New Home Checklist: Your Essential Guide to a Seamless Move

Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or you’ve been through the moving process before, there’s no denying that a lot of work goes into moving to a new house. With so many items on your to-do list (like picking the best moving company) it can be easy to overlook an essential task.

This is where our new home checklist comes in. These essential moving tips will help you keep track of everything you need to do with your new house before, during, and after your move so you can enjoy a seamless, stress-free experience.

If you’re still planning your move and aren’t sure which mover to hire, check out our picks for best long-distance moving companies and best interstate moving companies to help get you started.

new home checklist before you move

Before the move

A big part of getting ready to move into your new house involves preparing to move out of your old place. Depending on the nature of your move, you may not always have access to your new house before moving day.

While you may not be able to do all of the following tasks before your move, doing as many as possible will help things go smoothly when the moving company arrives.

Do your final walkthrough

You should always do a final walkthrough before finalizing the agreement to buy or rent a property. This gives you a chance to check for any damages that may not have been present before the previous occupants moved out. Most purchase or rental agreements allow you to take note of these issues so that the builder, landlord, or former occupant will address them before you move in.

Common issues to check for include leaking faucets, a hot water heater that isn’t functioning, and appliances or outlets that aren’t working properly. If you previously had the property inspected, this is also a time to ensure that repairs you requested have been completed. Even getting light bulbs replaced will save you time and energy after you move in.

Turn on the HVAC system

This is another simple task that can make a difference if you have access to your new home. Turning on the new house’s air conditioner during the summer will prevent mildew growth from excess humidity. Turning on the heat during the winter will prevent pipes from freezing (and possibly bursting) due to frigid temperatures.

Aside from preventing possible damage to your home, turning on the HVAC system gives you a chance to ensure it is working properly. It will also help your new home be more comfortable when you move in.

Declutter and pack

Even if you don’t have access to your new home, you should start packing as soon as you have a moving date set. Acquire packing materials like cardboard boxes and bubble wrap so you can get everything safely packed away.

This moving checklist task isn’t just about getting organized for moving day. As you pack, consider which items you can get rid of by donating, selling, or throwing away. Decluttering for a move now will make it much easier to settle into your new house by reducing how much you need to unpack. This can be especially important if you are downsizing to a smaller home with less available space.

Transfer utilities and mail

Completing the change of address process with the U.S. Postal Service, utility companies, subscription services, and other service providers should also be done before the move.

Depending on where you are moving to, you may be able to simply transfer service to your new address with current utility providers. However, if you are moving to a place that has different providers, you will need to schedule shut-off dates for your old home and activation dates for your new house with each utility company.

You can complete the USPS change of address form online, and many subscription services have similar digital forms. Be sure to go through a complete list of your utilities, subscriptions, and other services to get everything transferred before moving day.

Take care of cleaning and repairs

While the previous owner should clean your new home, you will likely be responsible for cleaning your old home before moving day. If you’re going the DIY route, be sure to stock up on plenty of cleaning supplies like paper towels and trash bags. If you’re going to hire professional cleaners, it’s best to have them come right after you’ve removed all your belongings from the house on moving day to ensure a deep clean. You may also be responsible for completing requested repairs to your old property before you move out.

If you have access to your new house before moving day, it doesn’t hurt to go over and do a little extra cleaning, as needed. Schedule any repairs before moving day so your house is completely ready for you to move in.

new home checklist on moving day

On moving day

Move-in day is an exciting and stressful time. By planning ahead, you can ensure that everything goes smoothly for what is often the busiest day of the entire process.

Pack last-minute items

You’ll need to pack the last-minute essentials that you’ve continued to use up until moving day. This includes items like your toothbrush and other toiletries, phone chargers, and important documents. Keep these items in a bag that you’ll take with you, rather than having the movers load them on the truck.

Do a final sweep of the old house

After the movers have loaded everything into the moving truck, do a final sweep to make sure nothing got left behind. Check closets, cabinets, and other areas where items may have been forgotten or hidden. The last thing you need is for your driver’s license or another important item to get left at your old house!

Stay healthy

Throughout your moving day, make sure you have plenty of snacks and water to keep yourself and the movers energized and well. Keep a first aid kit handy in case of accidents or injury. As with your essentials bag, keep these items with you at both the old and new house, rather than having them loaded onto the truck, so they are readily available for you to use.

Oversee the movers

Professional movers don’t need you to tell them how to put things into the moving truck, but you should offer directions on where to unload everything at the new house. Telling movers where to place furniture or boxes will save you a lot of heavy lifting later on. After all, you don’t want your cookware to end up in the master bedroom!

It’s also helpful during the entire moving process to make yourself available should any questions or issues arise.

Get cash to tip your movers

While tipping your movers is never required, it is typically considered common practice. It is generally recommended to tip each mover between $5 and $10 for each hour they worked on your move.

If you don’t already have cash, get some from an ATM or your bank on the way to the new house so you can give them a tip for all their hard work. After all, you can’t tip movers with a credit card!

After the move

Even after your furniture and boxes have been unloaded, your work isn’t done. The next steps on your new house checklist don’t have to all be done at once, but they are essential for making your house into a home.

