Susie Danick, co-owner of TAD Relocation, discussed moving and organization tips. | Home Front

Jun 13, 2013

Susie Danick is co-owner of TAD Relocation, a move management company in the D.C. area. The Gaithersburg-based company was founded in 2000 and is a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers/ Ms. Danick is also a past president and former member of the association's Board of Directors. She discussed moving and organization tips, with 50% of moves happening between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? She's happy to whip out her paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself. Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation about the best way to feather the nest. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

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Today would not be a great day to move, as the storm clouds gather around us here in DC. But  Susie Danick, who is a co-owner of TAD Relocation in Gaithersburg, has staged moves in all kinds of weather and all kinds of circumstances. She is an expert in moving and decorating services for older adults, professionals and busy families. She is a past president of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Senior Move Managers. This is a topic we haven't discussed in a while so I'm sure you all have plenty of questions.



I am thrilled to join all of you and Jura today to discuss moving and organization tips. It’s what I do… it’s actually what I love to do. During the course of the next hour, I’ll provide my Top Ten Moving tips to help you create a smoother move. Moving doesn’t have to be difficult. But for a move to run smoothly, efficiently and cost effectively, moving needs a plan. After all, moving is like any big event. And all big events require planning. Thinking ahead allows you to spend money to move only those items you'll actually use and have room for in your new home. So let’s get started. Start shooting those questions my way.

What is the best way to get rid of or sell items I do not want to take with me?

Living in the Washington, D.C. area, we have so many great options when trying to find a home for things we no longer need. From an estate sale or garage sale to consignment shops, local auction houses or online auctions, Craig's List or local dealers. Most important, be realistic when setting a price or your item(s) will not sell. Donation is a great option, reaping the rewards of assisting others in need and benefitting from a tax deduction. Recycling or trash is your final option. If you hire a trash hauler it can be expensive, so try to plan ahead and get as much out with your weekly trash pick-up as you can.

How far out do I need to contact a move manager or a mover?

It is never too early to call a move manager. From one week to three years before you move, they will be an integral part of your move planning. A mover ideally should be contacted 2 to 4 weeks out to gaurentee you move dates. As the summer months approach, the movers are very busy so the sooner you reserve your dates, the better.

Hi -- Either I'm blind, or it's gone...there used to be sort of a landing page for House Calls and you could easily look at all of the past projects. Is that still around?

You can find it here!

What is a move move manager and what role do they play in my up coming move?

We like to describe ourselves as the "Wedding Planners" of the move industry. We are event coordinators and your "event" is "your move." We help with as much assistance as you need, to help you plan and execute your move to rush smoothly, effeciently and cost effectively. From floor plan design to sorting, pack assist as well as a complete unpack and set up of your new home (including hanging paintings), move managers assist with all you moving needs. We can even help you find a home for those items you will not be taking with you.

I want to get a recliner so I cam be comfortable while reading. However, they all seem to be rather ugly. A reclining loveseat looks a little better to me but it is a little big. Do you have any suggestions?

At our beach house, we inherited two very tasteful La-Z-Boy recliners in a neutral jacquard fabric. Everyone fights over who is going to use them. There are definitely good looking, slim line recliners out there that make wonderful chairs and can secretly flip out when nobody is looking. Try Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, La-Z-Boy, Macys and Lane. Does anyone out there have suggestions?

I have some delicate family heirlooms, how can I make sure they will be protected?

Over the past 13 years in this business, this is one of the most frequently asked questions. If possible, hand carry small items that are important to you. Have the movers pack items of value so those items are covered by their mover liability insurance. Make sure you have appropriate with your carrier to cover high value items. Standard moving insurance will not be enough to cover replacement of these items. Many movers will offer extra-valuation coverage or your home owner's policy may provide coverage as well. The standard insurance offered by mover's nationwide is 60-cents per pound. This important if you consider the following example. Without extra-valuation, if your mover drops a LLadro (small figurine), you will receive only a $1.20 with basic coverage!

What do I do with all the extra furniture and other items that I cannot fit in my new home?

Once you have decided what you will be taking with you, ask your family and friends what they would like. Once they have decided what they want, the left over pieces can be sent to auction, consignment or donation. Your move manager can help you with this. Make sure items that are donated are in good shape -- not stained, torn or tattered. 

As promised, throughout the chat I’m going to provide you with my Top Ten Tips for moving:

TAD’s Top Ten Tip #1 - Don’t go it alone: Ask for assistance from your friends, family or professionals. 

I'm so busy with work and kids, and just the thought of moving is so stressful! Is there a company that can help so that we can get settled in on day one of our move? I Love the idea of walking into my home and having it all set up for me!

TAD Relocation does this, from A to Z. We provide the support and assistance we need, getting you organized and unpacked in one day. Feel free to check out our website Remember you don't have to go it alone.

