How to Move During Covid-19

May 18, 2020

It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.

-Author Unknown

Moving is NEVER fun.

And we can all agree that now, during Covid, is maybe the worst time to be moving. 

Putting yourself at risk during a global pandemic by moving your home or business makes a daunting task doubly dangerous and stressful.


And there are some unavoidable reasons why some of us are stuck in this position. 

Maybe you lost some income and need to downsize? 

Maybe now that you’re spending A LOT more time where you are, you realize that you need more space?

And if you have kids, all of you on top of each other all day can’t be helping. There’s togetherness and then there’s this, where you can’t get away from each other … ever.

Maybe you are just not where you need or want to be.

Perhaps in the pre-Covid days, it was easy to fly out to see your mom 3 states over every few months when flights were constant, and less anxiety-provoking.

You may even have been in the process of moving from one location to another and then got stuck where you are and need to move quickly when you can.

Or like me, planning to vagabond it for a while and then finding myself (pleasantly) stuck in St. Pete with no easy way to continue OR get back to NYC.

Whatever the reason may be, when it is necessary to move, it’s important to do it right. 


If there’s some urgency, it’s unlikely you can do a full sort and purge before you move.

While that is the best thing you could do to save money and time, ANY purge is better than no purge.

So be prepared to review your stuff before you throw it in a box and run out the door.

You’re likely to already be stressed, so it’s important to be as thorough as you can while also being kind to yourself (and anyone who is moving with you).

The first place to start is with yourself.


How much time do you have?

How much stuff do you have?

What can you accomplish in the time you have before you have to be out of your current place?

Do you need help?

Can you afford to pay for help or do you need to enlist friends, family and co-workers?

Then, take a look around your space and really take in what you’re about to attempt.

You want to be realistic AND reasonable.

Sound fair?

Great, once you’re set up for success mentally, it’s time to move onto the actual sorting and purging.


Anything that snags you is going to slow you down.

And if you are pressed for time, you do not want to spend hours sorting through old family photos or childhood memories.

So start with the largest objects first.

What furniture will you NOT be taking with you?

Set it aside.

Great, now you know what you will be taking with you.

From there, you should start moving from room to room and open every drawer or door in every cupboard, hutch, file cabinet, closet, and other storage space.

We’re looking for easy wins here.

So set a timer for somewhere between 15 mins and 3 hours and see what you can find that is easy to let go of.

Again, anything that snags you should be set aside. You can make more difficult decisions when you have some time to breathe on the other side.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself as you’re deciding:

  1. Can I replace it for cheaper than it takes to move it?
  2. Does it really mean that much to me?
  3. Does it actually work?
  4. Do I use it?
  5. Will it even fit in my new space? 

These are some simple questions that will guide you in this process.

When answering, this is not a time to fib or fudge the truth. 

It is also an EXCELLENT opportunity to free yourself from things that do nothing to provide comfort or convenience and in fact crowd out the things that do.

In math or bookkeeping terms, if it isn’t clearly an asset, then it must be a deficit — and as such, we need to get it off our books. 

We want to be debt-free, flexible and responsive to the opportunities that lie ahead and this object is only going to slow us down or worse, prevent us from getting there. 

And if that’s the case, it becomes easy or easier to let it go.

So let it go.

The fact that something was a gift or a ‘bargain’ is not a good enough reason to hold onto something that you don’t like, don’t use or doesn’t actually even work.

From here, take a pass through cosmetics, medicine and packaged food looking for anything you can discard that has long exceeded its expiration date.

For me, when I moved from a three-bedroom house into a one-bedroom apartment I sold many things to my buyers, from housewares to major furniture pieces.

If that’s an option, reach out to them first.

I also gave things to friends, family and to several charity resale stores (and got receipts for my taxes). 

I whittled down a house’s worth of possessions until I arrived at the amount of stuff that would fit comfortably in my new apartment.

Did I let go of things I really enjoyed? Certainly. 

Even things I had found at antique stores like a great 20-gallon ceramic crock which I used to store firewood in. 

I loved finding that crock AND using it.

AND it had no place in my new home. 

