You've likely heard the claims that moving is one of the single most stressful events in a person's life. It's a notion that's been backed up by many a study — and many a first-hand experience of fighting with your roommate or partner or parent while trying to fit all your earthly possessions into a single U-Haul trailer. Anyone who has ever moved knows it can be a real pain in the ass, from finding a new place to purging and packing to the actual, physical moving of your things, and like almost everything, this particular process has been made even more stressful by the fact that we're currently in the midst of a global pandemic.
That's right, COVID-19 has done what you may have previously thought was impossible — it has made moving even more nerve-racking. Still, for all sorts of different reasons, like starting college or being unable to keep up with rent payments, plenty of people have to move forward with moving right now. To help you manage the anxiety that comes along with that, we spoke to Alex Leute, president and owner of Intense Movers, a moving company based in Brooklyn, NY and Angela Gonzalez, general manager of Unpakt, a company that lets you compare moving quotes and book online. Ahead, you'll get tips on everything from finding a new home to working with movers during the pandemic.
Finding a new place
Now is certainly not the time to be attending multiple crowded open houses every single Saturday, but you still have to find your next spot somehow. This is where real estate websites come in handy. Even before COVID-19, many of us used these types of sites to scope out homes and apartments for sale and rent in our area. Now, they're even more essential.
Once you've found a place you're interested in, reach out to the listing agent to see if they are offering virtual tours. This has become fairly standard since the start of the pandemic. If you find a spot that you're really serious about moving into but need to see it in person to make your final decision, talk to the agent about your options. You can ask to set up a contactless tour, which involves the agent letting you into the house or apartment, and exploring it on your own with minimal contact — masks on, of course!
When it comes to hiring movers during the pandemic, Alex Leute, president of Intense Movers, says that depending on your level of vulnerability concerning your health, you should look to see if movers are following certain protocols. "People should ask that the movers wear masks and gloves and gauge the response of the moving company to see what level of compliance they are following," he suggests. Additionally, he recommends asking what the company's protocol is if one of its movers is feeling unwell or if any of the staff have tested positive for COVID-19. Angela Gonzalez, general manager of Unpakt, agrees and says that you should specifically ask if CDC guidelines are being followed throughout the moving process and how the company's daily cleaning procedures for trucks, equipment, and facilities have changed since the outbreak.
Gonzalez also suggests looking at customer reviews of the moving companies you are considering. "Many customers have left feedback on their recent experience, including the mover's procedure and protocols regarding PPE and cleaning practices," she says. "If you feel wary at all about a mover, it's probably best to choose another company."
Intense Movers requires its employees to wear masks on every move and check in daily about their well-being and symptoms. Leute says the movers you choose to work with should do that and also be open to the possibility of taking other precautions depending on the client's specific health concerns. "On particular moves, the client or building will require us to wear full suits with a hood and booties covering the shoes," he explains. "We've had to create a cache of PPE to wear on our moves for clients that are immune deficient (coveralls, face shields, etc)."
If you're someone who is particularly vulnerable to contracting coronavirus but still wants to use movers, look for a company like Intense Movers that can provide a quote without having to come into your home. Unpakt, too, allows you to create a Move Plan, by adding all of the details of the move to see guaranteed prices from moving companies, so an in-person meeting is not necessary.
According to Gonzalez, "For larger than 2-bedroom home moves, a visual moving estimate is recommended. However, during the COVID pandemic, many movers have opted for FaceTime or Zoom meetings instead so that they can practice social distancing and skip the unnecessary visit to the customer's home while still being able to provide accurate prices for a customer's upcoming move." If you're in a bigger place, ask the companies you're considering if this type of virtual assessment is an option.
Leute's number one tip for working with movers is to be honest about how much stuff you have when getting a quote. "Don't lie about how much stuff you have to move to keep the price down," he says. "If your inventory does increase drastically, let the movers know as far in advance as possible."
Gonzalez warns that the process of hiring movers now might be a bit more time-consuming than it was for pre-COVID moves, but it's more important than ever to "do your homework."
Booking the move
Flexibility is essential for moves made during these unprecedented times. "If possible, be flexible with your move date and time, especially if you're moving during peak days," Gonzalez shares. "Book your move on the first date you can have the move done, that way if something happens, you have back-up dates for your move." Better safe than sorry.
In bygone moves, you may have opted to save money by packing up your stuff in recycled boxes instead of purchasing brand new ones. Leute says this is still an option if you're personally comfortable with it. "If you have any uncertainty, buy new boxes," he says, adding that there's a certain amount of risk no matter what kind of boxes you use. "Buying new boxes still has a risk of the virus living on the paper product for up to several hours or a day."
According to a recent study, coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Given that data, Gonzalez recommends inspecting recycled boxes well and waiting at least 24 hours before using them if that's the route you choose for packing.
Staying safe during the move
Depending on the moving company you choose, you don't necessarily have to be present during the actual moving of the items. "We have done a tremendous number of moves where our clients aren't there, and they have a doorman or a friend let us into the start location. We will then wrap/pack and move to the destination where someone will meet us," Leute shares.
If you decide that it's best for you to stay away from the movers during the move, Leute says it's extremely important to communicate clearly with your movers leading up to the move. "Have an organized inventory, make sure that your list of items is accurate and that all the peculiarities of your buildings have been detailed to the movers," he explains.
If you are present during the move, Gonzalez recommends protecting yourself by wearing PPE, disinfect, practicing social distancing, and keep the windows open if possible.
It's nice to show your movers some appreciation since they're working hard for you during this challenging time. Leute suggests providing tools, tissues, soap, extra hand sanitizer, and even bagels or other snacks.
Even if you're an experienced mover, this time around, you should allow extra time for the move. According to Gonzalez, "Movers are extra cautious during this time, so it can take a bit longer for the move to be done." After the move is complete, Leute says there are additional precautions you can take if you're being extra careful, like waiting two days to unpack your belonging.