Moving is stressful enough without throwing a pandemic into the mix.
Many Americans may be forced to consider moving as federal foreclosure and eviction moratoriums expire. In the first week of July, 32 percent of Americans did not make a full, on-time housing payment, according to a nationally representative survey by the website Apartment List. Others may relocate to save money, be closer to loved ones or simply leave a densely populated area.
If you're considering moving, here's what to know from a financial standpoint, as well as tips to make moving day safer.
Aside from the usual expenses like buying boxes, renting a van or hiring movers, plan for extra costs because of the pandemic.
You may need to buy heavy-duty supplies to deep-clean your old place, for example, or to sanitize your new accommodations. If you are moving out of a rental unit, some landlords may ask you to pay for professional cleaners or take the cost out of your security deposit.
Moving across county or state lines? Check what the quarantine requirements are in your new location, says Jean Wilczynski, a certified financial planner and senior wealth advisor at Exencial Wealth Advisors in Old Lyme, Connecticut. You may have to pay for quarantine accommodations like a hotel or Airbnb if your new apartment or home is not move-in ready, she says.
If you are receiving unemployment benefits, check the rules on how your benefits carry forward in your new location and what the taxes are if it is a new state, Wilczynski says. You can typically find this information on your state's Department of Labor website, she says.
If you are unemployed or your income has dropped as a result of the pandemic, you can also check whether you qualify for moving assistance by calling 211.
You might not be able to really get to know your new place until you're living there, so prepare yourself (and your wallet) for surprises like leaky faucets or broken appliances. Landlords and real estate agents may offer only virtual tours. And if you can see the new accommodations in person, you may be required to sign a waiver, wear a mask and avoid touching anything while in the house.
How to move safely depends on whether you are doing it yourself or using movers. Current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the main way the coronavirus spreads is through respiratory droplets, says Lindsay Slowiczek, pharmacist and drug content integrity manager at Healthline.com. That's why wearing a mask and staying away from people is important to slow the spread of the virus, she says. Sanitizing surfaces is also an extra precaution worth taking.
If you're renting a moving truck, companies like U-Haul offer contactless pickup and drop-off options. Slowiczek suggests sanitizing the door handles, steering wheel, radio and the metal tongue on the seatbelt in the rental van.
Before picking a moving company, check its website or call and ask about its safety practices in response to the pandemic, Slowiczek says. Ask whether the movers wear masks and gloves during the move.
On moving day, she suggests being prepared with a plan to limit interaction with movers and maintain social distancing. This includes packing as many things as you can yourself, or consider using a self-pack moving container as Slowiczek did for her own recent move.
If the movers will pack the truck, create a schedule for the movers. For example, ask them to start with a particular room as you stay in another. This is also particularly useful if you live with family members who are vulnerable or immunocompromised, she says. Try to limit their involvement with the move as much as possible.
"Plan out the way (the movers) are going to move through the house," says Slowiczek. "If possible, move all of (your boxes) to one area in your home so they don't have to come throughout your house as much."
Keep hand sanitizer or soap handy during the move so that you and the movers can use it periodically, she says. (Check on the FDA website that your brand of hand sanitizer is methanol-free, Slowiczek adds). After the move, use disinfectants registered with the Environmental Protection Agency to clean surfaces or furniture.
"Just using the product as-is is not enough — read the instructions on how long it should be wet on the surface," Slowiczek says.