Unique Housewarming Party Ideas You Can Do Year-Round


Ready to celebrate after moving into your new home or apartment? Finding ideas for a housewarming party is the logical (and exciting) next step to take after moving into your new space. 

It’s also a great way to settle in and embark on your new journey of getting to know your neighborhood and neighbors!

Properly planning your housewarming party and finding attention-grabbing ideas is key to entertaining your group of besties and family. 

But if your local weather forecast is looking kinda iffy for the next few weeks, you need celebration ideas that can work in any season, rain or shine. 

So, as part of our Spruce Your Space series, we’re rounding up some unique, all-season housewarming party ideas to make your first great memories in your new home or apartment.

3 Creative & Unique Housewarming Party Ideas For Any Season

1. Housewarming Theme Idea #1: New Home, Who Dis?

Photo by Christian Stahl on Unsplash

 

Theme:

You just moved into a new house and you’re in love with the possibilities. 

So you know that the amazing people in your life are going to feel proud and excited for you, too. 

Play up the optimism by putting the focus back on your home—especially if you’ve done some cool renovations or stunning decoration. 

Before initiating the games, do a tour of your home first (hide any unpacked boxes that are still around). You’ll understand why later!

Food:

Whether you’re whipping up the creations yourself, catering with interesting new fusions, or if you’re giving your guests ideas on what to bring, you can focus on brand-new or unheard-of foods. 

Even if it’s a recipe that you’ve recently discovered or a regional food you’ve never tried, it will get both you and your buddies out of your comfort zones and chatting.

Games:

Prep your own personal list of different attributes in your new place: 

  • Is the stove gas or electric? 
  • Are there any ceiling fans? 
  • What kind of flowers are in the front yard? 
  • What color is the outside of the front door? 

These are just some facts about your home that you can easily turn into a trivia game. 

It will help you find out which of your guests has a keen eye and a great memory! 

Perfect For:

Anyone who just moved into a new house. Doesn’t matter whether you’re the tenant or homeowner. 

This can also work if you moved into an apartment or condo that’s larger than a one-bedroom… Just make sure your space is already decorated or the game won’t be challenging at all.

2. Housewarming Theme Idea #2: Local Lovin’ 

5 Stages of Living In San Antonio

 

Theme:

How well do you and your friends know your own city?

This housewarming theme is all about the new location you now call home. You’d be surprised how little some people know about an area they’ve lived in for years!

Food:

Stick to serving anything that your new area is known for, (regardless of whether you cooked it or not). 

Moving to Texas? Find the best nearby barbeque joint that caters and grab enough utensils for everyone. 

Say, your new spot is in San Antonio, order local foodie staples like smoked chicken and puffy tacos for guests while whipping up margaritas. 

If you’re inviting neighbors who are particularly proud of their city, they’ll appreciate how you’re trying to acclimate to your new setting!

Games:

Option A: Trivia is the easiest go-to game for this Local Lovin’ housewarming party theme. So, round up some interesting facts from a quick Google search about your new city or state to test your guests. 

Have a list of each fact + answer, and number them all. 

Make some flashcards with the corresponding number on one side and the question on the other side, so the answer key will match the card number. Now you’re ready to play!

For incorrect answers, simply add a twist. 

You can turn it into a drinking game or have guests reveal a quirky dance move or hilarious personal truth. 

Option B: New spaces are great for inspiring creativity, so why not get artsy by painting? Plus, if the weather is less than ideal, this will brighten things up a bit. 

You can grab some watercolor paint (it’s extremely easy to clean if it spills), mini canvasses, and mini easels from your local hobby store. 

Set up your guests in the kitchen where clean-up is a breeze, and grab your favorite drinks.

Concentrate on one area of your home to paint so everyone has the same focal point. 

This will vary based on how much your kitchen is open, and which rooms it opens towards. 

If you have a killer view from an apartment, this works even better. (Or, you can always just paint a scene of your kitchen!)

Perfect For:

People who are moving to a new state, city, or town will love this.

Even if you moved within the same city, this theme still works.

3. Housewarming Theme Idea #3: House to a Home  

housewarming party game ideas using interior design swatches options

 

Theme:

We all know that watching tons of HGTV can really pump up your inner interior designer.

So, yeah, while turning your house into a home seems easy at first… 

You soon realize there’s a plethora of beautiful paint colors, wall, and flooring options to choose from.

Indecision can kick in…making you doubt everything for fear of the wrong choice. 

Forget that! 

Why not ask those who know you best? 

Invite your friends and family over to a party designed to turn your bare new house into a home. 

Food:

This theme is based on the comfort and coziness of home. 

Order some comfort foods and well-known desserts from local spots—like mac n’ cheese, lasagna, Southern fried chicken, chicken & dumplings, cupcakes, apple pie—you get the idea. 

You can also turn this into a potluck if visitors want to bring food.

Since comfort foods tend to be heavy, stick to small portion sizes and try to schedule your party earlier in the day. 

If your housewarming party time isn’t flexible, scale down the comfort foods into appetizer-sized versions:

  • Mac n’ cheese bites vs. a bowl of mac n’ cheese
  • Apple pie squares instead of an entire slice
  • Fried chicken tenders instead of a hefty drumstick or wing

Your guests will love the food, but they still need a chance to get home without being overstuffed and sleepy! 

Games:

Get your top choices for your next in-home project ready. 

So if you’re having trouble choosing between paint or backsplash tile options, don’t stress! Just get some samples not only for yourself but for your housewarming party. 

Alternatively, you can save inspiring examples online of the spaces you’d love to replicate in your new place (Pinterest and Instagram are the absolute best resources.)

If you have a projector or smart TV set up, you can cast these saved images from your computer or phone for your housewarming party audience. 

Get their votes and let them help you decide

Most importantly, don’t forget to keep them in the loop with the outcome. 

Your friends will love to know their input helped you make your final decision!

Perfect For:

Uncertain new homeowners/ renters who want to make minor changes to their space, but need advice from friends/family.

