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Moving Abroad: Tips To Prepare Your Family

Waypoint sign between home and abroad

Moving Abroad: How to ensure your family is properly prepared

 

Depending on your circumstances for moving abroad, it can be an exhilarating time for you. The ability to bring your loved ones with you can make it that extra bit special. It gives you the opportunity to explore different surroundings you may not have been used to, and in general just taking in a different way of living. It really can be a fantastic prospect for adults and children of all ages.

Bear in mind though that maybe not all parts of the family will be as eager and thrilled about the move as you may be. Your children may be really settled in their education with close friends, and now they’d have to start all over again when they move. There will be many adjustments that all members of the family will have to get used to. Not to mention the stress of preparing your most essential documents beforehand which can be extremely stressful.

If you are unsure about how to best prepare your family, here are some easy tips you can consider before you start preparing to move abroad.

Take a short visit as a holiday

The best way you would know whether you would get used to your new surroundings is to live it for real. If you can take a trip to the new destination, it gives you the chance to feel what it is going to be like when you finally move. It is likely that it will be a completely different experience when you move there permanently, but it will give you an idea. See it as an educational trip as well as a vacation. Take note of the general conditions of the place and the area you will be living in, by having regular conversations with the local people. That is if you are fluent in the local language. However, if your communication skills are not yet up to par, this is a great training course.

Prepare all your legal documentation beforehand

When moving to a new country, the last thing you will want is a surprise issue to deal with. Research way before you make the eventual trip what documents every member of the family, as well as yourself, need in order for you all to stay there legally. For example, if you are moving to the UK from a different country, you will need to apply for British Citizenship if you are looking to stay there long term. Similarly, in the US if you are looking to work, you will need to apply for a Green Card.

Research the living destination in detail

Doing your research ahead of time is an essential first step in deciding whether you plan to move, as it will likely make the decision for you. Perhaps make notes on pros and cons of living there and see which comes out on top. Research everything you need to know about it from healthcare and education to cuisines and lifestyle. Not sure where to look? Hop down to your local library and rent out some books or jump on to your laptop and hit the web.

Learn the lingo

If you are fortunate enough to be moving to a country where the primary language is also your native tongue, then this probably doesn’t concern you much. However, for those who are not so fortunate, it will be worth considering this. You can prepare before you go and then continue your learning when you get there. There’s bound to be lessons that are available in the school for your children, and you can get a private tutor. Alternatively, invest in language courses and DVD’s so you can learn at home. Even if you are not fluent before you reach your destination, at least aim at having the basics down, so you can communicate enough to navigate through your basic needs.

Calculate your finances to deem whether it’s manageable

What would be the main purpose of your reason to move? Is it for a better lifestyle for your family or due to work? It’s common for many people to move because they feel there are better career prospects abroad than at home. They think that with their skillset they can earn more or have a better standard of living on a similar wage in a different country. Just consider whether in doing so this is actually possible and you are still able to save while having a manageable cost of living.

It is a big step to move away from home, so before you do, help yourself by being prepared and consider these useful tips. You do not want a lack of planning to be the reason you do not enjoy your move when in reality it might have been a great opportunity.

Long-distance house hunting being compared to a safari hunt.

House hunting is always stressful, but it can be especially stressful when it’s done remotely. Taking an organized approach, working with a professional and establishing a budget can help home buyers through the process. Whether someone is moving from one county to another or one state to another, these tips can help.

Do Your Research

Prospective buyers should narrow the home search to the community where they want to live. This part of the process will involve research. For example, home buyers who are moving because they have accepted a job in a new city will have the option of living near their office or moving to the suburbs outside the city. Doing your research can make this decision easier. When considering communities, answer these questions:
What is the cost of living in that community?
Does that community have the services and amenities a buyer needs to be happy and comfortable?
How long will the commute to work be?
What are typical dwellings like in the community?
How much are home prices in that area?
Having the answers to these questions can help buyers decide where to look for a home in the coming weeks or months.

Plan Multiple Trips

Many home buyers need to make multiple trips to the area they’re thinking about buying a home. The first trip will be exploratory, to get a sense of which neighborhoods are best. During that trip, people will probably look at some houses but may spend more time just exploring the community and looking at neighborhoods. In that first trip, buyers should take the time to meet with a real estate agent, establish a relationship and describe their needs.
In the second trip, much of the time will be spent looking at homes in the neighborhoods of the buyer’s choice. Hopefully, they will see something they would like to buy. If they don’t, they can come back for a third time, or as many times as it takes. Buyers should not try to buy a home sight-unseen, as this can lead to unpleasant surprises.

Make a Budget ~ Stick To It

Long distance moving can be very expensive. To make sure that there is enough money to move and buy the desired home, create a budget. When budgeting, take into account costs like moving expenses, auto shipping, closing costs, down payment and logistical costs (like the cost to make trips back and forth from the home where a buyer currently lives and the home they are trying to buy). Once they have made a budget, buyers should stay on target through every step of the process.

Start Packing Early

Young couple packing to prepare for a long distance move.
Moving to a far away location is an incredibly time consuming, almost overwhelming task. To ease the burden and make the task more manageable, start packing early. Purge unnecessary clutter and pack up everything else. Packing well in advance of the move helps ensure that the home buying process will be easier and also ensures that the move will be less stressful as well.

