Moving into your first house is a big step and lifestyle change. On the upside, you get more space, less disturbances, and a place that you can call your own. On the downside, this means a plethora of repairs and tasks to get done before turning the key. Luckily, we’ve put together these tips for moving into a new house so you don’t have to worry about the nitty gritty and focus on making your house a home.
#1. Stick to the Numbers: Measuring Your Home
Before committing to anything, make sure it’s exactly what you want. Got a 3 piece sectional that you just can’t ditch? Make sure it fits through the doors. Make sure all the dimensions are just right. There’s no cutting corners here!
#2. Educate Yourself
Learn about the schools in your neighborhood – even if you don’t have kids. While this might not be an immediate concern, it could become important down the road. It also plays a huge part in the value of your property and taxes. Explore helpful resources, like school reports and school district rankings.
#3. Budget, Budget, Budget
Think about how much you’ll actually spend before jumping in. You’ve account for the mortgage, but have you thought through all the other costs coming your way? Cooling, heat and other utilities can add up depending on where you are and the age of your house. Homeowners insurance can add an extra cost that’s often not top of mind for most home buyers. Depending on where you live, you might also need additional add-on insurance to protect you from natural disasters and events. Don’t forget the additional utilities such as gas, water and sewage. And then, there’s the big one – taxes. Other costs come out of pocket as well, so be sure to budget for any upgrades or repairs needed before and after you move in.
#4. Read Once, Read Twice
Before signing any major paperwork, do your due diligence. Read all of the terms and clauses included in your contract. Go over the high-level items with your real estate agent (if you have one), and consider asking any lawyer friends to look over your contract, too.
#5. Major Key: Change the Locks
We’ve all lost a key at some point, so what would make the former owners of your new home any different? Changing the locks on your new home guarantees your safety and gives you a chance to think about overarching security for your new place. Perhaps there’s a dark area that needs a motion-sensor light, or a hole in the fence that needs to be patched. Once the locks are changed, make sure to keep a spare copy of your key somewhere safe and out of sight.
#6. Stay Above Water: Check for Leaks and Water Stains
It’s easy to ignore any water spots when the home you’re buying is perfectly staged. But once the designer setup has been stripped away and you’re ready for move-in, take a look around for any water stains or leaks. Even if the leaks have been patched, this process will help identify potential problem areas for the future. To get this out of the way early, have an engineering inspection done on the house before signing the final forms so there’s no surprises along the way.
#7. Make Them Run: Take Care of Pests
Another key thing to watch for in your final walk-through is creepy crawlers. Whether it’s roaches, ants, or even, er, larger pests, you don’t want to spot them. But if you’re buying an older home, or even one that’s been sitting empty for a while, they may be more present than you’d like. Keep a stock of traps and sprays readily available for move-in, and if you immediately notice any abnormal crawlers, call a pest control service. It’s easier to get these taken care of when you’ve only moved in a few boxes, than when you’re fully unpacked.
#8. Get an Electricity Audit
Energy efficient houses are becoming more and more common. And why not, you’ll not only do the environment some good, but also save a few dollars on your bills. Your home inspector or engineering inspector can run an assessment of your home. They’ll let you know where and what you can improve as you plan changes to your new home.
#9. Power Through: Check the Electrical Panel, Set Up Electricity
Remember that engineering inspection mentioned before? This is another reason it’s more than worth your while. An engineer can check to make sure that all the electricity is properly functioning, and will give you an idea of the current wiring’s state. If you’re moving into an older home, this is particularly important: old wiring may not be up to current code, which can be a fire hazard and a huge future expense that the home price doesn’t always account for. Even if your house is new, you need to make sure electricity is set up, so put in a call to your local electric billing company to complete your account.
#10. Open & Run All Appliances
Make sure all of your large appliances are working. These are large investments and you need most of them to keep your place afloat. Open your fridge, test the ice maker, run the dishwasher, test the washer and dryer, give the stove a try. Make sure the essentials are up and running (and included in the sale!) so you’re not stuck with a big bill after move-in.
#11. Safety First: Test All Devices
This probably one of the most important things you’ll do before moving in. You hope it never happens, but it’s always better to be prepared for a disaster. Buy new fire extinguishers and place them in important places. Triple check batteries in all of your fire detectors, and if your home doesn’t have one, buy a carbon monoxide detector.
#12. Breathe Easy: Check All Filters
Clean air and circulation is always a good thing. Check all vents and filters to ensure you’re breathing the cleanest air possible. Don’t forget to check exhaust fans in the bathrooms as well, as they can accumulate dust and mold with time.
#13. Keep it Clean
Whether your place is new or not, you’ll want it to be spotless when you step foot in it. Invest in some cleaning help. You’ll be wrapped up with packing, moving and checking every corner of your old home, so leave it to a cleaning team to deep-clean your new place.
#14. Get Connected
Make sure you’ve set up wifi and all the necessary modems and cable. Nobody likes moving into a dead zone. Plus, you’ll need to share your new digs on Instagram stories, anyway!
#15. Keep Them Informed: Address Change
Be sure to update your address where needed. Your post office will need to know at least two weeks before your move so it can begin forwarding your mail, and don’t forget to share the news with your credit card company, place of work, insurance, medical offices and anyone else who needs to know.
#16. Acquaint the Family
New surroundings aren’t necessarily exciting for everyone. Have a plan for kiddos and and Fido. Bring elements of your old place with you (this is particularly important for cats, who have trouble adjusting during moves). Familiarize everyone and make them feel at home with a few of their favorite things.
#17. Childproof (or Pet-Proof!) the Digs
Once you start settling in, start to look around. Are there places you’d like to avoid your kiddo getting into? Protect them. Install baby gates, socket covers, latches to keep drawers closed. Need to keep Fido out of a particular room? Try a doggie gate. Don’t forget about a pet door for your kitty, too!
#18. Know Your Neighbors
Living in an apartment means having security and peace of mind while you’re not home. Most times we don’t even know who is occupying the space right next to us. Being in a house…it’s a little different. This new place is your investment and something you’ve put a lot of time into. Getting to know your neighbors is not only spreading kindness, but it’ll help you maintain peace of mind in several scenarios. Whether you’re waiting on a package or out of the country, your friendly neighbor will be looking out for you and your place.
#19. Wrap Up Loose Ends
Ensure you’ve taken care of everything you need to in your old place. Have stuff you’re unsure about bringing to your new house? Go through the exercise of “Ditch or Donate” to thin the moving boxes. Work with your landlord to get all your bills transferred to the new tenants. And most important of all, take the time to remember the best time in your old place. While you won’t be in that space forever, those happy memories will always stay with you.
#20. Unleash Your Decor Skills
How do you make your new house a home? Make it yours. Scour Pinterest for ideas, upgrade your older furniture pieces, and picture your current setup in a new environment. Decorating your first home is like an art project for grown-ups, so have fun with it.
#21. Warm Up to It: Plan a Housewarming
Now comes the fun part: the housewarming party! Once you’ve settled in, invite over your friends, get a grill for all your future parties, and show off your new home to your friends and family. Moving into your first house is a big step – one that’s worth celebrating.
No matter how crazy your first home move feels, you’re taking the next big step in your life. It’s time to indulge a little, and that means letting Dolly take care of the heavy lifting. Book a Dolly and we’ll connect you with local pickup truck drivers who’ll help you move. You can kick back and start planning the housewarming – we’ll cover the heavy stuff.