New Homeowners’ Survival Guide: Smart Moves That’ll Get You Through the First Year
There’s so much more to getting settled than submitting a change-of-address form. Here’s the dish on how to get through the first days and months in your new digs.
You’ve found a house you love—or will love for the next few years, at least—and you’ve signed all the requisite deeds, contracts, and mortgages. (Why did no one tell you, by the way, that buying a home brings about a thousand times more butterflies to your stomach than saying “I do”?) Now come the hard parts: moving your stuff, acclimating to a new community, and learning about the new home’s features and foibles. If your experience is anything like that of most homeowners’, the minute you move into your new digs, you’ll open a new mental Google spreadsheet of everything that needs fixing or updating, and add to the list every 12 seconds. Over the next weeks and months, you’ll probably also discover how well the previous owners took care of the place, and which maintenance to-dos they’ve let slide.
Whether you’re 20 or 90, buying a new home is a big milestone—one that comes with worries, questions, hard work, and, eventually (hopefully?), utter contentment. As you cross the threshold into this new chapter of your life, these simple how-tos, curated shopping lists, and informational articles will help you survive the “getting to know you” period with your new home.
When home buyers have reached the point of signing contracts and mortgage documents, they’ve likely already sorted out what to pack and how the stuff is going to get from one domicile to another. If your moving date is a few weeks or months into the future, however, these few tasks might still be on your to-do list:
- Hire a local or long-distance moving company (do this now—these folks book up far in advance!).
- Declutter, decide which items are not coming with you (and maybe have a yard sale, if the list of not-bringing-this is long), and shred important docs that you don’t need anymore.
- Gather your moving materials and figure out your packing and moving strategy: Do you have enough moving boxes? Are you trying to be less wasteful while moving? Do you have to tip movers in your area—and if so, how much?
Setting Up Your New Place
Congratulations! Now it’s just you, your family, some bubble-wrapped furniture, and 347 cardboard boxes at your new place. It’s hard to know where to begin with furniture arranging, setting up your internet and mail services, and connecting all of the tech gear and electronics. The following guides will help you establish yourself in your new home and in your new community.
Just Moved In? 11 Things to Do Right Away
How to Rekey a Lock
How to Arrange Furniture
14 Clever Layout Tricks to Maximize Your Living Space
How High Should I Mount My TV on the Wall?
13 Ways to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal at Home
6 Things to Know When Hanging Curtains
11 Things Your Local Post Office Wants You to Know
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that all homes’ previous owners have terrible taste, and their new inhabitants must spend their first months in said homes undoing these aesthetic travesties. (We speak from experience when we say that you won’t get a decent night’s sleep until you pull up the gnome-printed linoleum floors and the pink shag carpeting in the living room.) In these early days, you’ll probably also want to attend to matters of comfort, like making sure the temperature indoors is to your liking and that your electricity and plumbing are up and running.
- Learn how to pull up old or ugly carpet, linoleum, tile, and laminate flooring…
- …and how to replace the flooring you’ve just pulled up with new carpet, laminate, vinyl plank, and tile
- If you have hardwood floors you’d like to keep, understand what’s involved in refinishing them yourself.
- Fix up your walls by removing wallpaper and patching drywall, and then painting or hanging new wallpaper in the space.
- Is it too hot or too cold in your new digs? You may want to install a window AC or a new thermostat. (While you’re thinking about heating and cooling, be sure to change your furnace filter and clean your AC filter, too.)
- Want to make sure your new kitchen is in good working order? Here’s how to light a pilot light, install a new faucet, and how to fix an on-the-fritz garbage disposal.
Essential Gear for the First Year
With as many boxes and truckloads of stuff that you brought to your new place, it’s hard to believe that there’s a long list of stuff you still need to shop for. The good news is that Bob Vila’s editorial team has vetted all of the best safety gear, decor, and other essentials your new home may still need.
Safety and Technology
The Best Carbon Monoxide Detectors of 2022
The Best Smoke Detectors of 2022
The Best Fire Extinguishers of 2022
The Best Door Locks of 2022
The Best Wi-Fi Router for Long Range
The Best Media Streaming Devices
Heating, Air, and Weatherproofing
The Best Home Thermostats of 2022
The Best Window Air Conditioners of 2022
The Best Space Heaters of 2022
The Best Floor Fans of 2022
The Best Sump Pumps of 2022
Decor and Furnishings
The Best Ceiling TV Mounts of 2022
The Best Air Mattresses of 2022
The Best Place to Buy a Mattress in 2022
The Best Places to Buy Curtains in 2022
The Best Curtains for Privacy and Decor
The Best Places to Buy Blinds Online in 2022
The Best Blinds of 2022
Building the Essential Tool Box
The Best Wet/Dry Vacuums of 2022
The Best Hammers of 2022
The Best Screwdriver Sets for DIYers and Pros
Adjustable and Allen wrenches
The Best Power Tool Sets of 2022
The Best Levels for Consistently Accurate Results
The Best Tape Measures of 2022
The Best Step Ladders of 2022
The Best Ladders of 2022
New-to-You Home Features
Whether you’re a former apartment dweller who’s moved into a single-family home or you’ve upgraded, downgraded, or moved from new construction to an older home, chances are that your new place has some features that you’ve never had to manage before. No worries: If this is your first swimming pool (or cesspool), or the home’s energy sources are Greek to you, we can help answer your pressing questions.
Swimming Pools 101: All You Need to Know
How to Find Your Septic Tank
The 5 Biggest Questions Home Buyers Have About Septic Systems
How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?
5 Keys to Understanding Geothermal Heat Pumps
What Is a Cesspool?
8 Things You Should Know Before Buying a House With Solar Panels
Need to Call a Professional?
When your fix-its are beyond the scope of your expertise or are too dangerous to DIY, the best course of action is to seek professional help. Following are Bob Vila’s picks for top-rated regional or national companies in their respective fields. Of course, there are excellent local tradespeople to be found in most communities, which are best discovered by contacting the Better Business Bureau or asking for recommendations from friends or through local social media groups.
The Best Carpet Installation Companies of 2022
The Best Basement Waterproofing Companies of 2022
The Best HVAC Companies of 2022
The Best Window Replacement Companies of 2022
The Best Pest Control Companies of 2022
The Best Mold Removal Companies of 2022
The Best Plumbing Services of 2022