As more information about the coronavirus pandemic develops, some of the information in this story may have changed since it was last updated. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please visit the online resources provided by the CDC, WHO, and your local public health department.
Moving is complicated, whether you choose to handle it on your own or hire professionals to help relieve some of the stress that comes along with packing and unpacking for hours on end. But if you have no choice but to hire a company to assist you with moving to a new home during the coronavirus pandemic, you might be feeling even more anxious as you figure out how to remain as safe and healthy as possible throughout the intense process.
Since we know you’re not alone, we reached out to Kevin Murphy, vice president and general manager of North American Moving Services, which is still carefully executing moving jobs for homeowners as well as corporate clients, for tips to help you if you absolutely must move during COVID-19.
Proceed with Caution
The first thing you should keep in mind is the reality that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, which means being extremely careful is crucial at this time. “Proceed with your move, but proceed with caution—just like you would do with anything else in these times,” Murphy says. If you’ve gone grocery shopping, you’ve certainly noticed that shoppers are more aware of their surroundings and interactions with others. Apply the same level of attentiveness to your move.
Manage Your Expectations
Prior to the novel coronavirus, it wouldn’t have been problematic to welcome multiple movers, family members, and maybe even a friend or two into your home to make your move run smoothly. However, now Murphy is advising movers to rethink this, as social distancing—avoiding crowds and remaining at least six feet away from others—is important to follow now.
“The best way is to limit the exposure,” Murphy says. “If we had a crew of three people who were going to interact with the folks in the home, we might have two people going into the home and have the other person stay in the truck the entire time. The person we would be moving might have had their spouse, kids, and maybe a nanny, but now we are asking customers to limit the number of people in the home who are interacting with us.”
Try to stay as far away from your movers as you can and avoid handshakes. It’s also best to ensure crew members can easily wash their hands if they request to do so. And if they’re prepared, they should also have their own supply of face masks, gloves (if they choose to wear them), and hand sanitizers.
Ask about tipping via a credit card as you pay for the full service beforehand, or see if Venmo is an option.
Before you even consider hiring a moving company, find out how the coronavirus pandemic has altered their protocol. How often are they monitoring the health of their crew members? What kind of supplies, including face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers, are being made available to movers on a daily basis?
Murphy revealed that North American Moving Services is closely monitoring their workers to help keep them and customers safe. “If anybody is exhibiting symptoms, like coughing or a temperature, we are not allowing them into the home,” he said. “We are also reaching out to customers three days in advance to find out if they or anybody in their family have been exposed to someone with the virus, waiting for test results for the virus, or exhibiting symptoms.” It’s key to communicate openly with your moving company of choice and request transparency regarding their workplace practices during this time.
If you’ve ever hired a moving company in the past, you know all too well how much paperwork can be involved. Murphy suggests asking to complete it all virtually now. “There were a lot of documents and passing around pens (prior to the coronavirus outbreak), so we are avoiding those types of things and offering virtual surveys now,” says Murphy.
Settle on Your Unpacking Process
Of course, when you hire a moving company, they typically unpack all of your belongings for you. Now, you might want to take care of this on your own, which Murphy says has been a preference for some customers. Before they unpack a box, they simply wipe the top down and then cut it open. On the other hand, some have opted to quarantine their shipments altogether. “We deliver everything into the garage and then the customer will move and unpack the things themselves after letting it sit for a few days when it might be less likely to be exposed to the virus,” Murphy says.
The bottom line: As long as you take the CDC’s guidelines surrounding the coronavirus seriously, including practicing social distancing, and thoroughly vet any moving company you’re interested in hiring, you can experience a fairly stress-free move. It’s normal to feel a bit of anxiety as so many things are uncertain now, but it’s not impossible to enjoy a successful moving day.