Tips for moving during COVID-19 pandemic
Relocation, Tips & Suggestions

Moving During the COVID-19 Crisis

We find ourselves in a very challenging time in history where the entire world is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Government mandates of #SHELTER-IN-PLACE, #LOCKDOWN, and #STAYHOME have ceased or limited most unnecessary movement in America and around the world. 

What are you supposed to do if you were planning a relocation?  

Whether to a new house in town, within your state, cross-country, or even internationally, it is important to first evaluate if moving now is truly a necessity or if it can wait until the risk has decreased. That being said, leases end, houses continue to be bought and sold, people are relocated for new jobs, and current circumstances are forcing some people to move back home. 

For those who cannot delay their move, below are some tips to consider to reduce the risks and stress while moving. Keep in mind that rules and restrictions change daily, so it is important to check the latest information with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the country, state, and local guidelines of the places you are moving from, and moving to, at the time of your move. 

According to the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA), under current Federal rules full-service moving companies and self-moving and storage companies, such as U-Haul or Penske, are still considered “essential businesses” and therefore able to operate. Check with your selected moving company to learn specifically what they are doing to protect the health of their employees and customers, and what their policies are on cancellations or schedule changes. For example, International Van Lines is offering no-obligation cancellations or schedule changes during this time.

Ask for Additional Safety Measures from the Moving Company: 

  • Performing of virtual or phone estimates instead of in-person estimates
  • Instructing movers and drivers who feel ill to stay home
  • Disinfecting trucks in between each move
  • Equipping drivers with proper protective gear (masks, eyewear, gloves, hand sanitizer)
  • Offering flexible policies regarding scheduling changes, cancellations, and refunds

Other Options to Consider:

  • Researching storage containers or self-storage center options. Ask your moving company if they provide storage services in the case of unforeseen changes to moving dates
  • Using a moving container company like PODS, COWS (Containers on Wheels), U-Pack ReloCube, or U-Haul U-Box instead of full-service movers. These options allow you total packing control and little to no interaction with other people. You pack the container, they drive it to your destination, you unpack the container. They offer moving labor if you need it, and many offer storage options as well.
  • Renting a moving truck and moving yourself, if you are physically able

Extra Precautions to Take at Home:

  • Safety first: If you, or anyone moving with you, is experiencing the symptoms of the virus, or if you have a family member that needs to be in isolation either because they’ve been exposed or because they are vulnerable, it is best to delay your move. 
  • When signing contracts, use your own pen and gloves
  • Wear protective gear and maintain a six-foot distance when the movers are in your home
  • Designate a sink with soap and paper towels for the moving crew or provide extra hand sanitizer if you are able
  • If weather permits, leave windows open while moving crew is there for ventilation
  • If possible, have extra gloves and masks available for movers in case they run out
  • Spend the money to buy new boxes and tape, this is not the time to use recycled boxes from unknown sources
  • Consider doing most of the box and furniture packing yourself instead of having the movers pack for you
  • Disinfect surfaces of furniture and personal items as you pack them
  • Pack extra cleaning supplies, gloves, masks, and sanitizer in a special bag that you can carry with you on your journey between homes
  • If you can get into the new house or apartment a day or two before your furniture arrives, it would be best to be able to thoroughly disinfect it beforehand
  • If you are driving to your new location, pack extra food, pet food, medicine, and cleaning supplies so that you can limit your trips to grocery stores.  Have enough supplies on hand in the event you as required to be quarantined for 14-days

Crossing State Lines: Travel Rules During Covid-19

At this time individual states are making their own decisions about arriving travelers, including imposing mandatory self-quarantines, curfews, deciding whether hotels can be open, and allowed dining options. The New York Times published an excellent article on 4/10/20 that outlined travel restrictions, however understand that information changes daily, therefore it is important to check the most recent state and local rules before setting out. If you are traveling beyond state lines, don’t be surprised if you see roadside checkpoints along the way.

Evaluate the virus situation in the location you are moving to. If the virus is spreading and the numbers of infections are increasing at your destination, consider delaying your move.  If you are leaving a highly-infectious area, realize that your destination location may put you in self-quarantine for 14 days upon your arrival. It is best to prepare for the fact that you could be required to self-quarantine upon your arrival, which could make it hard to grocery shop or purchase other essentials, so it is best to stock up ahead of your move and transport the necessary items with you.

International Moves:

Currently the U.S. Department of State has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory: Do Not Travel – the highest possible travel advisory – recommending that U.S. Citizens avoid all international travel. Many other countries outside the U.S. have closed their borders, or are prohibiting non-citizens from entry with very little advance notice. Check with your destination country’s policies before committing to your move.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to write a blog post like this. I wish you the best for your move during this pandemic. Hopefully these tips will help you be prepared, and stay safe and healthy. This too shall pass…eventually.

[Image from Unsplash]


4 Countries, 11 Cities, 27 Moves… 1 Place to Call Home

I happen to know a thing or two about relocation and settling into a new place.

I know how long it can take to get acclimated to a new town. To learn my way around, both literally and figuratively, and to eventually stop feeling like the new kid on the block. I’ve experienced the desperate panic to find the right hairdresser before my roots grow out; to schedule doctor appointments before health records are needed for school; and to not let too much time lapse in my exercise rituals (especially with all those unpacking pizza nights). And, unfortunately, I also know what it’s like to move somewhere and realize that my people are not settling in, are not happy, and want to move back to where we came from.

I had an unusual childhood. I was born in Summit, New Jersey. My family relocated to Madrid, Spain when I was six; to Estoril, Portugal when I was eight; and to Rome, Italy when I was ten. “We’re American, but we live in Rome” became the family answer to quizzical looks from locals. It was actually so common that we had to resist the urge to use air quotes, roll our eyes at each other or laugh inappropriately. Usually the next logical question…Military? Nope, we were corporate — my father worked for Colgate Palmolive.

I can’t deny that this was a pretty awesome life. Growing up in foreign countries and being exposed to different people, cultures, foods, and languages influenced much of who I am today. The international schools instilled in me a global viewpoint, and vacation travel throughout Europe continued to fuel my love of new places and experiences. It wasn’t always easy, even with the support from Colgate and other American expats. However, my parents did a good job of shielding my brother and me from most of the challenges and difficulties of moving and living abroad.

After college in Boston, my nomadic life continued back to Summit, NJ (my parents were finally back from Europe); Manhattan for nine years (marketing career); Charlottesville, VA (brief stint for grad school); Pittsburgh, PA (first year of marriage to James); Jersey City, NJ (for James’ law school); then Rochester, NY (James’ hometown) in 2003. We settled in Webster (a suburb of Rochester) — working, playing, and building James’ law practice. Our daughter was born. At some point Rochester became the place I had lived the longest, but for whatever reason, I’m not sure I really ever considered it “home.”

Then in 2015, James and I decided to shake things up — to move to a bigger city, a much warmer climate, and a lower tax state. We sold almost everything and moved to Miami, Florida. It was not a whim, it took over a year of planning, research, and James having to pass the FL bar exam. Despite dreams of living la vida loca in the 305, Miami turned out to not be the right fit for us. There’s a lot to love about Miami and I am glad we experienced it, however living there long term was not meant to be.

So one year, one month and one day later, we’re back in Rochester, NY and really happy to be here. I know I am not alone in realizing that sometimes you have to move away to really appreciate where you’re from. There’s no place like home!