Published on April 24, 2020

Between coordinating boxes and juggling landlords, moving at any time is bound to be stressful. Factor in an array of coronavirus-driven protocols, and the whole experience can feel like a near impossibility. But leases end, and relocating is sometimes inevitable, so the first real step is not to panic. The good news is you can still do it safely; it just takes some extra planning. Break out the to-do list.   

Before diving into any of the logistics, ask yourself two questions: Do you really have to move? And almost more important, will you be allowed to? “Many apartment buildings are establishing rules that won’t let residents move during this time,” says Lior Rachmany, founder of Dumbo Moving. If you’ve cleared those boundaries and are wondering what’s next, we brought in the experts: Rachmany, Hire a Helper’s Mike Glanz, and Roadway Moving’s Ross Sapir.

First of all, should I be using movers at all? 

If you’re able to move yourself in your own car without using outside equipment or enlisting anyone else, then by all means do it—Glanz suggests reusing whatever boxes you can find around your house. If not, hiring professionals is safer than trying an à la carte combination involving rental vans and borrowed storage bins. By now, all companies will have strict procedures in place that speed up the process and minimize potential risk.  

How should I interact with movers if I am using them?

Step one: Do not conduct in-person evaluations of your home. “Many movers are providing this service virtually,” explains Glanz. Then check with your building to see what its parameters are so your movers will be able to work around them—they should be open to making adjustments. “We’ve had cases where we had to wear hazmat suits, and another last week where we covered every single surface with plastic sheets,” recalls Sapir. On your end, do a bit of prep work: Keep a faucet accessible for people to wash their hands, open windows and doors for air circulation, avoid sharing pens or tablets with anyone, and supply gloves to workers who might not have them. 

What packing materials are the safest? 

The virus lasts longer on plastic than it does cardboard, so use the latter option wherever possible and (temporarily) ditch the reusable containers. Luckily, if you’re using a moving company, they should take care of this for you and provide sterilized bins. 

How do I prep for having people in my home? 

“Sanitize your home or areas that movers will be working in prior to their arrival,” says Sapir. Pick up your own gloves, masks, and shoe coverings to wear day-of; then, as an extra precaution, clean the surfaces with your go-to disinfectant after everything’s cleared out as a courtesy to the people coming in after you. 

What steps should I take as soon as I get to the new place? 

Glanz instructs his clients to choose one or two main areas that they’ll be using throughout the day—maybe it’s the entry hall or a corner in the living room. Make sure those are routinely disinfected, and limit your contact with any other parts of the home while things are being brought in. 

Oh, and deep-clean your new digs before opening anything: “Make sure the disinfectant stays on the item for at least two minutes before scrubbing it off,” adds Rachmany. Wash your hands before and after you unpack, and be cautious of anything wrapped in moving blankets, like tables or couches; those should be thoroughly sanitized before use. When in doubt, refer to the CDC’s guidelines

If I have to rent my own van, how do I handle it?

Most rental truck businesses are still open, with vehicle upkeep policies you can follow to a T. While this means your U-Haul should be sparkly clean, Sapir advises taking things a step further and resanitizing everything with gym-grade wipes (if you can find them). “This is where you will sit for a long time and in proximity to other family members,” he points out. Glanz also suggests looking into moving containers as an alternative. “A portable unit is typically driven to your loading zone, where you can fill it up and have it driven away and parked without any physical interaction,” he explains. 

How often should I be updating my moving service? 

“Your best bet is rampant communication,” says Glanz. Make sure your chosen company has flexible cancellation policies, and avoid sites like Yelp or Craigslist for finding help. Go with an established firm and keep it up to speed on your needs and any changes that might occur; in this case, there’s no such thing as too many emails. 

It’s hammer time: Follow @reno_notebook for easy rental updates, clever DIYs, and tips to nail your next project.

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