Work With a Reputable Real Estate Agent

Work with a reputable real estate agent throughout the home buying process. A real estate agent can serve as a home buyer’s ambassador during the home buying process. He or she can go to any home inspection and ensure that everything proceeds as it should.

Atlanta GA skyline

How to Become a Local in Atlanta

by Kara Masteller, intern writer for Executive Auto Shippers

 

If moving to Atlanta is in your future then here’s some info you’ll need to know. A dynamic metropolis filled to the brim with history and bustling with activity, Atlanta is a city you’d be proud to call home. Located in the northern half of Georgia, it serves as the capital and largest city in the state. With one of the most educated workforces in the nation, it’s home to 26 Fortune 500 companies, including The Coca-Cola Company and UPS, so you’ll find plenty of opportunities for a career change here. But the city isn’t all corporate, it’s culture stems from the city’s deep history in the Civil Rights Movement and it’s established art and music scene. No matter what your reasons for making the switch to Atlanta, you’ll be greeted with a glass of sweet tea and a rush of southern pride.

 

Atlanta's favorite sweet beverages

Moving to Atlanta

Housing is always a huge stress point when moving to new cities, and you’ll want all the resources you can get. But it’s reassuring that Atlanta can say it offers a better value for the cost of living than metros of similar size. But don’t forget, it’s still a very large city that comes with large city prices. So it’s always a good idea to evaluate what features you just can’t live without and what you’re willing to give up. Median prices vary depending on the neighborhoods as well, so before you dive into the apartment hunt or the real estate market, research the neighborhoods to help narrow down your search (and better understand the costs). Then, the decision of whether to rent or buy creeps in. Of course, your personal situation will be the primary contributor to this decision but check online for helpful guides that will outline what either decision would mean specific to the Atlanta area and its pricing. Typically, if you plan to stay in Atlanta for over 1 year, buying will be more cost-effective in the long-run. But make sure you research the area you’re most interested in. In Downtown, for example, it’s only more cost-effective to buy if you live there for 9 years, a much different scenario.

Also, bear in mind that Atlanta is a car-centric city. There is a public transit system, but it’s rated lower than average so most people there drive. So while you might be able to ditch that car when moving to some major cities, if moving to Atlanta you’ll want to include auto shipping in your moving budget.

 

Moving the Family

If you’re moving to Atlanta with a family, you’re likely curious about the schooling options for your children. You’ll find plenty of public schooling options through Atlanta Public Schools. They house 21 high schools, 15 middle schools, and 50 elementary schools, along with charter and specialized schools. The school that your child will attend is typically based on your location, so if you haven’t already decided upon a living space, this may be something you’d like to consider. There is plenty of public opinion regarding which schools are great without being in a neighborhood that will break the bank. But no worries if you’re looking for a private school. Atlanta has dozens of private schooling options scattered throughout the city as well. Just be sure you’re taking location and potential transportation costs into account if you’re interested in a school outside your districting zone.

 

Some of the great food you'll find if you're moving to Atlanta.

Need Some Comfort? Then It’s Time for Food

Foodies will find their happy place in The ATL. Delicious and artful creations are placed all around the city and the surrounding area. Because if there is one thing that most southerners are serious about, it’s food. Atlanta lies in the heart of the region that has become synonymous with “Comfort Food”. So once the final moving day is done, make sure to treat yourself to one of Atlanta’s delicious food options.

For a traditional American taste to start your Atlanta journey, try King + Duke, where everything is cooked over a wood-fueled flame. Equally delicious (but with an Italian flare) is No. 246. But no worries if you’ve already made dinner plans, No. 246 is known for its mouthwatering breakfast pizza, so you can enjoy their food at any time of the day. Looking to really unwind after a long day of moving? Check out Der Biergarten, a downtown establishment with a patio option that serves savory German delights…and of course, beers.

And if you need any more excuse to travel around the city and eat delicious food, check out this bucket list for a very rewarding adventure.

 

Some of the best things to explore for new Atlanta residents.

Fun…Fun…Fun

Exploring the city of Atlanta will never grow old. You can start with the staples, like visiting the Georgia Aquarium (the largest in the nation), checking out the World of Coca-Cola museum, or paying a visit to the CNN Center. But after moving to Atlanta, you’ll quickly find there’s much more to the city than the tourist stops.

Once you’re settled in, make sure to head over to Atlanta’s Center for Civil and Human Rights. Atlanta is a city with a deep civil rights history, and you’ll learn so much about its past by visiting. Remember that each place you sit was once segregated, and people in Atlanta fought a long, hard fight to right the many wrongs. Understanding the history of the city will be sure to make you feel connected with all the people with whom you share your home.

While there are many entertaining and inspiring museums to visit, there are plenty of other options to explore. For the shoppers, Westside is filled with charming local boutiques to scour. For the sports-inclined, Atlanta is home to quite a few professional teams. Atlanta athletics don’t appear to have an off-season!

 

The Great Outdoors in the Heart of the City

If you’ve ever worried that moving to a big city means losing touch with the outdoors, Atlanta will prove you wrong. The sprawling metropolis has earned its reputation as the “City in a Forest” and has preserved an impressive amount of the native forest land on which it was built. If you were concerned about moving a pet out to The ATL, never fear. You can take advantage of the plethora of outdoor activities and parks it has to offer. You can always get the pets outdoors for a hike on Kennesaw Mountain, or through Fernbank Forest, or through the gorgeous Cascade Springs Nature Preserve. And if you’re too tired for hiking, but in need of some R&R, take a float down the Chattahoochee River.

