Moving is never without its challenges, but that’s especially true during a global pandemic. If you find yourself in the unique position of moving houses right now, or you’re gearing up to buy your first home (or even a second home where you’ll spend the winter), then it makes sense that you’d be feeling a little extra stressed about the whole thing.
In addition to all the usual planning that goes into a major move, there are also all the additional COVID-related safety factors to consider — like how to handle having extra people in your house and coming in close contact with professional movers and real estate agents.
If these logistics have you feeling a little crazed, keep reading. We’ve made this step-by-step checklist to help you get through a move during COVID. Here are our top 15 tips for planning your move during the pandemic.
15 tips for planning a move during a pandemic
Create a plan
One of the best ways to start your move off on the right foot is by coming up with an overall game plan. Is hiring a moving company to help a smart money move or do you plan on tackling it solo? Is your move running on a certain schedule or do you have a bit of flexibility with the timeline? Knowing answers to these kinds of questions in advance will not only help you understand the overall scope of your move but also come in handy when hiring the help you need throughout the process.
Set some house rules
If there’s one thing we’ve all learned from living through so many months of a global pandemic, it’s this: Everybody has a different idea of what’s safe and what isn’t. And although you may not be able to convince everyone to agree with your perspective, you should at least try to come to an agreement with your nuclear family — especially amid a major move.
Have a house meeting with all of your roommates or family members and set a few guidelines everyone can agree upon for visitors in the house during the move. Try to give everyone a voice, and align on a set of house rules that everybody feels comfortable enforcing. For example, maybe you don’t let people in the house unless it's strictly necessary, and if they do come in they’re required to wear a mask.
Keeping your house as clean and safe as possible should be a top priority during your move, and it will be easier to do once every member of your household is on the same page.
Talk to movers about their safety protocols
All professional movers should have safety protocols in place, but it’s still a good idea to ask about them before hiring anyone to help with your move. Realtor Leah Gray of Coldwell Banker fills us in on what to expect. “It is possible for you to safely have movers in your home even during COVID,” Gray says. “Movers should wear masks when working in your home and gloves while handling your personal belongings if possible,” she says. If wearing gloves isn’t possible, Gray explains that movers should at least disinfect their hands before handling your stuff — and the same goes for any real estate agents entering your home. “Realtors should again be wearing gloves, masks, and removing shoes or putting on booties when entering homes,” she says.
Choose a mover you trust
Now more than ever, it's important to hire movers you trust if you’re selling your home. After interviewing several companies about their policies (both COVID-related and otherwise), you’ll want to pick the one that’s within budget and employs safety protocols you feel most comfortable with.
Keep in mind that some moving companies may not be following those protocols quite to the T, and it never hurts to read recent reviews and see what other movers have to say about their experience. Because you’ll be trusting these people both with the safety of your old home and your new one, it’s worth putting in a little extra time to find the right people for the job.
Plan out who will move what
Once you’ve decided on a moving company to work with, it’s time to plan out who will move what. Check with your moving company to see if there’s anything they won’t move, such as personal items, antiques, or valuables, and then start creating two lists: one with all the things you’ll pack and transport and another with the things your moving company will handle. If you’re not sure how to go about this, one of the best things to do is let the moving company handle any heavy non-fragile items, and coordinate with them on anything large and fragile that may break easily.
For anything small and valuable that could be easily lost or misplaced, you may just want to plan on packing it (and possibly even transporting it) yourself. Another reason to pack some stuff yourself? It will help mitigate the amount of time others spend in your home. “You can minimize the time movers spend in your home by doing the majority of the packing yourself,” Gray says. “Also consider distancing yourself from any workers in your home, or leave the home while they’re packing.”
Think about who will help
Regardless of whether you plan on hiring movers, it’s good to have a few extra helping hands around when you move. Whether they’re actually helping you pack boxes, or just watching the kids or dogs while you scramble around, it’s nice to have a support system in place. Before calling on your friends and loved ones with a specific ask, take some time to consider the types of safety measures you’ll put in place for them.
