Congrats on the new home! You’re probably excited, exhausted, and in need of somewhere to start – sounds like a job for our new home checklist.
Let’s cut to the chase, the new home journey can be overwhelming. You’re excited to start your new life, but getting there can feel like a lifetime of preparation. From cable to comforters to crockpots, there’s a lot that goes into moving into a new home. If you don’t stay organized, move-in day can be a total bust. It’s common to worry, but lucky for you, this ultimate new home checklist will put your mind at ease and simplify the moving process.
We’ve prioritized the essentials and picked our brains over the important details that are often missed. Whether you’re in a hurry to move in or have some time still before the big day, start checking off this list and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your new home — whether an apartment, a condo or a co-op or even your first house!
The New Home Checklist: Pre-Move Essentials
Before you move, there are a couple of big tasks you’ll need to prioritize. If you knock these off your new home checklist, the rest of the process will run smoothly.
1. Transfer utilities
Before you can move into your new home and get comfortable, you need to set up your physical utilities: water, gas, and electricity. Depending on where your new home is located, you may or may not have some say in which company you work with. Although physical utilities companies are usually timely about activation, the sooner you notify them of your move-in date, the better. This is especially true if they’re in the midst of moving season when they’re working with a ton of accounts.
2. Connect TV and internet
No one likes moving into a dead zone. Make sure you’re up and running before move-in day by setting up services that work for you. Do your homework in order to know where you stand in order to compare pricing and figure out what service providers will best suit your needs. Schedule installation at least 2-3 weeks in advance to ensure that your services are activated in a timely manner and to also get the appointment slot that is most convenient for you.
3. Update your address
Your address is connected to so many aspects of your life that you may not even realize. From forwarding your mail, to maintaining subscriptions and loyalty programs, to banks and credit cards, to insurance, to checkbooks, to car registration and driver’s licenses… We think you get the point. When you update your address, you update your life! Not sure how to go about doing this? No worries, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about updating your address.
4. Gather important documents
You know those super important documents that sit and collect dust in your filing cabinet? They have to come along for the ride too. We’re talking birth certificates, social security cards, medical records, insurance policies, and anything else of that nature. Now’s the time to purge what you don’t need and label and organize everything that you do. Grab your shredder and some banker’s boxes and get to work! Important documents are items that cannot be overlooked on your new home checklist.
5. Take photos of valuable items
Moving your valuables is nerve-racking, but if you take proper precautions you’ll be more than fine. A good method of damage control is creating a valuables inventory and taking photos of each item. This could be anything from your grandmother’s antique mirror to your TV and computer monitor. By taking photos of these items, you have proof of their original condition in the event that they are damaged during the move. No matter how careful or responsible your moving company is, accidents can happen so moving insurance is worth looking into.
6. Research local businesses
When you move to a different town or state, it’s good to get the lay of the land of local businesses. Chances are you won’t be frequenting the businesses you usually do anymore, so you’ll want to explore your new options. From a new doctor, to a new hairdresser, to new landscapers, you’ll have to do quite a bit of research. Apps like Yelp can show you reviews, recommendations, and photos of local businesses to help you make educated decisions.
7. Take off from work
Within the first few days of your move, not only will you be unpacking a sea of boxes, but you’ll also be waiting on deliveries, repairs, and installations. It’s a good idea to notify your employer that you’ll be moving so you have ample time to coordinate these appointments before you head back into the office. The 48 hours post-move is crucial to getting (somewhat) settled, so make sure you plan and schedule accordingly.
8. Schedule a cleaning
Before you move your furniture, it’s a good idea to clean all the nooks and crannies of your new home. Chances are, the previous owner didn’t take the time to thoroughly clean it for your arrival (at least not to your standards), so schedule a cleaning service to come in and do a thorough once-over. With all the effort that you’re putting into your new home, you deserve a spotless canvas!
9. Schedule home improvements
Repairs and home improvements are an inevitable part of moving into a new home (whether an apartment or a house). There are some repairs that require more attention than others (i.e. leaky plumbing, windows that don’t lock, etc). It’s necessary that these are taken care of beforehand by either the previous owner or your property management company. If they aren’t, get on that ASAP! But maybe you just want to paint an accent wall or install built-in bookcases, these are the kind of home improvements you’re in charge of. You should schedule these improvements ahead of time so you’re not worrying about them come move-in day. Get the messy stuff out of the way first, it’ll make your life way easier.
10. Prepare to pack
As you inch closer to move-in day, start to throw out or donate things you don’t need and take note of what needs to be replaced. Keep the layout and measurements of your new home in mind as this could mean more or less space for your belongings. Save money by collecting free moving boxes from local businesses and retailers or use laundry bins, suitcases, and large bags to transport items. It’s also a good idea to label or color coordinate all boxes according to what room they go in to expedite the process for your moving company. Lastly, an open-first box is a must! You should include in this box everything you need to survive the first 24 hours in your new home. Think air mattress, a fresh outfit, a toothbrush, some snacks, water, and extra cash. You will thank yourself when the time comes. Trust us, it’s a not-to-be-missed item on your new home checklist!
