For many of us, no matter how prepared we might be, this remains a very strange and stressful time to be living in. COVID-19 has presented us with many challenges and has disrupted our lives. On the one hand, we can learn a lot from this time when planning ahead for similar scenarios in the future. On the other, we’re still trying to navigate some unexpected hardships.
While some of us have taken the continued need for social distancing in our stride, it’s nonetheless changed the way we live. Some of the steps we must take are clear: keeping 6 feet away from other people, only going outside for essential activities, adopting remote working. Others seem to fall into gray areas. One of these gray areas is relocation.
Yes, ideally, we’ll be staying precisely where we are until the worst of this blows over. But life has a way of pushing us away from the ideal, and we may have no other choice but to up sticks. It’s time to take a look at a few pros, cons, and things to consider when it becomes necessary to move during this coronavirus outbreak.
The Practicalities of Selling
We’re going to assume in this scenario that you have no other choice but to move. It’s certainly not the ideal time, but there will always be extenuating circumstances. While the sales process during shelter-in-place orders is not as practical or efficient as we’re used to, there are still ways to navigate it.
Some realtors are still operating, using video streaming to conduct open houses and tours. However, there are still expected to be delays during this process, particularly as private buyers could be reluctant to buy at a financially unstable time. If you have to sell your home and move quickly, it could be prudent at this time to consider contacting investors and undertaking the process as for sale by owner (FSBO) — meaning you take care of the sale directly with the investor without the use of a realtor.
This means that you’ll need to arrange appraisals, conduct viewings, and negotiate with investors all while practicing appropriate self-distancing. Where possible, offer to film a tour of your home and provide it to investors. Provide sanitizing products for in-person visitors such as appraisers. The good news is, 23 states now allow contracts to be signed and notarized remotely, reducing the need for unnecessary contact during this aspect.
Making the Move
Let’s face it, very few of us enjoy the moving process. It can be stressful at the best of times, and this is anything but the best of times. However, in the case that you have no choice but to relocate, there are methods you can utilize to make things a little easier and safer for everybody concerned.
- Make a moving plan. As outlined in the linked resource, this should be undertaken as soon as possible. Create a timeline for your move, with a list of tasks assigned to each step of the process. By doing a little extra work up front, you can help make certain you don’t miss any important aspects.
- Be health conscious. Take into account your family’s current health needs, stock up on sufficient medications for your journey so that you don’t have to stop into high-risk pharmacies along the way. If a member of your family is pregnant, keep abreast of what stage they are in, and make preparations should the need for an unexpected on-the-road delivery arise.
- As far as possible, don’t engage a removal service; this risks unnecessary exposure and interaction for both your family and the removal service. If you are unable to move everything at this time and don’t want to run the risk of working with movers, many storage providers are still operating at this time.
- When packing, favor materials that you can easily sterilize. Avoid using cardboard boxes, particularly those recycled by stores and public-facing businesses. Current estimates show that COVID-19 can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours.
- Stock up on food for your trip, prepare meals that you don’t have to cook. You should be avoiding grocery stores, restaurants, and the store section of gas stations. Make sure you have everything you need before you leave so that you can prevent the potential for unnecessary contact.
Once you arrive at your new home, you should limit the number of family members who enter the property before it has been subjected to a thorough cleaning. This isn’t always practical, so it may be prudent to subject bedrooms or common rooms to cleaning first so that children have a place to retreat while you continue cleaning the rest of the home.
For the most part, governments around the world have put in place measures to prevent evictions. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re not occurring, and other unexpected emergency scenarios might arise that could see you having to find temporary accommodation until you can either return to your home or find a more permanent solution.
In some countries where strict lockdowns have been asserted, many hotel rooms and bed-and-breakfast locations have opened up to families in need of emergency accommodation. In the US, Renting a motel room can provide you with cheap, simple housing in the short term, and hotels that have stayed open are making significant efforts to operate clean environments. There has also been a push by Airbnb to encourage property owners to provide options for local and longer-term renters at this time. While utilizing services like this or VRBO may seem practical, it’s important to research what social distancing measures hosts are taking, and what cleanliness measures are in place first.
One of the pros of relocating at this time is that many businesses have been willing to explore the possibility of remote working for the majority of staff members. It may be the case that you won’t need to add the stress of finding new employment to your need to relocate. However, if you’re starting fresh with no guaranteed employment, it can be useful preparation to build or connect with your professional network. While our current climate may not be practical to engage in event attendance, there have been examples recently of online networking events taking their place. Engage with current and former coworkers, see what introductions can be made, and make efforts to build a robust support system should the need for new employment arise.
It should be made clear that any attempt to relocate during a pandemic is generally not recommended. The sage advice across the world is to shelter in place until informed otherwise. However, unexpected events can occur, and if you find yourself having to relocate it can be reassuring to know that this is possible when undertaken with care. Do your research, plan ahead, and limit physical contact along the way.
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