Atlanta, Georgia is a city dense with history, comfort, and trees. Whatever reason you have for moving to Atlanta, this historic city in the heart of the South will not disappoint.

Nashville-Skyline

A Guide For Anyone Moving to Nashville

by Kara Masteller, intern writer for Executive Auto Shippers

Nashville, Tennessee. Also known as Music City, this metropolis has drawn many now-famous musicians in with its musical history and urban charm. All sorts of artists have worked their way through the city, though it’s country music that has really found its home here. But that urban charm draws more than budding artists to its seat on the Cumberland River. Nashville is filled with universities, healthcare, publishing companies, and a diverse and enjoyable mix of people that make up the 25th most populous city in America. It provides its residents with a stunning and exciting blend of work, culture, and history that anyone would be fortunate to be a part of.

 

Moving to Nashville

Like many cities, Nashville is divided into neighborhoods, each with their own unique attributes and characteristics. Different municipalities have distinctively different lifestyles, so when moving to Nashville make sure your neighborhood will fit your personality. If you’re looking to rent, you may want to consider renting in areas farther from downtown: East Nashville and Berry Hill are much more affordable per bedroom than neighborhoods like The Gulch or SoBro. For family living, suburbs like Nolensville or Green Hill may be your best bet. It’s always worth checking out advice from the locals as well, regarding safe and affordable areas of living.

Downtown-Nashville

Getting Around

In addition to cost, make sure you consider your daily commute. Parking can be a challenge in the city, and it can get extremely congested (as cities tend to do). Compare where you’re living and where you’re working on a map to determine the best options. There are plenty of busing options with the Nashville MTA, as well as the Music City Commuter Rail. Not to mention, Nashville is very conducive to walking and biking, so those daily errands won’t be too challenging to complete. Even so, transportation can hog significant portions of time, so be sure to align your workplace and living space in the best way you can.

Moving With Kids

Public schools, charter schools, and private schools are all accessible forms of education in Nashville. If you’re looking at public schools for your children, you’ll likely be looking at the Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) district. Their site offers many useful resources like a map to help find which school your child would be enrolled in based on location. If you’d prefer to search by the school this list will provide you with a convenient and comprehensive list of all public and charter schools within the MNPS district.

If a private school is what you’d prefer, you’ll be looking at an average of $10,260 for elementary schools and $15,313 for high schools, according to the Private School Review. On that site, you can find a list of private schools, their locations, and what specialties they provide (if any). Make sure to check out local reviews of each school as well, to ensure that other parents have been happy with the private schools they’ve sent their children to.

Socializing

If you’re interested in treating yourself after an exhausting move, you’ll find Etch Restaurant on nearly every “best restaurants in Nashville” list out there. But if fancier dining doesn’t pair well with the move-in mood, consider something more casual like Merchant’s Restaurant or Adele’s in downtown Nashville. You’ll still get phenomenal food, but with a modest price tag and relaxed environment. As you continue to enjoy the new city you call home, make sure to explore the deliciously diverse cuisine that comes with it. Work your way through the Yelp lists depending on what mood you’re in.

Lastly, and above all else, be sure to try Hot Chicken. Nashville takes their signature dish seriously. Not only can you find it all around town, there is literally a Nashville Hot Chicken Coalition. It seems that the true initiation into Nashville is chowing down on this dish.

Nashville-Activities

Let’s not forget, Nashville is nicknamed “Music City” for a reason. The best of shows and most famous of artists will always stop in Nashville, so keep an eye out. Make sure to stop at a few of the famous attractions: the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, the Country Music Hall of Fame, there are so many historic and popular attractions to explore. But hitting all the tourist hot-spots is just scratching the surface of what Nashville has to offer. Famous musicians are great to watch, but be sure to check out the local artists as well. Since Nashville is such a popular music city, you’ll find tons of budding artists looking to perform at any chance they get. It’s a great way to view some amazing talent and at a fraction of the cost of the big shots. Aside from the music options, look into what locals have to say about their favorite spots. Broadway and 2nd Avenue provide some fantastic Nashville hotspots. And yes, in the summer you’ll find a Hot Chicken Festival, it wouldn’t really be Nashville without one.

The things to do in Nashville are endless, no matter what your interests are, you’ll find people who will share and celebrate them with you. If this sounds like you, then moving to Nashville will be a great life choice.

Houston skyline at night.

A Guide to Being an Official Houstonian

by Kara Masteller, intern writer for Executive Auto Shippers

 

If you want a big city lifestyle with a small town price tag, moving to Houston, TX should be on your to-do list. As the 4th largest city in the nation, It’s filled with affordable attractions, touting six professional sports teams, 19 museums, and is a short drive away from the Gulf of Mexico, making the list of activities seemingly endless.

