This is an uncertain time, especially for the millions of people who move in the U.S. every year. I know you’re stressed and anxious about the changes, so I hope to assuage your fears. With every answer below, social distancing is implied. Please maintain 6 feet of distance from anyone who is not in your moving pod. That’s my new term for anyone who is moving together. Cute, right? Here we go, folks. Your coronavirus moving questions answered.
Can I move right now?
Yes. Moving is considered an essential service, so proceed as planned. Fine, not exactly as planned. Let’s be real. This is nothing like you planned, but here we are.
I’ve decluttered like a rock star, but now I have a problem. No one will take my stuff. What do I do?
Many people are in this tough situation. You have a few options:
- Post on your neighborhood Facebook or NextDoor groups to see if any charities are still doing pick-ups. This is faster than calling each charity individually. Note: Most charities are NOT picking up at this time.
- Ask a friend or family member to keep your items and donate them for you later.
- Label your boxes for donations, keep them separate, and donate them after you move.
- Post on craigslist or neighborhood groups about your free couch. Then, leave it on your front curb for pick-up. However, don’t expect trash collectors to pick up your unwanted furniture. If your furniture is not gone by the end of the day, you will need to bring it back into your home. Decide whether this is worth the effort.
- Contact a hauling company or junk removal service to pick up your items for a fee. The Honest Junk Company in Chicago funds a non-profit and distributes any usable goods to various charities.
If anyone in your moving pod has symptoms of coronavirus, please don’t donate your items to others at this time.
What’s happening to the non-profits that aren’t receiving donations now?
I asked non-profits in the Chicago area to find out. “Although the Chicago Furniture Bank has built up an inventory of furniture,” says Griffin Amdur, Director and co-Founder of the Chicago Furniture Bank, “the inventory is being depleted quickly as we are not picking up residential donations.”
Humble Design helps furnish homes for families transitioning from homelessness. “This pandemic has been incredibly disruptive to our typical flow of receiving donations,” says Julie Dickinson, Director of Humble Design Chicago. “We know these parents and children are sleeping on the floor, air mattresses, or piles of blankets right now. Once it is safe to do so, we will want to get them beds as quickly as possible. Then, we will come back through with the artwork, couches, tables, and all the small touches that makes what we do so special and effective.”
Is there anything I can do to help?
Jeff Lockridge, Manager of Media & Public Relations for U-Haul, has some suggestions. “For movers who want to donate furnishings, or simply help community organizations in need during this crisis, they may want to call or email their favorite nonprofits for suggestions on best ways to support them, as well as consider giving to various shelters and other groups beyond the usual scope of the prominent nonprofits many of us seek to assist.”
Julie Dickinson asks everyone who is decluttering during the quarantine to help. “We know people are doing some serious spring cleaning right now. We ask that they box things up and, if they can hold onto it for a bit, we will put it to good use. And remember, we need all the little things too – the spoons, plates, cup measurers, baking sheets – everything that makes a house a home.”
WORKING WITH MOVERS
Thank you to John Becker, AMSA Interim President, for providing answers to these questions.
Has the American Storage and Moving Association (AMSA) given guidelines to moving companies or is there a COVID-19 standard that moving companies are following?
JB: AMSA is not providing guidance to our members per se, but they are utilizing the messaging that we’ve provided to consumers via our website, moving.org. Many AMSA members have supplemented our guidance with additional steps and precautions that their companies are taking for the health and safety of consumers and moving crews on their websites. Consumers should also check with their specific mover for more information and ask questions.
Are movers wearing masks, gloves, etc., when entering homes and keeping a safe distance from the people moving?
JB: Yes, professional movers are practicing social distancing, wearing masks and gloves, wiping down high-touch surfaces in their vehicles and sanitizing vans between moves. In addition, we recommend that consumers provide access to soap, water, paper towels and/or hand sanitizer for their moving crew.
Are the belongings of people moving still being moved in the same truck as other people’s belongings?
JB: It will depend on whether or not the move is local or long distance. If it is a local move, items probably won’t be intertwined with another shipment. If the consumer is moving state-to-state, it will more than likely be combined with other moves, because it is more efficient to move a full van than one that is partially full.
That having been said, movers create walls with items that separate the shipments, by creating a barrier with either mattresses which are placed in plastic bags to protect them, or headboards, which are wrapped in furniture pads. In some cases, they’ll use furniture pads to separate belongings and secure items with straps. Furniture pads are also being cleaned and sanitized between uses. Your mover can answer questions about how they are separating loads for a long-distance move and what additional precautions they are taking.
Are moving companies still offering packing and unpacking services or do they recommend that people do it on their own?
JB: Yes, moving companies continue to provide these services. They are practicing social distancing, wearing gloves and masks, and using additional precautions to ensure the health and safety of consumers during this time. Ask your mover what further measures they are taking, as they vary from company to company.
USING A PODS CONTAINER
Can I still rent a PODS container?
Yes. “We are operating business as usual here in the U.S. and Canada,” says Trent Brock, Community Development Marketing Specialist of PODS.
How has PODS changed their guidelines due to the coronavirus?
“Drivers used to do a walk-through of the container with the client to show them how to load it,” says Brock. “We are now providing a contactless service.” During this time, customers do not need to be present to meet and greet their drivers. If a customer has any questions, they can call PODS to speak with a moving expert. Here is a description of how PODS is handling the pandemic and a video with some packing and loading tips.
WORKING WITH REALTORS
I’m trying to buy a house. How can I see homes now?
Many Realtors are offering virtual home tours. Start there.
I can’t buy a house without seeing it in person. Is it safe to go inside someone else’s home?
Take all the precautions you would take when going to the grocery store. Wear a mask or, if you don’t have one, a scarf to protect your nose and your mouth. Don’t touch anything in the house. Ask the owner to leave the closet and cabinet doors open for you, so you don’t need to touch handles. Wear gloves. Request for the homeowners to leave the home during the visit. Wash your hands before and after being in the home.
I’m selling my house. Should I do an open house?
No. Protect yourself and your home. If people are seriously interested in your house, they will request a private showing.
I’m selling my house. Is it okay to have strangers in my home?
You will need to weigh the health risks of having people in your home versus the financial risks on waiting to sell your home. Ask everyone who comes into your home to take necessary precautions (see question above about going inside someone else’s home).
What safety precautions are Realtors taking to protect me and themselves?
The National Association of Realtors created a comprehensive set of guidelines that you can find here. Everyone is on the same page about maintaining social distancing and finding ways to avoid in-person meetings whenever possible.
I hope I’ve answered your coronavirus moving questions. You can also check out my post “How to Prepare for a Move During Coronavirus“. If I’ve missed something, please comment below or reach out to me at ali @ artofhappymoving.com. You will get through this. I’m sending good vibes your way.