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The Bright Side: Moving during a pandemic

I probably could have told you before all this happened that moving during a pandemic wasn’t the best idea.

My housing situation has been weird since moving to the Outer Banks anyway, so it should have come as no surprise that we would have to move during COVID-19. Since late last summer, my boyfriend Eric and I had been leasing a property in Kill Devil Hills. Our lease terminated in April and things were going smooth . . . to start.

Eric’s parents were in the market to purchase a property down here back in the wintertime. They had their sights set on a few that didn’t work out, but eventually lucked out. The goal was to have Eric and I as their downstairs tenants, so we had a place to live, and they could begin to rent out the top and start an investment.

In early December, Eric went with their Realtor and found the perfect spot a few roads down from where we were living at the time. The place was a great price for being on westside KDH, right down from the sound in a friendly neighborhood with lots of year-round residents.

After going back and forth with the sellers, a selling price was nailed down and the buying process began. Now, I have never purchased a house myself, but let me say to anyone who has . . . wow. What a trip.

Long story short, the house wasn’t ours until the middle of May. Things were moving super slow in the winter and when COVID-19 hit, it was all over. The lending companies were backed up, inspectors had their schedules jammed and just about everyone you need on your side during a closing sale was in a bind, working from home and had never dealt with a pandemic before (go figure).

Thankfully, our landlord extended our lease because, at the time, no visitors or non-resident property owners were allowed into the county. As we all know, rental companies (and everyone else, for that matter) were suffering.

Now for the moving part.

The house needed some TLC before we could move in. Eric’s dad runs his own handyman and painting business, so we were looking golden for getting everything taken care of. But, of course, things don’t always go according to plan.

We found out quickly that the septic tank under the new house was pretty much full right after we closed. We had to get someone to come out and drain it, making sure to keep our masks on and only paying by phone. Our backyard looked like something out of the Amazon rainforest and to find a landscaper to come cut the lawn was nearly impossible, because not only were visitors starting to come back in by then, but that’s the week that wonderful Tropical Storm Arthur rolled through. (Don’t worry, someone finally did come and the grass is a normal height now).

The gutters were clogged, the dishwasher was unusable and to top it all off, we didn’t have air conditioning. To order anything online meant a two-week (minimum) delay on shipping due to the pandemic because everyone was ordering everything online. It seemed as though Lowe’s and Home Depot were also out of stock of just about everything we needed.

As for physically moving, instead of renting a U-Haul or having a company come help us move, Eric and I decided to just slowly start moving everything over ourselves with the help of his parents. It took about a week, but we were eventually settled in.

Now back to that wonderful septic tank.

Two weeks after moving in, our septic tank clogged again. It was a Sunday, and we called every plumber in the area, but no one was going to be able to come out. We couldn’t use our shower or toilet (I’ll spare everyone the details) and the day ended with Eric’s entire arm stretched down in our tank to try and figure out what was wrong. Fun times.

We had to have the someone come out and drain the tank (again) and then call the county to come see what was wrong. We eventually learned the pump was bad and it had to be replaced. The whole process took a little over two weeks because, again, everything was backed up from COVID-19.

My advice? If you can avoid it, I would recommend not moving during a worldwide pandemic. But at the end of the day, it could have been a lot worse. We are all moved in now, and renovations are for the most part complete. If I learned one thing, it’s that you really can’t be in a rush to move. I also learned that toilet paper is apparently a hot commodity and everyone is truly all in this together.

Danielle Puleo is a staff writer for The Coastland Times. Reach her at danielle.puleo@thecoastlandtimes.com.

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