The extended radio silence around here has been due to several factors. The major factor has been because Geoff and I spent the better part of this summer looking for and then buying a house. (YAY HOUSE!!!!!) Then we had to move.
We had to move ALL the stuff and things. And ALL the books. OMG.
Rather than just write a whole post about how terrible it is to move, how long everything took, how sore we were… I mean, let’s get real, nobody wants to read that. Not even the awesome people who pitched in at the end to help us Get Out of the apartment.
Instead I’m going to highlight or, er, low light, the parts that went really well and the parts that didn’t. I’ll list the vendors who were amazing and the ones who were less than. Consider this your resource should you need to move in the Boston area in the future. Also, I’ll go in reverse order so we end on a positive note. You’re welcome.
Bad Apartments/Slumlords: Moving is ugly. Don’t do it unless it is absolutely necessary. In our case it was. Our building was quite literally falling down around us. In the photo below what you see in our “sealed” fireplace is several pounds of masonry, brick pieces, and sand that had fallen down the chimney.
Once cleaned up we discovered a mummified mouse in that pile. We didn’t even bother taking photos of the collapsing wall in the kitchen or any of the 25 violations the city inspector found and cited our landlord for. Thank God Dash is a good hunter and was keeping the mouse population down or I well and truly would have lost my mind.
Packing and moving in a Mini: Listen, we love Basil. He’s a great car despite having been through some tough times. But the last time we moved we had the Late Great Green Truck to help us with our stuff. We also had less stuff, let’s be honest. We’d been in this last apartment for 7 1/2 years. As much as we had yard sales, donated, recycled, and purged, we still have a lot of stuff. (It happens when you have your own research library and music library and run your own business.)
We had to pack and move everything in the mini that was too fragile or that the movers were not allowed to move. While we’re really good at Tetris, we were also competing with everyone else in the greater Boston area for boxes. And parking. And we also had to contend with the world’s most poorly timed family vacation in the history of ever. And, while we had absolutely hired movers, because Geoff and I are WAY past too old to bribe friends with Pizza and Beer, we still needed to get as much done in advance as possible. In one of the hottest Augusts on record.
Disorganized & lazy people: If your job requires you to handle large volumes of paperwork, especially financial and PII type paperwork, DON’T LOSE IT. Seriously, there were a couple of people at our loan originator, one in particular, who could not keep track of paperwork to save her life. If I’ve sent you something via secure email, don’t email me a week before closing when I’m theoretically on vacation and ask for it again. You have it, I know you have it. Find it, use it, and do your job.
Insurance Agents: While we have two of these that fit squarely in the good category, the property we were buying was an unusual one in which we were taking over half of an existing policy from the seller. The terms of our mortgage required that we make changes to that policy. When we contacted the agent for the existing policy he simply refused to call us back, something the seller told us was not outside of his normal behavior. It’s been nearly a month now and we’ve still not heard from him. Somehow I don’t think he’ll be surprised when he receives that cancellation paperwork in the mail…
Technologically challenged people: I’m not sure how much I have to explain this, but technologically challenged (aka PEBKAC) neighbors, real estate agents, and others made this process more difficult than it needed to be. If you don’t know how to separate an email attachment from one email and attach it to another or if you’re still using AOL for work email just stop already.
Incompetent people: Our primary contact at our loan originator was great. She was the VP in charge of our particular type of loan and she really has her act together. Other than her assistant, everyone else who worked for her was patently incompetent. This became obvious the moment that the VP went on vacation. It was August, lots of people are on vacation, but her staff nearly blew our closing date and the entire sale because they didn’t read emails, lost paperwork, asked us to duplicate paperwork they already had, failed to follow through on stuff they’d had for 8 plus weeks, etc. It took the seller blowing up in an email to get them, the Friday before our closing, to get it together so we could close as planned. I have never seen such breadth and depth of incompetence in one place perform such a ballet of stupidity in my life.
I’m going to mention briefly that some of these are WAY more than good. Some of them are spectacular. While nobody above was mentioned by name, pretty much everyone below will be. We encourage you to utilize these people, companies, or services. They’re uniformly great.
Insurance Agents/Companies: Geoff and I have done business with USAA for a long time. They were invaluable in writing our homeowners policy. Likewise, Andrew Bierschied from Elliot Whittier Insurance was an absolute superstar in getting our policy corrected and replaced when the deadbeat, mentioned above, refused to talk to us.