Should You Still Have a Housewarming Party During COVID-19?

If you’re wary about transmitting more than just good vibes—like COVID-19, for instance—you can always go virtual.

It’s as simple as setting up a call on Facebook Messenger Rooms, Zoom, Telegram, or Skype!

Although you still should do the standard party-planning stuff (sending digital invitations, giving advance notice, etc.), there’s a lot you don’t have to do for an online celebration. 

Virtual housewarming parties can actually be much less expensive and better in general for everyone who attends.

Here’s why:

  1. It’s perfect for long-distance loved ones to join in.
  2. You and your guests can skip buying food and drinks.
  3. No one has to pay for tolls or gas getting to your home
  4. Guests don’t have to worry about having one too many adult beverages before hitting the road. 
  5. Social distancing is so much easier.
  6. Anyone who is eating during a video chat, won’t have to worry about spilling food or remembering to put their mask back on.  
  7. Guests who want to give gifts won’t feel pressured to do so.
  8. People with children don’t have to find a babysitter/pet-sitter before your party, or rush home after it. 
  9. Your home and party decor don’t have to be the slightest bit done. (For virtual housewarming celebrations on a budget, you don’t really need party decor at all!)
  10. Once it’s over, the only person you have to clean up after is yourself 

**If you opt to have an in-person housewarming party and you’re not vaccinated:

Try sticking to the guidelines of reputable major health organizations, like the CDC or WHO (World Health Organization).  Your guests will really appreciate that their well-being is your priority while they participate in your big celebration!

Your housewarming party should be riveting—not regrettable!

So, avoid accidentally getting into legal skirmishes by sticking to your state and local guidelines, too.  There may be limits on the time of day or amount of non-resident guests allowed, among other things.

You definitely don’t want to unknowingly violate any local regulations simply by celebrating a housewarming party!

That would certainly give your neighbors something to talk about (and not in a good way.)

Wrapping Up

Now that you have some inspiration on what to do for a housewarming party, it’s time to schedule your party and send invitations. 

Giving your intended guests a heads-up is simply good old-fashioned etiquette. 

We highly recommend giving them no less than 3 weeks’ notice. (This way, anyone who RSVPs still has enough time to plan around their own schedules and possibly order a gift for you.)

These imaginative ideas for your upcoming housewarming party will give you an awesome time to remember, no matter the time of year!

Did you recently throw a killer housewarming party and have the photos to back it up?

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Why Moving from California to Austin Isn’t a ‘Dystopia’


Thinking about moving from California to Austin? 

If you’re anything like the droves of Californians scrambling to move to Texas (Austin, specifically) you’re probably wondering how it stacks up to where you currently live.

Perhaps you’ve heard about the Bay Area-based sales exec, Brett Alder, who couldn’t wait to move to Austin, only to later regret it and move back to California…

Notably, he dubbed Austin a “conservative dystopia”. 

(Dystopia means “an imagined state or society where is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or post-apocalyptic.”)

It sounds dramatic, because it is. But Austin is pretty awesome as long as you’re realistic and prepared. 

Politics aside—because let’s be honest, that’s stressful and simply not our jam—we’re proud of every inch of our state. 

With 63,174 California residents moving to Texas in 2019 alone (the most influx from any state)1 we’d like to offer a more positive perspective about our capital city. 

Here are 3 weirdly satisfying things that Californians can expect when moving to Austin!

1. Austin’s Cultural Scene Is Distinctly Texan—With a Worldly Twist

Whether it’s an artistic cultural exhibition or foodie fest, Austin is on par with California in terms of diversity by Texas standards. 

Events happen daily, with some of the most world-renowned festivals taking place year-round. 

Texans as a whole are incredibly proud of our brand of barbeque and Tex-Mex cuisine.

Austin takes this to a whole ‘nother level. 

Instead of relying solely on Yelp, why not talk to locals and do a little more research on the things to do and places to eat? 

You’ll find it difficult to choose from Austin’s myriad of mouth-watering restaurants, bars, and barbeque joints known for their range of ethnic and regional influences! 

If you want a cinematic scene with more of an indie flair, why struggle in the highly competitive world of Hollywood, California?

Austin is an excellent choice for launching a career in film or simply enjoying a festival. Cult films, blockbuster TV shows and movies alike have long been filmed in Austin.

Heck, in 2016, Moviemaker.com even voted the city the third-best for filmmakers2.

2. Cali Transplants Who Plan Wisely Can Handle the Austin Heat

One of Alder’s biggest complaints included not only high energy costs for his 4,000-square foot home, but the hot and humid weather in Austin. 

Yes, it’s hot (duh, it’s Texas)—much hotter than California. 

Despite having lower energy costs across Texas, you’ll use more to cool down/heat up your home. 

Combined with the 300 days of sunshine3 that Austin gets, make sure you can handle the heat and don’t mind spending less time outdoors during 100-degree temperatures. 

But, there are ways around paying so much money to heat and cool a large home, and it’s best to do your research before you get to Austin.

Humid air takes longer to heat and cool down4, so you’ll need to be much more strategic when leaving California’s temperate climate for the muggier Lone Star state.

  • Install a smart thermostat- This will help you cool down your home efficiently on a timer and you can even set it by specific days or monitor settings with a mobile app. 
  • Invest in a humidity control system- Dehumidifiers will help inhibit any mold growth (fungi love humid and warm conditions) and zap moisture from the air. Whole-home systems can be installed by an HVAC technician to automate your humidity control even better.
  • Cycle the bathroom fan- That fan in the bathroom isn’t just for number 2’s. It should be your BFF when you want to keep air and surroundings dry. Just remember to turn it off so you don’t waste energy!
  • Consider getting a dryer duct kit- Reroute air from your dryer (non-gas dryers only) either outdoors during warm days or indoors when it’s cold. Combine this with a dehumidifier to combat condensation. 
  • Check any cracks and reseal- Your home can’t efficiently heat or cool if there’s air getting in or escaping. Closely inspect your future residence to determine if any areas need to be resealed or repaired. 