This might mean asking them to wear masks, focusing on getting their help with outdoor tasks, or even coordinating so there aren’t too many people in the house at once. Although friends and family might be happy to help with your move no matter what, they’ll also appreciate you taking the time to make it as safe as possible for them.
Purchase cleaning supplies
One of the best ways to keep everyone safe during a move is to be ready with the disinfectant. This means stocking up on hand sanitizer, and cleaning solutions for the high-traffic areas of your home. Be sure to buy products that kill viruses and get in the habit of asking any guests to sanitize their hands before they come inside. You might also plan on disinfecting any surfaces that have been used once they leave. Cleaning products will also come in handy when arriving at your new house, as you may want to disinfect everything before you start unpacking boxes.
Arrange for contactless sales
Chances are you’ll have at least a few items you don’t plan on taking with you, and for these, it’s best to set up contactless sales. Post your unwanted items in online forums like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or even local seller groups.
Be sure to brush up on the best practices for selling your stuff for more money and explain to your buyers that you’ll only accept contactless sales. To make that work, encourage buyers to pay online before they arrive, then leave items on a front porch or in another sheltered outdoor spot where they can be easily retrieved.
Clean and disinfect before the movers arrive
Just as you did for friends and family, help protect your moving crew by cleaning and disinfecting before they arrive. This means cleaning not only high-touch areas like light switches and doorknobs, but also all the items your movers will handle — such as furniture and packed boxes. Although it might seem like overkill to go through so many rounds of disinfecting, your movers will appreciate the effort, and it will also help ensure your move doesn’t cause any unnecessary spread of the virus.
When it comes to best practices during the move itself, wearing masks is obviously a big one. Much like we mentioned before, plan on aligning with your immediate household on safety protocol during the move, and make mask-wearing a priority everyone feels comfortable enforcing. Even if you plan on social distancing during the move, you never know when your movers (or friends and family) might need a hand lifting something heavy. Anytime more people than your immediate family are in the home, it's a smart idea to make sure the masks are on.
Keep your distance
Although it might be difficult, try to keep a healthy social distance from movers and friends as much as possible during the move. If you can, coordinate so different parties of helpers arrive and leave at different times, and try to keep the number of people in your house to a minimum. Wearing masks is a great start, but organizing so you don’t have a full house is even better.
Open the windows
Another way to help keep everyone safe during the move is to keep the airflow in your house moving. The best way to do this? By opening your windows often. Although it might be too cold to keep them open during the entire move, it’s a good idea to at least open them before and after people come inside. Keep the air inside your place fresh, and you’ll help minimize the risk of anyone becoming infected.
Let the movers handle it
Although it’s tempting to offer a helping hand, try to let the movers do their work without you as much as possible. Most moving companies require very little from their clients, even during normal times, and now isn’t the time for everyone to be cramped up in small spaces together. Tell your movers when they arrive to let you know if they need anything, then give them the space they need to do their work while also socially distancing.
Clean and disinfect your new home
Once you arrive in your new home, it’s time to start the cleaning process all over again. Go over all of your new high-traffic surfaces with disinfectant. Remember, other buyers likely toured the home (and other movers packed it) before you — so taking the time to clean everything thoroughly is a worthy investment. It’s also just a good idea to dust and do a general cleaning anyway, as you never know what standards of hygiene your sellers had or how long the house was left empty to accumulate dust and dirt.
Open windows and run fans
Much like the cleaning and disinfecting, it’s also a good idea to open up all the windows, turn on fans, and give your new home a proper airing out before you start living there. Not only will this help make the place feel cleaner, but it will also help diminish any unwanted lingering smells from previous owners or visitors. Airing things out will also help guarantee your family has a clean and fresh space after all your movers and friends have finished helping out.
The bottom line
Moving while practicing smart precautions during a pandemic is complicated, but not impossible. Start by talking with your household members and planning out your move, then take things step by step from there. If you have a flexible timeline, you might consider putting off your move until things calm down — but again, it should all start with a conversation that puts everyone on the same page about the best next steps.