Real Estate Attorney: Upon the recommendation of a friend we went with Kelly Bonnevie of Wilson, Marino & Bonnevie, P.C. Aside from the fact that she spells her name correctly, she’s tremendously helpful in every possible way. She is an absolute advocate for her clients, she knows her subject areas inside and out, she’s easy to reach, and she’s technologically fluent. We recommend her without hesitation.
Gentle Giant: We’ve written about Gentle Giant before in this space. During one of the hottest weeks of the year they moved nearly two trucks full of stuff from our apartment to our new home. They worked really hard, were relentlessly upbeat, and very funny the entire time. They were absolute gentlemen (I happened to have a crew with all gentlemen giants on it) and they managed it all in 8.5 hours. Geoff and I swear that the only way we’re leaving this house is feet first, but anyone who needs to move, in the Boston area or elsewhere, please hire them. They’re the only people we trust and we have friends who say the same.
City of Cambridge Inspectional Services: If you live in Cambridge and you have any issue with your rental, call them. I have interacted with Inspectional Services twice, once with this most recent apartment and once about 10 years ago. They listen, they’re patient, and they’re discreet. They were actively concerned with the state of our former building, its impact on the tenants, and the fact that our landlord was fond of telling us that he “knew everyone in city government” and thereby could get out of any ticket or citation. Yeah. Each area of the city has a specific inspector and I have yet to deal with anyone in the office who wasn’t top notch and who didn’t take their job very seriously. If you live in Cambridge and you have to deal with a slumlord or a crappy super, call them. They will help you.
Flying Prince House Cleaning: One of the parts of living in a building that’s falling down is that there’s dust everywhere. And it isn’t just any kind of dust, it’s plaster dust. Our former apartment is over 100 years old and hadn’t had much, if any, work done on it since maybe 1920. Keeping up with the dust from the plaster was normally an impossible job. It was made more impossible by various life circumstances and by our former upstairs neighbors whom we referred to as The Elephants. (They stomped everywhere, cracked our ceiling, knocked stuff off our walls, etc.) Everything we owned had to be cleaned and washed, cleaning the apartment that we knew slumlord was going to try to rent out immediately wasn’t in the cards.
Enter Raul from Flying Prince. In 4 hours he and his team cleaned and disinfected the place from top to bottom. Even though it wasn’t our responsibility to clean the apartment to that level before we left, especially once Cambridge Inspectional Services stepped in, we felt obligated to try and leave it in better shape than we found it. Raul and his team allowed us to do that. Raul picked up the keys in advance, gave me a quote, stuck to his quote, and was able to clean the place up to a better degree than slumlord or his deadbeat super deserved. Flying Prince also pays all of their employees as employees, not contractors, and fully benefits them all. Need your space cleaned or need a regular housekeeper? Call Raul.
Our Home Inspector: I won’t lie to you, I’ve known Bob and Nancy Clarke for years. They were even invited to our wedding. And I will tell you with absolute faith that if you’re getting your house or potential house inspected anywhere in Eastern MA that you should hire Bob. I feel tremendously lucky to know him because he’s not only tremendously professional and has more years than he’s care to admit in the industry, but he’s nobody’s pushover. He works for the homeowner, he’ll tell you the truth, even if you don’t want to hear it, and he absolutely takes no bull from realtors. In fact our realtor groaned when I told her I was using him – she was concerned that he would be too truthful and might complicate the sale. Bob’s company is REC Consultants, Inc. Call him if you need an inspector, he’s the unqualified best.
Friends and Family: We would not be in our new place were it not for the love, support and straight up back breaking labor of a friends and family. Everything from help with the down payment, cleaning, and packing and moving to dog sitting, letting us borrow the truck, and giving us awesome furniture, we would not be in the new home we love without you. There’s more you’ve done, I’m sure. But you’re awesome, and you know who you are. To anyone who’s thinking about moving, make sure you have lots of these. Nobody can do it without them.
I think that’s everyone. If you’re going to be moving soon, good luck. If you have questions, ask in the comments. Also, if you’re in the area let us know. We, uh, have some boxes. We won’t even charge you.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the animals LOVE the new house. Check it out.