If you haven’t moved to Austin yet:

Find out what you’re currently paying for energy, including the usage, and write it down. 

An Excel or Google spreadsheet should work fine.

The goal is to compare what you’re currently paying with the energy and water rates where you’re planning to move. 

Even if you don’t know exactly where you’ll be moving to within Austin, you’ll have a solid rate already recorded for future reference.

If you’ve already moved to Austin: 

It’s still a good idea to check what you’re currently paying (especially if your bill is higher than it was in California). 

Use an energy comparison provider like ElectricityPlans.com or Power to Choose to compare rates in Texas. Enter your zip code and instantly get a lineup of rates to choose from.

Lastly, if storms and harsh weather have you concerned, factor in getting the appropriate level of renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance to your moving costs. 

You may even be eligible for assistance or discounts through certain company projects—like weatherization and solar or wind energy programs!

3. Austin Has a Lower Crime Rate & More Economic Opportunity Than California

Looking to move somewhere where there’s more opportunity to buy a home?

Austin is a good choice for a few reasons.

In general, Texas is known for its Southern hospitality and more laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere.

Austin will give you the same experience with a bigger metro-city feeling.

Ranking 28th out of the 30 largest cities in the US for violent crime5, you can feel safer there than in many Californian cities.

In addition to the lower crime rate, Austin has an existing reputation as a technology hub. This reputation is quickly gaining steam as more large companies and tech workers are ditching higher-priced metros with state taxes (Texas has zero) for cities like Austin.

To name a few, big brands like Tesla, Oracle, Lowe’s, and others are either relocating to Austin or expanding operations and opening regional offices there.

Of course, current employees and aspiring industry newbies alike will follow the money—and so can you!

Key industries for employment in Austin6

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Clean Technology
  • Corporate HQs and Regional Offices
  • Creative & Digital Media Technology
  • Data Management
  • Financial Service & Insurance
  • Space Technology
  • Life Sciences

Did you notice that many of the key industries in Austin mirror those in California? 

Even better news is the fact that Austin’s economy is bouncing back, proving to be more resilient than many other cities impacted by the widespread COVID-19 pandemic job losses of 2020.

National & Local Housing Market Data | Zillow

home values in Austin compared to Californian cities

Housing prices are also lower compared to basically anywhere in California’s major cities. In the charts on average home value below, Austin clocks in at $378,454. While that’s above the U.S. average of $266,104, it’s well under even the least expensive major California city mapped on this chart ($678,665). 

So yes, homeownership is definitely within your reach if you’re fleeing California for more opportunity. 

It’s even more attainable if you’re realistic (a.k.a, not aiming for a McMansion) and have funds from previous home equity, or savings from a decent-paying job. 

Observed Rent Index | Zillow

rent prices

Rental prices in California versus Austin are comparable with housing averages.  They’re even more of a deal when you consider the national average ($1,740)!

When compared to major cities in California, Austin is still less expensive for renters with an average price of ($1,548).

Wrapping Up

Californians, please don’t expect Austin to feel 100% like the cities you’re leaving behind in the Sunshine State…

California is unique and so is Texas.

That pretty much goes triple for Austin which we fondly call ‘weird’ for a very good reason. 

The best way to acclimate to any new place is to keep an open mind and do lots of research. 

Keep in mind those two simple things and you’ll find that a utopia awaits you in Austin instead of regrets.

Sources:

  1. ‌‌U.S. Census Bureau. “Moves to and from the South and West Dominate Recent Migration Flows.” The United States Census Bureau, 29 Apr. 2019, www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/04/moves-from-south-west-dominate-recent-migration-flows.html. 3 Feb. 2021.
  2. Hensley, Ellie. “Austin One of Best Cities for Filming — Even Better than LA.” Austin Business Journal, Austin Business Journal, 21 Jan. 2016, www.bizjournals.com/austin/blog/creative/2016/01/austin-one-of-best-cities-for-filming-even-better.html. 7 Feb. 2021.
  3. Media, Yu. “Austin, TX – Detailed Climate Information and Monthly Weather Forecast | Weather Atlas.” Weather Atlas, 2021, www.weather-us.com/en/texas-usa/austin-climate#climate_text_1. 7 Feb. 2021.
  4. Guy, Energy. “How Humidity Affects Heating and Cooling – Energy Forums.” Energy Forums, 11 Feb. 2016, energyforums.net/hvac/how-humidity-affects-heating-and-cooling/.  7 Feb. 2021. 
  5. ‌Mulder, Brandon. “Fact-Check: Is Austin One of the Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S.?” Austin American-Statesman, Austin American-Statesman, 6 Nov. 2020, www.statesman.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/11/06/fact-check-is-austin-one-of-most-dangerous-cities-in-us/43010523/. 7 Feb. 2021.
  6. “Key Industries.” Austin Chamber of Commerce, 2019, www.austinchamber.com/economic-development/key-industries. 7 Feb. 2021.

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Flood Insurance Advice That Will Protect Your Dream Home


Wondering how flood insurance actually works, what it covers, and what it costs? Perhaps you’re not even convinced that you need it.

Hurricane season is nothing to laugh at in Texas. So, flood insurance should at least be on your radar if you don’t already have it. 

To get the real deal on how flood insurance can help safeguard your precious property, we sat down with Ken Robinson, who services all of Texas as CEO of MAKZ Insurance.

 

Ken drops some excellent and little-known insights for everyone: no matter if you’re a brand new homeowner, a renter, or if you’re simply considering flood insurance for the first time.

How do Insurance Companies Define a Flood Event?

In very elementary terms: insurance policies shell out money when bad things happen

Obviously, those horrible events must have definitions so they know when to pay. If this event doesn’t fit the definition, then your property is not covered under that specific policy. 

Flood insurance isn’t any different.