 

Moving to Houston

All of those activities are great for tourists, but what if you’re relocating. Well if you’re moving to Houston, your wallet is in luck! In 2015 Forbes named Houston (Woodland Hills & Sugar Land) as the highest income to cost of living ratio, making it the metro with the biggest bang for your buck in the US. There are plenty of neighborhoods to choose from the heart of downtown to the outskirts of the suburbs to fit the lifestyle of you or your family. Make sure you’re looking at more than just housing quality and price, as the neighborhood you live in will probably be where you spend most of your time. Check out the surrounding attractions, food/drink options, and parks to make sure you’ll feel right at home in your new urban life. In addition to picking out a living situation, make sure you’re considering transportation options. Houstonians love their cars and urban sprawl is defined by this metropolitan area. This city is so spread out, it could fit Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, and Detroit inside of its borders. The public transit system isn’t widely used, and because of its sprawling nature, it can be difficult to bike or walk from place to place. Having a vehicle in Houston is near-vital, so be sure to include the costs to ship a car when calculating your moving budget. If your not sure where to start with your moving budget visit Angie’s List. There are lots of great resources, whether you’re looking for a household goods mover or the costs to ship a car to your new hometown.

Lastly, don’t forget that much of the city is being rebuilt from massive flooding in the summer of 2017. Despite the recent tragedy, the city of Houston has come together and found strength in its community. The community values are reassuring, but double check that the area you’re looking to move to is deemed safe, and confirm that your future transit route to work or your child’s school isn’t unavailable due to damage or construction. But be sure not to discount this metro due to the flooding. The community is dedicated to rebuild and improve the neighborhoods that were affected.

 

Education

Unlike some cities, Houston public schools are not run by one specific district, but rather composed of 19 districts in total. Therefore, when looking for a place to send your child to school, you have quite a few options. Most of the districts are managed by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), though there are multiple private school options which the TEA has no jurisdiction over. If you’re looking at sending your child to a public school, be sure to consider the location you’re moving as most public school enrollment is based on your new address. If you’re interested in state-operated charter schools, check out this list. Different charter schools have different specialties and focuses, depending on your child’s needs, but make sure you keep transportation in mind, as it may not be provided by the school. Lastly, if your budget allows then private schools could be a great option for your child, as Houston has hundreds of excellent private primary and secondary schools. When looking at schools, make sure to consider those that have been reviewed by the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission (TPSAC) to ensure a quality education, since the TEA does not oversee private schools.

 

Food

 

BBQ Brisket and TexMex from Houston TX

If you’re a foodie like me then the best part of moving to a new city is trying all of the new types of food and finding that new go-to hot spot. Houston is no exception when it comes to food culture. But on nearly every “must try” food list, you’ll find two categories: Mexican and BBQ. There are way too many delicious options to name, but Zagat’s lists for best BBQ and Mexican restaurants is a great place to start. But if you’re not a Tex-Mex fan, be rest assured, you’re far from limited to those options. Houston is filled with iconic dishes from all over the globe. No one flavor is missing from this city: so start exploring your new food scene one delicious meal at a time.

 

Entertainment

No matter what area of the city you choose to settle into, you’ll never cease to find something new. If you want to check out the big attractions right off the bat (like the space center, museums, or the gorgeous parks) this list can help you get started on being a tourist in your new home. Want to find something to do after a long day of moving? Check out this calendar from Houston Press. And once you’ve settled in and are really ready to get to know H-Town, start working your way through the Houston Bucket List…or even better, research and create your own!

 

 

This city is one that’s filled with a diverse group of people with a strong sense of community. If moving to Houston is in your future…you’ll be sure to find a wonderful home there.

A view of the Chicago Cityscape from Lake Michigan

A Guide to Loving Your New Chi-town Life

by Kara Masteller, intern writer for Executive Auto Shippers

 

The third-largest city in the United States is housed just around the middle of the country. Surrounded by the kindness of Midwesterners, but deeply rooted in an urban lifestyle, Chicago will give you the city vibe you crave and you’ll meet some wonderful people who crave the same. Located in Illinois, there are plenty of career opportunities in a wide variety of markets. The workforce of Chicago is not dominated by one particular industry, but rather a mixed business landscape. The diverse economy echoes the diverse population which has contributed to the rich history of the city. If you’re the adventurous type you will feel right at home, as there is no shortage of places to explore within the city.

 

Chicago Transit System and traffic congestion

Moving to Chicago

Careful! While it may be tempting to commit to the first apartment or living space you look at, make sure you’re considering a few things before signing that lease. Consider whether renting or buying will benefit you the most. Like many cities, Chicago life is heavily influenced by the neighborhood you’re a part of. Renting and buying benefits can vary from place to place, so whichever neighborhood you end up in may influence your decision on what will be best for you (and your family, should that apply).
Also, make sure you’re considering how you plan to get to and from work. The third-largest city in the U.S. doesn’t come without its transportation challenges. If you’re living on one side of the city and working on the other, it’ll feel like half of your time will be spent getting from here to there. While the windy city boasts a robust mass transit system (CTA), consisting of buses, Amtrack, and of course the famous “L” train, these routes do not all connect. Ensuring that you live and work on the same transportation line can save you some sanity in your new commute life. If you have a car, remember that parking will be a nightmare, no matter how many parking passes you purchase. And if the parking is not enough of an expense, most of the major interstates around the city are Toll Roads, although you can trim this expense slightly by utilizing the I-PASS system.

Keeping expenses like these in mind. Chicago is still a great option for those who want to live in a big city without the crazy price tag, but it’s not without cost. There are plenty of online resources to help you learn how to get started in the city while saving as much as you can. Additionally, sites like Forbes and SmartAsset have great tips on how to navigate the city you’re about to call home.

