Moving is one of the top-three stressors in life, just under No. 2, which is divorce, and No. 1, which is death. Thus, moving is just a number away from death in my opinion.
The stress of moving comes from the many moving parts (no pun intended) of the known and the unknown. From picking a new place, getting your belongings all packed up and choosing the right people to help, every part of the process is extraordinarily straining. That’s always been the case. Add a pandemic on top, and things get even more stressful.
As a Realtor in Los Angeles, I help my clients deal with moves and movers all the time. But now, I was the one moving. I was the one keeping all the plates spinning and dealing with overwhelming stress. I was the one searching for a place to live — packing up my past life while home-schooling my two kids due to the citywide school shutdown. I did this all during a pandemic.
Dun, dun, dun.
I sold my almost 4,000-square-foot, two-story home of 18 years that I shared with my family. You can imagine how many things we accumulated over the years. Moving from that house was particularly challenging. We had to navigate 70 — yes, 70 — stairs from the front door to the street.
In preparation for the move, I called my regular guys, but they were all booked up (turns out people need to move, even during the coronavirus). The new movers I selected, though a national company, were unknown to me. Not only was I moving during this historical time, but I was doubly rolling the dice with unfamiliar movers.
A couple of days before the move, I heard several rumors about the National Guard enforcing social distancing in Los Angeles. I panicked. Pretending to be calm, I called the movers and confirmed they were still able to help us relocate. It was a go. Phew! I then reconfirmed that real estate, as well as all supporting services, was considered “essential business” by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office. Here’s where it gets interesting.
Apparently, just because a business is deemed “essential” doesn’t mean that all employees subscribe to recommended safe practices, even basic ones. When the movers came, none of them wore masks or gloves, let alone booties. Their attitude, though very much “can-do,” was remarkably cavalier, especially when it came to the possibility of spreading the coronavirus. They appeared somewhat amused by my fear of contracting it.
The movers said, coronavirus or no coronavirus, the move must go on. As I worked alongside the movers, I did what I could to protect myself. I kept more than six feet of distance between us. I wore a mask and gloves and washed my hands often.
On that first day, the movers put in seven hours of work — wrapping furniture and finishing some last-minute light packing. (I’d packed for seven days straight earlier.) They loaded and moved the first three-quarters of a truckload. Not exactly a full day’s work, but I figured we were still on track.
The next day, after only two hours, they stopped working altogether. This is when they started asking for more money to finish the move. On a contracted two full-day move, they had worked a total of nine hours and were now demanding more money to complete the job. To hold someone up in this manner during an already-stressful process is not cool. But to do so during a pandemic is, well, morally reprehensible.
We had paid this company handsomely in full before they began, and now, they were holding us hostage, both financially and emotionally. After some back-and-forth with their supervisor, we convinced them to do the right thing and get back to work. And no, we didn’t pay them any more money.
Looking back now, I would have asked more questions and required the moving crew to wear the appropriate protective gear before coming into our house. While stressed and nervous about relocating during a pandemic, I failed to ask and insist on these safety measures. I just wanted it done.
There were, however, things we did correctly, like staying away from each other, washing our hands often and using hand sanitizer. My husband and I also had the wherewithal to move all of our food and personal items over to our new place the day before the movers came.
Having finally settled into our new home, I’d like to offer the following bits of advice when moving during this global pandemic.
- Pack the boxes yourself. You’re most likely home from work now, and it’s less handling from others.
- Have your kids help you pack. They’re home from school, and now is a great time to teach them hands-on life lessons. Plus, you need the help!
- When moving out, have a designated loading area. When you bring out items from your house, place them there. The movers can pick them up from that location. (It could be downstairs by the closest door to the truck.)
- When arriving at the final destination, much like you would now, disinfect your things. Have a loading area outside of your home where you disinfect the boxes and furniture before entering the new space.
- Bring food, clothing and personal items over to the new location yourself in your own vehicle before the movers arrive.
- Ask the moving company about its policy for protection against the spread of coronavirus. Request to know what safety measures they have in place.
- Before moving in, have your new home pre-treated with DSV disinfectant, which is available through pest companies.
- Don’t be afraid to ask what the company policies are, and insist they enforce them.
- Don’t allow anyone in your space without protective measures. Period. If the job has to get delayed while they go get protective gear, wait.
- Don’t pay the full amount of the move upfront. Negotiate the second installment to be paid at the end so you get full cooperation in safety.
- Don’t get overly stressed. If you have a plan with protective measures, you will get through your move.
Hopefully, what I learned moving during this pandemic will help ease some of your moving stress. I’d like to offer more tips, but the kids are sharpening their No. 2 pencils with their teeth, so I have to go.
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