According to Ken, companies define a flood as whenever water comes from outside of your home, into your home. 

So if that happens to you AND you have flood insurance, you’re much better off. Your damaged home is generally covered.  

 

Do I Really Need Flood Insurance?

“I recommend definitely everyone should get flood insurance. I know there are a lot of rumors… that every part of Houston is not a flood zone…As long as you’re living in the city, you should definitely have flood insurance. At any time, it just takes one heavy rainstorm, and you’re flooded.”

—Ken Robinson

To understand why flood insurance is beneficial—especially in a Gulf state or coastal city—let’s backtrack to what home insurance does and does not cover. 

Standard homeowner’s insurance policies cover 3 key things:

  • The building structure
  • Liability (if someone gets hurt/injured on your property)

Your personal property is covered if you have an endorsement (And, you should absolutely inventory your things… it’s easy to do when you move)

To be clear: flooding is not covered under homeowner’s insurance!

 

What Flood Insurance Does And Does Not Cover

“You must have flood insurance in order to get coverage. Your homeowner’s policy does not cover flood insurance at all.”

—Ken Robinson

Flood insurance is different from homeowner’s insurance since it covers: 

  1. More than a standard homeowner’s insurance or renters policy
  2. Building structure if it’s damaged by water from outside your home
  3. *Optional add-on: Personal property (clothes, electronics, appliances, etc.)

 

While it’s optional, Ken recommends that everyone gets the personal property add-on in case of a flood, and ask questions about the type of coverage you’re getting.

There are two ways that insurance companies pay out on personal property claims:

  • Some calculate value using replacement cost (the cost of replacing your items at the same price/with the same materials). 
  • Other companies use actual cash value to reimburse your damaged property.

The value of things like shoes and clothing will be harder to verify—since regular wear and tear diminishes them over the years. 

Ken recommends making an inventory of your belongings right away in order to have proof in case they are damaged. 

A perfect time to do a home inventory is if you’re moving! Try:

  • Filming a video journal 
  • Taking pictures and scanning receipts with a phone app
  • Making an online spreadsheet or notebook as you shop 

If you want coverage for items that are damaged by water coming into your residence from outside, you absolutely must have flood insurance. Preferably, with a personal property add-on. 

Don’t have it? 

You’re on the hook for your own repairs and item replacements. 

 

What Are My Options for Flood Insurance?

“I recommend that everyone get a private flood program quote and a National Flood Program [NFIP] quote.”

—Ken Robinson

There are two main ways to get flood insurance and they’re all quoted annually:

  • FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)– a standard policy where holders pay the same rate statewide as determined by FEMA
  • Private flood insurance programs- policy is based off a private insurer’s systems; lenders must approve these programs, but pricing is becoming competitive

Note for homeowners: Consult your mortgage company first, as some lenders don’t accept flood insurance policies from private companies. If you own your home outright, it’s your decision.

 

What Are the Waiting Periods for Flood Insurance?

Here in the Gulf, hurricane season arrives in late spring or early summer like clockwork.

So, if you live in any of the Gulf states prone to hurricanes or flooding, get your flood insurance a month before then.

For areas at risk during inclement weather, it’s crucial not to procrastinate about getting a flood policy if you want to be covered soon.

For NFIP policies:

There is a 30-day waiting period before flood policies kick in. Any flooding that happens within this time will not be covered by your flood insurance or homeowner’s insurance. The only exception? If you’re moving into a newly-purchased home. (This is to avoid having to pay out too many claims at once, which would put the insurers themselves in dire financial straits). 

For private insurance policies:

Ken acknowledges there’s a lot more flexibility with private flood insurers. Although you’re limited to getting the mortgage company’s approval on a private flood policy, the waiting period is drastically different. It takes anywhere from 15-, 10-, or even 0-day waiting periods for your property to get flood coverage with a private company.  

 

How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost Per Year?

You really can’t put a price on knowing you’ll be taken care of if your property gets flooded… Generally speaking, flood insurance costs will vary based on different factors, like:

  1. Location of your home
  2. Cost and size of your home (this determines how much coverage you need)
  3.  Replacement cost of your home (should be at least equal to your home’s appraisal value)

Through the NFIP, this policy is paid out first. The maximum coverage limit is $250,000, regardless of the cost of your home.

For example, if your home costs $500,000, your NFIP flood policy only covers half in case of a flood (possibly less if your home’s appraisal value has increased).  In this case, Ken recommends getting an excess policy for flooding to cover the additional $250,000 the home is worth. 

 

Do I Need It If I Live in a Condo or Rent an Apartment?

“Be it renting or owning, you want to have some type of insurance in place. Even in the instance of renting, you still need to make sure your personal property is covered.”

—Ken Robinson

Do you even need flood insurance if you’re renting? Ken says yes. 

See that 3-point list of what homeowner’s insurance covers? The same thing applies if you get a renter’s policy (for renting houses or apartments) or a condominium policy (for owning a condo). Again, you’ll need a flood insurance policy to get any coverage for water that comes into your residence from outside and causes damages. 

The chances of experiencing flood damage from anything higher than the first floor are quite slim. Therefore, Ken recommends that residents who live on first-floor units get insurance against floods. 

 

How Do I Know If I’m Buying or Renting In a Flood Zone?

“When you’re speaking with your realtor, that realtor should have that information. There are sites online where you can enter your information to determine if you’re in a flood zone.”

—Ken Robinson

Like many Texas-based insurers, Ken prefers to use the terms high-risk and low-risk when referring to flood zones.

Due to the state’s position near a coast known for hurricanes and sudden, heavy rainfall, he firmly believes the entire cities could be endangered by unexpected floods at any time.

For Renters: 

If you’re about to move, it’s important to ask your realtor or leasing agent about this first. 

Some questions to ask include:

  1. Is this property in a flood zone?
  2. Do you know if it’s in an A-, E-, or X-zone?
  3. Has this property experienced flooding before?
  4. Do you have proof of a flood zone certificate?

