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Can I Move During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Moving is an essential service in most states, but you should avoid moving if possible

In most states, moving has been deemed an essential service—meaning you can still move during a shelter-in-place order. That said, it's obviously a less-than-ideal time. At the very least, the process will require two movers to be on the road, likely coming in contact with multiple people on the way to your building. Plus, moving things in and out of your unit could potentially endanger your neighbors, too. Don't move unless you absolutely have to.

What if I absolutely have to move?

If you've exhausted all your other options, the safest option is to move yourself using a truck rental service like Penske and U-Haul or a local "man with a van." This way, you will minimize contact with others and create one less opportunity for the virus to spread. U-Haul announced in March that they were offering deals on storage to students affected by the crisis, so you may be able to negotiate a deal on moving equipment and truck rental.

If you're planning a DIY move, it makes sense to lighten your load by temporarily shifting some of your stuff into storage. Pick things you won't miss for a few months, like heavy winter coats or ski gear.

Where in the U.S. are moving companies allowed to operate?

If moving yourself isn't a viable option, look into hiring a moving company. First, double-check that they're classified as essential services in your state. Here's a list of cities where movers are explicitly considered essential businesses:

  • New York City
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Philadelphia
  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Portland
  • San Diego
  • Seattle
  • Washington, D.C.

This list isn't exhaustive! If you don't see your city here, check local news sources to see how officials are defining essential service businesses where you live.

What precautions should my movers be taking?

When looking for a local mover, make sure they’ve got clear COVID-19 protocols in place for added safety. Guidance from the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) includes measures that both you and your moving company should be taking to minimize risk. Ask your prospective movers if they're following these guidelines, including questions like:

  • What supplies are they bringing with them on their moves?
  • How often are they having employees tested for the virus and symptoms?
  • Are they following social distancing protocols during the moving process?

Make sure you're doing your part, as well. AMSA recommends that you purchase new boxes during this time instead of sourcing recycled ones, and asks that you provide your moving crew access to a sink, soap, and paper towels.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.