Last Updated: May 7, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a slew of negative consequences for various demographics, not the least of which are college students. Thanks to quarantine measures and shelter-in-place orders, summer internships have been canceled and hiring is on a major decline in many industries.
However, some companies are still recruiting during this unprecedented time—and we’re not just talking about swamped grocery stores and delivery companies. Major names in telecommunications like Zoom and Slack are looking for new team members, as are many media and content organizations.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who’s managed to land a job or medical residency during the coronavirus, one concern you may have is moving for your new position, in which case you’re going to want to take some extra steps to stay safe. Here are some health and safety precautions to take into consideration if you’re navigating the moving process during the coronavirus pandemic.
Take advantage of digital tools while apartment hunting
Looking for a new place to live can be equal parts fun and scary—with an emphasis on the scary if you have to sign a lease without getting to visit the place first. But in-person showings aren’t recommended when we’re trying to abide by social distancing protocols. In some cities like Los Angeles, open houses have been banned entirely, meaning renters are relying on photos, phone calls, and virtual tours.
Even if your potential landlord or real estate agent offers in-person showings, it may be best to perform the bulk of your apartment hunt online. Tools like Zillow and Zumper can make it easy to get a lot of information from the safety of your computer screen, and you can also ask for additional materials like videos and photos.
Moving may not be an option in some complexes
To complicate matters even further, certain apartment buildings and complexes have issued moratoriums on moving for the foreseeable future. This may be particularly problematic in major metropoles like New York City, where move-worthy jobs are likely to be based. Before you get too far into your housing search, make sure you reach out to the leasing agent to ensure the building is still allowing new move-ins. You should also coordinate with your current landlord to learn what you need to know about moving out.
Talk to your new HR team
Companies sometimes offer moving assistance to new recruits, which could offset some of your moving costs—and in the case of COVID-19, you may even be able to negotiate a later moving date and work remotely until things are more stable. Either way, keeping in touch with the HR team at your new company is a good idea; they may also be able to provide you with local recommendations for apartment buildings, moving companies, and more.
Use new packing and moving supplies
According to WebMD, the coronavirus can survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard—and much longer on other surfaces like wood, plastic, or metal. So while it’s normally a great idea to reuse and recycle boxes and packing supplies, in this case, you’re going to want to get fresh equipment if possible. Boxes are available from moving companies like U-Haul, but you can also get them cheaper and in bulk from companies like Paper Mart.
While any sort of long-distance travel is risky in a pandemic scenario, being trapped in a metal tube with a crowd of other people—or even just a few flight attendants—could be seriously risky. Driving yourself, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to maintain social distancing rules at all times. If you have to stay in any hotel rooms along the journey, you may want to bring along some of your own cleaning supplies.
Owning a car in your new city can also give you a way to get around that doesn’t require relying on public transportation, which could be operating at a reduced schedule during this time and put you more at risk for exposure. Of course, this means you’ll need to budget for car-related expenses like auto insurance, which can vary greatly across state lines, as well as gas and parking.
Use a low-contact moving method
Once you’ve got housing and transportation secured and you’ve packed up all your belongings, there’s still the move itself to think about. While moving companies are considered essential services and are still operating in most places, having a bunch of other hands all over your things may not necessarily be the best idea. Facilitating the move on your own may be more time- and work-intensive, but it could also reduce your chances of being exposed to the virus. You might also consider using storage pods, which allow you to pack a shipping container and have it delivered to your new address where you can unpack it at your own pace.
If you’re hiring movers, ensure they’re hygienic
If you do have enough stuff to justify hiring professional movers, still try to mitigate the risk by ensuring that the company you choose is committed to your safety. Many movers are taking extra steps throughout the moving process, such as regularly sanitizing trucks and equipment. You can also request your movers wear masks and gloves.
Wear a mask
As of early April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending the use of cloth masks and facial coverings even for people who aren’t showing symptoms of the virus, especially in scenarios when the six-foot social distancing protocol may be difficult to maintain. Moving definitely fits that description, what with multiple people needing to lift heavy pieces of furniture or boxes. Masks can be fashioned from household items like socks or T-shirts, so even if you don’t have any sewing skills, it’s worth adding the extra layer of protection.
Wash your hands
You’re probably sick of hearing it by now, but regular handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent transmission of any illness—including COVID-19. Throughout your move, you’ll be touching lots of different materials, so wash your hands regularly—and take the chance to disinfect your items while you’re at it.
Related: How to Stay Healthy in College
Congratulations on your new job! We know this is a stressful time, and moving during a pandemic isn’t ideal, but starting your career is something to be proud of and excited about. If you follow the proper precautions, you can move to your new city with relative ease and enjoy all the possibilities of a fresh start.
For more advice to help you get through this hard time, visit our COVID-19 student resources page.