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]

Tips & Suggestions

How to Survive Winter in Rochester NY

How to Survive Winter in Rochester NY, winter preparedness tips to survive and thrive, #rocrelocation
Blog about How to Survive Winter in Rochester NY

We all know Rochester, NY gets a bad rap for its winters; and although I’m a girl who hates feeling cold, I believe Western New York winters are dictionary-picture-perfect. However, if you’re new to this type of weather, the first experience can be harrowing, especially if you’re not prepared. These are my best tips on how to prepare for, survive, and hopefully even thrive in the winter in Rochester, NY.

PHYSICAL & MENTAL HEALTH: STAY HEALTHY

To thrive in winter you need to stay healthy. This means washing your hands often, getting enough rest (take advantage of fewer hours of sunlight), and not skipping your flu shot. Stock up on tissues, chap stick, hand sanitizer and lotion for dry skin, especially if you’re used to a tropical climate or if you have kids. Ask your doctor about taking a little extra Vitamin D during these grey months. And, if at all possible, plan a vacation to somewhere warm between January and April. Getting away and warming up in the sun for a few days makes a huge difference, especially toward the end of the season.

During the winter months, it’s extremely tempting to hibernate by the fireplace, indulge in hearty comfort foods, and binge on Netflix. While those are some of great pleasures of a snowy winter, it’s important to balance those lazy days with staying active.

sledding is fun and great exercise! smiling girl and pink sled in rochester ny winter #rocrelocation
sledding is fun and great exercise

Don’t neglect the gym membership. Working out actually helps you feel warmer for hours afterwards. Get some fresh air and sunshine. The greater Rochester area has a wide array of winter sports activities, including skiing (downhill and cross country), snowboarding, sledding, snow-shoeing, ice-skating, and snow tubing, to name a few. Even simply heading outside to build a snowman or play in the snow works. One tip: be careful playing in the piles of snow created by the snowplow, as they might not see you if they show up to plow. The Visit Rochester website has a huge list of 50 Cool Things To Do This Winter, that includes both inside and outside activities.

DRESS FOR SUCCESS

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” — Alfred Wainwright

One of the easiest ways to be prepared for winter is to dress warmly! This is the time to splurge on that Northface, Patagonia or Canada Goose parka you’ve been eyeing. The key is layering for breathability. Don’t forget the underlayers (even men wear long underwear under thin suit pants on the coldest days). Waterproof boots with grip are a must for the really snowy days and also for taking the kids sledding. Trust me, nothing ruins a snow day faster than cold, soggy Uggs. Lastly, hats, gloves and mittens are vital. If you’re just going to the office or running errands, the “touchscreen gloves” are fantastic and come in many styles to help you stay connected and warm since touch screens don’t respond well to frozen fingers.

TAKE IT EASY

When outside, walk more slowly and carefully on icy surfaces, steps and sidewalks. If you’re from a warm climate you might not be aware of “heart attack snow.”  If you’re not fit, be careful to not overexert yourself from shoveling or snow-blowing, especially heavy and wet snow, as cold temperatures combined with hard labor can cause heart attacks.

DON’T FORGET YOUR FURRY FRIENDS 

puppy in the snow, keep your pets safe in winter in rochester ny #rocrelocation
keep your pets safe in the winter

Don’t let your pets stay outside too long in frigid temperatures, and consider a warm sweater, coat and booties for the more delicate dogs. If you have pets, only use snow melt products that are safe for animals, as regular snow melt chemicals can irritate a dog’s paws.

ON THE ROAD

driving at night in winter in rochester ny, drive more carefully in snow, #rocrelocation
drive more carefully in snowy conditions

If you’re new to driving in snowy or icy conditions, the first winter can be very scary. Honestly, even seasoned Rochesterians seem to forget year to year. Some basic rules are to leave extra room between you and the next car, brake sooner and more slowly to avoid spinning. If you’ve ever come too close to a snow plow and gotten pelted with salt or run into a ditch, you’ll know to give snow plows a wide berth and do not attempt to pass them.

What to drive? To be safest in winter driving conditions, it is best to have an all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehiclesport-utility-vehicle (SUV) or crossover. Front-wheel-drive (FWD) also works, but rear-wheel-drive (RWD) will be challenging, because you will not get any traction or be able to stop or steer. And sadly, for the exotic sports car owners, most of these types of cars need to be tucked away for the winter.

Summer tires most definitely need to be replaced with modern winter tires (also called snow tires), which have different treads and rubber compounds that help your car accelerate, stop and corner better in snow, ice, rain and sub-freezing dry roads. All-weather tires will work better than summers, but not as well as winters.

Also remember to check your windshield wipers, wiper fluid (make sure it contains antifreeze), antifreeze/coolant, battery, tires and brakes. Definitely buy a snow brush with a scraper (for the windows) and an arm long enough to push the snow off your entire vehicle. Some people keep an Emergency Supply Kit in their trunk containing items such as: phone charger; flashlight; water bottles; snacks; boots, gloves, hats; blanket; first aid kit; compact shovel; jumper cables; tow rope; flares; and a bag of sand/kitty litter for traction.

