Move-In Checklist: Things To Do The First Month In A New Home

Molly GraceAugust 12, 2019

You probably made all kinds of lists while you were in the process of buying and getting ready to move into your new home: things you needed to buy, items you needed to remember to pack, tasks that you had to get done before closing. Now, surrounded by boxes in your brand-new home, you remember there’s still a lot of work to be done.

The first month in a new home is all about getting settled. You have to notify a bunch of different people. You have to get utilities and, even more importantly, Wi-Fi set up. You have to begin the process of learning the ins and outs of a whole new space.

How can you make sure you’re not forgetting anything? You’re going to need another list. Here is your ultimate “getting settled” post-move-in checklist.

The “Getting Settled” Checklist

This list includes most of the essential things you’ll need to do, know and buy in the first month of living in a new home. Be sure to add or remove items based on your own needs.

Set Up Utilities

Having all your utilities ready to go as soon as you get to your new home is vital (unpacking in the dark is not fun), so be sure to call a couple of weeks ahead of your move-in date to get the house’s electricity, gas, water, sewer and trash set up in your name.

If you’re moving within the same service area, you may be able to simply transfer your service to your new address. Otherwise, you’ll have to open an account with the service providers in your new locale. Make sure your previous providers have your new address so they can send you your final bills.

Before moving, check with your current internet and television provider to see if they serve the area you’re moving to, as you may be able to transfer your services to your new address. If you aren’t able to do this, you’ll have to shop around for new providers.

Ideally, you’ll have done most of this before move-in. On moving day, your job is to make sure these utilities are up and running and to call your provider if you have any issues.

1.    Transfer or open up new utility accounts 2 weeks before move-in.

2.    Ensure old utility providers have your new address to send final bills to.

3.    Check that all utilities are up and running.

Prioritize Unpacking

Unpack your belongings according to what you need most. You probably aren’t going to get everything done in one day, so be sure to set up the stuff you need first. Unpack some kitchen essentials and any utensils or appliances you’ll need if you plan on doing any cooking right away. Get your bed set up and prepare the bathroom for anyone who will need to take a shower after a long, sweaty day of moving in.

Once you’ve done that, you can unpack everything else. Early on in the unpacking process, it can help to pull out a few decorative items that make the place feel like home. Moving can be an emotional time, and familiar pictures, throw blankets or rugs can be comforting.

Once you’re done, have a plan for all those boxes. Recycle them or give them to someone else who needs them, like a friend or neighbor who’s in the process of moving.

4.    Unpack kitchen essentials (cups, plates, silverware, pots, pans, coffee maker, etc.).

5.    Set up beds.

6.    Set up the bathroom with towels, soap, toilet paper, etc.

7.    Put out some decorative items that feel like home.

8.    Recycle or give away boxes after unpacking.

Make It Official

After you move, you might find yourself surprised by how many entities need your address. Gather a list of everyone who will need your new address and start updating.

You’ll first want to set up mail forwarding with the U.S. Postal Service. This will ensure that mail sent to your old address still makes its way to you, in case you forget to update your address with somebody. The post office will forward most mail for up to 12 months and will forward periodicals for 60 days.

In addition to updating your address with the entities that need it, you’ll need to get your official documentation in order and get everyone in your household set up for life in your new town. This includes getting a new ID or driver’s license and updating your car’s insurance and registration (or transferring it if you’re moving out of state).

If you receive Social Security benefits, you can update your address online, by phone or by visiting your local Social Security office.

This process may seem daunting, but a lot of it can be done online simply by signing in to your online accounts and editing your account details.

If you have kids, get them registered for school sooner rather than later.

9.    Set up mail forwarding with the post office.

10.  Update your address with the financial institutions you work with (credit card company, bank, loan provider, etc.), your employer, insurance providers and anyone else who sends you important mail.

11.  If you’re aren’t able to keep your current insurance policies after your move, set up new policies with new providers.

12.  Update your ID card or driver’s license or get a new one.

13.  Update or transfer your auto insurance and registration.

14.  Update your address for Social Security benefits.

15.  Transfer magazine, newspaper or other subscription services.

16.  Update your online shopping default shipping address.

17.  Register your children at their new school.

18.  Provide friends and family with your new address.

Get The Lay Of The Land

By now, you probably know where all the rooms are in your new home. But you might be less familiar with all the smaller components that keep the water flowing and the electricity whirring and that let you know when something’s not right.

Become familiar with where all the important stuff is, including the main water shutoff valve, the electric panel, the air filter, and all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace the air filter or the detector batteries if needed.

Get comfortable with your neighborhood and town area, too. Give yourself some time to drive around. Find the nearest grocery store, convenience store, gas station, emergency room or urgent care, and other important locations.

19.  Locate the main water shutoff valve, water heater, electric panel, and heating and cooling units and become familiar with the controls for these items.

20.  Locate the air filter and replace it if needed.

21.  Locate all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and test and replace batteries if needed.

22.  Find your local grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, emergency rooms, urgent care centers, etc.

23.  Check out your new town’s website for useful information for new or current residents.

Start Fresh

If you’re able to, doing some deep cleaning before your belongings arrive at your new house is a great idea, as it gives you an opportunity to get to all the nooks and crannies that will soon be blocked by furniture.