What I wanted to be doing in this next phase of my life was way more important than my attachment to a crock, regardless of how cool it was, what a conversation piece it was or what a great deal it had been.

So use that as well when you consider what stays and what goes.


Once you make decisions about your furniture and the easy stuff, it’s time to move onto either each room OR each major category for one more pass through everything.

Here’s a list of categories to use since you don’t need much instruction on moving from room to room. 

All I’ll say about that is the kitchen and bathroom are always easy places to start and where you’re least likely to find many sentimental items.

When thinking of categories, try this list to get you started:










With each category, since time is precious, again we’re looking for the easier choices about what you can let go of with NO regrets.


Once you’ve taken a pass or two through your stuff, you’ll probably be getting short on time.

So now, do your best to quantify the volume of things that remain.

You’ll need this guesstimate whether you’re planning a DIY move or hiring movers.

If you are hiring movers, find a moving company that makes you comfortable in this uneasy task of moving during a pandemic. 

This is one of those places where penny-wise and pound-foolish may kick your butt a bit.

Especially if you’re on a tight budget, which I totally get.

And still, what price would you put on your peace of mind and health?

So don’t go with a bargain mover if your gut is flip-flopping every time you talk with them.

It just isn’t worth it.

It may be better to do the move yourself with trusted friends than it would be to hire crappy movers who are only going to stress you out more.

Remember, there are things you CAN control and things you can’t. Who moves you is one of the things you can control.

Figure out IF and for how long you may need to store your belongings.

When budgeting, be sure to factor in your packing materials.

You’ll need boxes whether you DIY it or hire pro movers.

This is another time when you need to be realistic.

If you choose to skip the moving company and are counting on friends and family to help load and unload the truck, be sure to ask them first. 

Although they may love you to death as a figure of speech, they may be only leaving their home for necessities to avoid getting sick or exposing themselves to possible injury resulting in a hospital visit.

So get your mover ducks in a row so you can have some peace of mind.


If you’re hiring a moving company, contact several moving companies and get estimates for their services. 

On top of the normal stressful aspects of moving, throw in COVID-19 and yikes ... keeping you and those close and important to you safe MUST be a priority when moving during the pandemic.

Find a reputable moving company that is just as concerned as you are

When researching movers, ask them how they are changing their normal habits during the pandemic. 

How are they managing social distancing and planning to handle your things?

If you're not too concerned, that’s fine—if you are, make sure they are taking the precautions needed so you feel safe as strangers are handling your valuables.

Get a virtual quote

That guesstimate of what you’re moving will come in handy here.

See how the moving company can accurately quote your move through online video conferencing apps, checklists and weight estimations. 

Don't rely on just the square footage of your home or office—it’s what’s IN those spaces that matter.

Clean and clean again

The CDC is not recommending hiring professional cleaners right now, so you may have to do this part yourself. 

The CDC website offers both general rules and best practices for when and how to clean your spaces. 

Start there as you create your plan for cleaning both your new space, your old space AND the items that have been moved.

Designate ONE person to oversee the move

There is no use in exposing multiple family members or employees to unneeded social interaction. 

That isn’t good  for your family or for those responsible for running your business. 

AND you need someone to hold down the fort if an integral part of your tribe gets sick.

Practice recommended safety procedures

Wash your hands for 20 seconds. 

Wear a mask. 

Practice social distancing. 

Don't greet your movers with a handshake—just smile and gesture as if you were shaking their hands.

Let everyone know how you want them to handle your items and insist that they respect your wishes. 

Don’t compromise out of fear

You know what sucks?

Sending the movers home because you don’t feel confident in their ability to do the right thing.

But you know what sucks more?

Getting sick.

Most companies will be happy to respect your wishes so they don’t lose a gig.

And while it would be horribly inconvenient if you had to reschedule your move, it’s NOTHING compared to possible hospitalization and risking your or your family’s lives.


In my last move, I chose the mid-range mover—the one that offered similar services to the most expensive mover but at a better price point. 

Those services included packing artwork and fragile items, reputable additional insurance coverage, discounted materials, and personable customer service.

I hate feeling like I’m being hustled by any sales person.

