellow YC companies make great beta testers, service providers, and business development partners.  By default I trust a YC company far more than most startups to do right, whether it’s going the extra mile to seal the deal on a partnership or to give excellent customer service if we try their product.  Also, the event is founders-only so everyone can be sure they are talking with top level decision-makers.

7.)  Excuse to visit the South Bay – Our startup is in New York and increasingly more alums are moving here.  However, during the 3 month program almost every event takes place in Mountain View, CA.  I have many fond memories living on Castro Street, but I’ll admit it’s a trek.  Maybe the SF dwellers think the same way.

These are roughly my top 7 reasons for attending the last 4 Alum Demo Days.  I’m sure others have great reasons I haven’t considered.  As usual, I’ve booked my tickets and fly from NYC tonight!  I hope to see many familiar faces next Monday!

[1]  Some people hear the term Alum Demo Day and think it’s a YC sponsored event for older, previously graduated YC companies to present to investors.   Maybe that’s a fine idea, but the only companies presenting in this batch is the current class.

[2]  Fast Company once tried to create a social graph of many YC Alums, but they quickly found the web extremely complex and intertwined.  They finally went to print with an infographic called Y Connector, but they had to cut out almost all of the people and some of the most interesting connections (http://infographics.fastcompany.com/magazine/163/y-connector-xl.html).

By Lee Lin, one of the co-founder of RentHop, a marketplace for apartments rentals, that participated in the Summer 2009 batch of Y Combinator.

9 Things to Know About Working With Movers

(Note: this piece appeared in abridged form at boston.com on May 27)

It’s summer, which means many people are moving. Doing it yourself is physically tough and can be expensive. Using movers often makes a lot of sense. But how do you make sure you’re using a good one?

Now *this* is a moving van!
Now *this* is a moving van!

Photo credit: Mike Mozart/CC BY 2.0

We’ve helped thousands of renter find new apartments in cities across the country. Along the way we’ve learned a lot about the moving process. With that in mind, here are our 9 things to know about choosing and working with movers.

NOTE: This post does not provide and is not intended to provide legal advice and it may not be used as such. We’re just trying to help!

(1) Look at publicly-available information. All interstate movers are required to be both licensed and registered with the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. That site will also have complaint reports for registered movers. If you don’t find your mover on that site, investigate. If the mover only does intrastate moves, it may not appear on the FMCSA website but it almost certainly will be regulated at the state level. Either way, confirm that the mover is licensed and registered somewhere.

Check out MovingScam.com and the DOT website. They’ll have good info on identifying scams and helpful suggestions for working with movers. Also, check with your local Better Business Bureau. If complaints appear, move on.

(2) Get an estimate. You need an estimate based on a walk-through. If the mover refuses to do so, or insists that you sign a contract (or make a deposit) before doing so, find someone else.

Why does this matter? Lots of reasons, but here’s an important one: interstate movers cannot require you to pay more than 110 percent of the price given in a non-binding estimate in order to get your property from them. This is called the 110 Percent Rule, and it prevents movers from holding your property for ransom. (Most states have a similar rule for intrastate movers). Expenses you incur over 110 percent of the non-binding estimate usually must be paid within 30 days. Note that there’s an exception from the federal 110 Percent Rule for services incurred after the estimate is signed.

(3) Pay attention to insurance. Check first that your mover is insured. Don’t work with one that isn’t. Second, federal law requires interstate movers to offer liability coverage for damage to your property. The baseline coverage for interstate movers is 60 cents per pound per item regardless of the value of the item. (This may be less for intrastate moves – for example, it’s 30 cents per pound in New York City.) The mover has to offer this at no cost. Movers must also offer additional coverage for a fee; this should protect you better, but make sure you understand its terms. Think before declining additional coverage – 60 cents per pound may not be enough to make you whole if something unexpected happens.