Unpack necessities first

For your first night in your new home, start by unpacking home essentials. Make sure you have bathroom essentials, such as toilet paper, a plunger, shower curtains, and other bath supplies. This way, you can use the bathroom and get cleaned up after a long day of moving.

Other first day essentials include trash cans (for getting rid of packing materials), bedding (so you have somewhere comfy to sleep), food, and dining supplies. Take care of the things that will fulfill your basic needs first. Items like your entertainment center can wait until later, if necessary.

Check out our tips for how to unpack after moving to avoid any unnecessary stress or headaches.

Organize each room

One way to streamline the move-in process is to organize each room one at a time. For example, you could start with the living room by arranging the furniture and unpacking the items that belong in that room. Once furniture and accessories are set up, you can move onto the next room.

Going through this process room by room will make it easier to see your progress. Once all the rooms are generally unpacked and organized, you can then move on to setting up decorations and decor.

Change locks

Even after the old homeowners give you their keys, it’s still a good idea to change the locks on your house. You never know if neighbors or other people have additional copies of your key. Hire a locksmith to update your locks so that only your own family can get into the house.

For added peace of mind, you might also want to consider installing a home security system. Alarms, motion-sensor lights, doorbell cameras, and other security features will help you keep your family and valuables safe.

Check smoke detectors

Another key safety consideration is to check that all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home are working properly. These detectors have a “test” function that you can activate by pushing the test button.

Replace batteries in smoke detectors as needed. Remember that the entire device generally has a 10-year lifespan and should be replaced after that time.

Meet your neighbors

As you start to get settled into your new house, you should also take time to explore your new neighborhood. Introduce yourself to your neighbors, who can be a great resource when you need recommendations for home repairs, doctors, and other local resources. Drive around your neighborhood so you can see where local grocery stores, gas stations, and other amenities are located.

Get to know your house

While you should already have a general idea of your home’s layout after pre-moving walkthroughs, you should reacquaint yourself with the property after your move.

For example, you should know where the circuit breaker and water shut-off valve are located in case you need to turn off the electricity or water for emergencies or a home improvement project. Familiarize yourself with your HVAC and sprinkler settings so you know how to adjust them when needed.

Recycle moving supplies

Finally, once you’re done unpacking, recycle moving supplies. Rather than just throwing them away, you can probably give them away through a neighborhood Facebook or Nextdoor group. Other people who are moving will be grateful for the free supplies, and you’ll clear out the clutter at your new home.

Setting up your new house

Getting your first home set up for your family can be quite a process. Fortunately, there are a few best practices that can be applied to any house to help you achieve the perfect mix of style and functionality:

  • Plan it out. Start by planning the layout of each room. Figure out where you want furniture, decor, and other items to go before you start moving things around. If you don’t already have furniture or accessories for a room, this is the time to consider which items you’d like to purchase to create your preferred appearance.
  • Don’t forget about storage. Making the most of your storage space is essential for helping your new house feel uncluttered. In addition to closets, pantries, and cabinets, you can keep rooms organized with baskets and bins, or with furniture that has built-in storage options. Don’t forget about commonly overlooked spaces like the top of your kitchen cabinets or underneath the bed.
  • Upgrade your lighting. The right lighting can go a long way in creating the ideal ambiance for your home. Go beyond overhead lighting with floor lamps or table lamps. You can also use mirrors to reflect natural light to help a room feel brighter and more inviting. Alternatively, installing curtains and blinds can provide shade and privacy as needed.
  • Landscaping. Once your interior is complete, consider if there are any landscaping changes you’d like to make. Adding or removing plant life or upgrading a porch or patio can enhance your curb appeal and help you enjoy your outdoor space. Be mindful of the seasons as you plan these changes.

FAQs about moving into a new home

What should you do when you first move into a new home?

Ideally, you’ll be able to clean and take care of any repairs before you start moving your stuff in. After you move in and begin unpacking, be sure to upgrade your locks and test your smoke detectors to ensure your safety and security. You might also want to consider installing a home security system and any kid or pet-related safety features.

What is the best way to organize a new home?

The best way to organize your new home starts by decluttering before you leave your old home. Getting rid of unused or unwanted items will leave you with more available living space for other items.

When you move in, take each box or piece of furniture to the room where it will be used (such as putting cookware in the kitchen). This will streamline the unpacking process and make it easier to get settled into your new place.

What essential items should you have before moving into a new home?

Aside from personal possessions like clothes and furniture, there are several items you’ll want to have ready for when you move in:

  • Bathroom essentials like toilet paper, plungers, towels, shower curtains, and toiletries
  • Hammer, screwdriver, wrench, and other basic tools
  • Cleaning supplies, including laundry detergent, dish soap, and dishwasher detergent
  • Bedroom items like clothes hangers, pillows, sheets, and other bedding materials
  • Dishes, cookware, cooking and dining utensils, and kitchen tools
  • Outdoor tools and equipment like lawn mowers, shovels, rakes, and a garden hose
  • Appliances (items like washers and dryers don’t always come with the house)

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