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Moving During the Pandemic: 7 Steps to Doing it Safely

May 21, 2020

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Moving Van on a highway during a spectacular sunset

Are you considering moving during the pandemic? In a recent blog, I shared my expertise about the Santa Barbara and Montecito housing market in the slowdown of COVID-19. I stated the good news that experts are predicting home prices will hold steady in 2020. While that is certainly good news for homeowners, quarantining at home may have you dreaming about moving. Many of those who are considering making a move in the near future wonder if this is a good time to set up a new home sweet home.

“The risk of infection while moving comes in two broad forms: Close contact with other people ― whether professional movers or friends loyal enough to help out ― and touching contaminated surfaces,” said Brian Davis, director of education for Spark Rental. 

Of course, these times present unique challenges to moving. That means when moving, you risk coming into contact with contaminated boxes, rental equipment, and other items. Even so, many here in Santa Barbara and Montecito are ready to move right now, and business is booming.

Are Moving Services Available?

Since moving services are considered an essential service, they have remained open during the pandemic. What has changed in the moving sphere might be considered common sense: from frequent hand washing among movers, and no physical contact between them and their clients. Plus, homeowners need to make sure they hire a company that has taken steps to make everyone’s move as safe as possible.

Just visit any moving service provider’s website to view their COVID-19 policy. You can also contact them directly. In most cases, essential businesses like moving companies are able to set their own practices for operating under the pandemic. These include:

  • Following federal and local guidelines around social distancing and sanitization
  • Conducting virtual surveys instead of in-home surveys to provide estimates
  • Frequently sanitizing trucks and equipment
  • Practicing social distancing with customers and, as much as possible, among moving teams
  • Wearing masks and gloves
  • Keeping trucks stocked with hand sanitizer

To find the best moving services in the area and receive free quotes before you begin, check out this page on Thumbtack. Millions of customers use Thumbtack technology to find and hire small businesses across the country.

7 Steps to Safely Moving in a Pandemic

Being smart when moving during the pandemic requires that you follow all of the standard rules and apply them to your move. Besides social distancing and sanitization, there are 7 steps you should follow during your move to protect yourself and others:

  • Plan ahead
    Don’t wait until the last minute to pack. By packing at least 24 hours in advance, you will ensure that there are no living viruses on your boxes by moving day. If you need a technician to come to your new place to set up internet or cable service, schedule that installation ASAP so you can get connected as quickly as possible and avoid delays.

  • Wear a mask and gloves
    Everyone involved in the move should have a proper face mask and gloves on at all times. The new homeowners should also make sure their water is turned on before they begin the process. That will make it easy for everyone to wash their hands frequently. Another good tip: don’t pack your cleaning supplies. Carry them separately so they’re easily accessible. Even though your movers should come equipped with their own, you can help by providing plenty of opportunities for the crew to wash their hands before, during, and after the move—and to wash your own hands before and after making contact with any surfaces.

  • New boxes only
    Studies show that the coronavirus lives for up to 24 hours on cardboard. That has several implications for anyone moving during the pandemic. First off, buy new boxes that have not been handled before. Experts also recommend you buy everything you need in one trip. Use this packing calculator to get an estimate of what you’ll need based on the number of rooms and people in your house. And when in doubt, buy extra.

  • Pack everything as tightly as possible and clean as you go
    Use this packing opportunity to sanitize your belongings, wiping all items down with disinfectant. If you don’t have any, it is easy to make with this solution: one tablespoon bleach to one-gallon water. It is also more important than ever to be organized in your packing. Make sure that every item goes into a box, with nothing left loose. You should also seal all boxes with packing tape, rather than leaving gaps in the cardboard flaps. And like you should do with any move, pack things you use every day separately so that you can open those upon arrival.

  • Communicate often
    Communication is key at any time when moving. You don’t want to end up with any broken priceless items. But during the age of COVID-19 it is even more important to make sure everyone involved in your move is taking the necessary precautions to make it a safe one.

  • Unpack carefully
    The same procedure you follow when packing also applies after your move. By packing your most urgent and important items in a separate, marked box, you can easily wipe them down to access the things you need while the rest waits in quarantine. Don’t unpack your cardboard boxes for at least 24 hours. By waiting, you allow the virus to die on the cardboard surfaces.

  • Wipe down everything
    In addition to wearing masks and washing hands, everyone involved in the move should be regularly wiping down surfaces. You should also wipe down the door handles and other common surfaces in your new home. Familiarize yourself with the CDC’s guidelines for properly disinfecting surfaces.

A Sampler of Santa Barbara and Montecito Homes Awaiting New Owners

People who live in and around the American Rivera® are not waiting to move. My portfolio of fine homes listed on my comprehensive website is growing and includes:

Spanish Colonial estate for sale complete with a red tiled roof synomous with Santa Barbara architecture

A Spanish Colonial Revival Beauty on the Santa Barbara Riviera featuring one of the red-tiled roofs synonymous with Santa Barbara architecture. Originally built in 1949, the estate has recently undergone a substantial and impeccable upgrade. Set on 2 acres of pure loveliness are walking paths leading to multiple patios, bucolic gardens, and mature trees. Inside, you’ll find spectacular mountain and ocean views, a beamed cathedral ceiling in the living room, French doors at every turn, and 5 bedrooms and 5.5 baths.

Montecito Residence by Barton Myers Associates.  The Montecito Residence is situated on a 1-acre site in an environmentally sensitive habitat with dense vegetation and large boulders.The program includes a 3,000 sf main residence, 500 sf garage and a 50' lap pool. The main residence is broken up in two wings: one includes the living and kitchen areas and the second includes the bedroom, bathrooms and library. The intention behind the design strategy is tectonic design research that creatively envisions a flexible prototype for mass-produced housing using steel construction and standardized off-the-shelf industrial components. Since a majority of all steel is manufactured from scrap metals from recycled automobiles it is a

Have you heard about this sustainably constructed, award-winning home: Iconic Modernism by Barton Myers?  It comes with an impressive pedigree that includes being appropriately named “one of the most beautiful homes in the world” by  Architectural Record.

The front of an expansive contemporary home for sale in Santa Barbara

This European-Inspired Montecito Contemporary Estate is exceptionally private and secure. The former residence of celebrated comedian Jonathan Winters and his wife showcases breathtaking ocean, island, and mountain vistas.

One silver lining to moving during the pandemic is that social distancing means you'll have more time to devote to organizing your new home. If you're considering moving during COVID-19, there are many additional fine homes for sale besides the three I showcased here. When you’re ready to move, just call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at Whether you buy from me or not, please stay safe during your move!

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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch