When Nana decided to move from her Arizona home of 35 years to be closer to my parents in Florida, it wasn’t a quick decision. It took several years to let the idea sink in until the actual moving process began.
For Nana, this move was the final chapter of her 86-year-old life. And that prospect weighed heavily on her. A new state. A new home. New friends. Leaving the place she once shared with her now deceased husband.
Moving is overwhelming financially and emotionally, especially for seniors who may be moving for the first time in years, and moving for what may be their final time. The logistics, the money, and the feelings brought out in a move are challenging and stressful.
Once you’ve decided where to move, the how to move is the next step. And it won’t be easy. But it can be easier with help whether that help is from family and friends, volunteers or professionals.
Not everyone has a son or daughter, relative or friends to help out with the monumental task of moving. Your children have their own lives and may not have the time or resources to help. You may not have friends physically capable of lending a hand.
A fast-growing market in the moving segment are senior move managers. They are also known as senior transitions and senior relocations. These companies specialize in the moving of seniors who have different needs and challenges than younger generations.
Senior move managers are precisely that: managers of the move. They help you plan, organize and execute your move from one home to the next.
According to the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM), the number of senior move companies went from 48 in to 2003, to currently more than 800 in the US, Canada and abroad.
Though companies vary, here are some of the services you may find with a senior move manager.
- In-home consultation where wants and needs are discussed and assessed
- Develop a moving plan based on those wants and needs
- Provide a move timeline and checklist of tasks to be completed
- Measure furniture and develop a floor plan for the new residence that will show where the furniture will go
- Determining what items to take, sell or donate
- Assistance deciding what and what not to take
- Work with moving companies to arrange move time and meet with movers to coordinate the move at both the old and new residence
- Pack items to be moved using either the customer’s packing materials or the senior move manager’s
- Labeling boxes for easy unpacking and keeping an inventory of all items
- Coordinate stopping and starting utilities, cable, etc. at old and new home
- Coordinate with the moving company so that all items are correctly moved or left for the sale or donation
- Some senior move managers are also elderly moving companies who will load and transport your belongings
- Unpacking of essential items
- Setting up the furniture according to the floor plan
- Connecting electronics such as TV, phone, and computer
- Prepare and conduct sale of items in home not taken to new residence
- Arranging for items not sold/moved to be donated or disposed
- Coordinate professional cleaning of home
- Realtor referrals for selling of old home
- Home repairs and contractor referrals for preparing old home for sale
The other nice thing about using senior moving companies is that you can typically choose which of their services you want.
For example, say you have relatives and friends who can pack and move you, but you need to the move to be planned (establish a timeline, hire a realtor, etc.) first. You can hire a company to take care of the planning, make recommendations on a realtor to sell your home, and hire contractors for any repairs or improvements.
Hiring a Moving Company
One of the services of a senior move manager is recommending a good senior moving company. Even with this recommendation, you’ll still want to do your homework to ensure you’re getting the right mover to protect yourself and your belongings.
The Department of Transportation’s Household Goods Programs makes the following recommendations before entrusting your property with a mover.
1) Get a written estimate from several movers that is based on an actual inspection of your household goods.
2) Make sure the mover is licensed and insured (see below for more info)
3) Don’t just pick the cheapest mover; pick one with a good reputation and with a history of delivering on time. Movers are bound by law to deliver your goods for no more than 10% above the “non-binding estimate”—what the mover believes the move will cost based on the estimated shipment weight. This is known as the 110% rule.
Go to the US Department of Transportation’s Mover Registration Search to check out a potential mover. You’ll find licensing, insurance info, complaints, safety information and company contact information.
*Be sure to ask if the moving company offers a senior discount or any other discount that may apply such as retired military, civil service and AAA members.
Senior Moving Tips
No matter which service(s) you use from a senior move manager, you can always benefit from visualizing your move in advance. This will take some of the stress out of the process and give you greater peace of mind.
Enlist Family and Friends – Though you may have a senior move manager and moving company performing most of the tasks, you’ll still need help in other ways.
When was the last time you read a 20-page contract? Many of the senior moving services you’re hiring have lengthy contracts you’ll have to sign and be bound to. Having a relative as a second pair of eyes will give you a sense of relief and confidence.
You’ll also need family as support, moving as you likely are, to your last home.
Plan Ahead/Start Early – Try to allow at least 3 months before your actual moving date. Even if you’ve found your new home, there is a lot you’ll need to accomplish before you’ll be ready to leave your old home.Take into consideration the time of year.
Summers are high season for moving companies and senior move management so it may be harder to fit your schedule with their schedule.Having a date well in advance will also allow you to reserve the services you’ll need without the possibility of schedule conflicts.
You’re also likely to save money from the moving company by not moving in peak season and at the busy beginning or end of the month.
Organize – Create a checklist of what you want to accomplish with a timeline. For example, “get rid of anything not being moved, sold, or donated by the end of the month.” Having a to-do list will make the process seem more manageable and less overwhelming.
You’ll want to include stopping services like utilities, forwarding mail, transferring prescriptions, finding a new bank if needed, etc. In your organization, go through each room to get a rough idea what you want to keep, donate or throw away. Most of this will be determined by how much room you have in your new place.
If there are items (antiques, family heirlooms, etc.) you don’t want to get rid of but can’t bring because of space, ask your relatives or friends if they would like them.
Take Pictures – Having a visual record of your belongings and a room-by-room layout will serve you well. Pictures it will aide you in remembering what you have when it comes time for the actual move and set-up of your new home. You won’t be asking yourself which lamp goes with which end table.
By taking pictures of the back of your TV and computer, you or the ones setting up your new home will have an easier time.
Pictures will also help with planning what can fit inside your new home as you’ll probably be significantly downsizing.
Packing – This may be one of the hardest parts of the process. If you are helping your loved one pack, remember to take it slowly, particularly with sentimental items.
Emotions may come flooding back when looking at old photo albums or a child’s artwork from 50 years ago. It’s important to take the time to reflect and talk about a memory that comes bubbling back to the surface.
Be sure to pack valuables (expensive jewelry, important documents, etc.) in something you can personally carry with you when you move.
Other Moving Resources
If you are going the DIY route with the help of friends and family, you have a number of options for moving. First, when considering a moving truck, steer clear of U-Haul and go with Penske. Penske’s trucks are usually a lot newer (and safer) and about the same price. Penske also offers senior, AAA, and Veterans discounts.
Another option is using a company like PODS or Portable On Demand Storage. A container is dropped off at your home, allowing you to pack at your leisure. Then you call and have it picked up and dropped off at either your new home or placed in storage. You can have it delivered across town or across the country. You pick the delivery date. Pretty convenient.
There are a number of companies similar to PODS such as 1-800-PACK-RAT, Door to Door, and U-Pack. Depending on your situation, you may find that this option is cheaper than renting a truck when you consider things like gas, meals, hotels, and time—assuming you are not just moving across town.