What kind of disasters should we prepare for when moving?

Have a plan, but know that that plan could change. On move day, the day you need the most energy is the day you likely have the least, so pull in the support of family, friends and professionals like TAD Relocation, move managers who can assist you along the way.

I'm looking for flea markets to go to this weekend. Anyone know of anything good going on ?

Sending this out to the crowd. The Georgetown Flea Market is one of the local favorites every Sunday.  Eastern Market on weekends is also a place to look for vintage furnishings. The Montgomery Farm Women's Market has a flea market Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7155 Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda. I know the DCBig Flea at the Dulles Expo Center is on July 20-21 so put that on your calendar - it's where a lot of designers go to shop for accessories.

I recently talked to a mover and they said they would pack, move me, and unpack. What else do I need to do? I am a senior citizen on my own and want to be sure I do this with minimum amount of troubles or worries.

The difference between a mover and a move manager is that a move manager  works side-by-side with the client preparing, sorting, packing and unpacking. The move manager "packs to unpack" always with the end goal in mind: that everything has a place when you arrive.  Move managers help you avoid a possible moving disaster by planning out every aspect of your move, from floor plan design, understanding what will fit and won't fit, and bringing items that will fit appropriately within the furnishing that you selected. TAD Relocation makes sure that with good planning that every item you have moved will have a home unpack day (unless you don't take our advice that you will end up with boxes of "stuff" and no room to store it). Throughout a person's life, most people, when they are moving, have moved into LARGER homes. Remember, as you are aging and downsizing (or right sizing as we like to call it), having good space-planning is key since you will NOT have extra room in a smaller home for extra "stuff." Moving does not have to be a four letter word!

Sometimes you have to move quickly. If a short-term lease to a new locale is in the offing, while you scout schools, etc., I have a great trick. Plan your packing: non-essentials like toss pillows, artwork, mirrors, off-season clothes, holiday décor, and so on can be boxed for storage in your new city. Basics like beds, everyday kitchenware and in-season clothes will hold you over for three to six months, maybe a bit longer. Saves packing it all twice. Use a storage facility or garage, and keep valuables and heat-sensitive items (photos) secure.

Thanks. Good tips.

I used an AAA coupon (obtained online) for a small discount on a mover. The work was excellent, professional and accurate. The auto club had vetted this vendor and it was soooo much better than picking a mover at random. I've moved a lot, cross country included. Folks referred by AAA, as well as membership clubs like Costco or Sam's have been uniformly excellent. Insurance agents might have a suggested mover as well. Use referrals, avoid mover horror stories.

Thanks for this. Very helpful.

TAD’s Top Ten Tip #2 - Start early/Start young: Spring-cleaning is more than just cleaning; it can be prepping for an eventual move. So every year, purge a little because it is never too early and you are never too young to start sorting and downsizing. If you start early you get to make the decisions instead of having someone make them for you.

We're moving from DC to Baltimore in August. Since we can't really start packing yet, what can we work on now to make the upcoming move a little less painful?

Reverse your thinking and focus on identifying the items that are most important to you and that you will be taking with you on your move. Once this has been completed, you can go back and begin going through cabinets and closets.

TAD’s Top Ten Tip #3 - Start behind closed doors: Sort and organize closets and filing cabinets, attics, and basements. Choose one a month until you are done.

What are a few cost saving tips you would suggest as I prepare to get ready for my move?

Movers typically charge by the hour for a local move and by weight for long distance moves. Therefore, making firm decisions before move day will make for a more efficient move and while at the same time keeping your costs down. Get rid of anything that's not fixable, wearable, out of date or just taking up space. Use up canned goods and frozen foods. The more items you discard before the move, the lower your move bill will be.

TAD’s Top Ten Tip #4 - Box, then discard: Think about items that you use every day and would like to continue using every day in your new home. Write them down. Those things that don’t make your list (things you just don’t use, but can’t yet bare to part with) box up. Six months to a year later discard or give away the contents of that box. You obviously haven’t missed these items that much.

Your expert works with older folks who downsize and perhaps relocate also? I have heard many a senior get defensive, even prickly, when fielding update suggestions for their long-time homes. They are enthused about the modern kitchens, baths and lighting in their new condo but baffled as to why pine-panel seems drab in the home they are selling. It's a real blind spot, IMHO.

Pine paneling is bound to make a comeback soon...

How do I know if my belongings and furniture will fit properly in my new home? I have so much emotional attachment to my do I overcome these emotions? I'm afraid of being broken hearted if I move

Moving is hard -- physically and emotionally. But "move" doesn't have to be a four letter word. There is such a concept as "Transitional Trauma." To help help ease transitional trauma, creating a to-scale floor plan that shows you the items that will fit within your new home, will help to ease the stress of a move. Knowing that many of those pieces you love will fit in your new home and that you will be able to take them with you will help you as well. Move managers like TAD Relocation have experience with floor plan design and can become very creative, showing you how to maximize the use of your new space.