Safety and Education

Moving the whole family to the Windy City? Chicago can have an intimidating reputation, but there are many resources out there making downtown Chicago a safe place to live and learn. There are plenty of family-friendly neighborhoods the locals recommend. There are also many family-friendly suburbs within a short commute to downtown. The Chicago Police Department also put out a great list of safety tips, so you can read about their recommendations for specific events/places. Additionally, the city is very conducive to walking, which can help cut transportation costs.

As for children’s education, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district is the primary option. Students will be assigned to a school based on their place of residence, though there are a number of charter schools and schools with a selective enrollment that branch beyond geographic location. If you haven’t settled on a place to live yet, Chicago Magazine has an article about which schools they consider the best, and parents who have already navigated the system also have some helpful insight. However, keep an open mind when looking at schools: what didn’t work for one family may work well for another.

Navy Pier at night, Fields Museum and a Chicago architecture boat tour

Entertainment

Once you’ve passed all the stressful checkpoints of moving, it’s time to enjoy the new city you call home! If you want to start out as a tourist in your own city, Navy Pier is a great place to start! Located on Lake Michigan, this pier offers much more than just a beautiful view. It’s packed full of attractions: parks, rides, restaurants, shops, and more. It appeals to all ages and all sorts of interests. After you’ve conquered Navy Pier (though it may take a few days to see it all), you may consider visiting Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) for a gorgeous view of the city. For a more educational experience, plan a day trip (although it’ll probably take several day trips to experience it all) to the Museum Campus. This area contains many of Chicago’s biggest attractions, all in one convenient area. Another fascinating thing to do (even for the locals) is to go on an architectural boat ride. It may not have the most “fun” sounding name, but don’t count it out just yet. You can learn a lot not only about architecture but the history of the city you live in and how they interact. This boat ride is a great way to spend an afternoon outdoors, and it could really open your eyes to the deep roots that Chicago holds. Once you’ve learned and appreciated the city’s rich history, no worries about a more active source of entertainment: Chicago is home to 6 professional sports teams. So if you’re a football, baseball, basketball, soccer, or hockey fan, you’re in luck. The Chicago Bears represent the city in the NFL, the Chicago Fire and Chicago Red Stars are respectively the city’s men’s and women’s soccer teams, the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs are both in the MLB, and the Chicago Bulls play in the NBA. So if athletics is your thing, you’ll have entertainment nearly every night, year round.

Food & Drink

When you think Chicago food, you probably think Chicago pizza. While thin-crust pizza has its time and place, that place is not Chi-Town. Chicago is known for its hearty, deep-dish pizza. It’s not like a traditional crust, sauce, then toppings kind of pizza. Chicago style starts with a deep-dish crust, is filled to the brim with cheese and whatever other toppings, and then topped with a thick layer of tomato sauce. It’s a staple, and it’s close to being considered a crime if you haven’t tried it. Pizzeria Uno is said to have introduced this style, so it’s definitely worth a stop. Though Pequod’s is a local favorite with a delicious caramelized crust, as mentioned in this article.

 

Chicago Style hot dog and pizza

 

The Chicago-style hot dog should also be on your list. Chicago takes their hot dogs seriously. But while it can be loaded with any topping you can think of from sauerkraut to potato chips, a true Chicago-style dog will not have ketchup. Many establishments don’t even have it available.

If you have some time to plan, check out Girl & The Goat. Though reservations are often needed a month in advance, the legendary “Pig Face” (not as gross as it sounds) is a Chicago favorite. Check out Al’s Italian Beef for another city favorite…Italian beef. For a late night bite, find The Tamale Guy. And if you’re craving Asian cuisine, Argyle is your go-to place for Phu, and it’s rumored that the banh mi from Ba Le is the best in the city.

So whether it’s a big family move or a solo adventure into the city, Chicago will make you and all you’re with smile. It’s filled with great food, people, and places to explore. There are gardens and parks for your pets, amusement parks for your kids, and history embedded throughout the city. The midwestern winters will hardly matter when considering the warmth and enjoyment you’ll get from the city (and the people) of Chicago.

The Seattle city scape with mountains in the background.

A Guide to Seattle WA

by Kara Masteller, intern writer for Executive Auto Shippers

Known for coffee and rain, this cityscape is nestled among a great number of trees and placed atop rolling hills. Nicknamed, “Emerald City” because of this greenery, Seattle poses a perfect blend of city living and outdoor exploration. And coffee. Seattle loves their coffee. If you’re thinking about moving to Seattle, you’re not alone! It’s one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S and has been for the past 5 years. Not surprising, since its business world is largely dominated by newer technology corporations. Five Fortune 500 companies have made their headquarters here, which is attracting many young professionals. However, Seattle has proven itself to be more than hipsters and millennials, it’s a wonderful place to raise a family or move to after the kids have grown. This city has a little bit of everything to offer to each person (not to mention, Washington state has no income tax!)

