The real estate industry responded quickly in the first days of COVID-19, getting up to speed on virtual marketing platforms, virtual tours, virtual open houses, and online end-to-end transaction management in order to keep deals together for both buyers and sellers. You may have been able to conduct some or all of your transaction without having an in-person consultation or home tour. However, now it’s time for the big move—a totally hands-on experience.
How can you ensure that your move is as safe as possible—not just for your belongings, but for you, your family, and the movers? This guide is designed to help you understand the risk factors and make your move as safe and comfortable as it can be.
CDC Guidelines for COVID-19 on Surfaces
According to the CDC, there have been no documented instances of coronavirus transmission through surface contamination. That’s good news for your COVID-19 move since you can spend more time focusing on air quality. Standard precautions, like frequent handwashing and avoiding touching the eyes, nose, or mouth, should be followed during the packing, moving, and unpacking process.
Improving Air Quality During the Move
Since the COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets and through proximity of closer than six feet between parties, your best defenses are time, distance, and sufficient ventilation.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), aerosolized COVID-19 remained viable in the air for three hours. That means that time is your friend when it comes to avoiding exposure. If you are not in a time crunch, consider allowing the movers to bring in the furniture and boxes to the new home, then spend time outside in order to give any respiratory droplets time to dissipate.
While social distancing guidelines prescribe a distance of six feet between people, the NEJM study found that droplets could travel at least thirteen feet through the air, reinforcing the need for masks in order to avoid transmission. While you will no doubt want to oversee aspects of the move, try to maximize the amount of time you spend further away from where the movers are working.
For example, you may want to ask the movers to load your outdoor furniture last, giving you a place to sit and wait during much of the loading process. Then, at the new home, they can unload that same furniture first, giving you a place to wait during the unloading process. If weather does not permit you to wait outdoors, you may want to designate an out-of-the-way room, like a guest bedroom or home office, to be loaded last and unloaded first.
In order to improve your air quality and reduce your risk of transmission, take steps to improve the ventilation in the home during the time that the movers are working there. Open doors and windows during the loading and unloading processes to let in some fresh air. If you have a central HVAC system, turn on the fan to keep air circulating and filtering throughout the home. Turn on exhaust fans in the bathrooms and turn on the exhaust hood in the kitchen as well.
Communication and Organization Matter
One of the most important things you can do during your move is to communicate early and often with your moving company. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, whether it is additional time, additional precautions, or a clearer idea of the safety measures they put in place.
The name of the game is minimizing the amount of time that the movers have to spend in your space, thus minimizing the risk of transmission in case one of the movers is an asymptomatic carrier. Organization will help you speed up the process so that it takes less time to load and unload, and the movers will spend less time in your space. Here are a few ways to make your move more efficient and organized:
- Label your boxes as thoroughly as possible to ensure that they end up in the correct room and in order to avoid spending time rifling through one box after another looking for essential items.
- Consider color-coding your boxes, either with colored labels or with colored markers, then create a map with the corresponding colors so the movers can quickly and easily see which room each box belongs in. You may want to name or number bedrooms and bathrooms in order to ensure that the movers know which is which.
- As you pack boxes, consider stacking them in your home’s foyer or garage in order to allow the movers to quickly and easily load the truck. If pricing is based on an hourly rate, this strategy will also help you save significantly on the cost of your move.
- Put together a “first 24-hours” box for each family member before the movers arrive and keep them in your own car. That way, the most essential items that you’ll need right away are easy to access and will never be exposed to anyone else during the move. These boxes should include bed and bath linens, pajamas, a change of clothes, and any other must-have items. For children, include a favorite toy and bedtime book to make your new house feel more like home.
A safer, more organized move requires only a little forethought and patience. It’s worth the extra time and effort to ensure that your socially distanced move is as smooth and healthy as possible for everyone involved.