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Moving during a global pandemic wasn’t exactly on my list of things to do in 2020. However, the opportunity arose for me to relocate to a great new place and I couldn’t pass it up.
See, usually when you move you have friends and family who are willing to help, but in the current moment of face masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing, moving help can be scarce. Not because I didn’t have plenty of offers, I have great friends and family members who were willing. In the interest of playing it safe and keeping everyone healthy, I declined the bulk of this generosity.
Here are some of the things I learned about moving during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. If you can afford it, hire a moving company
Sure, it might be tempting to save money and use your buddies, but in the age of coronavirus, I’ll argue that it’s better to hire a professional moving company. There are a ton available throughout Southern California charging anywhere from $250-$700 for basic apartment-to-apartment moves (and more, obviously for larger residences). Call them up, get quotes, compare prices, book early and save your energy by letting professionals load and unload all of your prized possessions.
Some moving companies will have clients sign COVID-19 waivers, relieving them of responsibility in the event the virus is transmitted. Most companies have their COVID-19 protocol listed on their websites including that their movers undergo regular testing and will all wear proper PPE including face coverings, gloves and more as they relocate your belongings.
There are a bunch of new rules in the COVID world. Meathead Movers, which employs college student athletes and has locations throughout Southern California, has taken measures to ensure the safety of its workers and clients.
“We always want to remind people that it’s important to make sure that the moving company you choose is taking increased measures to ensure your safety,” the company’s director of marketing Dawn Ventura said. “This could mean a virtual estimate versus in-person, or a protocol for employees with symptoms. We have to take aggressive measures to disinfect high-touch areas like our trucks and dollies, or staggering our truck dispatch times to avoid overlap of employees in the warehouse.”
As for what to do before the movers show up, Meathead Movers suggests making sure you have gloves and facial coverings and that you disinfect high-touch surfaces, leave hand soap out so movers can wash their hands and keep a fan circulating or windows open during the move.
2. A different way of shopping
When you move, you suddenly need a lot of things including basic household items, furniture, appliances and more. While plenty can be ordered online, sometimes shopping the old-fashioned way by actually visiting a store is the way to go.
I hit up several furniture stores, all of which required the guests to wear masks and some required an appointment made in advance by phone or via their website. My temperature was taken at the door of each big-brand furniture store, and I was immediately paired up with a salesperson to help usher me around. Some places even offered personal coverings so I could sit or lie on the furniture and try it out.
It’s a little awkward, but it got the job done. Each store also promoted social distancing and limited the number of customers inside, which made it feel like a very personal and customized shopping experience and I was in no way rushed. Also, something to remember: Multiple stores shared that during COVID times, they’re unable to sell their floor models.
After the sale is made, no handshakes! Normally that’s how we seal the deal, but not right now. An elbow bump, or in my case, some air high-fives, sufficed.
3. Take Care of the Little Things
There are things that can easily slip your mind when you’re moving and handling the bulk of the duties solo. Don’t forget to do things like set a date to have your power and other utilities turned on at your new residence (and have them turned off at your previous one). Hit up the Post Office for change of address and mail forwarding, and remember to change your address for all of your credit cards and banking as well as any of your subscriptions.
Also, make sure to alert your employer, the DMV, insurance providers, doctors and the dentist about your change of location. Keep track of all of your valuables and pack your medications separately when you move so you can access them easily. And while you’re packing things up, evaluate what you really need and want and start a donation pile. Be sure to check with your donation destination ahead of time to make sure they’re open and accepting donations since several have remained closed due to coronavirus.
Meathead Movers has helpful, printable moving tips and checklist sheet on its website at meatheadmovers.com.
4. Oh, Yes, There Will Be Delays
Moving is stressful enough, and because of COVID-19, delays abound. My younger brother, Kevin, who lives just west of Phoenix, moved the same weekend as I did. We didn’t plan it that way, but we made several calls to each other as we commiserated over just how delayed our furniture and other deliveries would be.
I’d ordered a refrigerator in mid-June and was told it would be delivered on my move-in date with no problems. However, at the last minute, a COVID outbreak at the warehouse prompted a shut down for cleaning and suddenly the date was pushed back a week, and later a full month and a half. So, I’ve been living out of a cooler in my dining room. (Although just as I filed this story, my refrigerator showed up!)
Turns out, major retailers are out of stock or backed up on major appliance orders so place an order as early as possible and check what’s actually in stock.
Furniture is also delayed. Can you potentially live without a dining set, TV console or couch for a few weeks? These will be the questions you’ll have to ask yourself honestly as most stores and even websites are warning consumers that they’re experiencing delayed shipping.
If you’re calling customer service to check on order status, be prepared for long waits as the call centers are also backed up as they’re attempting to keep up with demand. Most places have a callback option, where you leave your number and they call you when it’s your turn rather than stay on hold for infinity listening to premium yacht rock music. Some utility companies, including TV and Internet businesses, are also experiencing high call volumes so make your installation appointments early as well.