Sometimes I feel like people might think we talk the talk, but don't walk the walk when it comes to using some Web services. Believe me when I tell you we use this stuff every day, and over the last month, nothing has been more useful to me than Craigslist. Why? I was moving, and I did 95 percent of it using a single service to find movers, boxes, people to buy and take away old furniture, and most importantly--a place to live.
After having just finished, I know I could have done some things better, and I thought this would be a good chance provide a focused collection of tips and tricks for each stage of a move. Something useful for any would-be movers who have never used the Web to hunt for a new place, then get the job done by selling excess junk, and finding the right equipment to get from point A to point B. I've also nixed using just Craigslist, as a balanced attack using several best-of-breed Web services will save you time and money.
Finding a place
Mash Maker (review) from Intel is a very slick tool for parsing through Craigslist's myriad of listings and making the data accessible in ways that Craigslist does not provide for. There are a few "plug-ins" for Craiglist in the Mash Maker gallery. The most useful ones are the tables plus maps one that will let you see pricing, move in dates, and more in an easy to use chart that can be sorted. There's also a great one that will give you the price versus subregion that will tell you the average price of apartments based on each neighborhood you're looking at.
Another mash up that existed before Mash Maker, but that's still accessible without the installation of the plug-in is HousingMaps, which mashes up Google Maps with Craigslist housing listings. You're not going to find some of the most up-to-date listings from just an hour or so ago, or be able to search through them like you can on Craigslist, but using the filters it's simply a fantastic way to check out a bunch of places with less text and more topography.
If you're trying to buy a house, there are some even better services that bring a lot more depth to the table. Trulia and Zillow offer simple and deep services that give you a lot of information and put you in touch with real estate folks or homeowners without you even needing to leave your house.
Trulia has the most eye candy of the two, with a time line viewer called HindSight that will show you growth and other housing trends by geography. It's really only useful in a few cities, unlike Trulia's core service which will let you hunt for houses with a high level of ease. Fellow housing search tool Zillow is also great for potential homebuyers, and ties in things such as a mortgage finder and a great map tool that includes homes for sale, recently sold homes, and even places people are just thinking about selling and just waiting for the right offer to get out.
Continue reading to learn about research tools, finding movers, and what to do if you find yourself temporarily homeless...
… Read more