 

Housing

Upon moving to Seattle, you may be faced some housing questions. Because of Seattle’s rapid growth, rent is high and it can be challenging to find a place to rest your head. But before just googling “places to live in Seattle,” try looking into the neighborhoods. Seattle is described as a city made up of a bunch of smaller cities- each neighborhood has its own culture and personality. Millennials tend to go towards neighborhoods like South Lake Union, Queen Anne, and Capitol Hill. Many Seattle hotspots can be found in these areas. For a lower priced option, look at areas like West Seattle or Beacon Hill, just be aware that the commute from the city could be significant. The neighborhoods of Magnolia or Ballard are great choices for family living close to downtown. And if you’re not sure where you want to live, but are eager to start life in the city temporary housing is readily available. Rivet is a temporary housing apartment complex with quite reasonable prices for being in the South Lake Union area. It’s pet-friendly and has a patient and helpful staff. Other temporary housing reviews all over the city can be found on Yelp. And don’t hesitate to move those pets with you! With plenty of pet care centers, you’ll have someone to take care of them during the day. And with plenty of hiking trails and parks to explore, there’s no need to worry about pets being unable to adapt to city life.

 

Schools

As for the kids, Seattle has some great public school programs. You’ll want to consider each neighborhood and the districts, as certain schools have had to close or relocate due to economic issues. Each district is assigned to a public school, though you can always make an intradistrict choice and attend a public school outside of your residence, it’s just not guaranteed since you’ll have to apply. The Seattle school system is safe and high-quality. The primary complaints seen are about the administration, but with the search for a new superintendent, there’s hope this will improve quite soon. If you’re interested in the public school system, more information can be found here: https://www.seattleschools.org/

 

Some of Seattle's local food favorites.

Food

Once you’re settled in (or at least have your wallet unpacked), get ready to explore the new city you call home. If you want to treat yourself after the move, head over to Metropolitan Grill, an American steakhouse with raving reviews. But as you adjust to your Seattle life (and can’t afford to treat yourself nightly), locals love the inexpensive diner Luna Park, and Pike Place Chowder is perfect for a cheap and delicious meal. Often when looking at cheaper options you’ll find that Asian cuisine is a good go-to option. Green Leaf is a local favorite for Vietnamese and Jamjuree for Thai. Need a morning pick-me-up? Not to worry; there’s a coffee shop on nearly every corner (though yes, most of them are Starbucks). And on those days you’re looking for a quick bite to eat, locals swear that Dick’s Drive-In far surpasses the classic In-n-Out Burger.

 

With so many people moving to Seattle, there won’t be a shortage of people looking for something new to do on those weekend nights. If you’re looking for something a little different, you’ll get a delicious meal with a fascinating and unique atmosphere at the Pink Door. Afterward, head to the Unicorn Bar, a carnival-themed bar you probably haven’t experienced anything like before. And if the morning after has you in need of some brunch, the locals swear by Portage Bay.

 

Things To Do

Sure, when you first move to Seattle, you’ll be tempted by the classics: visit the first Starbucks Café, the Space Needle, and the Seattle Art Museum/Olympic Sculpture Park. While these are fascinating parts of the city (and highly recommended), you won’t be acting a tourist during most of your Seattle residence. In addition to exploring whatever neighborhood you end up in, here are a few options to venture out, on the weekends. (Just beware, there’s no income tax, so sales taxes can be a pricey addition to your adventures.)
Chihuly’s Garden and Glass is a gorgeous and unique gallery featuring the work of glass artist Dave Chihuly. Pike Place Market is a fun and energetic place to be a great way to explore downtown and the local vendors in the area (plus, the original Starbucks is in that area, so you can cross that off your Seattle bucket list at the same time). If you’re looking for something for a classy day out, Woodinville Wine Country is a mere 30 minutes outside the city. And for intellectual stimulation, check out the Boeing tour- a tour of a working Boeing factory and a hands-on way to learn about aerospace and the craft. For outdoor fun, check out Discovery Park or the Burke-Gilman trails, these are great places to take the pet or to get some exercise (Seattle is quite hilly after all!)

 

No matter where you’re from, Seattle is a growing city filled with things to do, people to meet, and live to grow. Your children will find a home here, your career will find success, and your lifestyle will fit right in.

Alex-Office Cat

An Unlikely Team Member

by Kirstyn Jones, Customer Service Representative

Many companies have taken on more creative ways to boost productivity in the workplace and keep employees engaged. One example of this is the inclusion of a furry friend on the team here at Executive Auto Shippers. Our little office kitty Alex always becomes the most popular team member when stress levels seem to be at an all-time high, especially in the customer service department.

As much as I’d like to say this specific field is as easy as it comes, it’s not. I’ve had multiple customer service representative positions and as much as you try not to take things to heart, sometimes it’s unavoidable. The biggest asset to my current position is the atmosphere with fellow employees, the support they show to one another, and last but not least our office cat Alex. When I started this position I was forewarned that Alex is not always the friendliest of felines and from that moment on as a cat lover, it became a personal goal to befriend her.

Alex-Office Cat-1

At first, we had our ups and downs as I started filing in the back room as something to do with my free time between calls and emails as my customer base grew. With time I grew to understand her preferences, as Alex is an older girl and very selective on whom she demands attention from.

Alex was taken in as a stray kitten, fortunately, our co-founder Jenny found it in her heart to give her a lifelong home in our office. I am forever thankful that she did. Alex typically spends most of her day sleeping on my desk making frequent trips up and down.

