Your grandmother’s china… Your child’s bronzed baby shoe… The pair of caned chairs you picked up while antiquing on a summer vacation… A lifetime of accumulated memories and memorabilia can make the idea of downsizing pretty daunting. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. If you’ve done your research and see the benefits of living in community with other older adults, but the thought of sorting through and packing up your household has you paralyzed, a professional move manager can make taking those steps much easier.
What is a “move manager”?
A move manager is a professional whose job it is to make your move go more smoothly. “I’ve heard move management described in a wide variety of ways, but my favorite is saying ‘it is like hiring a personal assistant for your move,’” says Megan Bond, of Complete Transitions Senior Move Management, based in West Chester, Pa. “You are still in control. It is your move—but you can rely on someone else to assist you with the things you don’t want to do or things that you’d like some help with.”
Bond founded Complete Transitions about five years ago after helping extended family with the downsizing process several times. Before she started the company, she underwent training and became a certified senior move manager (SMM-C) through the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM). Today, she and her team of 16 help seniors and others with a wide variety of moves and downsizing needs.
NASMM offers an online search tool where you can find a move manager in your state. Its members adhere to certain ethical and insurance standards. To become certified, move managers must take additional education and be audited. NASMM members also attend an annual conference to stay abreast of current information and trends.
What can a move manager do for you?
Depending on where you are in life, you might have different move management needs. Although Bond’s company serves people of all ages, she says most of their clients are older adults—and those moves can be more challenging.
“The difference between a senior move and the average move is that a senior move usually consists of a number of different steps,” Bond explains. “It is not just picking up all the items from House A and moving them to House B. It is deciding what to take from House A to House B, and then figuring out what is going to happen with all the remaining items.”
That’s where a full-service move management company like Complete Transitions can be especially helpful. They can assist with everything from floor planning and space planning, to downsizing, moving, packing and more. That could include helping develop a move timeline. They can help determine which items to sell, keep or donate, and then can coordinate with appraisers, resellers, donation organizations, clean-out specialists, and shredding and junk removal services as appropriate. They can arrange shipping and storage and can even shop for new furniture if you decide you aren’t going to use your existing pieces in your new space. And they can do the packing.
“We pack so we can unpack,” Bond says. “We aren’t just packing—we are looking at how you live in your current home and seeing how we can recreate that in your new home.”
For tasks like moving your household items, which they don’t handle in-house, they coordinate with a trusted network of other resources, so the process is seamless.
Much ado about downsizing
The downsizing process can take a lot longer and be more emotionally charged than most people expect. The task can be made simpler with the right approach and support from a professional. And there is no reason to try to tackle it alone.
“With very few exceptions, downsizing and moving out of a family home is a once-in-a-lifetime activity, so don’t feel badly if you don’t feel equipped to handle it,” says Bond.
The way most people approach downsizing is to itemize. They start going through all their belongings and try to make decisions: Where should the juice glasses go? What should I do with my collection of Hummel figurines (or baseball cards or whatever you collect)? What about the furniture?
“That will exhaust you in a hurry.” Instead, Bond advises, “Figure out what will go, then have a move manager help you with a comprehensive plan of what to do with the remaining items.” Complete Transitions offers an extensive list of ways to redistribute items that are not going to make the move.
Experts suggest that you start decluttering long before you think you will be ready to list your home for sale. “It takes longer than a month or six weeks to organize a household of 40 years,” a senior real estate specialist told us for another recent blog post on selling your home.
Set a timeline to preserve your sanity
Regardless of whether you are making the transition on your own or using the help of a move manager, you control the timeline. If you think you might want to work with a move manager, getting them involved early can make your whole move go much more smoothly.
“One of the best things I can recommend is not to wait,” Bond says. Instead of trying to manage it all yourself and calling for help as a last resort, “You can actually do more on your own by calling in a move manager first, rather than spinning your wheels and wasting precious time trying to go it alone. We can get you on the right track, even if that means you are going to do it yourself.”
When do you make the call? That depends on a number of things. One of the main drivers is the sale of your current home. Do you plan to move before you put it on the market, or will you still be living there while it is being shown?
“Most clients we work with have a two- to six-month time frame prior to their move, but that can vary,” says Bond. “Some clients call years before they are planning to move and some call days before they are planning to move. We don’t dictate the timeline. We facilitate the timeline for your move based on you and what you want to accomplish.”
Although last-minute calls are not ideal, Bond has access to sufficient resources to make a variety of different timelines work, although she cautions that compressed timelines often reduce the number of options available, which can affect cost.
Costs for move management
Although different move management companies may operate differently, Complete Transitions offers its services on an hourly basis, and clients have control over how much or how little they spend.
“We create an individual estimate for you based on what services make sense for your move, but you are ultimately in the driver’s seat. You can control the amount of work we do and the costs,” Bond explains.
One of the overall benefits of working with a move manager has no price tag. Their support can ease the stress of transitioning out of your home so you can focus on enjoying your carefree new lifestyle at Simpson.