My Move Across Country with Seven Kids and a Dog
13 Jul 2020
A story from our Director of Content, Bethany Quinn:
"If you're brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello."
Change is disruptive and moving is never easy - especially when that move takes place in the middle of COVID-19. Paulo Coehlo's words certainly apply to our family's recent move from Missouri to Maryland as it took a wee bit of bravery to move seven kids and a dog across the country without really knowing what it would look like when we arrived.
The tentacles of COVID-19 spread throughout the entire moving process. From touring homes virtually using Facetime, to signing loan documents in a parking lot with masks on, to wondering whether we should pack food and toilet paper along with couches and beds. These are unprecedented times, and this was certainly an unprecedented move!
Imagine traveling with young children for hours down I-70 (with them drinking plenty of water along the way) only to find that you can buy food from the Culvers drive through, but you can't go to the bathroom. You can stay at a hotel but be sure to wear a mask and what used to be a large buffet breakfast is now an egg cup to go. And if you forget something (we did of course!) your only option will be truck stops because most of the known retailers will be closed. That's the strangeness of life during COVID-19, and yes - truck stops are amazing and dogs are lucky because they only need a patch of grass.
But the most challenging thing about moving during COVID-19 was the uncertainty. Each state, county, and city has different regulations regarding how to deal with the pandemic. In our small Missouri town, schools had been closed, but you could still walk around the park and wearing a mask in the grocery store was optional. You could have dinner in the Mexican restaurant - eating inside with other guests six feet apart. Before we left, Kohls in the neighboring town opened and Walmart had fairly normal hours. Life was altered, but only slightly because things had started opening up. This is not the case everywhere. We had no idea what to expect in each town that we stopped in, didn't know where to eat, use the restroom, or if masks were needed in parking lots. Since each county and city can have different rules, researching those rules through obscure statements was difficult. Where we are in Maryland, the parks are still closed and so are the retailers where we would normally be buying furniture and house supplies, plus masks are required at all times in public. It's a completely different world than the one we left.
For my economic developer friends, there are things to learn from our crazy family adventure. People are still going to move. In fact, there is a possibility that we see more people moving out of larger metros and into smaller communities or more rural states where businesses are open and there are jobs to be had. It's possible. But it's not easy. Here are some ideas of what you can do to help those who are considering moving to your community:
#1 Communicate clearly and through multiple mediums
Make it easy to discover what is open and what's not, what the guidelines are regarding masks, eating at restaurants, house hunting, etc. I recommend posting these guidelines fairly regularly on your website and all social media channels so that people can access information on the platform they feel most comfortable using.
#2 Invest in virtual tours
Families and businesses may prefer to tour things virtually, even if it's possible to fly in for a tour. Given the fear surrounding the pandemic, some people will prefer to limit their travel. Communities need solutions that would allow for virtual tours. Realtors will often provide tours of homes, but no amenities like parks, recreational venues, shopping districts, and schools - things that people like to see before deciding to move.
#3 Provide direct support
When a new family moves into the community they may need support and resources. If, for example, retailers are closed, they may need help knowing where to buy things they need for the house. If parks are closed, they will need to know where to go for exercise and entertainment. If schools are closed, they will need to know how to register their children. It's one thing to be quarantined in a community you are familiar with. It's another to face COVID-19 challenges in an unfamiliar area. There should be an organization in the community tasks with reaching out, answering questions, and providing the support new families need to settle in.
In the end, it all worked out (minus a lack of open furniture stores!). Our family is settling in and looking forward to this next chapter in our adventure. Consider the steps above to ensure that families moving into your communities make a positive transition as well.
- Our dog is ready to go
- Celebrating Joshua's birthday
- Finally home