Remember, if you’re renting in a first-floor unit in a higher-risk area (even if it’s never flooded before), you’ll likely want to consider flood insurance.

For Homeowners:

Mortgage companies require that you insure high-risk properties in certain zones with a flood policy before they greenlight your loan. 

If the property is in a known or risky area for flooding, then the mortgage company will definitely know. You don’t really need to investigate further, in this case. 

Here’s a simplified way to remember how mortgage companies judge the flood risk of a home:

  • A or B or E zone = higher-risk 
  • X zone = lower-risk 

If your mortgage company says your house is in a flood zone, here’s what happens:

  1. Mortgage company will send a surveyor to inspect the property
  2. Surveyor will provide a flood certificate
  3. The flood certificate will include the designated risk level 

How to Check If You’re In a Flood Zone

Flood zones can come and go, (or get worse).  

When remapping of flood zones occurs, mortgages make sure you’re notified if your property is identified as having a newly changed risk for flooding.

You should receive a letter in the mail informing you if you’re in a higher-risk flood zone. This will also tell you if you’re required to get insurance.

To check an address by yourself, click over to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website below.  

Are You Living in a Flood Zone? Enter Your Address to Find Out.

If the tool above shows that you’re in a high-risk flood zone, Ken recommends that you get a flood insurance policy as soon as possible.

 

Why New & Current Homeowners Need To Check Flood Risk

“Unfortunately, with the last couple of floods that have happened over the last five years or so, some areas that were initially not in high-risk zones are now in those zones. When those homeowners bought those properties, they were in low-risk zones, but now they’re not. And in some areas that were in high-risk zones, I’ve been seeing some areas that have fallen into low-risk [zones]. So those areas have actually gotten credited for not flooding.”

—Ken Robinson

It’s completely legal to sell property in a flood zone. 

You can also build a home in a flood zone (although it might not be the wisest decision in a higher risk location).

As Ken points out, flood zones and their risk levels can change in as little as five years!

That’s why it’s crucial to verify the flood risk for wherever you live. 

Do it for the sake of either protecting your home and belongings, or to possibly save money on your home insurance.

 

Can I Reduce or Remove Flood Insurance Requirements?

“Increase, yes: flood insurers always want you to have adequate amounts of coverage. Decrease? If there is a mortgage on it, no, they won’t allow you to do that because that loan is still being covered.”

—Ken Robinson

There is one caveat if you own your home (although Ken doesn’t recommend it since it exposes you to a huge risk). However, you have the right to decrease your level of flood insurance coverage if you feel it’s necessary. 

So, Will You Finally Get Flood Insurance?

Why are we covering topics like property insurance? It’s simple:

We want to make sure anyone who’s moving is happy and successful—even if our movers haven’t personally helped you. Your personal property should always be insured against damages or potential loss.

 

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Moving to San Antonio? Here’s What You Need to Know


Considering a move to San Antonio?

There are a few things you need to know about living in this Texas city that won’t pop up in a simple Google search.

You’ve got questions, so we’ve got answers. Here’s what to expect before relocating to Alamo City... Straight from the mouths of locals.

Insider Tips: Living in San Antonio, TX

You know it’s true… Each city has its own culture, rhythm, and flavor

Other than living there yourself, talking to those who already do is the best way to truly grasp the essence of a place.

This is pretty important research that you may or may not have the time, resources, and patience for… However, just like a new job or relationship, it’s critical to know if the city is compatible with you

So, we’ve rounded up the best advice from across the web and San Antonians themselves to reveal what it's like living in San Antonio.

How’s the Traffic in San Antonio?

For those coming from smaller or less-populated towns, Texas’ traffic could take some getting used to…

But, compared to our other sprawling cities—Austin, Dallas, and Houston— Quora users actually rank San Antonio traffic last.

Non-Texans thinking of moving to San Antonio will be happy to know that the average work commute is just over 24 minutes!

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What About Fun Things to Do?

Everyone knows about the Riverwalk… It’s a beautiful stroll or ferry float among all the cultural, retail, and culinary delights that San Antonio has to offer in one spot. But once you’ve made the move there, the Riverwalk is only impressive so many times.

Top 5 Holiday Events & Attractions in San Antonio

Take it from a local: check out the many other activities that define San Antonio. Things like festivals, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the amazing tacos and tamales, and more will keep you entertained!

Did we mention there's even a cocktail conference?

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Where are the Best Places to Live?

Like other Texas metropolises, San Antonio is a city full of diverse residential areas.

Do your homework before you move to avoid ending up in either an overpriced or shady part of town.
Or, just listen to these residents who know the city inside-out.

best place to live in San Antonio

This San Antonio local has great advice for families who desire safety and good school districts above all.

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Can I Make a Good Living in San Antonio?

No need to worry about finding a gig after moving to San Antonio!
The city boasts:

  • A future projected job growth rate that's above the national average
  • A more affordable cost-of-living that makes San Antonio an attractive competitor to the much pricier Big Four metros (Dallas, Houston, and Austin)
  • Major job sectors including health care/social assistance, retail, and hospitality & food services.
  • Higher-paid jobs in the legal, architectural & engineering, health, medicine, and technology fields.

largest employing occupations and jobs in San Antonio

WAIT, WHAT ABOUT RENT IN SAN ANTONIO?!

We got you.

Although there’s zero state income tax in Texas (awesome, right?!), rent can still put a huge dent in your income.

Make life easy and use this tool to compare rents by neighborhood while you’re researching the best areas to live!

If You’re REALLY Ready to Move to San Antonio

Just listen to Neil who loves living there:

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Should You Re-Sign Your Lease or Move?


If you're renting and your lease is about to expire, you might be struggling with the decision of whether you should resign it…or move. It's a tough choice, especially if you don't have any major complaints about where you live, but maybe you're not opposed to making a change. If you keep asking yourself "should I move or should I renew my lease?" take a look at some considerations to make first.

