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If you’re wondering what to do before moving into a new house, you’re in the right place.
There’s a lot to think about before moving in, like cleaning, remodeling, safety, and administrative tasks.
Whether the ink is currently drying on your closing paperwork (congratulations!!) or you just found your next rental home, here is our best advice on what to do next.
Directly after closing
Change the locks
Honestly, just show up to closing with a lockset in your bag.
If everything goes smoothly at the closing, drive straight to the home, gleefully strike down the “for sale” sign, and change the locks.
While you’re at it, take out the lock box, which gives the house an “I’m not occupied” look.
Crack open the champagne
Celebrate your upcoming adventure! You’re moving on up, baby!
Lock all the doors and windows
You never know what may have happened to the home in the hours after your final walk through.
Or, if you’re my parents in 1983, go to the store and buy a door, install it, then lock it. (They bought a fixer upper, too..).
Safety is top priority when considering what to do before moving into a new house. Get right to it!
Smokes and Carbon Monoxide
Check all the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace or upgrade if needed. You might want to double check your town’s requirements for this.
We have these combo detectors and they are good for ten years!
While we’re talking safety first, invest in a fire extinguisher for each floor. (Two family house? That means two kitchens and two fire extinguishers.).
Again, check with your municipality’s requirements on size and rating.
Put all the utilities in your name.
And while you’re on the phone with the utility company, take a picture of the meters so you know your starting numbers.
A time stamp on a photo does wonders these days!
Turn them on…
…to see if they work.
Our heat pipes greeted us to our new home with a miserable leak.
I’m not joking when I say – turn on all the utilities to be sure they’re in working order!
Schedule the internet install.
Better to have it ready to go than to be on a waiting list for the truck to show up!
Locate all the shut off valves. This nugget of info is better realized before it’s imperative you need it.
Lead paint? Mold? Asbestos?
Now is the time for all these important projects to ramp up.
Get those contractors in ASAP so your home is safe for all its inhabitants.
There’s no sense in fixing anything else unless you’re keeping water out.
Need a personal story to convince you? Check out our old house remodel, part 4, which includes the sorry story of the leaky bedroom.
Giant holes, plaster ceilings, anything that will make dust – do this before your flooring or paint repairs, so that you don’t have to fix your work twice.
HEAR YE, HEAR YE. Before moving into a new house is the easiest time to update or refinish your floors.
I promise, you will not have any desire to move all of your furniture to accommodate a giant sander kicking up a sandstorm and stain to permeate the air in your new home.
DO YOUR FLOORS NOW. Pull up that carpet, refinish those hardwoods, or lay down the laminate. It will never be easier, I pinky-swear!
Take a look at our first floor master bedroom remodel, which includes refinishing the hardwoods from a sticky tile hallway.
Again, the easiest time to paint a room is when it’s empty. If you have the time to do this before you move in, this is ideal! Pick your colors and get after it!
First, make sure the electric is safe. If a light is flickering or something blows a fuse easily, investigate ASAP.
Secondly, make yourself a map of the breaker box. This is most easily done with two people – one standing at the breaker box switching them on and off, taking notes on what controls what, and the other on a different floor shouting “yep!! or “overhead kitchen!”. (Am I the only one who always gets this job?).
Oh, plumbing. We have been through it with plumbing.
One of the best things you can do before moving into a new house is to turn on every water source and double check for leaks.
While we may have purchase a house with 3 bathrooms and 2 kitchens, we only had one functional sink among them. Even then, we had to repair its drain before we could use it.
Do yourself a favor and really inspect all the plumbing in your house. Better to discover a leak before you move in than to think you’re settled and wake up to a puddled ceiling!
Hold your horses
Resist the urge to completely overhaul with major renovations, like taking out a wall to create an open concept galley kitchen, or an entire gut basement bathroom remodel.
Live in the home for a while to discover how your pattern of life unfolds.
Your opinion may change after you inhabit your new space for a while.
Oh the cleaning!
There will be a mountain of cleaning to do, no matter how clean the place was left by the previous owner. Even if it’s a new construction, you’ll likely need to clean a bit.
Family Handyman has a great list of things to clean, including refrigerator coils, dryer vents, and crawlspaces.
Get some necessary tools
Invest in some basic tools or start an Amazon wish list for them.
Not sure where to start? Check out our post: Tool Gifts for New Homeowners.
Learn your new neighborhood
Trash and Recycling
Figure out when the trash and recycling is picked up. Especially if you’re DIYing a project, you’ll need to know!
Your town’s Department of Public Works website probably has this info.
Say hi to the neighbors! We are grateful to have fostered wonderful relationships with neighbors on every side.
If you have a housewarming, invite them all. We did this with a little flyer in their mailboxes, and were blown away that each one of ours came, armed with cookies and smiles. We were floored!
Check out the parking signs before moving into a new house.
We once parked in front of our house, only to get ticketed. Unbeknownst to us, our town has an overnight parking rule!
All we needed was a parking sticker… and to read the signs on surrounding blocks.
Don’t make our mistake!
The place you’re moving from
Before you move out of your current place, you’ve probably got some things to do there, too
Take the utilities out of your name. You have an end date in sight – don’t pay a penny more than necessary!
Clean out your stuff! Oh man, doesn’t moving strike us across the face with just how much stuff we own?
Check out our post about clearing out before a life change to help minimize the move.
First, pack a suitcase for a week. It will be easier to live out of a suitcase like you’re on a trip than to search among boxes for everything you and/or your family will need.
Then, pack up! (Insert collective groan here). Not to worry! We have a moving spreadsheet for you!
Joy. More cleaning.
It’s always classy to leave a clean place behind. Sweep and mop, at the very least!
It’s the right thing to do, whether you’re leaving a rental or an owned home.
Last admin task
Change your address with the USPS! And your employer, for that matter.
And while you’re at it, tell your friends and family where to send the next Christmas card! You can either create a card to mail, or just send off a quick email to those who need to know.
We hope this non-exhaustive list of what to do before moving into a new house is helpful!
From closing to safety first, renovations to your new neighborhood, and moving out to administrative tasks, you’ll be on your way to life in your new home in no time!
- How to prioritize home projects
- 21 best home improvement items on Amazon under $10
- The ultimate home renovation survival guide