Moving During the Pandemic

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reSPACEd is a company that helps people prepare for a move or unpack in the Portland area.MaryJo Monroe/reSPACEd

“Moving is already hard enough. Add in precautions to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, and packing up the old place and hauling cherished items to a new home can make you rethink your whole decision and stay put.

Or, you could find an upside to moving during a lockdown.

Just ask Jeff Chase. The guitar technician would be touring with musicians right now if the world hadn’t come to a halt. Instead, he moved to Estacada on April 1 and has had no other option than to stay at home and settle in.

The last time Chase moved, to Portland in 2005, he recalls stuffing boxes into the house and leaving on a tour the next day. He unpacked in between tours. It took him more than a year to finish.

“With Covid, I’ve had the time to plan and execute every room, DIY my whole winterization plan, make needed upgrades and enjoy the view,” he says. “The stress level is much lower.”

Safely Making a Move

A day after the sellers vacated, Chase fished his new house keys out of a lockbox. “There was no formal presentation or an unveiling like you see on makeover shows,” he jokes.

He scheduled a crew to clean and disinfect the surfaces, then he hired out-of-work stage hands with trucks to move his possessions.
“Since I’m in the music industry and was just there, cooling my jets, I wanted to support others who weren’t working either,” he says.
On moving day, he bought packing supplies and rented a U-Haul truck. The receipt was passed to him on a long stick “like a pizza spatula,” he says. “I was impressed with how easily people adapted. You tell a few jokes, do a transaction,” he says.

Pack, Move and Unpack Easier

At the start of stay-at-home orders, no one could have foreseen moving and storage companies like WayForth in Portland laying off employees and locking out about 600 customers from retrieving their furniture and other belongings.

STORAGECafé, a nationwide self-storage search website with more than 25,000 storage facilities listings, found most storage facilities have stayed open and installed ways for customers to avoid direct contact with the staff such as drive-up access and online payments.

“Some storage facilities decided to delay auctions and show leniency on late fees during this time,” reports Maria Gatea, senior editor at STORAGECafé’s blog.

American Moving & Storage Association members can provide virtual estimates, rather than visiting the home. They recommend buying new moving boxes and tape instead of using recycled boxes and if you’re in a vulnerable group, over 65 or have a compromised immune system, they suggest postponing a move until the pandemic is over if possible.

MaryJo Monroe is a professional organizer with reSPACEd, which has helped thousands of people since 2008 declutter in preparation of a move or unpack after a move to the Portland area.

“This summer, we did things a bit differently with the pandemic, but we still had one of our busiest move seasons ever,” she says.

Monroe, who is also the past president of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) Oregon, offers these tips:

Before You Move

  • Take the time to put aside anything you don’t need or want to avoid packing it and paying to have it transported. Look online or call charity thrift stores to confirm they are accepting donations.
  • Keep your pre-pandemic clothes that you haven’t worn in six months, suggests Monroe, but separate them from the rest of your wardrobe. Keep them in a labeled packing tub to avoid wasting time and space in your new closet hanging up clothes that you may not wear for awhile.
  • Put face masks and sanitization supplies in a clearly labeled box and keep it nearby during the move so it can be one of the first boxes you can access when you arrive. Clorox wipes will dry out and be useless if stashed in a hot garage or car trunk for days.

After You Move

  • If you have kids, need to start work right away or just hate the thought of unpacking boxes for the next several weeks, do yourself a favor and hire an unpacking company to set up your house. Insist that any workers in your home wear masks and gloves the entire time, even if they are working alone.
  • Coordinate with your internet provider so you can get online within 24 hours of your move.
  • If you are working from home, the home office will probably be one of the rooms, along with the kitchen and bathroom, that you will want to unpack and set up first. If you will be doing video conference calls, hang artwork or set up bookshelves on the wall opposite your computer screen to project a professional appearance on your calls. Read: More tips for setting up a work-from-home space
  • If you have school-age children, they will need their distance learning space set up right away too. It can be tough to get a desk at some of the Portland area’s big box stores right now due to office furniture shortages, so in a pinch kids can use an oversize clipboard on their lap. Read: More tips for setting up a distance learning space
  • Save room in your pantry to accommodate cleaning supplies and extra nonperishable food in case you have to quarantine for two to three weeks.
  • Don’t feel rushed to unpack entertaining cookware or servingware. Parties are on hold, so put those items in the garage or basement, freeing up space in your pantry.
  • The garage and basement are typically the last rooms to be unpacked and set up after a move. During this pandemic and wildfire season, leave extra storage space on the shelves for emergency supplies such as bottled water, paper products and outdoor sleeping gear. Many families are also making room in their garages or basements for an extra freezer to store additional food, says Monroe.

Helpful Sources

U-Haul has moving kits with boxes, tape, bubblewrap and of course, trucks and trailers to rent. Or if you’re moving within the city, you can book a Zipcar for the time you need.

Staples has measuring tapeboxes and other moving supplies.

If you need a second pair of hands, TaskRabbit can connect you to people skilled to help with cleaning, furniture assembly and small home repairs.

After you find out who’s the best company in your new area, get WiFi connected with AT&TVerizon or a Google Nest from Verishop.

Organize your new home with Open Spaces or The Container StoreHome Depot and Wayfair also have closet systems and solutions.”

This article was written by Janet Eastman. It can be found, here.