How to Safely Move During a Pandemic

Hadley Keller
Photo credit: Halfpoint Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Halfpoint Images - Getty Images

From House Beautiful

Anyone who has ever moved knows it can be stressful—in fact, one study found that moving is second only to a family member's death when it comes to traumatic experiences. Add on the fear associated with a pandemic, and the moving process is another level of scary. For Florida designer Dwayne Bergmann, this was the case when he and his husband closed on their house this spring—just as coronavirus was exploding in the U.S. "We had sold our house and we were in the inspection period when we got the announcement that schools were closing and a stay-at-home order might be put in place," Bergmann recalls.

As a designer who does dozens of moves a year, Bergmann usually wouldn't bat an eye at moving his own family (he has two young boys). But this was a different story. "Moves are so difficult anyway, and then there are all these other unanswered questions," he tells House Beautiful. But, ultimately, he pulled it off—with a lot of planning, grit, and Lysol. Here, he shares the biggest takeaways with House Beautiful.


The Closing

In addition to the fear that came with the pandemic, Bergmann points out, "there's this whole other bit of uncertainty," in regards to the move. "You know, are your buyers going to continue to move forward? Should I cancel my move? It was a lot of uncertainty at the time. I just took the position of being positive. I literally had my house 80% packed before I knew if the close was going to go through!"


The Packing

About that packing: "As a designer, we normally would hire a crew to come in to help pack, but we didn't do that," says Bergmann. "And in that way we were able to keep the environment safer. Luckily, we were working from home, which allowed a little bit more time for that with the lack of commuting."

One important note for those who like to reuse packing boxes: As much as we love being eco-friendly, this isn't the time for recycling of this kind, as Homes.com points out in a guide they published to moving safely during coronavirus. "Now is not the time to try to save some money by scrounging around for used boxes since cardboard can carry the virus for 24 hours, so for the sake of your health, invest in new boxes," the site recommends.

The Organizing

When moving, it's always good to be organized (it makes unpacking easier!) but that was especially true in this case, for a few reasons. First, Bergmann was moving into a temporary home—but also, he wanted to minimize boxes and trips for the movers for the sake of safety. "This was a different move for us because one group of items was being packed to go into storage, one was going to the temporary home, and one was going to consignment or Goodwill," says the designer. "So that's challenging in and of itself, but we did a nice culling process, and purged a lot. The positive is that this has been much more organized than any other move I've done—it had to be."


The Move

Bergmann and his husband planned to have their kids out of the house when movers came to pick up their belongings and move them to their new home ("but that was basically driving around in a car for a day," he quips, since parks were closed and friends' houses off-limits). Bergmann used movers he knew and trusted, and they all wore masks and gloves for the duration of the move. Be warned, though: Bergmann says that since plastic gloves "aren't the most ideal for holding things," the move might take longer than expected. This was especially true in the Florida heat, where the movers required many breaks. Once things were moved, they Lysol-sprayed everything down, then waited 24 hours before unpacking boxes.

"We also made sure no one was in the house doing anything 48 hours prior to us moving," says Bergmann. And then, "once we got in and settled, we totally quarantined."


The Setup

Another challenge, Bergmann points out, is accounting for "all the little things" you often buy new right when you move. "You know, under normal circumstances you'd go out to get things, say, for window treatments, or closets, at Bed Bath & Beyond or whatever. Those stores weren't open. So you really have to plan ahead."


All told, Bergmann says he feels lucky he had the relationship he did with his movers, so that they were willing to go above and beyond to help him. But the unusual circumstances resulted in a lot more work—both mental and physical. "At the end of it, I felt like I had run three marathons," he jokes. "You'll need to be prepared to do some heavy lifting."

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