Also, some apartment buildings will require a certificate of insurance from your mover to cover damage to the building during the move. If you use a mover that can’t or won’t give that certificate you’ll need to deposit security with the building.

(4) Ask questions up front. What is the hourly rate? Is it per-person or for the whole team? If it’s per-person, how many people will be present? What other costs (e.g., fuel, waiting time, packing materials) will you incur, and at what rates? Make sure you know and get multiple quotes.

Consider whether you want to pack yourself or have the movers pack you up. If you can afford it you should have the movers pack; they’ll do a much better and faster job of it than you will.

(5) Look at the paperwork. In particular, look at the bill of lading, which details everything being moved, the origin and destination and the costs. It’s your receipt for the transaction – review it closely (including the fine print) and make sure it’s correct. And keep your copy on file!

Movers are required to provide you a copy of a pamphlet titled “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move”. Make sure you get it and read it.

(6) Supervise. Make sure you or someone you trust is there to watch the whole process.

(7) Storage. If you can’t move directly from your old place to your new place, or if some of your stuff won’t fit into your new place, you’ll need somewhere to put it during the transition. Many movers will offer to store your stuff temporarily. Check how much the space will cost, as well as the costs for moving into and out of the storage space. Also confirm that your property is insured while in storage, and check whether there have been any bedbug or vermin reports for that storage space.

When you’re moving out of storage into your new place, check the bill of lading for the move into your new place against the bill of lading for the move out of your old place. Make sure all your things arrive!

(8) Gratuity. It’s nice to tip for good service, but you’re not obligated to do so. Kindnesses like cold drinks on a hot day will go a long way. That said, don’t offer alcoholic beverages. It’s illegal as a matter of federal law for the movers to have alcohol in a commercial vehicle, and many moving companies will fire employees for having alcoholic beverages in the moving truck or van.

(9) What to do if you have a problem. Don’t panic. Try to work it out with your movers first. If you can’t, MoveRescue (800-832-1773) is a good place to start.

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Wondering how you’re going to cook in your small kitchen? We’ve got some ideas for you.

Or maybe you’re thinking of subletting? Here’s our six tips on how to do it best.

All-new Rental Heatmaps!

We’ve been hard at work building exciting new site features that will help you find a new rental home faster and more effectively than ever. One of those new features is our Rental Heatmaps. (Our friends at Curbed NY wrote about the Heatmaps last week!)

The Rental Heatmaps give access for the first time to aggregated real-time rental price data at the neighborhood level for many major metro areas in an easy-to-use map-based format. The Heatmaps show:

  • 25th percentile, 50th percentile and 75th percentile rents for different floorplans in each neighborhood;
  • For each neighborhood, a comparison of the neighborhood’s median rent to the overall metro area’s median rent; and
  • Year-over-year rent trends on a per-neighborhood basis.

Why are we so excited? Sometimes a more expensive apartment may actually be a better deal than a cheaper apartment when you look at all of the neighborhood data. The Heatmaps allow you to make ‘apples to apples’ comparisons so you can identify those great deals and have an early-mover advantage to nabbing a great apartment or rental home.

The Heatmaps are free to access and easy to use:

  • On RentHop, select “View Map”;
  • Go to the metro area in which you’re interested;
  • Click “Show Neighborhoods” on the right side of the screen; and
  • Roll your cursor over the neighborhoods you want to see.

You can easily toggle between the regular view, the Neighborhood Price Heatmap and YoY Price Heatmap and can view listings while the Rental Heatmaps are activated. No login is required to use the Rental Heatmaps.

Go have a look and let us know what you think!

A Look Back at Recent Blog Posts

There’s a lot of things to keep in mind as you’re looking for, finding, renting and living in an apartment. We thought we’d go back through our old blog posts and pull out some especially helpful ones for your reading pleasure. Let us know if there’s anything we missed!

There is a link below to our blog post for finding an apartment with your dog. This is not solely a blatant attempt to manipulate you.
There is a link below to our tips on finding an apartment with your dog. This is not (solely) a blatant attempt to manipulate you.

