How to move across the country in the Summer of COVID-19?
May 18, 2020 4:45 AM   Subscribe

What are your tips 'n' tricks for moving a household across state lines during a slow-moving public-health crisis?

I'm in the United States. For various non-negotiable reasons, I must move to another state this summer. I have made such moves before -- but never during a time in which public-health concerns mandate limiting one's personal movement and contact with fellow humans as much as possible. Can you help me come up with the safest way to do it?

(The original pre-plague plan: I'd fly out to New Town this summer, live in a hotel for a few days while I toured rental properties and chatted with real-estate agents, find a place and sign a rental agreement, come back home to Old Town, pack all my stuff, rent a UHaul, do a very leisurely road-trip with lots of sight-seeing and roadside diners and at least one hotel between Old Town and New Town, move directly into my new home, and then furnish it with lots of trips to IKEA or whatever. I...have doubts about the wisdom of many parts of that plan now.)

Relevant details:
1. I do not own a car. (Obviously, I am open to renting one.)
2. My current location and my future location are about 18 hours apart (by car).
3. I am by myself and have no one in my "bubble" who can assist me.
4. I have not yet secured a place to live on the other side of my move (and I have no friends or family in New Town who can assist me re: housing).
5. I do not own any large furniture; I own a bedroom's worth of small things (books, clothing, etc).
6. ...but that means that I need to figure out a furniture situation on the other side of my move.
8. The place I am moving is not hooked into major transit networks (and so I cannot ship my possessions via Amtrak, as I have done in the past).
9. I am coming from a state that is highly locked down. I am moving to a state that is not locked down and has deep political opposition to lock-downs. (i.e. I have every reason to believe I will be moving from a place with low circulation of COVID-19 to a place with unchecked circulation of COVID-19.)
10. I, myself, am not in a high-risk category for complications related to contracting COVID-19 -- but, obviously, I want to do my civic part in limiting its transmission.

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi -- any tips or tricks for making this move in the Best Possible Way? How should I find a place to live in New Town and move my meager amount of possessions out there? Bonus points if you have thoughts on the most ethical way to buy a bed during the end of the world.

(anonymous because Certain People in my life do not yet know I am making this move)
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have not moved but I've done essential interstate travel, so I can tackle some of your questions. The key for me is to minimize stops along the way, so I packed food and snacks to minimize food stops. Camping rather than a hotel is less contact, if that's an option for you. Obviously now is not the time to sightsee. I had a box of Clorox wipes and wiped down everything at my final destination.

Re: #9, a more realistic way to determine relative risk than amount of lockdown laws is to look at the recent per capita amount of new cases in Old Town vs New Town. If they're about the same, then you're no more risky than a local. If one is greater than another, then you are bringing more risk of spread with you when you travel from the high case area to the low case area.
posted by sdrawkcaSSAb at 6:29 AM on May 18

In terms of finding housing in New Town, could you stay at a single-family Airbnb for a while? This would give you the time to get familiar with the city and the rental market, and would solve the furniture issue in the short term.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:38 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]

In terms of finding housing, I don't know about realtors in New Town, but here at least realtors have gone virtual, with lots offering detailed photos of listings online and having drone footage, and virtual tours of interiors. Have you checked websites for realtors in New Town to see if any are doing this, because if any are, you could touch base prior to the move. Also agree that single-family Airbnb might work.
posted by gudrun at 7:19 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]

Greyhound offers shipping if that is an option for New Town.
posted by oceano at 7:44 AM on May 18

move my meager amount of possessions

How comfortable would you feel driving a cargo van or small truck? And moving all your possessions to and from that truck yourself? Cargo vans & small trucks are certainly available for rental (U-Haul, Ryder, Enterprise, Budget) and could reduce your contact with other people.

furnish it with lots of trips to IKEA or whatever.

And if you keep the van/truck for a couple of days after arriving in New Town you could minimize your necessary trips to stores for things like furniture & housewares.

Given that there's a good chance you'll be renting an apartment without being able to visit it and the neighborhood in person first, I would see if you can rent month-to-month (possibly more expensive) and temporarily go really minimal on furnishings and housewares. That way it's easier to move in 3-6 months if you have to (or find a better place, for whatever values of "better" apply.)

to do my civic part in limiting its transmission.

Mask up unless you're alone.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:53 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]

This is a really out-of-left-field suggestion, but can you rent an RV for the move, if it fits all your possessions and has room for you to sleep/eat/bathe/toilet? This would mean mapping out places to overnight along your route that are okay for RV parking, but they're definitely out there and you could build your road map to intersect with those. This would also allow you to park your RV in or near your new locale and find a place to rent without having the crisis of nowhere to sleep in the meantime. It looks like Cruise America is still doing one-way RV rentals.

I like the idea of moving into a fully furnished standalone AirBNB if one is available at your destination locale. You could probably negotiate a monthly rate since no one is taking vacations anymore and you won't want weekly cleaning.

If your eventual new home will accept large packages (like, if it has a porch or a vestibule or something), you can order a memory foam mattress online and it will be packed tighter than a pillbug, you have to unwrap it and let it expand into mattress size. You can sleep on one of those on the floor if you have to, and worry about the bed frame later.
posted by juniperesque at 8:54 AM on May 18

I can tell you that cruise america is entirely booked up for one-way rentals. We must make a similar trip at some point soon, and thought RVs would be great, but they are not an option.
posted by Dashy at 10:59 AM on May 18

if your possessions are minimal, can you rent a passenger van? Much more comfortable than the U-Haul. Check the Pandemic rules in New State. Call some hotels, esp. residential ones, in New Town, maybe they can rent to you, maybe you'll get a good deal. Tourism is going to be light this year, you may be able to get a nifty airbnb or rental. Post in Craigslist, not sure what section, maybe also on nextdoor or other local groups. Some employers have an in-house email list; that would be a great way to find a rental and advice.
posted by theora55 at 1:24 PM on May 18

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