And movers, like used car salesmen, can sometimes give off the vibe that they’ll tell you anything to get the job and then revert to the lowest common denominator of behavior once the contract is signed. 

Or offer you a bait and switch deal where they quote you one price and then when it’s time to settle up, the bill is loaded with extras that were never discussed.

Let me say this out loud — you do not need to work with anyone or any company that makes you uncomfortable, particularly when it comes to moving. 

The process of packing and relocating is too stressful and demanding that you do not need to hold your breath and endure a disturbing situation because you think you can’t do better. 

You can do better. 

There is another company out there that can treat you like a human being and not lie to you—that may not be a high threshold to reach for, so all the more reason to be reaching for it.

Once the moving company has been selected, if you’re packing yourself, have them deliver boxes, packing paper and tape.

If they are packing you up, focus all your remaining time on letting go of any and everything you CAN let go of so you don’t have to spend the money to pack it and move it only to let it go once you get to your new home or office.


I don’t like off-site storage. 

It’s usually a money trap and a waste. 

We end up putting things in storage that we don’t want or need but think we’ll want or need at some undefined time in the future. Probably not.

There are two exceptions to this:

1) You have fine antiques or art or heirlooms with either significant provenance and value or you have the resources to save something for someone that has CLEARLY expressed interest in owning it someday, but for whatever reason, can’t take possession of it now.

2) You are between homes with a clear and defined move-in date for your new dwelling.

Aside from one of two exceptions listed above, if it can’t come with you, it’s time to let it go.

If you’ve lost a job or a relationship has shifted and you’re moving someplace temporarily while you search for where you’ll go next—BE MINDFUL of what you’re keeping and its value.

You could end up spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to keep things that would not cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to replace. 

Think clearly without emotion when evaluating this decision. 

This is not a time to procrastinate or be wobbly or wishy-washy. 

Even though you may be in grief over the changes you’re navigating. 

Do yourself a favor and be decisive in the moment. You don’t want to pay twice for something if you can avoid it.

If you know where you are going next, you know the approximate size and layout of your new space. 

If you’re downsizing from a larger space to a smaller space, this piece of information will guide your thinking and decisions.

For example, you may have three lovely sofas, but if you don’t have room for three sofas in your new home, one or more of them is going to need to find a new home.

This is the way to look at every item in your home.

Ask yourself this series of questions:

  • Do I still love it (or like it)?
  • Does it still work, design-wise?
  • Does it still work, as in does it still do what it is made to do, such as does it still make toast or heat hot water?
  • Do I have room for it in my new home?
  • Where exactly will it live in my new home?
  • If I have more than one of these, is this my favorite or the best one?

If it’s an item that you’ve NEVER used in your current home, what makes you think you’ll now use it in your new home?


In the biggest picture that you can imagine, when you think of what you want to spend your time doing and what is important to you, ask yourself if X, Y or Z object SUPPORTS you in doing and being that person.

And tell the truth if any particular object complicates your life or just doesn’t add any monetary, spiritual or other value to your life.

It’s just stuff.

While dealing with the uncertainty of a move AND Covid, really look at what you can and cannot live without. 

And make sure you are being realistic with your budget of time and money so you minimize stress instead of creating more of it.

Moving is never easy even with a solid plan and help.

During this strange and unfamiliar way we are living during COVID-19, it’s even more important to keep yourself and those that are important to you safe.

If you need more help with your move, check out The Most Organized Man in America’s Guide to Moving which is currently on sale for 50% off. For literally the cost of a cup of coffee, you can get the ultimate checklist you need to stay safe and stress-free. Check it out here.

Moving or not, you’re probably stuck at home right now, right?

Then the MOST important question you can ask yourself is this: IS MY HOME A SANCTUARY AND A SAFE PLACE or IS IT A STRESSFUL, CLUTTERED MESS?

If your house is driving you crazy with all the clutter and noise, AND you don’t think you’re going to survive being stuck at home, then you’re going to love this 5-DAY DE-STRESS YOUR MESS CHALLENGE we’ll be running again very soon. Click here to learn more and sign up!

Declutter Your Life Podcast by Andrew Mellen. Available on iTunes!