The New Home Checklist: Post-Move Essentials
You’ve finally got all of your belongings into your new home, but don’t lose steam now! You’re in the final stretch of your new home checklist and there’s just a couple more essentials to get through. It’s a good idea to set a daily (or weekly) goal for yourself when it comes to these final steps. Be realistic, stick to your schedule, and you’ll be settled in before you know it.
1. Recruit family and friends to unpack
The more hands on deck the better. Those first few days of unpacking can be made a whole lot easier if you recruit (or rather, entice with food and drink) a couple of close friends for the first big haul. To make the process run smoother, set deadlines and figure out the most logical order of unpacking. Before you know it, your new home will actually start looking like, well, a home.
2. Change your locks
Who knows what the previous owners did with their keys? Whether you hire a locksmith or reinstall the locks on your own, it’s a simple task and it will give you peace of mind. You’re always better off safe than sorry.
3. Locate shut-off valves
In the event that there is an emergency leak or you’re doing repairs and you need to shut off your water, it’s necessary to locate your shut-off valves. Many houses and apartment buildings have a number of cut-off points to stop the water at its source. From your own shut-off valve, to your water company’s shut off valve, to the water meter, there many locations to get familiar with both inside and potentially outside your home.
4. Locate the circuit-breaker
Although uncommon, every once in a while you may need to replace a fuse or reset a circuit breaker. If there’s a power outage, you don’t want to be searching through the dark to find it. Common locations for circuit breakers are outdoors, in basements, in storage closets, or in hallways. Also be sure you know the difference between a circuit-breaker and a fuse box, in the event you need to restore power.
5. Decide on a lock-out solution
You will get locked out of your house every once in a blue moon, it happens! What’s important is that you have a backup plan for when the time comes. Some common ideas are to hide a key under your doormat or to install a garage code (that is if you have a garage), but you can be as creative as you’d like. Maybe you have a buddy down the street who holds on to an extra set, or you’ve slid it under a planter. Whatever the case, be prepared!
6. Test your smoke detectors
Installing a smoke detector is an easy and inexpensive way to protect you and your loved ones in the event of a fire. However, smoke detectors can fail you when you need them most if you don’t address their malfunctions. This is why testing your new home’s smoke detectors is so important. Light a match or spray a smoke test aerosol in front of its sensor every month to ensure it’s working.
7. Check out your HVAC system
Your HVAC system, (A/C and furnace) is a necessity, and an expensive one at that. For the sake of heat, cooling, and big bucks, it’s important that yourself, a property manager, or a technician checks out your HVAC system in the weeks following your move. Inspect your heating and cooling units, insulation, and ducts, for warning signs that something’s off. If it looks like repairs or replacements are needed, get on top of them as soon as you can. Although it’s a pain, it’s a worthwhile investment!
8. Create a home maintenance checklist
It’s a good idea to perform seasonal maintenance checks to ensure your new home is in good shape. Some of these maintenance checks you may not have had to do at your previous home. Things like cleaning the gutters, landscaping, unclogging bathroom drains, or checking up on snow plow services may be relevant to you now, so you should gather the contact info from local services for when the time comes.
9. Find a spot for a safe
Remember those important documents we mentioned before? They’ll need a new home too. If you don’t already have a trusty safe or filing cabinet, it’s a good idea to invest in one. Even more so, it’s important to find a spot for them. Some common areas for safes are in closets, attics, basements, but there’s room for creativity here also. Hardcover books, freezers, brick walls – whatever sneaky spot will keep your private information on lock. Even if you live in an apartment and don’t have room for a massive safe, it doesn’t mean your valuables should be left unsecured. Use your imagination and protect your possessions.
10. Start a take-out menu file or drawer
We guarantee that you will be ordering a lot of take-out within the first few weeks of your move-in. Any free time you have will solely consist of unpacking and redecorating, not cooking. Treat yourself and get a taste of local eats take-out style. Save menus and bookmark your favorites in a take-out file for you to reference later on. Or just throw all the menus in a drawer. That works too.
11. Throw a housewarming party
Last but not least on our new home checklist, the infamous housewarming party! Once you’re done unpacking, save any energy you have left for this shindig. Setting a date for a housewarming party also sets a great unpacking deadline for you to follow. So many new homeowners beat themselves up over tiny improvements and repairs instead of celebrating their hard work. Don’t make that mistake. Trust us, you’re going to have plenty of time in your new home to put in more work. Instead, invite your closest family and friends over for a great time. Start making memories!
We hope our new home checklist helps you stay organized and avoid moving mistakes as you prepare to transition into your new digs.