The Benefits of Staying Put

If you find yourself trying to come up with an answer to the age-old "should I move?" question, there's probably a reason you're having trouble with it. In fact, there are likely several reasons you're thinking about staying right where you are. The following are some great reasons to stay, so if you can relate to most of them, it might be best to renew your lease:

  • You like your house or apartment
  • You're familiar with & comfortable with your surroundings (such as your favorite grocery store!)
  • You like your neighbors, property managers and neighborhood in general
  • You'll enjoy saving money by not having to pay a deposit at a new place
  • You won't have to move or pack
  • You won't have to spend time finding a new place
  • You won't have to pay to hire movers

The Benefits of Moving

Of course, moving has its own benefits and is sometimes the best option. That's why you're even asking yourself "should I move?" If the following reasons to move appeal to you, it may be time to hire Dallas movers and find a new place to live:

  • You're ready for new adventures
  • You want some new surroundings
  • You don't like your current location and want better proximity to work, school, etc.
  • You need more space
  • You need a more affordable home
  • You don't feel safe or comfortable in your current home
  • You're excited for a new or nicer space to decorate how you want

What to Consider Before Making a Decision

As you think about whether or not you should move, you should ask yourself the following questions before you make your decision:

  • Commute: How is your commute? Would moving closer to work save you a lot of time every day?
  • Trade-Offs: What are the trade-offs of moving? Would moving closer to work put you farther away from your favorite amenities?
  • Security: Do you actually like your living space right now? Do you feel secure where you are?
  • Lifestyle: Is your current space conducive to your lifestyle, or would moving make life easier? Would your current situation make it hard to move? For example, would it be difficult to show proof of income, or do you have big dogs that might not be allowed in a new place?
  • Relationships: Are you close to friends, family, or your significant other? If so, how far away from them could you live?
  • Roommates: Do you have roommates right now, or would you need to get some to afford your new place? Would your current roommates come with you if you moved?
  • Budget: Do you have the money it takes to pay for your move, such as deposits & moving expenses?
  • Timing: Do you have the time right now to search, read reviews, and scout out new places? If you still aren't sure about moving, can you stick it out another year, or maybe get a lease extension for now?

So, after asking yourself these questions, do you think you're ready to move, or should you stay awhile? If it's the latter, you might still want to keep these questions in mind for the next time your lease comes up for renewal. But if the benefits of moving outweigh the benefits of staying put, be sure to schedule Dallas movers for help relocating! At 3 Men Movers, we have years of experience helping people move, so click here for a free moving quote


How to Handle Moving Away From Family


 

No matter your reason for moving away from family, it's going to take some time to adjust to the reality that your loved ones are no longer just a short drive away. Even when you're moving for an exciting reason--like a fantastic job opportunity--there are still going to be moments of sadness where you just miss your family. But there are ways to get through this feeling until it subsides--or until you're able to move back home, depending on your circumstances. So if you're struggling with feeling lonely the second your Dallas movers put the last piece of furniture down in your new home, check out some ways to cope.

Take Advantage of Technology

Gone are the days when you had to mail letters or postcards to your friends and family once you moved. You don't even have to pick up the phone and call these days--though you can if you feel like it! Now you can just text constantly or use one of the many messaging apps that make it easy to stay in touch with family from anywhere.

If you want to see your family's faces, you can use FaceTime or Skype to video chat. And if you're always on different schedules but still want to exchange some face time, you can try apps like Marco Polo to record a video that your loved ones can watch any time. And of course, there's always social media, which is perfect for sharing updates and images with everyone at once, no matter where you live now.

Make Plans You Can Look Forward To

Next time you're feeling bummed that you're not down the street from your family anymore, busy yourself with plans to visit them soon. Start figuring out the next dates you can get off work, and then look up flights for those days. Even if you can't set anything in stone for a while, it's always nice to have future plans to think about when you're missing someone.

You can also focus on trying to get your relatives to visit you at your new home. This is especially fun if they've never been to your city, or if you live in a popular destination. Ask when they think they can visit, and then get busy preparing your home to make it show-off ready! If you have a guest bedroom, spend time making it comfortable for when your family arrives. As a bonus, their visit can get you motivated to finish moving in to your new home fast. Hiring Dallas movers to help you unpack and rearrange furniture can even give you a head start!

Stay Busy

As much as you miss your family, it's important to try to stay positive about the move rather than sit and think about how much you wish you were back at your old home. One of the easiest ways to do this is to stay busy. For example, if you have a great job--especially if it's the reason you moved--try putting all your focus on that. Take the time you would have spent hanging out with family and friends back home and put it to good use by working more. This way, you can focus more on your work success and additional money than on how lonely you're feeling.

If you don't have a job that keeps you busy, it's time to find a hobby. Whether you take up a new sport or get really into art or music, you need something that will fill your time and keep you from sitting at home missing everyone. And maybe while you're working hard on your new hobby, you'll make new friends who will help you stop feeling so lonely!

Moving away from family is hard. You can make it a little easier on yourself by letting a Dallas moving company handle the practical details so you can spend more time saying goodbye to your family. Contact 3 Men Movers today to schedule a time for our Dallas movers to show up and help you relocate!


How to Make Friends in a New City


So your Austin movers just left and you're all moved into your new home in an unfamiliar city. Now what? Well, now it's time to make some new friends so you have someone to hang out with after work! But how do you even get started? After all, most of us probably made our childhood friends by talking to the kid who sat next to us in class, or by playing outside at the park with our neighbors from down the street. Maybe you're not in school anymore and you live in the typical neighborhood where adults aren't just playing at the park--hopefully!--which makes it pretty hard to organically meet new people. However, don't give up just yet. Follow these tips on making friends in a new city so you can say your Austin movers weren't the last adults you had a great conversation with.

