How to move while you’re practicing social distancing: 6 essential tips
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Even in normal times, moving to a new apartment can involve complex planning and logistics. But now, with intense concerns and regulations around COVID-19, there’s a whole new layer of stress for people who need to relocate while social distancing.
Old-fashioned ways of moving might make you nervous – and rightly so. They involve a very real set of health concerns at a time when we know social distancing is crucial to flattening the curve of a global pandemic. You’re probably asking yourself questions like these:
- Is touring numerous apartments in person really a good idea right now? How can I make sure a rental home is right for me while reducing in-person contact with others?
- How will I furnish my new home? So many stores are closed, online retailers have lengthy shipping backlogs, and buying used pieces from private sellers seems too risky.
- I’m worried about the cleanliness of public spaces and surfaces in multi-unit buildings, but I can’t afford to rent a whole house myself.
These challenges are real, but they’re not insurmountable! It’s possible to reduce the risk to you and others during your move with some thoughtful planning and smart, science-conscious strategies. Here are 6 key tips for switching apartments in the era of COVID-19:
1. Simplify your search
Be ruthless in eliminating unrealistic or unlikely housing options from your search. If you know in the back of your mind that the spacious and affordable one-bedroom you love is just too far away from your workplace, it’s best to acknowledge that now so you can avoid an unnecessary showing.
Narrow down your list of possible rental units to ones that you could realistically say “yes” to if your application is accepted. Now is not the time to tour aspirational living quarters you know are outside your budget – or force yourself to look at the cheapest place you’ve seen listed when you know it’s more of a dump than you would be willing to tolerate.
People often let shopping (for many things) become a distracting process, with overwhelming variables and too many options on the table. It’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed, wasting time and adding to your own stress. And now, overdoing the shopping process means adding needless health risks as well if you’re planning to tour rentals in person.
Instead, come up with solid criteria for your next home that is realistic for the market and narrow your options as much as you can before scheduling tours.
2. Ask for alternatives to in-person tours
Often, people will move from viewing a housing ad to scheduling a tour without much research in between. But to minimize in-person contact, consider what the ad is leaving out and come up with a set of questions for the landlord or agent. The goal is to get the answers you need by phone before committing to a tour.
Consider asking for additional photos or a live virtual tour via video conference rather than an in-person viewing. Once you’ve narrowed down your search significantly, you can tour a couple of units in person if you feel you really need to. Common is now offering (and requiring) virtual tours for all of its coliving properties to best protect members, prospective members and our team – learn more.
If you do any in-person viewings, follow the latest guidance from the CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as well as state and local health authorities regarding precautions you should take. Don’t be shy in sharing with the landlord or agent that you are following proper precautions and intend to stay at least six feet away throughout the showing. And be prepared with a no-touch greeting of your choice, such as a friendly wave.
Thinking about how you will politely assert yourself and handle in-person meeting etiquette ahead of time will make it easier to head off unsafe or uncomfortable interactions if the other person is not practicing stringent social distancing measures as they should be.
3. Ask about health measures in multi-unit buildings
Apartment buildings typically have shared public spaces that tenants must move through to get to their units. To reduce the risk of infection, it’s important that “high-touch” surfaces in public places like door handles, elevator buttons, and stairwell railings are cleaned frequently with products known to kill or remove the virus.
Ask the landlord or agent what cleaning protocols the building has changed, if any, to reduce health risks to residents during this time. You may also want to inquire about sick leave policies for cleaning and building management staff, and remote, touchless payment options for your security deposit and rent.
Common has ramped up cleaning of high-touch surfaces in our buildings during the outbreak, along with instituting numerous other policies to safeguard the health of members and staff. More on that here.
4. Simplify your stuff
This is a good foundation for any successful move but is especially helpful given current conditions.
Often, moving forces us to reckon with our collection of personal belongings in a way we don’t usually have to – because transporting them from Point A to Point B can be a huge pain. Add health risks and logistical challenges involving movers, renting a moving truck, acquiring boxes, etc. during a pandemic, and the incentive to pare down your stuff is even higher.
Consider also that if you’re moving a long way and many of your possessions are not particularly valuable (either financially or sentimentally), it’s often cheaper and easier to restock with new items once you arrive at your destination, rather than paying a premium to move everything. If you’re not moving a long distance and just plan to use your own vehicle to do it, however, it may be better to take these essentials along so you don’t have to worry about doing excess in-person shopping once you arrive.
In any case, now is an especially good time to look over your belongings and see what you can jettison to ease your moving process. If it means the difference between a single car trip and a major production with a rental van and helpers, that will save you a load of money – and a lot of needless health risk, too.
Another option, if you have storage access near your current home, is to minimize your initial move by leaving behind bulky items and things you can do without for a while. If you can stick to moving just the basics for now and pick up these items later, when conditions have improved, it will be less risky and complicated.
5. Know + follow the latest safety guidelines
Guidance from health authorities on personal protection measures and public health policies is changing rapidly, as the situation with COVID-19 evolves. Don’t assume that what you heard last week still applies.
Ensure you’re following city, county, and state guidance by checking with local health departments and regional news outlets frequently. And stay up-to-date on nationwide health guidelines from the CDC by checking its website regularly.
6. Adjust expectations – for now
Remember that the current situation is temporary. It’s an extraordinary time in the world and a challenging one. Everything’s going to be a little more difficult, including moving to a new place.
But bear in mind: things will get better, eventually. Then you can indulge in shopping for the vintage couch you’ve always wanted or perfecting your collection of ridiculous coffee mugs. Those days will return – just be patient.
While it can be scary, it’s worth remembering that these kinds of experiences also tend to focus our attention on the fundamentals, what’s really most important in our lives: our health and safety and that of friends and family. We can cultivate more gratitude for the staples of daily life: a safe home, a good meal, a great book or movie, the people we love, and the technology that lets us stay connected to them from a distance.
And there are extraordinary acts of heroism, creativity, and kindness unfolding in hospitals, businesses, and homes as people adapt their activities to get through this crisis together (even while staying 6 feet apart).
Common makes moving fast + easy
Common’s private homes and coliving communities make moving a cinch. You get a beautiful, fully-furnished space that’s move-in ready – along with upscale, artful decor to make you feel at home. We also include world-class amenities that simplify staying home, like on-site laundry, free high-speed wifi, and included household staples (e.g. laundry detergent, paper towels, and soap). Just bring yourself, and we’ll take care of the rest.
Not sure what your housing needs will be in a few months? We get it. With Common, you can stay flexible and lease your home for as little as two months at a time, with no security deposit if you join by July 1st. Learn more about Common’s smart approach to city living – or if you’re ready, book a virtual tour.