Guidance for Moving During the Coronavirus Outbreak

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The novel Coronavirus, and the disease it causes, COVID-19, are making everything more challenging right now. While much of the economy has shut down and retail stores are closing or limiting the number of shoppers, and many restaurants doing to pick-up and delivery only, it can seem like everything has stopped.

The truth is a little different. If you’ve recently bought a home, leased a new apartment, or are preparing to move in with family or friends, you see both sides. You can see how closed down everything is in the struggle to get necessary supplies like moving boxes, tape, and even convenience food. But you can see how active things are as your old lease ends, or you negotiate with your new mortgage company.

You’ll still need to get your stuff to your new home. You’ll still need to drive across town, potentially despite stay-at-home orders, to do it.

But you don’t need to put yourself at greater risk to make your move happen. Here are some tips for moving safely and easily, despite the coronavirus.

Are Moving and Storage Services Still Available?

Are Moving and Storage Services Still Available?

With many businesses closed, it makes sense to worry that your moving company may not be able to help if you have to move during this difficult time.

The good news is that, as of this writing, we aren’t seeing many moving companies closing their doors. States are not, right now, ordering moving services to close up shop, and very few if any companies are choosing to voluntarily close.

Moving companies have a few more options than many businesses when it comes to complying with COVID-19 related social distancing regulations. Everything from sending fewer people out on a job, to utilizing cloth masks and/or respirators, and placing employees with symptoms on leave is highly possible for most moving companies.

If you have any concerns about your moving company or want to know more about the safety precautions they are taking, you should contact them directly. Since guidance from states has been piecemeal, the individual precautions taken by each company may be very different.

You should also alert your company if you suspect or have confirmed than any member of your family has COVID-19.

Similarly, most storage facilities are still open. Many are operating under reduced hours, or have additional guidelines for customers during this difficult time. Like your mover, you should contact your preferred storage facility before going in to store or retrieve your stuff. That way they can tell you about any new restrictions or requirements so that you aren’t surprised at the door.

Tips to Make Moving During the Coronavirus Pandemic Easier

Tips to Make Moving During the Coronavirus Pandemic Easier

Now that you know you’ll likely have access to some of the most important moving services, let’s look at some of the other details of your move.

Be Open and Honest About Your Diagnosis

Be Open and Honest About Your Diagnosis

We’ve already mentioned that you should tell your movers if you’ve been diagnosed with the coronavirus. It’s an important point, however, because information helps keep you and your movers much safer.

The trend right now is not that people are turning potential customers away because of the illness. Instead, moving companies, and most other companies, are choosing to take additional precautions but otherwise provide services as normal.

It may feel like it’s a safer option to keep your diagnosis and symptoms to yourself. But consider that you might get a lower risk moving crew, with more protective equipment and outbreak training, if you tell them that you’re sick or possibly sick.

Don’t Use 2nd Hand Moving Boxes

Don’t Use 2nd Hand Moving Boxes

Normally, getting moving boxes from a friend or coworker who recently moved is a great way to save some money and lower your environmental impact. Right now isn’t the time to use second-hand goods, however.

The coronavirus cannot survive as long on cardboard as it can on other surfaces. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be transmitted on cardboard, however. Boxes can hold the coronavirus for up to 24 hours, depending on the environmental conditions. It can potentially also transfer from the cardboard to other, more hospitable, surfaces in your home.

Feel free to re-use your own cardboard boxes. But if you need additional boxes, you should buy them new, and with as little person to person contact as possible.

When to Cancel Your Move

When to Cancel Your Move

If possible, you may want to consider canceling your move if you’re in a high-risk group. That’s people over 60, people with diabetes, anyone taking medication that lowers your immune response or otherwise immune-compromised individuals, and anyone with a heart or respiratory condition.

While it’s not always possible to cancel your move, you should talk to the other parties involved and see if you can postpone or otherwise move your move in hopes that your personal risk will go down over the next few weeks and months.

If you’re an otherwise healthy adult, you probably don’t need to cancel or postpone your move.

Personal Protective Equipment and Hygiene

Personal Protective Equipment and Hygiene

Especially if you hire a moving company, personal protective equipment and hygiene is important. We’re not talking about surgical masks or the respirators that are desperately needed on the front lines in your local hospital sand urgent care facilities. Instead, try to make sure everyone in your family has a cloth mask they can wear.

Consider providing cloth masks for your moving team as well, or scarves and bandanas if you can’t provide a specialized mask. Masks should be freshly cleaned with normal laundry detergent.

You should also consider providing hand sanitizer to your moving company. They may be able to provide their own, but given recent shortages, any additional supplies you can provide will be appreciated.

Other helpful supplies can include:

  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Plenty of soap and water
  • Tissues
  • Paper towels and cleaner
  • Washcloths
  • Towels

We don’t necessarily recommend using or providing gloves. Gloves still transfer the virus from surface to surface, and few people know how often you need to change disposable gloves and wash your hands to keep them sanitary.

Providing hand sanitizer, soap, and other tools to wash hands is more important and effective than most glove usage.



If you need to travel for your move, there are a few more precautions that you need to take right now. Flights are frequently canceled, and even buses and trains are less consistent or closed.

Your car, or a rental car or truck, will likely be the most reliable option for traveling during your move. In some places, you may be stopped by the police to check on your purpose and inform you of social distancing guidelines. Just explain that you are in the middle of a move and that you understand the social distancing guidelines and intend to comply with them.

Always make sure to look up the current guidelines at your new home and any states you have to cross along the way. Since guidelines are changing all the time, it’s important to make sure you have the most recent information.

If you need to fly, make sure you only work with companies that are offering refunds in the case of a flight cancellation. Contact your current landlord, previous home’s new purchaser, or can arrange for temporary accommodations in case your flight is canceled, and you have to wait.

Donating Items

Donating Items

Many people find themselves with large bags and boxes full of goods that you no longer want or need in your new home. If those items are in good condition, you probably don’t want to throw them away. But making arrangements and finding friends and family who can take your unwanted goods can be time-consuming, and is much more difficult with social distancing.

The good news is that many thrift stores are currently able to keep their donation centers open, even if the main store is not.

Feel free to plan on donating some of your stuff so that you have less to move, store, and trash, during your move. Before you head out to drop off your donations, contact the donation center. Just like regular safety guidelines are constantly changing, so are donation center policies and precautions.

They’ll be happy to accept your donation, but they also want to keep themselves, and you, safe in the process. Being aware of their current practice for making donations safe and effective will help everything go more smoothly.



If you need to cancel or postpone your move, for any reason, it’s best to let your moving company know as soon as possible. Not only does that let them schedule another customer in your slot, but it can also help you avoid late cancellation fees.

Let them know, when you cancel, whether this is a permanent cancellation or a temporary postponement. Most moving companies will be eager to work with you in a few weeks when you’re ready and able to move.

Canceling as soon as you know that you won’t be moving also means that the company is likely to be more willing to work with you in the future. Late cancellations, especially if you cancel the day of or the day before, might mean increased rates or unwillingness in the future.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Moving during the coronavirus is both more and less difficult, depending on which aspect of the move you’re looking at. The good news is that you absolutely can still move, at the time of this writing. The bad news is that it might be harder to arrange your travel and get some necessary moving supplies.

But, life moves forward, and hopefully, you’ll be able to take advantage of the extra time the coronavirus has created for many people to better organize and settle into your new home.

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