So it’s day one in your new home. After a long day of moving, you sit down on the couch surrounded by towers of boxes. Whew. Now what?
You might have thought getting a mortgage had a lot of hoops, but there are still several more tasks you need to complete to get your new home ready for living. This part of the move-in process doesn’t have to be so confusing, though.
I’ve compiled a complete checklist of all those little tasks new homeowners need to do, from turning on utilities to adding safety features and increasing efficiency.
My little sister, Lauren, inspired this article because she’s moving into her first house tomorrow! Let’s get her (and you) moved in.
Note: This article contains affiliate links. See my disclosures for details.
The Basics (Turn the Lights On)
You’ll want to get your utilities set up first. I learned this the hard way several years back in an apartment that had natural gas water heating. I thought all of the heat was electric, until my water cooled down to frigid temperatures and I finally figured out I needed to start paying the gas company.
- Make a list of all of the utilities your house needs: garbage, water, electricity, gas, internet, cable, phone, other?
- Set up accounts with each utility company and schedule the utilities to turn on and transition to your name on the day you have possession of the house.
- Sign in to each account to set up auto pay for your monthly bills. This saves so much time. You can just check the payments once a month to make sure everything looks right. The only account I pay manually is internet, because internet companies constantly bump up prices and hope you won’t notice. You have to keep tabs on them, and consider switching companies when they pull their B.S.
- Start a filing cabinet or spreadsheet with separate sections for each account. Save your last few monthly bills and account info so you can refer to them when you need to call your utility companies.
- Bonus: You can track every monthly payment in your spreadsheet. Then you can see how your bills change over time. For instance, if your January heating bill looks weird, you can scroll down to see all previous January heating costs and determine if you need to lock down that thermostat.
Next think about how you want to protect your new fortress. One of the most important things you can do is connect with your neighbors.
A few years ago a pair of robbers crashed their escape car on my block and ran through my neighbors’ yards carrying guns and cash. True story! I found out about this from a Nextdoor safety alert and texted my neighbors right away.
We were all on lockdown for a few hours while police tracked down the robbers. Normally the only alerts in my neighborhood are for coyote sightings or the occasional mail theft. I was glad to have my neighbors’ phone numbers on the one day we had armed robbers running around!
- Go meet your neighbors and exchange phone numbers.
- Sign up for Nextdoor.com so you can get local safety alerts and neighborhood news.
- Change all of your locks and have new keys made. Place a spare key in a safe place or with a trusted friend.
- Add a bar lock to your exterior doors.
- Install a Ring doorbell so you can see who’s at the door, and possibly record any ne’er-do-wells like package thieves. Even if you’re not worried about safety, the Ring has saved me so much time in dodged sales pitches. Clipboard = NO.
- Place a few Blink cameras around your property, near the doors and garage. This complements the Ring to hopefully deter (or at least record) uninvited visitors trespassing on your property.
- Hang a motion sensor floodlight in the front yard.
- Add solar lights along the path to your door for nights when you get home late.
- Consider having a radon test if you didn’t do this during the house inspection.
- Buy a mold test kit to check if your house has mold.
Go Green, Save Green
After you take care of the basic utilities and safety, you’ll want to make your house more efficient. Don’t let incandescent light bulbs drain your wallet. With a few smart changes, your house can save more energy and you can save more money.
- Replace any incandescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs. If you can feel a lot of heat coming off your light bulbs, they’re incandescent and they’re costing you money. Nowadays there are warm white LED options to give you a glow that feels just as cozy as incandescent.
- Insulate your water heater and pipes to save money on water heating costs and protect your pipes from damage.
- Install a Nest thermostat. This smart thermostat lets you set a heat schedule, and it can even turn down the heat when it knows you’re not home. Plus, some electric companies will give you a discount for installing a Nest.
- Replace your furnace air filter, and/or have your heating and cooling system serviced. The professionals can tune up your system to make sure it’s running well.
- Install low flow shower heads.
- Install dual flush toilets. You can even convert a standard toilet to dual flush with this kit, which is much cheaper than replacing the whole toilet.
Download the printable version of this new homeowner’s move-in checklist in my free resource library.
Get Ready to Decorate
You will probably have many rooms to paint and windows to cover. Get organized now to make it easier to shop for your home.
- Create a master measurement checklist. Go around your house and measure every window. If you need any appliances, measure the spaces (learn from my fridge nightmare). If you need closet organizers, measure your closets. Keep a list of every measurement you might need when shopping for your home, preferably saved to a phone app. That way if you see a gorgeous set of curtains or pretty shelf organizer at the store, you can reference your list and know if the items will fit.
- Have a tool kit ready on day one, out where you can access it and not buried deep in a box somewhere. You’ll be using tools a lot for the first few weeks especially, when you’re installing curtains, assembling furniture, hanging photos, and fixing everything that breaks when you have a home.
- Define your color palette. Unless you’re going for a very artsy look in your home, it helps to keep your color palette simple with a few paint colors that you love. As you pick furniture and accessories, think about how each item will work within your color palette. (Honestly, my palette is basically rainbow, but over time I’ve realized my standout colors are turquoise and orange for focal points, with taupe and vanilla walls.)
- Get a painting kit ready to go. Stock up on rollers, angled and flat brushes, paint trays, paint cups and a drop cloth. You should also check out these brush and roller covers; they save money by helping you reuse your brushes and rollers.
Moving into a home is a lot of work. On our first day in this house, Eric and I tore out the old carpet, removed dated drapes and valances, and crashed on a mattress in the middle of the dining room. It was amazing.
Best of luck in your new home!