There is a lot to consider when you’re moving to a new home. While it may seem that packing and unpacking makes up the brunt of the work, it’s actually the things you do after moving into a new home that make the biggest difference. Getting associated with your house, learning how it functions, and prioritizing what projects you want to tackle is part of taking on your role as a homeowner—and it’s better to do it all right when you move in while you’ve got a clear view of everything. By this point you should have already changed your address and made sure your utilities are set up, so here are your next steps!
1. Do a Walk-Through (Before bringing furniture in!)
There’s no better time to do a walk-through of your new house than when it is completely empty. So before unloading your moving truck, take a look around. Among other things, you’ll want to double check that:
- All requested and agreed upon repairs have been made by the previous owner.
- Everything that was to be included in the sale is present in the house.
- Everything is in working order, including appliances, garage door openers, etc.
You have 24 hours (once receiving the keys) to report any issues. If you find an issue that goes against the sale contract (for example: the previous owner took the washer and dryer along with them when they were supposed to leave them behind, or an appliance is not in good working order) call your real estate lawyer immediately to see what your recourse is. As for issues you find that were not covered in your contract, they’re your responsibility now, but it helps to know what they are.
2. Check for Plumbing Leaks
Your home inspector should do this for you before closing, but it never hurts to double-check.
Keep an eye out for dripping faucets and running toilets and check your water heater for signs of a leak. When it comes to water in the home, this is something you’ll want to take care of right away.
3. Do a Deep Clean
The last thing you probably want to do after going through the moving process is clean your new home from top to bottom, BUT this is the best time to do it. If you just don’t have the time or energy (and we don’t blame you), book yourself a professional cleaner instead. Whether you pay in time or expense, starting out life in your new home in a clean state is more than worth it. Don’t forget to steam clean the carpets and wipe out the inside of the cabinets!
4 . Find Your Circuit Breaker Box and Main Water Valve
Learn where these essential units are and how they work. Which breaker controls which area or appliance. You’ll also want to know how to turn off your main water valve if you have a plumbing emergency. Make sure to track down the water valves that goes outside too, and of course double check that they are shot off and drained in the winter months.
5. Change the Locks
Safety first! There’s really no way of knowing who has a spare key to your home, so change the locks. That ensures you’re the only person who has access.
6. Child/Pet Proof Your Home
If you’re moving into a new home with small children (or even just furry four-legged kids) you’ll want to do some initial child proofing to keep everyone safe until you can put your full setup into place. If you can, find care for your children on moving day – maybe a sleepover at the grandparents’ house! Create a separate space for packing materials, gate off no-go areas that aren’t secured yet, cover up outlets, check to make sure all opening windows have screens on them and low-hanging blind cords are tied up and out of reach, don’t stack your boxes too high, be on the lookout for other potential hazards, and have a laptop or tablet handy to put on a movie so the kids can keep themselves safely occupied while you’re unpacking. Most importantly, keep box cutters, cleaning supplies, glassware, etc. far out of reach from little hands. For your pets, make sure that there are no gaps in fences that they could escape through, close off spaces where you don’t want them wandering, and double check to make sure there are no pest-control products left around for them to get into.
7. Figure Out What’s Going Where
Make sure your boxes are labelled! When you’re packing up your home, clearly label what room each box needs to go in. Then once you get to your new home, put a sticky note on each door or entry way noting what each room will be used as. Ie. Master bedroom, basement rec room, Abby’s bedroom, John’s bedroom, office Etc. You’ll save yourself (and/or your moving company) a lot of time and trouble when moving into a new home if you make a plan of attack for setting everything up instead of just winging it. This is particularly true for large and heavy items like furniture. While you do probably already have a basic idea of what goes in what room, give yourself a moment to think about exactly how you’d like the set up to look. You can make changes later on of course, but going into this task with a general plan is always going to make the job easier.
8. Prioritize Repairs
Unless you are moving into a new build, chances are you’re going to have some repair projects. You should have a general idea already of what these are from your home inspection, but it doesn’t hurt to walk around on your own and put together a list of priorities. While you don’t necessarily need to get to work on these repairs right away, making a list of what needs to get done and in what order you intend to do it will help you put your repair needs into perspective and give you a better footing for when it’s actually time to get the ball rolling.
9. Meet your Neighbors!
Meeting your neighbors is a lot easier—and less awkward—to do right when you’ve moved in. And in addition to getting yourself off on the right foot in your new neighborhood, meeting your neighbors is helpful for starting to learn about your community and for getting recommendations for local services if you need them. You don’t need to go door to door, but do make a point of introducing yourself the first time that you run into a new neighbor. A little friendliness will definitely go a long way.
Moving into a new home is inherently a bit overwhelming, but following the ten steps listed above can help make the transition a bit more seamless. It’s a lot to go though, so don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether that’s from a friend or family member or from a professional service provider. The sooner that you can take care of the big stuff, the sooner your new house will start to feel like a new home.