Explore Your New Neighborhood

One of the simplest ways to make new friends is to get out of the house and check out the area. You can do this as soon as your Austin movers drop off the last box in your new home. After all, you'll need to grab dinner or coffee and then figure out where your new grocery store, bank, etc. are all located. Maybe you'll strike up a conversation with a cashier or fellow bar patron while you're out, possibly resulting in your first new friend.

If you have a dog to walk, this step is super easy. Just get outside every day, making sure to stick to the same trails or dog park to boost your chances of seeing the same people on a regular basis. Eventually you'll feel right at home in your new city, complete with new friends who are animal lovers like you!

Reconnect with Old Friends in Your New City

You might find you already know a few people in your city. After all, most people move around a few times during their life, and some of them might have found their way to the city you just moved to.

So as you get ready to you schedule your move with an Austin moving company, check with your networks--including your social networks!--to see if an old friend from high school or college may have moved to your new city. Most colleges have alumni networks where they watch games together and have events so you can make some new friends too. You should also ask your friends and family members if they know anyone who lives where you're moving. It's always nice to discover you have a friend from home in your new city.

Create a Consistent Schedule

It's easier to make friends when you see the same people over and over. That's why it was always so easy to make friends in school or during extracurricular activities when you were younger. So join an activity where you'll have to keep coming back at the same time and seeing the same people. This might include a workout class at the gym, volunteering with a local non-profit, or a church group that meets every week. Taking up a new hobby that has regular meetings or workshops is also a good idea.

Even work counts when it comes to this tip, because you probably see a lot of the same people at work every day, right? Maybe you've started to say hi to a few people every day as you pass them at your new job. Take it a step further and ask if they've heard about a social event you'll be at--such as a poetry slam at a coffeehouse, or a small concert at a nearby bar. If they're interested in the same event and want to get to know you, they might show up and you can talk! And if your new job hosts happy hour or other social outings, be sure to go whenever you can.

Now that you're armed with ways to make friends in your new city, you're ready to rock your move with the help of some Austin movers. Contact 3 Men Movers at our Austin office today to get on our schedule!


Best Apps for Buying a Home


If you need to move soon and have to find a house fast, there's an app for that! Actually, there are several apps that make house hunting simple enough for you to do anytime, anywhere. But which app is the one that's going to make it easiest for you to find your dream home so you can schedule your Houston movers as soon as possible? The following are some of the top apps to use on your journey to buying a home in the Houston area.

Zillow

Zillow has been a staple in the home buying process for years now. It's so easy to use and has so many listings on it that it's fun to just scroll through it even when you're not in the market for a home! So it's perfect for serious homebuyers and daydreamers alike.

Pros: Zillow allows you to see the history of the listing price and taxes of each home, so you can get an idea of whether it's the best price you're going to get on the house you have your heart set on.

Cons: One of the downsides of Zillow is that it doesn't always list the HOA information. And when it does, it's sort of buried at the bottom of the page, even though you definitely need to know this information upfront if you want a true idea of your monthly cost! Also, Zillow isn't as updated as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is what real estate agents use for listings. That means Zillow doesn't necessarily have access to every home on the market, and sometimes by the time the listing shows up on Zillow, it's already under contract with another buyer.

Trulia

Another popular homebuying app is Trulia. Though it's owned by Zillow, many buyers find that it's actually better during the active home search, since it has a few features that Zillow lacks.

Pros: One of the best details of Trulia is its crime statistics of each area, letting you get an idea of how safe a neighborhood is. In addition, you can easily filter your search using keywords for what you're looking for in your new Houston home, such as all tile, hardwood floors or a pool.

Cons: Since Trulia is owned by Zillow, it shares its main downside. That means you might not be seeing every listing the second it's available when you use Trulia instead of the MLS. But this app is still good for browsing homes, so you can send your real estate agent a list of properties you like and he or she can give you more updated information.

Homesnap

Homesnap is yet another homebuying app you can use to browse homes before you schedule moving day with your local Houston movers.

Pros: The best thing about Homesnap is that it doesn't just give you information on homes for sale. It also lets you learn more about homes that aren't even on the market! So if you're driving down the street and see a beautiful house that stops you in your tracks, just take a picture of it and Homesnap will tell you everything you need to know. If it's for sale, you'll see the list price and all the other details. If it's not, you'll see its past sale prices and estimated value. Plus, this app uses MLS data, meaning it's always updated.

Cons: The search criteria on Homesnap isn't as detailed or precise as other homebuying apps, so it may take more time to find a house you'll love on it. It's better for when you're out driving around searching for houses and just need some information on pricing, contact information and open house hours.

Houston Association of Realtors

The Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) has its own app dedicated to helping locals find homes in the Houston area. If you're looking to stay in Houston, you'll want to try out this app!

Pros: Since this is a local app, you'll only see homes in the Houston area, so there's no extra step of limiting your search criteria to a particular state. Plus, this app lists the HOA information, and it's also connected to the MLS so it gets only updated listings.

Cons: You'll notice HAR doesn't use the Great Schools rating program that many other apps do. This might be a disadvantage if your kids would be transferring into new schools after the move.

You can use any of these apps to find your dream home. And as soon as you do--and once you get a move-in date--be sure to schedule Houston movers to help make moving a breeze! Contact our Houston office today to learn more.


Top 5 Holiday Events & Attractions in San Antonio


It's the holidays in San Antonio, and that means it's time for tamales! But that's not the only tradition we have around here between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. This city also offers tons of events for everyone, from traditional Christmas lights to luminarias. So whether you're thinking of moving here, or have been here for years and just need some new ideas on local events, here are the top five holiday options in San Antonio.

Old West Christmas Light Fest

Everything's bigger in Texas, and the Christmas lights at Old West Christmas Light Fest are no exception. On select nights from November 22 to December 29, you can head to Enchanted Springs Ranch in Boerne to see more than 40 "Old West" buildings decked out in countless lights. Plus, the kids can visit with Santa, eat holiday treats, play holiday-themed games and more. Basically, there's holiday fun for all ages at this San Antonio Christmas event.

