While packing up and moving can be tricky even on a good day, what about moving during the coronavirus pandemic when everyone across the nation is supposed to be staying put to lower their risk of illness? Well, if you have to move right now—maybe the home you own or rent was recently sold, you have to relocate for a new job or you just closed on a new home—then here are 12 tips on how to navigate moving safely in such an instance.
1. Make sure moving is allowed in your area or building
According to the American Moving & Storage Association, moving has been deemed an “essential service” by the federal government. While moving is legal in the big picture, however, it might not be allowed for your specific circumstances. So, it’s a good idea to check with your local and state governments (and your HOA or condo board, if applicable) before scheduling any move.
2. Choose car travel over air travel
To be safe and to protect others from possible exposure to the coronavirus, drive instead of fly for your long-distance move. It may take longer for you to arrive at your new home, but driving is better for the safety of everyone.
3. Carefully research your movers
Hiring movers always should involve careful research before signing a contract, but now that’s even more important. So is using professional movers rather than a less expensive option that could involve unknown rental equipment and multiple trips to get everything moved. These days, many companies have transitioned to contactless moving, which means customers leave their homes while the crew comes in to pack up and load the truck.
Many movers also are using video chat technology to see customers’ homes and offer quotes. Make sure to ask all prospective movers the following questions regarding their COVID-19 policies and practices:
- Do you provide virtual or digital estimates?
- Are trucks and movers equipped with hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves?
- Will the truck transporting my furniture and boxes be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before my belongings are packed inside?
- Will all equipment—such as hand trucks and sound blankets—be cleaned before my move?
- How often are high-touch surfaces in the trucks sanitized?
- What is your cancellation/rescheduling policy?
- How are the movers ensuring employees aren’t sick? (This could include taking their temperature on the day of the move and asking if anyone in their household is ill or experiencing symptoms.)
Remember: These best practices don’t just apply to the movers, but to you as well. Be sure to get gloves and masks to wear during the move.
4. Decluttering? Call ahead if you plan to donate
Moving is a natural time to sort through your closets and set aside items to donate, and this unusual time doesn’t have to be an exception to this. If you do plan on dropping off old housewares, clothing, and other items at your neighborhood Goodwill or Salvation Army, however, be sure to call ahead. Not all stores are open or accepting donations right now, so you might need to take additional steps to sanitize donated items.
5. Plan ahead if you need to set up new internet or cable service
Need a technician to come to your place to set up an Internet or cable service with a new provider? Schedule that installation ASAP, so you can get connected as quickly as possible and avoid delays. Appointments are more difficult to come by these days, so you can’t bank on getting an installation appointment as easily as you have in the past.
6. Use new cardboard boxes you pack yourself
In normal times, you might consider using neighborhood sites like Nextdoor or Craigslist to get free moving supplies. But it’s safer to purchase brand0new moving supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. Don’t use plastic bins, either—the coronavirus can survive up to a day on cardboard, but three days on plastic. You also should pack your own china, books, and clothing rather than hiring movers to do it. The fewer items the movers touch during your move, the safer you will be from exposure to the coronavirus.
7. Stock up on cleaning supplies for you and your movers
Don’t pack your cleaning supplies quite yet. Although your movers should have their own supplies, you can help by providing plenty of opportunities for the crew to wash their hands before, during, and after the move—and to wash your own hands before and after making contact with any surfaces. Be sure to have adequate supplies of antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes on hand, as you’ll need to disinfect all common areas before and after your movers arrive.
8. Don’t involve more people than necessary
Many moving companies have reduced crew sizes to comply with guidelines to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, and homeowners and renters also should try to reduce the number of cooks in the kitchen. Designate one person to manage and oversee the entire move to ensure the best social distancing practices are observed.
9. Time your move carefully
If possible, plan your move so that the crew drops off your belongings first, then wait at least 72 hours to move yourself or your family into your new place. By then, the virus is less likely to remain on any surfaces. If you have to move at the same time as your items, pack a designated “open first” box that you drop off before the rest of your items.
Fill the box with essentials like disinfectant spray, paper towels, snacks, soap, toiletries, bed linens, phone chargers, and a change of clothes. Then place the rest of your boxes away from your open-first box, and cover it with colorful tape or use colored markers to make sure it doesn’t get lost in a sea of brown boxes. To be safe, disinfect the box and the items inside when you open it.
10. Disinfect all points of contact
As you come in and out of your new and old places, you’ll need to frequently disinfect doorknobs and cabinet pulls, and you’ll need to wear a mask and gloves. Keep windows open to promote airflow and circulation. If you’re moving in or out of a multi-unit building, take extra care in common areas like the lobby or mailroom where your neighbors pass through. Don’t forget to sanitize any surfaces you touch, including elevator buttons. You also might consider scheduling your move early in the day to avoid running into neighbors.
11. Wipe down moving boxes and furniture
Even if your movers take every precaution to keep you and your belongings safe, the coronavirus can be spread by asymptomatic carriers. So, you’ll need to thoroughly clean and disinfect everything once the movers leave. Even items wrapped in moving blankets, like tables or couches, should be completely disinfected before using them again. To play it safe, also give your boxes a good cleaning once they’re placed in the appropriate rooms, and make sure to thoroughly wash your hands after handling any items the movers touched.
12. Feeling under the weather?
Don’t think twice about canceling or postponing your move; it’s not worth putting others at risk. In most cases, your agreement with a moving company is non-binding, which means you can change your plans without penalty. If your moving company collected a deposit before your move, however, it might be nonrefundable. Contact your moving company about your deposit, as many reputable moving companies will be flexible or make an exception considering the pandemic.