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Moving Out of State During a Pandemic: What You Need to Know

April 7, 2020

Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, people still need and want to move across state lines. However, figuring out how to do that efficiently and safely during the current crisis is challenging at best. 

Given the current climate, you need to focus on the essentials and let go of the expectations that you can get everything done before the move. 

In a world of social distancing, sheltering in place, and stay at home orders, here's how to move out of state and stay safe.

1. Know Your New State & Local COVID-19 Ordinances

States and local municipalities are all approaching the COVID-19 crisis in different ways. Some areas have stricter "stay at home" and "shelter in place" orders than others. 

If you're coming from an area under lockdown, you might have an easier time moving to a less impacted area. Of course, the opposite also holds true. 

Trying to move to hotspots like New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago is challenging. It requires a proactive approach to safety.

Essential businesses can also impact your move. Moving companies currently fall under the “essential” list category. However, the experts still recommend canceling or delaying a move whenever possible. 

If the move is unavoidable, ask about a virtual tour of their trucks, talk on the phone or over Zoom, and handle invoicing electronically. 

2. Prepare to Rent Sight Unseen

It's possible to rent an apartment sight unseen and still find a great deal on a perfect new home. First and foremost, do your research and proceed with caution. Only choose a rental that offers highly descriptive details, from measurements of rooms to photos of appliances. 

Moving during a pandemic also isn't the time to try out a new landlord or property management company. Only work with reputable companies with an online history and rave reviews on sites like Yelp and Google Reviews.  

Before moving forward, schedule an initial call or video chat with the property manager of the properties you're interested in. That way, they can answer any questions and address any concerns you may have about the property. 

Remember to ask questions about common areas like swimming pools, fitness centers, and laundry areas. You may not be able to use them during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, you’ll want to make sure they're desirable amenities for future use. 

You can learn more about how to successfully rent an apartment sight unseen here

3. Take Advantage of Virtual and 3D Tours

Once all of your questions about the apartment are answered and you feel comfortable with the property manager, it's time to schedule a virtual tour. Ask about a virtual tour or live chat where you can ask questions as you tour. 

Virtual tours were on the rise even before the pandemic to help busy renters narrow down their choices. They can also offer insight into your new apartment complex and give you a sense of what to expect. Tools like Facetime, Zoom, and Skype make this process easier than ever.

Here are areas to consider and ask about during a virtual tour of your apartment:

  • Appliances
  • Window views
  • Balcony
  • Closet space
  • Carpeting or hardwood floors
  • Cabinetry

Also, be on the lookout for 3D tours while browsing Apartment List listings! This will allow you to take a look through a unit at your own pace, whenever you'd like.

4. Avoid Rental Scams

There are a few downsides to renting an apartment sight unseen. Rental scams are prevalent during any season. However, the pandemic could make the issue that much worse. 

The best advice is to trust your gut. Watch out for suspicious listings and deals that look too good to be true.

You can learn about common apartment rental frauds and scams, including hijacked ads and bait-and-switch apartments here. 

5. Consider Pre-Furnished Units

If you're moving across state lines, you already have a lot of things to handle. Why not check furniture off the list? 

Your current furniture may not even be worth moving or need a refresh. A pre-furnished apartment can also eliminate the need for shopping online during "stay at home" orders and waiting for it to arrive. 

Make sure to ask what a furnished apartment includes. Technically, if one piece of furniture is included, an apartment can be considered "furnished," so it's important to clarify. 

Ask for photos or more details during the virtual tour, as well as:

  • How old is the furniture?
  • When was it last cleaned and sanitized?
  • Does your security deposit cover damage to the furniture?

Once you have all the details of your pre-furnished unit sorted out, remember to create a plan for your current furniture. Junk removal businesses may be able to safely remove it, donate it, or recycle it for a fee.

6. Familiarize Yourself with Local Resources Beforehand

Hit the ground running in your new location with all the resources you need beforehand. Keep a list of all of the nearest "essential businesses" in your community, including:

  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacy
  • Hospitals
  • Post Offices

If you're not using them already, utilize online retailers and apps like Instacart, Postmates, and Grubhub for your grocery and household needs. Ordering take-out can also keep you fed, happy, and familiarized with the local restaurants without needing to go inside.

7. Make Sure Your Moving Company Takes Proper Precautions

Bonded, reputable moving companies should have a formalized COVID-19 response on how they handle hygiene, sanitation, and procedures to safely move you. Do your part by over-communicating with your movers about any changes in your health, moving plans, and any concerns.

Moving during a pandemic requires a proactive approach to safety and cleanliness. Keep extra hygiene and sanitation products like Lysol wipes for you and your movers, and ensure social distance is respected at all times. Thoroughly cleaning your apartment before and after the move can also help reduce contamination and keep everyone healthy. 

8. Avoid Air Travel (If Possible) 

Moving out of state is a big-time commitment, and it's tempting to hop on a plane to save time. Unless it's absolutely necessary, take a road trip to your new destination instead. 

Your move is also a trip you need to do solo unless you're moving with a significant other or roommate you already live with. Remember to wear gloves at gas stations, use the drive-through, and load up on hand sanitizer along the way. 

9. Make Sure Wi-Fi is Ready and Available

It's impossible to have everything ready to go for your move, so focus on the must-haves. If it wasn't already, Wi-Fi is now essential for daily life. From remote work to homeschooling your kids and staying in touch with loved ones, it's difficult to function without a proper connection.

Make sure your Wi-Fi installation is scheduled or already set up before you move, or at the earliest date possible. Some internet companies can also mail you a kit and router to set it all up yourself with the help of your smartphone.

Final Thoughts

Moving during the coronavirus pandemic is challenging, but doable. You just need the right resources and strategy in place. Once you've found your new home, don't forget to get everything disinfected!

Ready to find your out-of-state apartment? Just start the quiz at the top of this page!

By: Justin Chaplin
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