Photo: TrainManDan/CC 2.0

(But first…voting is still open for the People’s Voice Webby for Best Real Estate website! We’re in the running against some great sites and we need your help. Please come vote!)

We discussed nine tips to keep in mind when viewing an apartment, six tips on subletting your place, five ways to avoid losing your security depositfour tips for getting the most out of your renter’s insurance and four questions to ask when looking for a new neighborhood. We left out the partridge in the pear tree, but we did include our top six things to know before meeting a broker. For good measure we noted how to pick a great apartment for your dog.

We also described how the HopScore makes sure that you don’t see “ghost listings” here on RentHop. We even appeared in VentureBeat, started taking Bitcoin, partnered with Citi Habitats and went nationwide!

Did you know that it’s actually possible to negotiate your rent in Manhattan? Or that there are some apartment amenities you totally shouldn’t pay for (though there are some that are worth paying for too)?

You probably knew that it’s cheaper to live in Brooklyn or Queens than in Manhattan. How much cheaper, though? We got together with Moven and Smartasset to look at the hidden costs of living in New York.

When you’re looking at an apartment building, check out the other tenants. If there are restaurants in the building, be extra-careful. Most are clean, vigilant and careful; some aren’t, though, and that can have bad results for you. While you’re at it, make sure that your new place isn’t near one of New York’s many dangerous intersections!

Why are pre-war buildings awesome? Have a look and see. We think you’ll agree! Other awesome things about New York: culture on the cheap, food fairs, subway art, public spaces, ethnic food supermarkets and gut-busting sandwiches.

Whew! It’s been a busy few months!

We’ve Been Nominated For a Webby!

On Tuesday we received word that we are one of five nominees for the Webby Award for Best Real Estate Web Site. We’re so excited!

We’ve worked hard over the years to develop a site that helps you find the freshest, most accurate listings and good information about brokers and property managers. We’re thrilled that the site has been recognized by the Internet Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS).

The Webby Awards presents two honors in each category – the Webby Award, which is decided by the IADAS, and the Webby People’s Voice Award. You determine the winners of the Webby People’s Voice by voting for the nominated work that you believe to be the best in each category.

We’d be honored if you would vote for us! The voting goes until April 24, so don’t delay. Winners are announced April 29, so be sure to check back for updates!

(And don’t forget to share your vote with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus!)

Thank you again for using RentHop. We really appreciate your loyalty and we’ll look forward to helping you soon!

RentHop Goes Nationwide!

We’ve got some exciting news! Yesterday our friends at TechCrunch broke the news that we are now nationwide!

We’re looking forward to helping renters across the country find great apartments and high-quality, responsive brokers and property managers. Want to learn more? Come see our press release, or go take a tour of the nation!

As always, if you have any questions you can email us, tweet us at @RentHop, or catch us on Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, or Pinterest!

5 Awesome Subway Art Installations

Want to see some of the city’s best art?  Why bother with the museums when so much of it is available for just $2.50, underground, day or night?  There are 267 works of art within the New York City subway system — and that’s just the MTA’s official count. While checking out all of them would likely exhaust even the most loyal subway rider (though it would certainly justify the cost of an unlimited MetroCard), we’ve selected the top five must-sees — plus a bonus that any true New Yorker won’t want to miss.

  1. Hive (Bleecker Street), by Leo Villareal (6 at Bleecker Street / B/D/F/M Broadway-Lafayette Street, Manhattan).  This 2012 installation consists of a honeycomb of lights, over the passageway between the 6 train and the B/D/F/M lines at Bleecker and Broadway-Lafayette.  The rainbow of colors flickers and changes, creating patterns and the illusion of movement.  The website Mommy Poppins recommends it for kids, but we like it as an artistic experience for all ages.

