Downsizing & Making the Move to a Senior Community

Ask the Expert Marnie Dawson.  A Certified Relocation and Transition Specialist

Founded in 2008, Dawson Relocation Services helps seniors and their families with the process of downsizing and moving to a new home. An active member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers, Marnie engages with colleagues nationally to stay informed of best practices for serving the needs of her clients. She serves on the board of the Illinois Continuity of Care – Chicago Chapter, where she meets with other professionals serving the needs of seniors.


Can you tell us a little about your company?

I have five part-time people who work with me and we are able to come in very quickly to assist people when they decide to move into assisted living or downsize.  We can do everything from sorting through personal possessions to whittle down what is to be moved and packing it up to measuring the new space, determining the furniture placement and coordinating the actual move with the person’s movers.  The person doesn’t even have to be there if they don’t want to be!


How are you different from other relocation services?

We are a small company and able to provide very personalized services.  We meet with the client to help them decide what to sell, donate, give away or repurpose. Helping them select the furniture that will work the best in their new space is also part of our services.  I often tell people “I speak mover,” so we are able to assist them in coordinating the actual move and they don’t have to worry about a thing. We are fully insured, we also adhere to the association’s standards and ethics, so people can be assured that we are a reputable company.


What is the most challenging part of downsizing for most people?

Often, my clients are in their 80’s and 90’s and the physical process of moving can be very difficult for them. Most have lived in their homes for a very long time and accumulated a lot of possessions.  It can be very overwhelming for them and hard to decide what to part with.  We create a plan and move through the process with them.  We all have an emotional attachment to our “stuff” and having a neutral third party help sort through it makes it easier to let go.


What do you do when people don’t want to part with their possessions?

It is up to the person to decide what stays or goes.  I listen to their stories and help them focus on the space they will have available to them in their new home and how to best utilize it.  I listen to their stories and am there for emotional support and to provide a reality check.  I sometimes play the role of “task master” but mostly, I am there to remind them of the amount of space they have to work with and what will fit and what won’t.  Ultimately, they have the right to say “no” and decide if they want to keep something.


What can people expect to pay for your services?

I charge a very reasonable hourly rate for my services and the consultation is complimentary. The cost depends on how much of the move they want us to manage.  We provide an estimate prior to doing any work so people know what to expect, but depending on what needs to be done, it can be as little as a couple hundred dollars.


Will you help organize/downsize someone even if they are not going to be moving?

Certainly!  I have helped people who are going through a divorce and selling their home and some people come to me years before they plan to move to prepare for their eventual move to a senior living community or apartment.  We also help empty nesters who are moving to a smaller home or repurposing rooms in their existing homes.


Marnie enjoys work her work immensely and finds it very rewarding. Helping families and elderly people who are struggling with the overwhelming task of preparing for a move and taking away the stress is the main reason Marnie got into this business.  She understands that sorting through one’s life and working with movers is not always easy and is glad to lend a hand, dig through a basement, clean drawers and closets – whatever it takes to make the process easier.

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