Moving is stressful. And moving during a pandemic is even more stressful because of the added level of anxiety hanging over just about everything these days. But peak moving season is always between April and September, and this year is no exception.
Moving companies are just as busy as they are each summer, but with new protocols in place to keep everyone safe and to conform to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. If you’re planning to move in the next few months, here are some tips, as well as an idea of what to expect if you’re hiring a moving company.
Just as in normal years, you’ll want to get estimates from at least two moving companies as soon as you have a moving date. Some moving companies were already doing virtual or online estimates before the pandemic, but now more are also offering that choice in case potential customers want to limit access to their home. If you prefer an in-home estimate, the estimator will wear a mask and will ask that you do, too.
Preparation: Purging, donating, selling
As always, it’s a good idea to cull your belongings before you move. It just doesn’t make sense to pay for things to be moved if you are going to get rid of them when you arrive at the new house. A lot of us have realized during stay-at-home orders that we actually don’t need, or use, a lot of the stuff in our house. Your move is a great opportunity to purge.
Start going through your possessions as early as possible. It’s easy to underestimate how long it takes to go through everything and the number of decisions that need to be made until you start pulling things out of cabinets and drawers. Many people are finding decision-making during the pandemic even more challenging, so consult with friends and family members as needed.
Although many donation centers have been closed for several months, they are starting to reopen. Check organization websites for donation instructions. Many places have limited drop-off windows, require an appointment or have new rules for donating. There are also a lot of online sites where you can sell or give away just about anything, but posting your belongings and taking care of the transactions requires time and energy. If you plan to sell items, don’t leave it to the last minute.
With so many people ordering goods online in recent months, there is no shortage of cardboard boxes and packing materials floating around. Ask neighbors, friends and family members to start saving their boxes, newspapers and bubble wrap. Other supplies you’ll want to have in abundance are packing tape and markers for labeling boxes. If you plan to buy boxes and other moving supplies, try to buy everything during one trip to the store, and buy more than you think you’ll need. You don’t want to make multiple trips if you can avoid it.
Begin by packing items that you don’t use daily. Books are a great place to start. Extra linens, decor, offseason clothing and framed photos and art can also be packed early. Save the kitchen and bathrooms for last, as well as your daily wardrobe. Pack like items together or with items from the same room, and label the boxes with the contents and the room you want the box to be put in at the new home.
If you’re hiring a moving company to pack or unpack, inquire about its employee protocols. For example, Town and Country Movers, which operates in the Washington, D.C., area, requires its employees to wear masks and gloves indoors at all times and checks their temperatures every day. Town and Country also noted that its “contactless” move means clients will be greeted with a smile instead of a handshake and social distancing will be maintained at all times.
It’s also a good idea, on your end, to limit the number of family members in the house while the work is being done. Someone can be present to supervise and answer questions as necessary, but everyone in your family doesn’t need to be there.
In the 24 hours leading up to the arrival of your packers or movers, be sure to separate anything you do not want them to touch. Put items such as keys, toiletries, books you’re reading, computers, printers, phones, chargers and other office supplies aside, and clearly mark them so they are not boxed up.
Many moving companies are checking in with their customers the day before the move to confirm that no one in the house is sick. And, in addition to requiring employees to wear masks and gloves and undergo a daily temperature check, Bookstore Movers gives each crew a coronavirus safety kit at the beginning of each day that includes personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, disinfectant and paper towels.
It’s also helpful if you have hygiene products available for the crew’s use. Make sure there are paper towels and soap in the bathroom designated for movers, and have plenty of hand sanitizer. Ensure that all family members who will be present have a mask.
If you’re moving in or out of an apartment building, there are probably new rules in place for moves, and scheduling may be more challenging, both because some buildings are only allowing one move per day and because some rental offices are operating remotely. Some buildings are asking for written confirmation that all the movers are in good health on the day of the move. Be sure you know all of the rules, and confirm that nothing has changed a day or two before your move.
Moving companies are taking their responsibility to keep everyone safe very seriously. They have not only instituted new protocols for interacting with clients, but they have also adjusted their in-house operations by staggering schedules, limiting the number of people in their buildings and providing employees with the necessary supplies to keep them safe. They’re also asking clients to be responsible on their end, by washing their hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, wearing masks and socially distancing as much as possible. No move is easy, but if everyone exercises patience and a little bit of caution, a pandemic move can be successful and safe.
Nicole Anzia is a freelance writer and owner of Neatnik.