How to move house amid COVID-19 crisis
Moving house is considered a high-stress activity at the best of times, but throw a global pandemic into the mix and most people's anxiety levels are going through the roof.
A survey conducted by Portable On Demand Storage a decade ago showed that one in three Australians ranked the stress of moving house second only to the horrors of divorce.
Not much has changed since then, except for the arrival of a virus that is changing life as we know it.
This week the Federal and State governments have further cracked down on our everyday activities, meaning we're all in lockdown bar a few exceptions.
Moving house, or office, is on the government's "reasonable" excuses list and the industry has been quick to adapt.
Tara-Jay Rimmer, CEO and co-founder of Brisbane-based interstate transport company, The Van That Can, said that along with upscaling personal hygiene measures her team is now offering homeowners "contactless" moves.
"If we're delivering furniture and installing, then the client can give us a map of where things are to go or they can even put tape out on the floor. We don't take cash, it's all card payments, and we can take photos for proof of delivery too.
Contactless delivery has been the biggest change for us because it gives the customer peace of mind," she said.
In addition to mapping out on the floor plan where the couch goes, Ms Rimmer said their customers can still be part of the process.
"Usually customers can stand there and help our guys put things in place, or say 'this goes here or there' whereas now they can stand far away. They can still be in the same house, but maybe in another room so they're a couple of metres away from the deliver drivers at all times. We can even have someone open the door for us so we're not actually touching anything except what we're delivering," she said.
"Also, by packing your own things you'll have additional peace of mind because the movers are then only touching boxes. If you don't want people in your house at all, ask the movers to leave everything in the garage to give the surfaces time to breathe," she said.
Anyone who has tried to move house on the cheap knows that a couple of clicks online will unearth plenty of people keen to make a buck as makeshift removalists, but in a COVID-19 world they could be taking risks.
"It's important that they have properly-trained staff who care about personal hygiene and have all the right protective gear. When you go with a professional outfit they're prepared for things like this and can react a lot quicker than two guys off Gumtree," she said.
Ms Rimmer added that her team had done the Department of Health coronavirus training online and advised anyone moving house to check their movers have too.
A statement from nationwide moving firm, Grace Removals, said they were adapting and evolving their processes to ensure the safety of our staff and customers.
Their new measures included steps such as ramping up cleaning regimes across the business, request customers use their own pens and requesting that customers allocate a specific bathroom for their crews to use during the moving process.
For homeowners on the move who choose a DIY approach to changing address, they are still allowed to hire trucks and vans. Budget Australia has announced that they are closely monitoring the information shared by the World Health Organization so that they can keep hiring out vehicles during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"To help protect our staff and customers we are encouraging regular hand washing, and the use of hand sanitizer, where available. We've also enhanced the already robust cleaning techniques of our vehicles after each rental. In particular, we are paying special attention to the places people touch such as steering wheels, door handles and other hard surfaces," they posted online.
Due to various government-imposed travel restrictions, some vehicle hire offices have reduced hours or are temporarily closed.
Moving overseas for now is a much bigger hurdle with Grace Removals expecting a reduction in freight services and equipment for the foreseeable future.
In the United Kingdom, lockdown measures are more severe than Australia, but their path could be a window into our near-future, with the government is discouraging homeowners and tenants from moving.
According to a recent report on BBC.com, buyers and renters should "delay moving while emergency stay-at-home measures are in place".
If a property is vacant, the British authorities are claiming people can continue with their transaction while ensuring they follow guidelines with regards to home removals.
But if the house is occupied, a government statement said "we encourage all parties to do all they can to amicably agree alternative dates to move".
These comments come amid reports that British banks are pressing for a full suspension of the UK housing market.