So you’re moving during a pandemic. As if you didn’t have enough to worry about. OK, maybe you, the person reading this article, don’t feel that there is much to fear. But when I decided to move during a national health and economic crisis, it sure felt like that.
If, like me, you have no choice but to move – due to a lease, demonic landlord, or toxic life scenario – you’re probably wondering what considerations you may need to make to move as safely and ethically as possible.
I’m not a doctor, but I can share some of the considerations I’ve made. Doing these things made my step as easy and painless as possible. Despite some bumps on the way, I̵
This step sucks whether there is a pandemic or not, to be perfectly honest. Since I was moving to a new city, I could not be masked and could not visit houses or meet my roommates in person. It was a process that was done exclusively via video chat. Nevertheless, I learned a few tips and tricks.
1. The most important thing is that the listing is too good to be true
Scammers are at full power on Craigslist because they know that tearing someone down is now easier. Never send money to anyone without a live video tour of the property or if a friend does a tour on your behalf if they can.
Video tours really saved me during my hunt because I was also able to get a lot of clarity about the dimensions of the space that I would rent. So I could find out if my bed and chest of drawers would fit or if I would need all new things.
2. Ask for an interview
If you’re moving in with people you don’t know, I highly recommend asking for an interview (my roommates were the ones who suggested it) because you can find out a lot about each other and your lifestyle.
It’s very important to know who’s catching the cockroach your kitten is playing with as you scream bloody murder from the next elevated surface, isn’t it? Or base case: check whether your roommates take the virus as seriously as you do – or at least as seriously as I hope you are.
3. Also think about your current / immediate needs
Since I work from home (forever?), I made a point of having a nicer living room because I will be spending most of my time there. I assume that there are many people in the same boat. I would strongly recommend taking this into account when you find a new place.
Order supplies from U-Haul – just do it
They have boxes of all sizes, bubble wrap, tape, and everything else you can think of in terms of transporting consumables. The biggest advantage for me was the delivery aspect. Straight to my home so I don’t have to risk exposing COVID and spreading.
U-Haul also buys back any boxes that you don’t use, so you can overorder and don’t have to worry. (I did that anyway.)
Make a Mini KonMari
When you start packing and at the same time wondering how you’ve accumulated so much stuffI recommend an abbreviated version of Marie Kondo’s cleanup strategy. Decide what you enjoy and / or what is useful for you. What you don’t need can be donated or thrown away depending on the condition.
Sort and label according to frequency of use and space
I also labeled each box with a level of specificity that people made fun of me for. But when I arrived at my new house, unpacking was so much easier! I could even tell the moving companies to keep things labeled “food processor” or “cast iron” in the kitchen while they bring things like “winter clothes” to my room.
It was also easiest to sort things by what I used and what I didn’t, and what items were related. And knowing that I would be hellishly tired when I arrived, I made sure that I didn’t put things I needed right away in boxes, but put them in a backpack that I had easy access to.
Disassembling furniture can be a burden
For this reason, I sold everything that was too difficult to transport, like the bed and the chest of drawers. Then I packed away small items and pieces of furniture that I didn’t have to take apart.
Don’t wait until the day before
I basically started 2 days before I left and was exhausted. It would have calmed me to start a week before the day of the move, but I’m a big procrastinator.
My strategy here was to give up my extreme need, control everything and let the movers do all the work. I found my moving company in both cities on the U-Haul website. They offer you the opportunity to book moving companies through the website after you reserve a van or truck. I chose the movers that were both inexpensive and well rated.
To make sure we were physically distant, I waited on my balcony while they moved all my things with masks. I locked my cats in the bathroom because they were appalled at the prospect of two men doing all the things they would like to sit or hide on. When various moving companies unpacked when I arrived in my new house, my roommates and I waited outside (also with masks).
I hope it goes without saying that you should tip your movers as much as you can now. It is not easy to do physical work that exposes you to people in the middle of a pandemic. I personally tip all my movers 100 percent. I realize that this is not financially feasible for everyone, but it was certainly a priority for me when I saved to pay the moving cost.
I seriously weighed two options to get my things from point A to point B.
The first was to get a pack cube. These cubes fit into a space the size of a parking lot. You fill them up and they are delivered to your destination. I found U-Pack to be the cheapest of these services. This is certainly the more expensive option, but the ease of doing this and then renting a regular car – rather than driving a van or truck – really appealed to me.
But in the end I rented a U-Haul van. It was hundreds of dollars cheaper and I was gassed by my friends who said I could drive the van as easily as any other car. This was (mostly) true.
U-Haul has a non-contact pick-up option, where you log in using your mobile phone and then pick up the keys from a small slot. When I got in the truck, I used disinfectant wipes on all surfaces, but it felt relatively safe.
Things I’ve learned:
- If you have cats, calm them down. You can ask your vet about gabapentin.
- You can drive through the E-ZPass toll and U-Haul will only bill you later.
- Set aside $ 500 if you get to your destination, lightly tap a Mercedes if you’re trying to park the U-Haul on your street, and put in a very small dent. Sure, it’s specific, but that’s exactly what happened to me.
- Find out your plan of action to drop the U-Haul with the least possible interaction with others and return to your home. My roommate cycled the U-Haul to a drop-off destination in the background and then cycled back to the house.
Now you may have to quarantine your roommates for 2 weeks depending on whether you have taken a COVID-19 test. Of course, this depends on what you’ve all decided, but it is important not to expose your roommates, especially if they are immunodeficient or are important employees.
After all precautions have been taken and you have all moved in, explore your new neighborhood (in a mask and 6 to 10 feet from all of your neighbors).
Reina Sultan (she / she) is a Lebanese-American Muslim woman who works at the age of nine to five on gender and conflict issues. Her work can also be found in Huffington Post, Rewire.News, Wear Your Voice Mag and Rantt. Follow @SultanReina on Twitter for endless hot shots and photos of her extremely cute cats.