family packing unpacking moving boxes

Planning a Socially Distanced Move? Readers Share Their Experiences

Jun 25 2020

There may be a pandemic, but folks are on the move! 

Curious about moving during these uncertain times, we caught up with a few homeowners and renters who recently moved, or are in the process of moving, and asked them about challenges they face and how they’re (ahem) moving through them. 

We pictured things like putting masks and gloves on cardboard boxes, and bathing moving vans in hand sanitizer (where do we come up with this stuff?) — but responses had more to do with the difficulty of finding places to sell or donate furnishings, socially distanced farewells to friends, and a heck of a lot of personal perseverance.  

If you’re thinking about moving during COVID-19, we hope this post calms some of your anxiety and provides a little inspiration at the same time.  

What’s the biggest challenge you faced (or expect to face) while moving during COVID and how did you (or plan to) overcome it? 

Jacques P.

  • Moved from one rental to another in Manhattan.  

My biggest challenge was the lack of options in moving companies. I typically like to use them instead of moving myself, however I wasn’t able to find an array, and the prices were unreasonable for the companies I did find. 

I sucked it up and moved myself. Never underestimate your personal drive and dedication to a solution. 

Nancy C.

  • From renting in Oakland, California to owning in Chicago.  

The biggest challenge was getting rid of the things we didn’t want to take with us in our cross-country move. Goodwill and secondhand stores, where we normally might have donated house items, clothing, and furniture, were closed. And we think that there was less buying activity overall on sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Nextdoor 

Honestly, the hardest part was not being able to say proper farewells. Our last two months in California were during shelter in place so we couldn’t see friends, treasure our time together, or do any sort of formal farewell party. That was really difficult and sad emotionally, and we hope to do an extended visit once things are safer for travel again. 

In our last two weekends, we did get a chance to say a handful of socially distanced farewells outside of our apartment, and a couple of farewell Zooms — including one during our moving road trip! 

Hauling out

If you’re planning to move during COVID-19, here are some tips limit your exposure: 

  • Buy supplies in one shot. Order all your boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, and other moving supplies a single shipment from an online retailer or in one trip to a store. 
  • Create an action plan with your movers. When you hire a moving company, inquire about their COVID-19 safety protocols. Do all of their movers wear gloves, masks, and carry sanitizer? Can you tip them on the phone via credit card? For how long will you need to vacate a home while they’re moving your belongings into or out of it? 
  • Clean while you pack. Wipe down items while you pack so they’ll be sanitized when you furnish your new home. 

Alexandra W. 

  • From renting in Manhattan to staying with family in upstate New York. 

The biggest challenge was deciding between hiring a company to do it without us there versus risking our health to be there to oversee the process. At the end of the day, it proved to be too expensive to send movers without us there to do everything from start to finish. (I mean, we were moving out to save money in the first place!) 

The key to overcoming the health risks and fear was to order the right materials in advance. We got everything from tape dispensers to boxes to padding, markers and labels. This was all from Uline and was pretty affordable. 

Lastly, trust and letting go! This was huge but crucial. What helped with this was keeping an extra bag of valuables (wedding album, childhood blanket) with me. Some things I just didn’t want to have lingering over me and it felt safer taking them out myself. 

Jonathan T. 

  • From one rental to another in Park Slope, Brooklyn. 

We don’t feel as nervous now as we did back in April when we were contemplating moving then. The biggest challenge back then was that we thought it would put our health and others at risk if we moved between March and May. Not saying the risk isn’t there, but with New York City going into phased re-openings it seems more acceptable to move now since we found a great apartment that fits our needs. 

The biggest challenge is minimizing our interactions with the moving company and working that out logistically. We plan on doing all of the packing ourselves and having the movers come into the apartment when it’s all done so it minimizes the physical interactions we have with them in a closed space. Everyone will be wearing [personal protective equipment], so hopefully our risk will be overall much lower.  


  • From owning in Boston to owning in Seattle. 

We have a dog and we don’t really want to fly the dog and he’s a bit too big to fly in the cabin so we decided to drive across the country. The trickiest thing will be to figure out how to drive safely because it’s 3,000 miles.  

We decided to take a tent and we will camp our way through the country. No hotels, no restaurants, limited interaction with people. We’re going to bring a camping stove and feed ourselves and we’re going try to do as much mileage as we can each day. 

Devon M. 

  • From one rental to another in Asheville, North Carolina. 

“I moved into a round house; a cozy glorified yurt home. I’d never lived a circular life and found myself needing more than a few new things to match my aesthetic with the space, so one of the biggest challenges was that all of the stores were closed (rightfully!). 

I’m terrible at virtual shopping, so I found myself seeking new ways to get what I needed. Eventually I discovered Facebook Marketplace and apps like LetGo where I could go look at the item locally and purchase it in socially distanced scenarios. I met so many kind people, supported locals, and got SO many deals! 



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