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Moving plans months in the making have been completely upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. People who are in the middle of closing on homes don't know from one day to the next whether they'll be forced to continue or forced to pause. Moving and cleaning businesses need to completely reassess how they do their work around new hygiene and distancing requirements. Normal steps of homebuying and moving are delayed or halted.
To reduce stress, here are a few components of the moving process for which you may want to reconsider your approach -- even if you had things planned to the last detail two weeks ago.
While most moving companies and independent movers want to keep business going as usual, this industry has needed to make major changes across its business model. First of all, many companies are allowing clients to reschedule or postpone even if the state hasn't mandated a shelter-in-place. So if you can keep your belongings in your old home for a bit, you may want to discuss it with your mover.
If you decide to proceed with moving belongings, be aware that everyone is paranoid about germs on surfaces, and everyone wants to minimize close-quarters interaction. Because of this, you may want to do a lot more of the packing & wrapping than you normally would, rather than supervising a crew as they handle all the contents of your home.
While cleaners also need to adjust the way they come into contact with clients, their services are highly in demand lately, so while you should focus first on finding a cleaner that's well-reviewed by people you trust, be prepared to hear that there's a wait for their service. It has also become pretty standard for clients to allow their cleaners more space in the room to do work rather than coming in to greet them face to face and give instructions.
Nonessential furniture orders
Rethink what you really need to order for your home, because there's a good chance you'll have to wait for new furniture to arrive. Stores are closed or on reduced hours, and deliveries are subject to the capabilities of shipping services, which are overloaded.
The other big consideration is, once the furniture arrives, how will it get set up in your house? Most delivery people are wearing gloves, and some are also wearing masks, but some residents need even more in terms of social distancing. If you upgrade to have in-house delivery and setup, you may want to specify that you won't greet them at the door but need the piece to be set up in the room where it belongs. Leave tip money in an envelope in a visible spot you can direct them to easily upon the job's completion.
The list of repairs
The protocol we're all used to is to have a list of needed repairs that you share with former owners or your landlord and then attempt to fix prior to or upon move-in. However, that may need to be rethought. Some types of service techs are highly backed up right now, and others -- like painters or cabinet refinishers -- you may just not want doing their typical work at this time. It may be the smartest thing to break up your list into priority items and things that can wait.
If you're buying a place, rather than negotiate to have the seller make the fixes, it's probably easier to just negotiate a closing cost credit. If you're renting, give the landlord your list and let them know that these are the things that you're allowing a delay on but that were all in need of repair at move-in and will need to be made whole when possible.
Regular landscape services
Leaf-blowing, lawn care, pool service, and many other outdoor landscaping services are still happening on a reduced schedule in some places, but even in states with more relaxed rules (shout out from Florida!), nationally managed developments are beginning to restrict nonessential service appointments.
Pest control -- still on!
In certain parts of the country, this is more of a necessity than an elective, and pest control companies remain open accordingly. Remember, many options don't even require service people to come inside. And some pest control companies are looking at a combination of traditional methods like exterior-only service and new ones -- like no-contact service using specialized handheld devices -- to help people achieve necessary hygiene standards on this front without having to wonder whether they're compromising themselves in other ways.
New protocols for a new time
Moving is never easy, and this crisis makes it more complicated than ever, so be flexible with yourself and others around you. Recognize that even if you had certain goals (e.g., organize all your books and color coordinate your living room furniture), it's more important that everyone be together and be safe. And be kind to the workers who brave other people's homes every day.
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