Downsizing Doesn’t Need to Be So Hard

Santa Barbara Moving Expert Gives Advice on Tricky Transition from Family Home to Smaller Senior Living

Downsizing Doesn’t Need to Be So Hard

Santa Barbara Moving Expert Gives Advice
on Tricky Transition from Family Home to
Smaller Senior Living

By Tyler Hayden | August 24, 2023

Glenn Novak of Miss Daisy Consignment and Auction House | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

Find the rest of our 2023 Active Aging Guide here.

No matter how you slice it, moving is a pain. Throw in the need to dramatically downsize, and an already-intimidating process becomes all the more daunting.

That’s where people like Glenn Novack come in, a certified Senior Move Manager who helps older people transition from their longtime homes to the smaller living spaces of retirement communities. “Dismantling a house that took 50 years to fill is difficult,” he said, “physically and emotionally.”

Novack and his Santa Barbara company, Moving Miss Daisy, offer a full range of services, from the packing and hauling of furniture and belongings to the consignment or auction of items his clients let go. “I always try to get them the most money I can,” he said. He’s one of a few such relocation experts in town and operates out of the first floor of the former Sears building in La Cumbre Plaza. 

After nearly a decade in the business — which he entered after careers in event planning and antique dealing, while also caring full-time for his mother — Novack is brimming with helpful advice for seniors and their families. Here are his top suggestions for making the downsizing process as smooth as possible.

Start Planning Now

Don’t wait until circumstances suddenly force you out of your home, like in the case of a new health or mobility issue, or the death of a spouse. Instead, start thinking about the big move now to avoid added tumult later on. Plus, last-minute relocations cost more because companies charge a premium for the quick turnaround.

“Pre-planning is key,” Novack explained. “When people can do this on their own time, they can do it properly.” Even if you’re in your sixties, Novack continued, it’s not a bad idea to start lightning up now in anticipation of your eighties. “The inevitability of aging is going to happen, whether we want it to or not,” he said.

Excavate In Layers

As you begin sifting through your possessions to decide what you want to keep and what you can part with, try thinking in layers. “That makes it so much more digestible,” said Novack. First, get rid of the junk, the stuff that’s no good to anyone. Then, determine what items you can give away to friends or family. After that, designate everything that can be donated or sold through consignment or auction. These are all steps a move manager will help you with.

One of the best places to clear out first is the garage, which can then serve as a staging area for the rest of the clear-out process. Trucks have easy access, too. By the end, only the belongings a client is taking with them to their new home should remain in the house. “That’s the goal,” said Novack. He likes his clients to have one last night in their house before they move the next day and sleep in their new space surrounded by familiar things.

Tags, Dumpsters, and Storage Lockers

It may seem like a minor consideration, but using clearly designated tags — as opposed to colored dots or other labeling system — can make all the difference in ensuring items wind up where they belong. Especially when multiple packers and movers are involved. 

Novack also recommends getting a dumpster, which MarBorg can deliver and haul away for surprisingly cheap. “It’s one of the lowest-cost investments people can make, and it’s incredibly helpful,” he said.

And should a client remain on the fence about certain objects as moving day approaches, there’s no shame in putting them in a storage locker and deciding later. “This is a huge life change, and sometimes people need more time to sit with it,” said Novack.

Map the Layout First

Before any furniture crosses the threshold of your new living space, first make sure it will fit inside. Retirement communities often provide the floorplans of their units, and mocking up a layout is a smart way to avoid headaches later on. “We design the whole place ahead of time,” said Novack, explaining that it’s particularly important to account for the clearance for walkers and wheelchairs.

Sometimes, a particular sofa or coffee table just can’t be squeezed in, and Novack will help a client pick a new one. He’ll also advise on replacing rugs that may become tripping hazards and where to hang artwork where it will get the best light.

Hire Someone You Trust and Like

Novack suggests meeting with a few different Senior Move Managers before committing to one. Though the reputable ones are all licensed, bonded, and insured — in addition to Moving Miss Daisy, he recommends Curated Transitions, The Clearing House, and S.B. SOS — they each have their own approach and style. “This is such a personal thing, and you want to be comfortable,” he said. Their prices vary, as well.

“Some people have extraordinarily valuable things in their homes,” Novack said, even if they don’t realize it. He’s come across mid-century Danish furniture signed by the maker and worth a bundle and a first-pressing Jimi Hendrix vinyl that almost went for $5 and instead fetched $1,200. He’s also found forgotten treasures. “One of the greatest joys for me and my team is discovering money, jewelry, or gold and turning it over to the homeowner,” he said. “It’s all about being fair.”



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