Moving during COVID-19: Tips for staying safe

Moving during COVID-19: Tips for staying safe

Moving during the pandemic certainly isn't ideal, but life doesn't stop – even for COVID-19. If you’ve bought or rented a new place, are moving in with family or leaving town, or you’re taking advantage of the softer condo market, don’t worry. All you need is good planning and careful precautions. We’ve got a few tips to help you and those around you stay safe as you relocate your stuff:

1. Order your supplies early.

These days, running out to buy supplies as you need them isn't practical. Plan ahead and make one purchase, or order everything you need online so you don't have to make a bunch of trips to the store. Order boxes, too: since COVID can live on cardboard for 24 hours, now isn't the time to be picking up free boxes from the LCBO.

Just remember that if you're ordering boxes online, you can’t count on pre-COVID shipping speeds, so build in time for delays. (Anyone who’s still waiting for holiday gifts to arrive in the mail can probably attest to that…)

2. Order more boxes than you think you'll need.

It’s easy to underestimate the number of boxes you’ll need, so get lots. Want some help figuring out how many to order? This calculator generates a list of how many boxes you'll need in specific sizes, and also adds in other supplies like packing tape markers, packing paper, etc.

3. Donate or sell unwanted items.

Moving is the perfect time to declutter. However, now that we’re in lockdown, a lot of the places that usually take donations have closed their doors. If you can’t hang tight until the lockdown is lifted, you still have some options that don’t involve throwing usable items in the garbage. Post items for sale or for free on Kijiji, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace and arrange for contactless pickup.

If you live in a building, you can also leave things in the garbage room so people can take what they want. If you’re in a house, you can put them on the curb, then post a “curb alert” on a local online marketplace. You may be surprised how fast things get picked up.

4. Create a “staging space” as you pack.

As you seal up each box, move it into a less-used area close to the front door. That way movers can limit how much time they spend walking through your home. Separate anything you don’t want movers to touch on moving day into its own box.

5. Using movers? Do your homework.

Movers are an essential service, and most moving companies have been operating since March, so they’ve gotten very good at staying safe when they’re in someone’s home. When you’re looking at movers, compare them on more than just price. Ask what sanitation and safety measures they'll be taking, if they have masks, gloves and booties, if they offer contactless services like digital payment, and ensure they have a reasonable cancellation policy if your plans have to change. Read recent reviews online, too – people who have used them over the last few months will tell you pretty fast if they're actually set up for a safe move.

Same thing goes for storage providers: like most businesses, they’re taking significant precautions to keep operating safely.

6. Keep your DIY move safe, too.

If you’re doing a budget move with a rented truck and some willing friends, do everything you can to maintain safety protocols. Outline the rules (masks, lots of handwashing, distancing) before you start. Bring on a minimum of helpers to decrease risk, and have lots of soap, sanitizer and paper towels on hand at both ends of the move. If you're renting a van, wipe down all the main touchpoints like the steering wheel, gear shifter, radio and door handles (inside and out).

7. Check your building’s moving rules.

Condos and apartment buildings aren’t taking any chances, right now, and they have strict rules in place around moves. Some will only permit movers who have been screened, or only allow one move a day to minimize the number of people in common spaces. Make sure you know the rules before moving day, and confirm with building management a day or two before your move to ensure nothing has changed.

8. Be extra with your precautions.

Keep it to 5 people or less in one space at all times (that includes you and the movers), and do what you can to minimize contact. Have plenty of sanitizer on hand and designate one washroom for them that’s stocked with lots of soap and paper towels. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces like door handles and sink faucets throughout the day. Open up the windows in both places to keep air flowing. And keep your own pen handy for signing stuff.

9. Give your neighbours a heads-up.

Drop them a note to let them know what day and time you’ll be moving. They'll appreciate knowing in advance and it will help them avoid unnecessary contact in shared spaces.

10. Clean, clean, and clean some more.

Before moving in, give your new place a deep clean, then give it another good wipe down after you're all moved in, paying special attention to frequently touched surfaces. Or, if you can, consider waiting 14 days (the quarantine period) from the day the previous residents left before moving in yourself.

11. If you're sick, stay put.

It goes without saying that if you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, postpone the move. Yes, it's a giant pain to reschedule, but keeping those around you safe and healthy is way more important than a moving delay.

According to, you can usually cancel your move without penalty, up to a certain time period before the move. And even if your contact says the deposit isn’t refundable, many moving companies are refunding it anyway, because we’re all in such a unique circumstance.

If you have flexibility, you may want to wait until the number of active COVID cases has done down, especially if you’re in a high-risk group. However, not everyone does, so if you’re not feeling well but need the move to proceed (e.g. there are people moving into the place you’re vacating), tell everyone. That way your friends/movers/neighbours will know to take extra precautions. Be sure to wear a mask while you’re packing, and wash your hands a lot.

Moving in normal times is anxiety-inducing enough: moving during the pandemic just ratchets up that stress. But whether you’re buying a house during the pandemic, moving into an apartment or taking possession of your first condo, it is possible to do it safely and efficiently.

Need a reco for a moving company that's doing COVID precautions right?

Talk to a Condo Pro – each neighbourhood specialist has a whole team of proven, dependable professionals they will happily recommend.

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