5 Things to Do When You First Move Into a New House

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Finally moving into a new house is the last leg of a marathon that for many homeowners involves months (if not years) of preparation.

Saving a down payment, finding a home, negotiating an offer, securing a mortgage, and getting through the inspection and closing are just a few steps in the process.

Getting settled in a new place should be easy, comparatively speaking, right?  

Moving into a new space involves more than merely unpacking your boxes. As a homeowner, you’ll need to get familiar with the inner workings of your house and how its main systems function.

You may have some immediate repairs or changes to make or services and utilities to set up. And don’t forget to get to know your neighbors.

Whether you’re moving into your first home, or you’re a seasoned homeowner who’s selling to downsize or up-size, take advantage of this time to get set up for success with a move-in checklist. 

Things to Do Before Moving Into New House

Do a Walk Through

Ideally, a complete walk through will be completed just before the closing so that any discrepancies or concerns can be addressed before the sale is finalized.

Check to make sure the terms of the sale are in order such as: 

  • Repairs that may have surfaced during the inspection that the seller agreed to make.
  • Appliances or other items (like a chandelier, for example) that were part of the sale are in the house. Likewise, items to be removed (like a pool table) are gone.
  • Outlets, lighting and plumbing fixtures, doors, and windows are in working order. Check outdoor spaces like a garage or shed as well. 
  • The house is reasonably clean and free of mold or pests.

Consult your realtor if you encounter an issue that violates the terms of the sale to determine a course of action with the appropriate parties, whether that’s the seller’s agent or the seller themselves if the sale was a For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO) deal.

Walking through an empty house is also a great time to grab a notebook and a tape measure.

Go room by room, and make note of possible furniture layouts as well as any projects or repairs that need to be addressed. 

Safety first

You and your family’s health and safety comes before anything else. Do an initial child and pet-proofing of your new home to ensure everyone’s safety during the moving-in/unpacking process.

Take standard safety precautions and cover outlets, sharp edges, and corners. Install gates in restricted areas and tamper-proof locks on lower kitchen and bathroom cabinets as well as knob protectors on the stove.

Check that all windows close securely and remove any long or hanging cords from blinds.

In addition, ‘move-in specific’ precautions include: 

  • Keep sharp tools like scissors or box-cutters up high and out-of-reach.
  • Spread boxes out instead of stacking them to prevent a toppling hazard.
  • Store breakables, sharp objects, alcohol, or cleaning supplies out of reach or in a locked lower cabinet until you decide where they’ll be permanently housed.

Test fire and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries if needed. It’s a good time to store a fire extinguisher on each level of the house and to create a basic evacuation plan with a designated meeting spot in case of emergency.

Consider changing the locks as an extra layer of security as it’s hard to be certain who, besides the previous owners, may have had a key to your new home.

Temporarily store an extra key under the doormat, under a flower pot, or in a garden hose; moving in entails a lot of going in and out of the house and it’s easy to accidentally get locked out. 

Test utilities, connectivity and locate key features

Ideally, the accounts for your utilities, Wi-Fi, cable, or phone were transferred, or new ones set up and activated at your new home before moving day.

Make sure you have running water, electricity, and gas — contact the service providers right away with any issues.

Check with your township to ensure waste pick-up has been arranged. Regardless of the season, test both the heating and cooling systems to make sure they’re in working order. 

If anyone in your household will be working or schooling from home, it’s a good time to connect your devices to be certain Wi-Fi is up and running. 

Locate the key systems in the house: the fuse box, circuit breaker, main water valve, gas lines, sump pump, and the water heater or boiler — and know how to turn them on/off or reset them.

Make sure major appliances are plugged in and working properly such as: your refrigerator, freezer, washer/dryer, oven/stove, dishwasher, and automatic garage door. Be sure to check out fixtures like ceiling fans and gas fireplaces as well.

Deep Clean

It’s never easier to deep clean your home than when it’s completely empty, so dig in, if possible, after the closing and before the movers arrive. 

Clean from high to low in each room, getting the tops of shelves, ceiling fans, woodwork and trim, or other tall spaces that don’t usually get attention. 

Kitchen Give the refrigerator priority since you’ll be stocking it with perishables, then clean the cabinets, sink, light fixtures, and microwave. Be sure to run a sanitizing cycle in the dishwasher. 

Bathroom After an initial scrub down, sanitize all surfaces including the light switches, faucets, and toilet paper holders. Replacing toilet seats is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to ensure they’re completely sanitary. 

Floors Clean the floors last. For tile, hardwood, or linoleum, use a vacuum with an appropriate floor to get up any debris and mop accordingly. For carpets, a rented steam cleaner (if you don’t have one) will remove allergens, stains, and other debris if you’re not replacing the carpets altogether. 

After moving in you can tackle the exterior. Consider doing a pressure washing of the exterior including any decks or patios.

Meet Your Neighbors

No doubt you’ll want to explore your neighborhood, and that includes meeting your neighbors.

Start by introducing yourself to the homeowners on either side of you, perhaps ask for recommendations for good restaurants and grocery stores, or ask a question about garbage pick up to make conversation. 

Many neighborhoods have digital options or use social platforms for getting involved with the community.

Consider attending a town meeting, volunteering for a service project, or joining the planning committee for the neighborhood block party. The more you immerse yourself in your new surroundings, the more likely your new house will quickly become a home. 

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About kristenherhold

Kristen is the PR Editor of Clever Real Estate, the nation's leading real estate education platform for home buyers, sellers, and investors. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cheering on the Denver Broncos and Missouri Tigers.