Holiday Lights on the River Walk

If you normally enjoy the San Antonio River Walk, you'll love it during the holidays! From November 23 to January 6, it's filled with more than 100,000 pretty lights adorning the trees all around the area. And it's free for you to walk around and admire the lights, so go ahead and stroll down the River Walk any night during the holiday season to boost your Christmas spirit!

Wonderland Christmas

Every year, Morgan's Wonderland is proud to present a holiday attraction that welcomes children and adults of all ages and abilities. At Wonderland Christmas, you'll see lots of lights, holiday decorations, a petting zoo, puppet performances, story time with Mrs. Claus, free cookies and more. This holiday event runs on select nights from November 23 to December 23, giving you and your family a month to make it to Morgan's Wonderland this winter. Of course, if you don't make it this year, there's always next year, since this is an annual event that San Antonio parents have been attending for a few years in a row now!

Ford Fiesta de Las Luminarias

Ah, the holidays in San Antonio wouldn't be complete without a festival filled with luminarias, or lights inside paper bags. That's why you don't want to miss the Ford Fiesta de Las Luminarias, which takes place at the River Walk on weekend evenings between November 30 and December 16. Considering that the River Walk is also decked out in Christmas lights during this time period, you'll get a double dose of holiday spirit when you combine those with the beautiful luminarias this winter in San Antonio.

Celebrate SA

Did you know San Antonio is the best city in Texas to celebrate New Year's Eve? Yep, we took the 16th spot on WalletHub's list of Best Places for New Year's Eve Celebrations, and we happen to be the top Texas city on it! So you really can't go wrong when you spend this holiday here, especially considering this year was the city's Tricentennial…so we're definitely celebrating! That's probably why one of the top events to attend will be Celebrate SA, which is a free New Year's Eve event that features dozens of live musical acts topped off by fireworks at the end of the night. Between 6 pm and midnight, you can enjoy live music, food, drinks, carnival rides, games and more as you ring in 2019.

If you're not yet a resident of this great city, you can see now why you should be! Whether you want to move here from another Texas city or just need to switch neighborhoods in this area, contact 3 Men Movers today! We'll send you some friendly, helpful San Antonio movers who will make relocating a breeze for you.


Interstate Moving vs. Intrastate Moving: What’s The Difference?


When you call 3 Men Movers to get an estimate and start planning your move, one of the details we'll need to know is whether you're making an interstate or intrastate move.

So what's the difference?

Interstate moves involve moving from one state to another, while intrastate moves occur within the same state.

So if you're moving from Texas to Illinois, you need interstate movers.

If you're moving from Dallas to El Paso, you need intrastate movers. And, while you could hire 3 Men Movers for either type of move, we mainly specialize in local moves.

If you're trying to decide what type of movers to call for your interstate or intrastate move, here's what you need to know.

How Intrastate Moving Works

Intrastate vs Interstate moving

If you only remember one thing about our movers, it's that local moves are their jam.

Looking at the map above for us Texans, that means if you're moving anywhere in and around Texas, it's an intrastate move.

So if you're moving from San Antonio to Austin, or Houston to Dallas, we've got you covered!

We even have moving offices in all those cities, though we can certainly move you to any other Texas city for your intrastate move, as well.

As experienced intrastate movers, we can beat the competition when it comes to pricing and speed.

We get most local moves done in one day, or at least overnight. That means when our movers show up to help you move in the morning, you could be sleeping in your new bed the same night!

We've had over 30 years in the moving industry to perfect our craft, so we're pretty efficient at this point. So, when you need a speedy, affordable move within the state of Texas, we'd be happy to help you!

How Interstate Moving Works

If your move will cross state lines, you're looking for interstate movers. Here's where it gets a little tricky if you want to hire 3 Men Movers.

Now, if you're moving from Texas to surrounding states, such as Louisiana or Oklahoma (any state in red on the map), it shouldn't be a problem.

We'd be glad to offer our services at an affordable rate, considering this move probably wouldn't take much longer than a move from Houston to El Paso.

But if you're moving from Dallas to Chicago, or basically to any state that's not next to Texas (every state that's white on the map), you might want to look into moving companies that specialize in interstate moves.

Basically, you'll want to look at some national van line companies. They operate differently than local movers, making them more cost-effective for long distances. They typically have a driver who simply operates the truck, rather than loading and unloading it, too.

That doesn't mean you're on your own when it comes to moving your stuff into the truck.

Usually, the agent for the van line has a hub in your city, and that company will load your items into the truck, at which point the truck driver will drive to your new home.

Along with moving all of the stuff inside of your home, you may also like to move one or all of your vehicles to avoid driving them or towing them yourself.

As far as your own vehicle is concerned, you may want to consider shipping it if:

  • Your move is really long-distance, as in over 900 miles
  • You have concerns about driving long distances for days—especially at night
  • Paying for gas, hotels, or simply putting additional wear-and-tear on your car is out of your budget
  • You or accompanying passengers have health issues that would make sitting for a looong time either uncomfortable or unsafe

When you factor in the cost of gas and the increased safety and convenience factors, shipping your car makes a lot of sense!

If you think that's a route worth exploring, check out a car-shipping company like All America Auto Transport.

They're a great option to transport and ship your vehicle safely, reliably, and at a reasonable rate!

When To Hire 3 Men Movers

So what makes van lines like this more affordable than moving companies like 3 Men Movers for interstate moves?

They don't usually have to deadhead on the way back. (Deadheading means driving an empty truck back to the office after moving someone.)

Instead, they can often pick up another load on the way back, so their trip is a little more lucrative.

This, in turn, saves you money!

So can we do interstate moving? We can!

However, we're probably not the cheapest since we send our whole crew, not just a driver, and we have to deadhead on the way back.

Some of our regular customers know this and still hire us for long-distance moves, since knowing they're in good hands is worth any price.

Whether you need interstate movers or intrastate movers, 3 Men Movers can help.

We have offices in San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Dallas, so contact us today!