Move of a Lifetime: What Retirees Should Know Before Moving

Vector illustration of elderly couple surrounded by moving boxes and unpacking at their new house.

Ready for your move? Here are some things retirees should know before moving.

So, you’ve made the decision to move to a retirement community. This exciting time is a step closer to living the life you’ve always imagined for your retirement years.

While you may be ready to downsize or move across the country, there are some important considerations you shouldn’t overlook. First is preparing for the emotional toll that a move can take. Second is understanding the costs of moving in your older years. Last, how do you even find the right mover?

The moving process can be fraught with many questions, but NewHomeSource is here to help. Here’s what Baby Boomers should know before making the move of a lifetime:

Moving Can Be Emotional

Moving may be a great way to clean out the garage; but when you are a Boomer, it might be difficult to decide on what to keep and what to get rid of.

“Moving for retirement or moving a parent is accompanied with unique challenges and emotions,” says Laura McHolm, co-founder of NorthStar Moving, based in Chatsworth, Calif. “Not only is there the task of downsizing a home lived in for decades; there are deep emotions that come from saying goodbye to a lifetime of belongings and a well-loved home full of treasured moments.”

So, don’t be afraid to ask for help, McHolm says. “Sometimes, someone outside the family can be just the right figure to assist (you and your family) through the transition.

You can also work with your mover to find the right moving package for you, such as full-service packing and unpacking services.

“Some moving companies also offer senior-specific services, including help with downsizing belongings, so you move only what you truly want to keep,” says Stephen Seligson, director of sales and marketing for Molloy Bros. Moving & Storage, which serves movers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

If you don’t know where to get started with your move, you can contact a senior move manager. These professionals help older adults and their families with the physical process of moving, as well as the emotional process associated with downsizing and moving. The National Association of Senior Move Managers maintains a state-by-state list of senior move managers that you can evaluate.

How Much Does It Cost to Move?

The cost to move varies, depending on how far you’re going and how much stuff is going with you, says Ryan Carrigan, co-founder of moveBuddha, an online moving site that compares moving company rates.

According to moveBuddha’s moving cost calculator, moves can range anywhere from $300 to more than $8,500, says Carrigan. Below is a breakdown of costs; however, please note that this is an estimate and costs are different for each situation.

                  Infographic with chart of moving prices

To help keep costs down, it’s important that you find the right mover. Doing so will ensure that you are not being taken advantage of and that your property will be properly cared for. Another way to keep costs down is to get rid of items you no longer use or need before the move; donate items of particular importance to family or friends, but only if they can truly use or care for the item.

Questions to Ask Moving Companies

Whether you can fit your belongings into a small trailer or you need a full-sized moving truck, you want to find a reputable moving company that will transport your items with care. George Rohlfing, president of Brookline Transportation Co., Inc. (BTI) and a certified moving consultant, based in Hanover, Mass., advises getting moving quotes from at least three moving companies to ensure you are getting the best deal and the most qualified mover.

According to McHolm and Rohlfing, here are some questions that 55+ movers can ask to find the right mover:

1) What do moving rates include?
2) Can I have everything in writing? (A contract will protect you and the moving company from any misunderstandings. Ask them to explain any fees you don’t understand.)
3) Are fuel charges included in the rate?
4) Will they give you a better rate if the move is on a Sunday, as opposed to a Monday?
5) How long has the moving company been in business?
6) Are they licensed? (Ask for a copy of their license and keep it on file. This is especially important if you are moving interstate – you can find licensed movers through the American Moving and Storage Association.)
7) Have they won any awards or accolades for service? Can they share any letters of recommendation?

Justin Lavelle is a scams expert and the communications director of BeenVerified, an online background check service. Here are two moving scams to watch for when choosing a moving company: 1) grossly underbidding a job, then holding belongings hostage for an inflated cash price on moving day and 2) collecting a large deposit and never showing up.

“If a moving company requests a deposit, hang up the phone and keep dialing,” Lavelle says. “Reputable movers collect on delivery and accept credit/debit cards. If you pay upfront, you have no control over if or when you will see your stuff again, especially if you are moving across the country. Use a credit card, so you can dispute any fraudulent actions.”

To help prevent falling for a moving scam, Lavelle suggests not simply going for the lowest-priced quote, checking the company’s BBB rating and getting everything in writing. Any contract should include extra fees to prevent surprises on moving day.

Other Considerations

Rohlfing advises planning for your move as early as possible; however, starting at least six to eight weeks prior to the move will give you time to find a qualified moving company.

Remember to ask your community manager if your mover needs to submit any documents before the move. “If you’re moving into 55+ housing or a gated community, your mover may have to submit a certificate of insurance to the property manager in advance or it could stop the move,” Rohlfing says.

Moving into your new home is an exciting process. But, when you are moving away from a lifetime of memories and downsizing, the process can be emotional.

Keep your emotions in check by researching your moving company well in advance, ask for help from family, friends and moving professionals and focus on the new adventure that awaits.
Patricia L. Garcia is an award-winning journalist and former content manager for NewHomeSource. You can find her on Google+.

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