However, there’s still a lot of cleaning and tidying you’ll need to do after your things are unpacked to give yourself a fresh start in your new home.

If you don’t have cleaning supplies on hand yet, head to the store and pick up some essentials. Then, get cleaning.

Dust, sweep, mop, vacuum, wipe down and disinfect. Before moving things into your fridge, sanitize the inside. Dust off the top and sides and clean the coils. Clean the stove and oven. Clean the dishwasher filter and run the dishwasher empty with a bowl of white vinegar on the bottom rack.

Clean the bathrooms, including sinks, counters, toilets, tubs and walls. Consider replacing the toilet seats for a truly fresh start.

24.  Get basic cleaning supplies, such as sponges, cloths, a toilet brush, all-purpose cleaner, dish soap, disinfecting cleaner, glass cleaner and other products you prefer to work with.

25.  Clean household appliances and fixtures before using them.

26.  Wipe down and dust all surfaces, cabinets and drawers.

27.  Disinfect germier areas, including toilets, door handles, faucet handles, light switches and the kitchen sink.

28.  Replace all the toilet seats.

29.  Dust everywhere, from top to bottom.

Find Reliable Professionals

If you’re in an entirely new area, you’re probably going to need to find all new people and businesses to provide you with the various services you regularly need – things like healthcare, vehicle repair and the like.

Your neighbors will likely have good recommendations for who they turn to when they need a particular job done. You can ask around or, if your neighborhood has some sort of social media group, post your question online.

If you prefer to find your own professionals, online review sites like Google, Yelp or Angie’s List can help you find the doctor, dentist, veterinarian, mechanic or plumber who best suits you.

If you’re switching to a new health insurance policy, be sure to find out when your coverage begins and which doctors in your area are in-network. Then you can start looking for a new primary care physician and transfer your care to them.

30.  Ask neighbors or search online for recommendations for reliable local health care providers and other professionals, including doctors, dentists, veterinarians, mechanics, plumbers, etc.

31.  Search for an in-network primary care physician.

32.  Have your previous physician transfer health records to the new office.

33.  Transfer prescriptions to your preferred local pharmacy.

Stock Your New Place

If you’re a first-time homeowner, there will likely be at least few items you’ll need to purchase for your home that you previously didn’t have to think about as a renter. Depending on what was included in your home purchase, this can include big ticket items like a refrigerator or washer and dryer or smaller items such as certain window treatments.

It’s good to double check ahead of moving in what will remain with the home so you can come prepared. If the previous owner is taking all the curtains with them, you want to figure that out before you have to fall asleep in front of a completely exposed window.

Think about some of the responsibilities you’re taking on as a homeowner and what items you’ll need to carry them out. If you’re in charge of taking care of your lawn, you’ll at least need a lawn mower and a garden hose. If you live in a climate that gets snow, you’ll need a snow shovel. If you don’t already have a well-stocked toolbox, you’ll likely want to pick one up.

34.  Purchase necessary appliances, including a refrigerator, washer/dryer, microwave, etc., and anything else that didn’t come with the home, such as window coverings.

35.  Purchase necessary home care and maintenance items, such as a lawn mower, garden hose, rake, snow shovel, toolbox, etc.

36.  Get at least one fire extinguisher and place it in the kitchen; get additional ones depending on the size of and number of floors in your house.

Make It Secure

You don’t necessarily have to deck out your new home with a full-blown home security system right away – unless you want to – but there are some common-sense things you should do in the first month to keep you, your family and your new digs safe and secure, from the inside out.

The first thing on this list is to change the locks on all exterior doors. You don’t know who might still have copies of the key to your home, and the only way to ensure they can’t get in is to have new locks installed.

If you’re interested in boosting your home’s security, look into different options, such as security cameras, outdoor lighting or a professional alarm system, and consider what makes sense for your needs.

Neighbors can also be a pretty good built-in security force, so make sure to introduce yourself.

Don’t forget inside safety as well. Be sure to have a first aid kit and a few over-the-counter medications on hand. Flashlights are good to have when the power goes out. Place nonslip mats in your tubs and showers to prevent falls, and put bathmats on bathroom floors to avoid wet, slippery floors.

37.  Change the locks on all exterior doors.

38.  Research and get prices for different home security options, including cameras, outdoor lighting, alarm systems, etc.

39.  Get to know your neighbors.

40.  Purchase a first aid kit, flashlights, nonslip shower mats and bathroom rugs.

41.  Baby- or pet-proof the house.

Don’t Forget To Have Fun

Adding a bunch of new stuff to your to-do list immediately after completing all the stuff that came with closing on your home might leave you wondering if you’ll be ever able to sit back and relax again.

But moving into a new home doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Having a whole new space to make your own can be a lot of fun.

Take some time to set up your decorative items. Hang photos, lay out rugs and set out your favorite knick-knacks and memorabilia. Go shopping and buy some funky art or decor pieces for your living room. Decide what color you want to paint the walls or what flowers you want to plant in the garden.

This is your place now – make it feel like home.

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Molly Grace

Molly Grace is a staff writer focusing on mortgages, personal finance and homeownership. She has a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University. You can follow her on Twitter @themollygrace.