Bleecker

(Photo by Bit Boy)

  1. My Coney Island Baby, by Robert Wilson (D at Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue, Brooklyn).  Debuting in 2004, this exhibit of Coney Island images silkscreened onto the glass walls of the station is a bold, beautiful bit of art from Wilson, who is known for his work in experimental theater.  The pictures — of a Nathan’s hot dog, of the famous carousel, and more — seem to glow as the sunlight streams in through the glass.  It’s not the only reason to go to Coney Island, for sure, but it definitely adds something unique to your trip.

Coney Island

(Photo by Steve Terrell)

  1. Respite, by Jason Rohlf (A at Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue, Queens). There’s at least one reason to venture to the last stop of the Queens-bound A train. A 2011 renovation of the station unveiled an incredible work of art by Jason Rohlf that encompasses the entire space — a brilliantly-colored set of glass panels depicting birds perched on branches, letting the light shine through, visible both inside and outside the station.

Rockaway

(Photo by MTAPhotos)

  1. Masstransiscope, by Bill Brand (can be seen on board Manhattan-bound B and Q express trains just after Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn).  Originally designed in 1980 in a now-abandoned Myrtle Avenue subway station in Brooklyn, in 2008 this exhibit was restored to make it visible out the windows of the express trains heading from Dekalb Avenue into Manhattan.  Two hundred and twenty-eight panels rush past, creating the illusion of a moving image that twists and twirls.  (Of course, if your train is slowed by traffic, the twisting and twirling may happen more slowly than intended….)  A must-see, even if you don’t ride the train — you can watch the video on YouTube.

 

  1. Carrying On, by Janet Zweig and Edward Del Rosario (N/R at Prince Street, Manhattan). This exhibit of almost 200 silhouettes of New Yorkers carrying “stuff” along the city streets — backpacks, trash bags, boxes, and more — was unveiled in 2004, with the idea that after 9/11, city life must carry on as usual, with the daily business of New Yorkers as alive as ever. The steel and marble images were created based on photographs of real New Yorkers on the streets and in the subway station, and, taken together, the dozens of pictures tell a story of a city still vibrant and busy.

Prince

(Photo: Dan Deluca)

  1. City Hall Station (abandoned at the end of the 6 train in Manhattan — ride the train past the Brooklyn Bridge stop to the turnaround in order to see the station, which was in use from 1904 to 1945).  This magnificent station, beautifully preserved, can be seen either from the 6 train past the turnaround, or occasionally as a special tour through the New York Transit Museum. The station was, in its day, an elegant showpiece for the subway system, a mini-Grand Central with vaulted ceilings and beautiful chandeliers. Most New Yorkers born since the 1940s have never seen it — but by riding the 6 train past the final stop, you can take a glimpse into the city’s past.

City Hall

(Photo: Paul Lowry)

For information about all 267 works of art in the subway system, you can download the MTA’s free Arts for Transit app here, or check out the Arts for Transit.

RentHop now takes Bitcoin!

We’re very excited to announce that as of yesterday (December 15) we now accept Bitcoin as payment for listing apartments on the site!wally_homepage_btc - Copy

Currently, landlords and real estate agents pay $2 to post a rental listing and to keep it active on the site. However, for those paying in Bitcoin, a listing will only cost 0.833 milli-bitcoin (1/1000th of a bitcoin).  At today’s exchange rates, that means a discount of about 60%.

We feel strongly that Bitcoin’s secure, low-friction payment protocols will benefit both RentHop and the landlords and property managers who use us.  We also believe that Bitcoin is a good store of value for the medium- to longer-term. (We intend to hold Bitcoin rather than converting immediately to USD.)  We think it’s a win-win for us and for the industry and we’re excited to be at the front of the charge.

Here’s a link to the press release.  If you have any questions or want to learn more, drop us a line – we’d love to hear from you!  As always, you can reach us at [email protected] or on twitter at @RentHop.  We’re also on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Linkedin.

And look out for some pretty exciting news over the next few weeks….