Moving During the Pandemic? It Can be Done Safely
While the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, life still has to go on…and for some people that includes moving. Moving during a pandemic is a little more challenging, but it can be done safely. You just need to keep a level head and follow public health guidelines. Obviously, there are extra precautions, but many of the concerns are similar to those you might already have.
Check the Rules Where You are Going
Pandemic America is a patchwork of different restrictions and lockdown rules. One thing to check is whether the state you are moving to is currently requiring quarantine or COVID testing (or both). If you do have to face a two-week quarantine when you arrive at your new home, try to set up grocery delivery ahead of time. Use a review site like TripAdvisor or social media to locate good restaurants that do delivery (always a good idea as it can, in any case, your new location stands on business closures and mask mandates. Oh, and if you’re driving through other states, make sure you are aware of their rules too. Also, if driving, stock the car with food and limit stops as much as possible. You should not push through if fatigued, but you should also not be stopping to eat indoors at a restaurant.
Buy Extra Packing Materials
A general rule of moving is that you always need more packing materials than you think you do. It’s particularly important to buy more during the pandemic, when it might be harder to run out to an office supply store and pick up more boxes. One option is to have the movers pack and provide the boxes, but this is often a premium service that can be quite expensive. It also results in the movers being in your home for much longer, which increases transmission risk. If you do need extra materials you may have to have them shipped, which can get very expensive.
Some experts are recommending using only new boxes; if you do use recycled boxes, quarantine them in the garage for a day or so before packing them. This might not be a bad idea with new boxes either. However, the virus does not stay on cardboard that long.
Don’t forget to get bubble wrap or styrofoam peanuts too. If you still get a newspaper delivered, start saving the newspapers about a month before your move so you can use it as packing material. Put the newspaper off to one side so you are not frequently touching it.
Make sure you have what you need for specialty items such as musical instruments well ahead of time.
Work Out How to Dispose of What You’re Leaving Behind
Moving is a good time to declutter your life. You may decide, for example, to replace worn furniture rather than move it, or to clear out your closet.
Donating to charity is a good way to dispose of unwanted possessions, especially furniture or clothing in good condition, but this is another thing the pandemic has made a little more challenging. Find out what local charities are doing and use drop boxes to donate clothes. Many donation centers have specific rules or require an appointment. Wash and, if possible, tumble dry clothes before donating; this is appreciated by charities and prevents any transmission of COVID.
Other options to consider include posting to Nextdoor or social media to offer items for sale or free. Make sure that you have a way to get the item outside so that the person picking it up doesn’t have to enter your home.
If stuff is not in good enough condition to donate or give away, then make sure to recycle as much as possible. Also, remember that the pandemic is affecting everyone’s judgment. Consult with friends or family on keep or toss decisions (and watch for the “friend” who will try and convince you to give it to them instead).
Take Precautions When Interacting with Movers
The movers you hire will need to enter your home. Check with the firm about what protocols they are using during COVID-19, and have a backup plan. What will you do if they all show up without masks? If you can get a quote virtually, do so…but if you do, take lots of photos. Some companies will quote based off of square footage, which is not accurate at all if you have a lot of stuff. Don’t let movers in your home if they aren’t wearing masks. You can also ask them to wear booties (which is often a good idea anyway as it reduces the amount of dirt tracked in). Many movers, however, prefer not to wear gloves, which appear to have minimal advantages for reducing transmission and make it more likely that they will drop your stuff.
Wear a mask yourself. Don’t pack all of the hand soap, but rather leave some out for both you and them to move. Hand sanitizer is good, but there’s a near guarantee somebody will need to use the restroom during this process and want soap.
Stage everything as well as you can. It’s particularly important to label all boxes with which room they are going to so as to minimize the amount of time the movers spend in your new house. (And don’t forget to label any heavy boxes, such as books). If you have furniture that has to be lifted or moved a certain way, label it with written instructions so as to minimize the amount of time you spend talking to the movers. If you do it right, you can wait outside while they do their jobs.
If you are moving into and/or out of an apartment, give the movers the freight elevator key rather than escorting them to and from the loading dock. Elevators are small, poorly ventilated areas primed for the spread of COVID.
Transmission from people is more dangerous than transmission from surfaces, but make sure to wash your hands frequently. Consider getting some hand lotion so you can protect your skin from the damage caused by frequent washing.
Also, open all of the windows while the movers are in the house to increase airflow. If you have more than one bathroom, have the movers use a specific one and ask them to close the lid before flushing. Don’t shake hands. Tip via credit card rather than giving them cash. If you want to give your movers a perk, bottled water and packaged snacks are better than the traditional pizza.
Finally, check your own temperature before the movers arrive. If anyone is sick, reschedule; you don’t want to be responsible for your movers getting sick and then somebody else’s move being delayed. Make sure you have enough overlap time to be able to do this.
Make a COVID Box
Pack a specific, labeled box with face masks, hand sanitizer, and other supplies. Put your first aid kit in there too. If you have pets, put a couple of meals of pet food and any pet first aid equipment you keep around. If you are driving to your new home, take this box with you. If not, label the box to be loaded onto the truck last so it will be unloaded first and ask for it to be put in your hall.
That way your personal protection and sanitization supplies will be easily accessible when you get to your new home. If you have vital medication, however, you should always keep it with you during the move. This includes vital medication for pets. As moving is stressful, maybe keep a bit of chocolate with you, too.
Allow Extra Time
The possibility of being sick and unable to interact with movers has already been mentioned. The fact is that moving during a pandemic is going to be more difficult and take longer.
You may have to order packing materials online and wait for them to be shipped rather than simply running to the hardware store. Your judgement when it comes to deciding what to take and how to pack it may be off. Social distancing will make it difficult to request packing or unpacking help from friends.
You need to be flexible about your move date and realistic about traveling to your new home. Due to COVID, a several day drive is safer than a flight, so it is probably better to drive your car even a long distance rather than having it shipped. If you do have to do a multi-day drive, read reviews of motels and make sure they are taking precautions.
Moving is already one of the most stressful things you can do; moving during a pandemic is only going to be worse. Above all, take care of yourself. You are doing something difficult and stressful, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a bottle of wine or your favorite binge eating food at the other end.