Alex-Office Cat-2

She makes her appearance known with howls each morning followed by a couple paws perched on my chair, while she stretches she bats her paws up my side. I pick her up, place her on my desk in front of her box, that she loves to curl up in and continue typing. More often than not she chooses to curl up in my arms. It makes maneuvering the mouse a little more challenging with her long-haired tail flicking every few minutes. However, during the elongated calls, she provides support by simply sleeping, purring and waiting patiently for another pet. She purrs constantly which always puts a smile on my face as well as my co-workers who occasionally stop by to check in on her. I’m sure I’m not the only person who enjoys her company in the office. Regardless of the scenario she always welcomes my affection and her appreciation makes the stress melt away.

From my personal experience of having an office cat, I’d have to say she’s a great asset to the team. While she may not be the hardest working team member at Executive Auto Shippers, her emotional support is second to none.

LA Blog-Cover Photo

A Guide to the City of Angels

by Kara Masteller, intern writer for Executive Auto Shippers

Spanish for, “The Angels,” Los Angeles lives up to its name. It’s a sprawling, star-studded city filled with some of the most creative and fascinating individuals in the country, and that’s not without reason. Los Angeles (or L.A.) is home to 3 of the 6 major film studios. You’ll hear of many aspiring movie stars making the big move here. But even if winning an Oscar isn’t your dream, there are so many other reasons to call L.A. your home.

Located in southern California, you’ll find most of your days filled with warmth and sunshine.

Now you can honestly say you enjoy long walks on the beach; there are 15 beaches in L.A. alone (and many more in the surrounding counties). But no worries if sand-between-your-toes sounds more stressful than relaxing; L.A. has quite a variety of habitats including wetlands and mountains, so most everyone can find an outdoor environment they feel at home in.

Los Angeles-beach and outdoor

 

Housing

Los Angeles is an amazing city, but it can be intimidating to move to. As liberating as it may feel to say “I packed up my bags and moved to L.A.!” that may not be the best move. It can be just as difficult to land an apartment as it is to land an acting gig. When looking for living areas, keep in mind that the neighborhood you choose is especially important. L.A. is so sprawled out that what you live nearest will become part of your life. Driving 8 miles will probably take you 30 minutes, so make sure you’re taking job and school locations into account. Being in the same city as a friend may seem convenient and easy, but if you live in neighborhoods on the opposite ends of the city that could be far more difficult than you’d initially expect. Make sure to utilize resources that assist with nabbing a budget-friendly apartment.

If you’re moving your family to Los Angeles, keep in mind that the housing market in southern California is tough. However, there are plenty of housing rentals available for a budget-friendly option. There are great lists of family-friendly neighborhoods with renting and buying options that can be really helpful.

Los Angeles-suburban living

 

Schooling

If you’re worried about finding a school within a reasonable distance than worry no more! The Los Angeles Unified School District is the second-largest school district in the nation. But don’t feel as though your child is bound to the school in the area you move to. There are some great charter and private school options throughout the city as well. The LAUSD also has great resources to help provide some assistance in navigating the L.A. school system and others that summarize some pros and cons between those options as well. But make sure to check out your neighborhood schools first; if they’re a good fit for your child, that could save much time and stress in the search.

Los-Angeles-public-school

 

Food

Once the stress of finding a living and education options is over, make sure to explore the fascinating and diverse culture of Los Angeles starting with the phenomenal food options.

A move to L.A. requires some planning and so does a trip to one of L.A’s hotspots. Bestia, an Italian restaurant, can be costly (and reservations often must be made a month in advance) but locals insist that it’s worth it. If you don’t feel like a true L.A. local until you’ve seen a celebrity, you may want to head over to Tower Bar. Even if you don’t see the star you were hoping to, it’s a delicious meal in a beautiful spot on Sunset Boulevard. For sushi, check out Sugarfish for a quality bite. And for a way to relax after your move, treat yourself to some gorgeous views at Malibu Wines Tasting Room; wine in the mountains, what more could you want?

 

If moving to L.A. has your wallet exhausted, there are plenty of cheaper options to choose from as well. While Broken Spanish has some well-worth-it higher end Mexican food, don’t be afraid to take advantage of the many food trucks you’ll find scattered throughout the city. Guerilla Tacos is a local favorite! If you’re looking for something else to spice up your night, Howlin’ Rays will do that, literally. The lines are long, but the locals claim it’s some of the best spicy chicken they’ve had. Another popular joint (but with quite a wait attached) is Gjelina’s. But don’t forget about GTA (Gjelina’s Take Away!) This is a great way to enjoy the delicious Italian but avoiding the wait. And for those nights you want authentic Asian food without breaking the bank, Pine and Crane is a great choice.

Los Angeles-food truck-Guerilla Tacos

 

Things to Do

There is never a shortage of activities in this city. While you can always enjoy the tourist classics (seeing Hollywood sign, walking along Hollywood Boulevard, visiting the Capitol Records Building, or seeing a show at Walt Disney Concert Hall) you’ll be able to find a group of people interested in nearly every hobby out there. For the night owls out there, check out the bars in Highland Park, they’re some of the cooler and more modern ones out there. In the summer check out the 626 Night Market. It’s filled with a crazy variety of foods to try and you can stay up late instead of getting up early for a traditional farmers market. If you’re looking for a unique way to get to know the city then consider taking the Secret Stair walk. While searching for historic staircases may not sound like the idea of a good time, it’s fascinating way to learn more about your new home while exploring some of the lesser-known spots. And if you think city life is the only way to experience L.A., think again. The city is filled with outdoor treasures. For the pets, check out the dog beaches. You can always find some beautiful scenic places to visit. Leo Carrillo State Park is also a gorgeous area to explore when you have some time off.

