6 Things to Do During a COVID-19 Move...and 4 That Will Need to Wait

By: , Contributor

Published on: Mar 23, 2020

There's possibly never been a more stressful time to move...and yet, millions of Americans are doing it. Here's what to prioritize and what to delay, for your own sanity.

COVID-19 has changed everything. This includes making already stressful events like moving even more complicated. Priorities change, and things that used to seem very important (e.g., having furniture) are suddenly…not so much. This particular time might be the toughest ever to move, but for anyone who's super far along in the process, the only path may be forward (unless the government puts your state on lockdown, in which case you cancel everything). For those of you who are in the middle of this, know that things will not be normal and you will need to pivot…a lot.

Here are our suggestions on how to reprioritize your moving day checklist to account for this new reality.

Before setting a move date...

Before you finalize a move date, check state and county websites for potential stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders. As of this writing, six states (New York, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois) have them, as well as a handful of additional cities and counties. If such restrictions are in place for you, you absolutely must postpone your move, and all parties should be willing to help accommodate -- regardless of how inconvenient.

If your state is still allowing people to move about freely, here's what you'll need to think about:

1. Be mindful of moving companies' new hygiene/contact policies

Many moving companies and peer-to-peer platforms that connect people with movers want to remain as operational as possible, but they also want to be safe and law-abiding. Check with any potential mover directly to see what their policies are and how you can be helpful to them. For example, some ask clients to open windows and leave out soap prior to the movers' arrival.

2. Be prepared to pay the cost of deep cleaning out of your deposit or closing costs

It's hard to find cleaning crews right now and nerve-wracking to let them in when you're there -- for all parties. And DIY cleaning, which used to be unpleasant but doable, is now almost impossible because basic supplies are scarce. And any that you do find you'll want to save for use in your new house.

If you rent, you may be able to ask your landlord to forgive the costs of hiring a cleaner. For buyers, it'll be a discussion between you and the seller.

3. Change your address, especially the one on your license and on file with the IRS

While everyone waits to see what form government aid will take, those who have moved need to make sure to update the government entities -- federal and local -- to make sure they can get anything that may be sent. This also affects voting registration and access to community resources.

4. Change your local pharmacy info with your doctors

Whether you just need to pick up your regular prescriptions or in the event that you come down with something, getting a call from the pharmacy in your old neighborhood that your precious prescription is waiting 20 miles away adds an extra layer of difficulty to everything. Find a pharmacy close to you that you like, and update all parties on the new address ahead of time.

5. Find the closest hospital, urgent care center, and grocery store

Essential services will remain open even in a shelter-in-place situation, but with reduced hours and crowd restrictions. While the grocery remains everyone's favorite regular errand, knowing the location of the nearest urgent care and hospital is critical in preparing for uncertain times.

6. Make sure Wi-Fi is functioning at some level

For long-distance education, remote work, entertainment, and staying connected to the outside world, internet access is a must. Providers are doing their best to maintain store hours and continue sending out technicians, so get in the queue as far ahead of time as you can to ensure there's no break in your connection.

On the flip side, here are a few things that are probably part of your lifelong moving checklist that can actually wait:

1. Visiting your new local post office

A change of address can be completed online. For the few things that must be done at a physical USPS location, such as getting money orders and sending certified mail, figure out a workaround that doesn't require you to be in close quarters with strangers or put more stress on the overworked public systems. For example, it might be a great time for your new landlord or lender to start accepting cash, Stripe, or Square (NYSE: SQ) for monetary transactions.

2. Decluttering

It's a time-honored tradition to Marie Kondo your closets at the same time as you move -- finally sending old furniture, unused kitchen appliances, and bags of clothes to whatever charity shop will take them. But with everyone operating on reduced hours and a greatly aggravated fear of germs, you may need to lug that old stuff with you and put it in a corner of the garage till things have calmed down.

3. Getting new stuff for your house

Speaking of old furniture that you want to get rid of, maybe hang onto those pieces a little longer after all. Now is not a great time to decorate a new place -- nor even to have a two-hour extended Target (NYSE: TGT) spree to pick up new dishes and kitchen wares. Kohl's (NYSE: KSS) and Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ: BBBY) have shut many stores and reduced hours of operation. You can try ordering online but will likely experience delays and reschedules due to issues with the supply chain and trucking shortages.

4. Getting minor repairs made

As a general rule of thumb, nonessential tasks are way at the bottom of everyone's list right now. Getting the building handyman over to fix a closet door or a technician to repair minor wiring issues will have to wait.

Good luck with your move

If you're still planning a move during this life-changing event, it's most likely because you either have no choice or truly believe your new home will be a better place to live out whatever the future holds. Be flexible and smart in your logistics planning, and remember that as long as you get to your destination safely, everything else can be taken care of in good time.

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Lena Katz has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Square. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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