First Things to Do After Moving Into Your New Home

Couple with children unloading boxes from a van at new home
••• Big Stock Photo 

Moving can be nerve-wracking, exhausting, and overwhelming. There's just so much to do in one day, and that can be a recipe for disaster. Don't make it any harder on yourself than it has to be—this is the beginning of a new life in your new home, after all. You want your memories of the day to be fond ones.

Break down the steps into simple tasks and make yourself a checklist to streamline the process after you buy a house.

Those Last Steps Before Closing

You've undoubtedly reviewed the home inspection report and other types of inspection reports by now. Either the seller has fixed certain things for you, or you'll have to do so yourself at some point to make sure everything is working to your satisfaction. But moving day is not the time to overhaul the HVAC.

Hopefully, you also checked for plumbing leaks during the final walkthrough with your agent. You found out where your water shut-off valve is located, and you're confident that you can find and open the electrical panel. 

Another thing you might want to review prior to moving in is the condition of your flooring. Plan for replacing the carpeting before the moving truck pulls up. It's much easier to accomplish before you move your furniture into the house.

Make Sure You Have Cash on You

Sure, you're going to swipe your debit or credit card to pay the moving company and for various other expenses, but cash is king in some circumstances. You'll want it so you can tip people, and just in case you run into an unforeseen situation where cards are not accepted.

Turn on the Utilities

Notify the utility companies to transfer gas, water, electrical, trash, and sewer into your name. County utilities might be transferred by the escrow company in some localities, so it's a good idea to inquire about this at closing. Otherwise, you'll have to call yourself.

You don't want to find out that you have no electricity when the sun starts going down after a long day of unpacking boxes.

Sequester Your Pets

Moving can be a terrifying experience for pets, and even if they're not frightened, you don't want them underfoot.

Bring blankets, food dishes, litter boxes, toys, and treats in a separate box for your pets, then place those items—with your pets—in a separate room. Ideally, the room will be as far away from the noise and commotion as possible, but don't forget to check on them periodically if you can't easily hear sounds of distress. It will help them feel safe and reduce the chance that they'll try to bolt out the front door.

Change the Locks

You have no way of knowing how many strangers have keys to your new home, given to them by the previous owner. Call a locksmith pronto and get those locks changed.

A locksmith can install a deadbolt if your door is missing one. Most mobile locksmiths charge around $150 to make a home visit, plus extra for the keys.

This is a good time to change all the locks to work with a single key.

Plug in the Refrigerator

A lot of people unplug the refrigerator and turn it off before they walk out the door for the last time, so make sure all the appliances are plugged in and working. Sometimes sellers leave a surprise bottle of bubbly in the 'frig for buyers, so open the door and have a peek inside. Check that the ice dispenser is working as well.

Change Your Mailing Address

The U.S.P.S. lets you change your mailing address online, but expect that they'll probably mix up mail for a while, and keep in mind that not all mail is forwarded. Take the added, precautionary step of changing your mailing address directly with your credit card lenders and your bank, and any other important entities that you maintain snail-mail contact with.

While you're about it, don't forget to change your address with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Get updated licenses for all drivers and registrations for your vehicles.

Set Up Security

A home security system provides peace of mind. It will take next to no time for the security company to activate your system if your home already has the equipment installed, so call and check into it.

Some companies install systems that let you set the security alarm when you're inside the home at night, which is extra comfort for single homeowners. Choose strong security codes, one for you and one for your guests.

Establish Internet

Your security system might be wired to work on Wi-Fi if it uses cameras, which means you could need internet even if you never intend to grab your computer and go online. Digital doorbells use Wi-Fi, too, and so do home-based apps that turn lights off and on, open garage doors, and water your lawn.

Don't forget to set up your television to stream your favorite shows while the technician is there to connect you.

Order Food and Drink

Some people pack snacks to take with them on moving day. Others want to feed not only themselves, but the movers and friends who are helping them as well. But moving day isn't a good time to plan to cook.

Your options aren't limited to pizza and soft drinks. Get takeout from the Chinese joint down the street or order a case of beer to be delivered through your favorite food delivery app. Keep plenty of bottled water on hand, too, especially if you're moving in a warmer month.

Figure Out Sleeping Arrangements

Don't wait until midnight to realize that all the movers have left and you can't find the screws to set up your bed. Your beds should be the first furniture you set up. Make sure you know where you packed your pillows and bedding as well.

Finishing a bedroom first from top to bottom can create a haven for you the night of the move and in the days right after. It will be somewhere you can retreat and unwind for a while, then tackle the remaining challenges tomorrow...or in a few days.

Most people also pack an overnight bag that contains all the essentials they'll need before they go to bed and when they wake the next morning, such as toothpaste, brushes, contact lenses, and medications.

Meet the Neighbors

Your neighbors will hopefully pop up bearing Tupperware meals or plates full of cookies, but otherwise, invite them over if you spot them eyeing you as you're unloading boxes. Not everyone will just walk over and introduce themselves. They might worry that they're intruding. Make a special effort to remember names.

Some Final Tips

  • Put off major remodels until you've lived in the house for a while. Settle in and exist with the place as-is for a time, because your opinion of exactly how things ought to be changed might be radically different 12 to 18 months from now after you've lived with existing flaws.
  • Move in the middle of the month, if possible, and in the middle of the week. You'll save on costs, which typically peak on weekends and around the first of the month.
  • Make sure everything you're packing for movers to transport is on the company's "OK" list. Some flammable substances such as propane and fertilizer aren't allowed, so you'll have to get them from Point A to Point B yourself.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, license #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.