Los Angeles-things to do

 

L.A. is quite a place. Don’t be too fooled by the urban lifestyle, a car is still pretty necessary to get around, and jaywalking tickets are actually given to disobeying pedestrians. Healthy lifestyles are encouraged, but there’s no shortage of food. The city can be intimidating, rejection can happen, but it’ll pick you up anytime you’re feeling down, with its beautiful sunny days. Whatever you need to feel at home, Los Angeles can provide.

View of the Boston skyline over water

by Kara Masteller, intern writer for Executive Auto Shippers

If you like working with passionate people, you’ll find them in Boston. The citizens have a passion for their sports, their food, their history, and most importantly- their city. How many cities can you say have their own accent? Their own slang? Founded in 1630 and a sight of many historic events of the American Revolution, Boston is deeply embedded in the nation’s history. Writers as influential as Ralph Waldo Emerson have found themselves living here, and it houses some of the nation’s most prestigious universities. Its historic and academic relevance has helped mold Boston into what it is today- an economic and global powerhouse with the 6th largest economy in the nation and 12th in the world.

 

Housing

As is with many cities, Boston is known as a “City of Neighborhoods” so when looking for places to settle down, make sure you’re looking at the area surrounding the place of residence. This will affect your standard of living, your commute, your children’s schooling options, and your lifestyle. A guide to the neighborhoods of Boston can be found here: https://www.jumpshell.com/boston-neighborhoods. And don’t be afraid to bring your pets! While Boston is a very dense and urban city, there’s plenty of park space; from the Arnold Arboretum to the Boston Commons, you and your pets will always have outdoor options to enjoy.

If you’re eager to begin your Bostonian adventure and don’t have the time to locate and research the neighborhoods, consider temporary housing. For a business stay, consider Buckingham Business Apartments. Garrison Square and Boston Best Rentals also have great reviews according to Yelp.

For those looking for more than temporary housing, just remember that housing costs are very expensive in the Greater Boston area. For those without a high income, considering a rental or roommates isn’t a bad idea. Regardless, when you move in keep in mind that moving permits are required for street occupancy and must be obtained at least a day in advance. And try to avoid the end of August and beginning of September- Boston is home to several universities, and trying to move in simultaneously with the students is just asking for increased stress levels.

A Boston neighborhood in the Fall

 

Schools

Public education is organized differently in Boston than it is in most cities. You could live right next door to a school that your kids still may not necessarily attend. That’s because the public schooling system operates on lottery assignment. Location is considered, but no matter where you move, there is no guarantee that your child will go to the school you want them to. Many children in Boston go to different schools than their neighbors.

If the public schooling system doesn’t seem like the right choice, Boston does have some well-renowned private schools, just bear in mind that private schools have a tuition associated with them.     

However, most offer significant scholarship options, so don’t be afraid to consider them. There are plenty of specialty schools as well, so whatever your child’s strengths or passions may be, there’s likely a school that can match them. There are pros and cons to both enrolling in the public school lottery and applying for a private school, but there are many online forums and resources to guide your family’s decision.

School bus traveling the city streets of Boston

 

Food

Being walking distance from the ocean, it’s no surprise that Boston is known for its seafood. If you’re interested in treating yourself after the move, consider grabbing a lobster roll and chowder from Neptune Oyster- it’s on the upper end in pricing but is highly recommended by the locals. For more moderately priced and accessible seafood, you’ll find Legal Seafood in multiple locations. This is a popular place for Boston residents to visit once they’re settled in.

For a relaxing and fun night out with friends, consider the Barking Crab. This is a great place to kick back and relax with some friends. They have amazing food for very reasonable prices and often have live music. Abby Lane is a perfect for a casual meal in the theatre district, with quality food and prices, and The Paramount has a very well-priced brunch that the locals frequently enjoy.

A more tourist-oriented stop is Faneuil Market in Historic Downtown. There will be no difficulty in finding a meal under $10, the problem will be deciding what to choose from! The market has so many local specialties and is great for when the family can’t decide on one kind of food to eat.

 

Lobster and fish on display at Faneuil Market in Boston

 

Things to Do

Bostonians love their sports. There’s the Celtics (basketball), the Bruins (hockey), or the Red Sox (baseball) sports season is all year long. People come from all around the country to go to the games. Fenway Park- home of the Red Sox- is also home to Fenway Franks, a delicious place to grab a bite while watching the game. And Fenway Park offers tours, too!

If history is more of your thing, there will be no shortage of things for you to see. In addition to the seemingly endless sites of the American Revolution, you can stop by Caffe Vittoria, the oldest Italian Café in Boston. Because the city is so ingrained in history and education, there are many museums to be explored as well.

If you want to start exploring your creative side, check out Artisan’s Asylum for learning craft skills- including bike maintenance, glass/metalworking, and more. And if the outdoors is where you feel at home, enjoy exploring the “secret gardens” of Boston. There are so many things to do in this city, and as a resident, you’re fortunate enough to have the time to really explore them all!

Ariel view of Boston's Fenway Park

 

No matter who you are, you’ll be able to make a home here in Boston. It has a such a unique culture that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. It’s a great place to pursue education, start your career, raise a family, or settle into an adventurous retirement. There are places to explore and there are places to relax. Urban pride at its finest, the people and places won’t let you down.