TAD’s Top Ten Tip #5 - Give-away gifting: Distribute things to family and friends including family mementos, photos and books. Choose an item a month. Save only those keepsakes that mean the most to you. Don’t ever throw away something that has special memories, is valuable or a family heirloom.

How can you make decisions quickly about what to keep and what to get rid of? I know of so many friends struggling to dispose of house fulls of stuff after their parent moves to assisted living.

I always tell people to ask themselves, 1) Do I use it? 2) Do I love it? 3) Do I need it?.
If the answer is "yes," this goes into your KEEP pile. You will have three piles. KEEP, SELL/DONATE, TRASH. Again, focus on what's coming with you and what's most important to you. Don't ever throw away anything that has special memories, that has value or a family heirloom. That said, keep only the items that mean the most to you. Some people make these decisions quickly, some don't. Know yourself and know that it's never to early to start sorting and "rightsizing" to prepare for your move.

TAD’s Top Ten Tip #6 - Ask, do I really need that?: Dispose of non-fixable items, un-wearable clothing (out of date or worn) and items that are doing no more than just taking up space. This includes medication. Throw out all expired medicines now because you are never going to use them. When disposing of medications, make sure to follow the guidelines offered by the FDA.

How do keep from being ripped off by unethical movers and contractors?

The best advice I can give you about movers. It's one of my favorite sayings: "Price is what you pay, value is what you get." The least expensive mover is not going to always give you the best move experience.

TAD’s Top Ten Tip #7 - Use up what you have or make donations: Eat up those cans of food you stocked up on prior to a storm; eat the frozen foods in your freezer. You are not going to want to have to pack these heavy items. In just a minute I’ll let you know why in tip #8.

How would you dispose of a library of approx. 300 hard cover books, most of which date back to the 70's and 80's..My children all have e books and huge libraries of books as well.

There are a lot of organizations that accept books for donation and some that will purchase books from you. "Blind Industries of America" will come into your house and pack up your books for donation. Consider your local library, "Boys and Girls Clubs."

How far out do I need to contact a move manager or a mover?

It's never too early to contact a move manager. Ideally, the minute you have any thoughts about moving, they should be your first call. TAD Relocation has move dates planned through the end of the summer. When looking for a move manager, nationally, you can go to which is the non-profit, national senior move manager association's website.

We have a family member moving in from out of state next month? What can I offer to do to be helpful? I don't want to be in the way or contribute to their stress.

First thing you can do is call a move manager to schedule some unpacking assistance for your family when they arrive. Making sure your family has lunch AND TOILET PAPER on move day would be teriffic! 

TAD’s Top Ten Tip #9 - Enjoy clean now: Have draperies, rugs, and other linens cleaned before the move.

when I'm seriously considering a potential home I go through it room by room and measure for furniture, art, and rug placement. I carry a stack of photos of major pieces of furniture with their dimensions written on the back. I also measure kitchen cabinet space and check that bathroom vanities have drawers. I also do this in the garage to make sure our cars fit.

This is great ... another great tip would be to measure the linear feet of closet space so that you know whether or not you need to stretch your closets with additional hanging or shelving.

TAD’s Top Ten Tip #10 - Set up a plan: Develop a floor plan for your new residence so you know where your furniture will go and what items you won’t have room for. Then, start thinking about whom you would like to give those items, whether a family member, an auction house or a charity organization that will, undoubtedly, appreciate your furniture donations.

I recently talked to a mover and they said they would pack, move me, and unpack. That is all I need, right?

We have a lot of tips and a list of services so check out our website, This will give you a comprehensive understanding of how a move manager can provide you with a full moving solution and help you to "plan a better move."

It is emotionally hard to let go of furniture and accessories that will not fit in size or style in our new home in Arizona. How do I get beyond holding on to too much?

Check out the article about "Transitional Trauma," in the Huffington Post. It will help you understand that moving is emotionally and physically difficult.

That was a lot of fun. Hope you have learned a lot today. I need to go run and help organize and prepare a client to move. Wonderful chatting. Let's do it again some time. Time for me to “plan a better move.” Please feel free to call me and set up a complimentary, one-hour consultation as you plan your move. (240) 403-0177.  Susie.

Thanks Susie - lots of great advice on moving, decluttering, organizing, shedding stuff and planning your move. We can all take some of your tips to heart, even if we aren't planning to move tomorrow. Thanks everyone for participating.

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

Home Q&A archive
Susie Danick
Susie Danick is co-owner of TAD Relocation. Danick is an expert in moving and decorating services for aging adults, professionals and busy families.The Gaithersburg-based company, founded in 2000, is a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers. Danick is also a past president and former member of the association's Board of Directors.
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