Cars, trucks, SUV’s and crossovers today offer wonderful features that make winter driving safer and more comfortable. Headed side view mirrors and windshield wiper de-icers help keep your visibility clear. Heated seats are common, but the heated steering wheel is truly luxury! Last but definitely not least, the remote car starter. It comes standard from the factory or can be added aftermarket, as long as your car is an automatic. Our first winter in Rochester my husband had one installed in my SUV and it changed my life. We parked outside so it was a huge gift to climb into a toasty car for my drive to work every morning. (Please do not use this inside a garage!) Trust me, it’s an excellent holiday gift idea!

Around October it’s time to decide how you’re going to get your vehicle out of the driveway. If you’re planning on hiring a snow plowing service, ask your neighbors for referrals. Be sure to review the details of the contract regarding how many inches it takes for them to come out, what time of day they anticipate plowing your driveway, how long the contract season lasts, and what they will do about damage to your lawn or property. If you opt to clear your driveway yourself, consider a snow blower. In any case, invest in a few good shovels, a lightweight one for lifting and pushing light snow and a heavier metal one for chipping up ice. Grab a few for the kids too! Most people purchase a bag of ice melt salt for the walkways. Consumer Reports provides a quick overview on your options and how to use them.

WARM AT HOME

dog relaxing in front of the fire in winter in rochester ny #rocrelocation
winter is for lounging in front of the fire

There are some preparations that can help your home stay warmest this winter. A digital thermostat is a great investment that allows you to pre-set times to lower the temperature when you’re not home and to raise it before you return. It can also be controlled by an app on your smartphone, which is really helpful when you’re out of town; you can check on the furnace or turn up the heat before you return from your trip.

Ensure your heating system is inspected, cleaned, and tuned up. Change the air filters and adjust the humidity settings if you have a furnace humidifier. During the winter months, dry air with low humidity can cause to dry skin, itchy eyes, and irritated sinuses and throat. Exposure to low humidity can also dry out and inflame your respiratory tract, increasing the risk of colds, flu, and other infections. Investing in portable humidifiers for the bedrooms can help relieve that discomfort and risk.

It is also important to have your fireplaces and chimneys inspected. When you stock up on firewood for your fireplace or stove, be sure to purchase “seasoned,” and split for ease of use. Burning fresh or wet firewood can cause creosote to build up in your chimney, which is the main cause of chimney fires. Store your firewood in a dry place outside of the house, with adequate ventilation.

It’s also time to seal up the house. Trust me, if you’ve ever been outside in a blizzard trying to install your storm doors and windows, you’ll know it’s best to get them up before you need them! Older houses may need weatherstripping or caulk to stop up drafts from windows and doors. Other lessons I learned include being sure to drain all the outside hoses, bring them inside, and turn off the pipes in the basement that lead to the outside faucets. It is vital to blow out your in-ground sprinkler systems and generally a good idea to clean all the leaves and debris out of your gutters to avoid ice damming. Lastly, if you have a power generator, be sure get it inspected and fueled up ahead of a storm.

BE PREPARED FOR STORMS

Finally, just like other acts of nature, it is important to be prepared for winter storms. Snow is beautiful, but it can also cause a number of dangerous conditions.  Blizzards bring strong winds, heavy snow, sleet and/or freezing rain which make getting around town difficult and dangerous. Trees can to fall on power lines, roads and houses, causing damage and power outages. My best advice is to not get caught by surprise, pay attention to the weather updates in the media. If you’re told to leave work early or if schools close early, grab the kids and get home. At home, it is ideal to have a few days supply of fresh water, and to stock up a little more than usual on non-perishable foods, candles, batteries for flashlights and electronics. If a storm is coming be sure to charge all your devices. People differ on their level of storm preparedness, it’s a good idea to get educated ahead of time and decide what is right for you. For comprehensive lists go to the National Weather Service, or Red Cross Winter Storm Safety or to How To Stay Warm Without Electricity.

That does it! I know this list seems like a ton of things to remember and complete, but as years pass these winter preparations will become second nature. I hope I’ve saved you time and frustration in preparing for winter in Rochester, NY. I welcome comments and additional questions or tips I may have left out.

STAY WARM, SAFE AND HEALTHY!  

Fun Facts for Rochester NY (Stats Source)

  • Average Snowfall: 84 inches, however there is a lot of variation year to year
  • Snowfall Timing: November to May, most of the fresh snow arriving in January
  • Average Temperatures:  High: 34° F and Low: 20° F (December – February)
ROC Relocation is a relocation consulting service that helps people moving to Rochester, NY. I provide destination services, linking people with the resources, support and connections to help them acclimate and feel at home faster. If you are interested in customized relocation services, or a personalized tour of the area, contact me at (585) 402-1295.