I want to go home, your child whines.
It’s 2 a.m. on the first night in your new house and you’re exhausted. You know exactly what they need––their favorite blanket, a cup of milk, and a warm bath.
Problem is, the blanket is packed away somewhere, the fridge is empty, and there’s no hot water.
When moving into a new house, it’s up to you to make sure the bare necessities of a home––like safety, warmth, and comfort––are consistent. Put it off, and the first few nights in your new house become a sleepless disaster.
We asked a professional moving company that has organized over 20,000 moves and top real estate agent who has closed over 2,000 real estate transactions what you need to set up before moving into a new house, so it’s safe and warm on that dreaded first night.
Here’s your moving into a new house checklist that’s crucial for comfort and safety.
Take measurements of each room to plan your furniture layout.
Kitchen table area
Formal living room
Guest bed 1
Guest bed 2
Transfer utilities before you close escrow.
Get appliances up and running.
Plug in the fridge
Test the stove and oven
Run the dishwasher
Find warranty and owner manual
Stock up on basic cleaning supplies for quick disinfecting.
Clorox disinfecting wipes
Toilet bowl cleaner/brush
Rags and towels
Address electric, plumbing, and safety concerns.
Circuit breaker located and operational
Main water valve located
Water heater turned on
Change over the locks from the previous owners.
Front door locks changed
Backdoor locks changed
Basement locks changed
Garage door locks changed
Porch locks changed
Stock the new kitchen with easy meals for post-moving.
Milk and cereal
Chips or crackers
Keep your household essentials handy and in plain sight.
Hand soap placed in every bathroom
Sheets and pillows for the beds
A few clean bath towels
Disposable cups, plates, and utensils
Pack a bag like you were going on a short vacation.
Few changes of clothes
Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, fash wash, lotion)
Make pets comfortable with consistency.
Place water bowls in the same room as your previous house
Put favorite toys and blankets out for comfort
Fill kennel with familiar items
Explore the neighborhood beforehand.
Find the closest hospital/emergency room
Find the closest gas station
Write down phone numbers for local fire and police department.
Scope out the nearest parks and schools
Find the closest grocery store
The 11 bare necessities checklist for moving into a new house
1. Take measurements of each room to plan your furniture layout.
While the house is still empty, measure rooms to plan out where your furniture will go.
You’ll know exactly where each couch and table should be dropped when moving day comes. A bit of order in the layout can make the mess of boxes seem a little less messy.
2. Transfer utilities before you close escrow.
When you move out of a home, you’ll shut off the gas, electric, and water to prevent accidents while the home is vacant. Before you close escrow, transfer the utilities to your new house so the city has time to get them running.
Chris Murray, a top real estate agent who has sold over 74% more properties in Hemet, California, than the average agent, says that some real estate agents forget to tell their clients to transfer utilities on time.
“If the gas and water are shut off, it could take a couple weeks to get someone out there,” Murray says.
Make sure you call your utility company before moving day, so you have water, electric, and heat when you get into your new house.
3. Get appliances up and running.
After you’ve deep-cleaned the kitchen, make sure the fridge is plugged in so it’s cold and ready to use when you move in.
If you moved your fridge into your new house, let it stand upright for 2-3 hours before you plug it in. This will allow the fluid to flow back into the compressor to maintain the cooling mechanism.
Turn on each stove top burner to test the gas and pilot light. For an electric stovetop, turn on the burner and hover your hand over it carefully to feel the heat. For an induction stovetop, bring an iron pan to test it.
To test your oven, set it to 375 degrees. Put a small amount of granulated sugar on an oven-safe dish into the oven for 15 minutes. The sugar will melt if the oven is functioning correctly.
Run the dishwasher empty with the highest heated drying option. Check for leaks and make sure the inside is hot when it’s complete.
If the appliances were included in your home purchase and you notice a defect, talk to your real estate agent to review your contract with the seller. You may be entitled to contact a real estate attorney if you were wronged or lied to in the purchase of your new home.
If the appliances are yours from your previous home, check to see if the appliance is within the warranty period. Contact a repair professional to assess the issue.
4. Stock up on basic cleaning supplies for quick disinfecting.
At the very least, you want to clean the bathroom and kitchen of your new home before you move in.
Sure, the previous owners likely deep cleaned the whole house. But since the home was first listed, there’s no telling how many people walked through and touched all the surfaces. Deep clean the bathroom and the kitchen before you start bringing boxes in so the house is safe and sanitary for your family.
5. Address electric, plumbing, and safety concerns.
Heaven forbid a fuse blows or a pipe bursts on your first day in your new home, you need to know where the circuit breaker box and the main water valve are.
During your preliminary cleaning, find the circuit breaker box and main water valve and scope out these important controls for your home’s safety. If you have trouble finding them, look at your house’s blueprint.
6. Change over the locks from the previous owner.
When the seller hands over the keys to the house, how do you know those are the only keys? The reality is: you don’t. Keep your family safe from the first day in your home with new locks on every exterior door.
“I always recommend you change the locks,” says Murray.
“You just don’t know what’s floating out there. Typically, agents have a deal with a security company and they’ll get a discount on security systems at the close of escrow.”
Ask your real estate agent if they work with companies that can provide a home security system at a discounted rate. At the bare minimum, hire a local locksmith to come to change the locks. Or, pick up a new set of knobs and locks at HomeDepot.
Here are some sites to help you find a locksmith in your area:
- Find Local Locksmith is an easy platform to find the most reliable, licensed, and insured Locksmiths in the country. Type in your ZIP code and instantly receive a free list of the vetted locksmiths in your area.
- Thumbtack provides free quotes from local professionals who meet your needs. Enter your location, answer some questions about what you need, read reviews, and choose the best professional for the job.
- Angie’s List matches you with top professionals in your area. Angie’s Certified professionals meet various standards to assess reliability and experience including a criminal background check, overall rating based on reviews, proper licensing, and more.
7. Stock the new kitchen with easy meals for post-moving.
Bring some essential foods to your new kitchen to hold you over during the move and the first few days you live there. Frozen pizza, milk and cereal, granola bars, water bottles, instant coffee, and some fresh fruit should do the trick.
8. Keep your household essentials handy and in plain sight.
Box up your essentials (everything you’d pack on an overnight trip––medication, phone chargers, your kids’ sleep essentials, etc.) and put the box in an obvious, safe place––on the kitchen counter or table.
9. Pack an overnight bag like you were going on a short vacation.
“Always be sure to pack one bag or box with important items you want to be able to access easily,” says Matthew Stewart, the Director of Sales at Movers, Not Shakers!.
In the past 16 years, this eco-friendly New York City-based moving, storage, and logistics company has performed over 20,000 moves.
“This includes, passports, medicines, cell phone chargers, etc. Things you will want quick and easy access to throughout the moving process,” he adds.
Pack a bag as you would for a short vacation, with every essential item that you need for 3 or 4 days. This allows you to take your time unpacking, rather than dig through boxes in a panic to find things you need.
10. Put pet beds and bowls in the same room as your previous homes.
Cuddly companions are part of the family, so moving affects them, too.
Pack up your pet’s belongings and put them in the same room as your old house.
As they adapt to the new house, keep their routine the same. Don’t change food or swap out their blankets for clean, new ones.
11. Explore the neighborhood beforehand.
Before your gas tank empties mid-move or you drop a dresser on your foot, get to know your new neighborhood to identify nearby hospitals, schools, gas stations, hardware stores and grocery stores.
Like you would with a babysitter, write down the phone numbers for the local fire department, police department and hospital and stick them on the fridge.
Move into your new house and get settled
Now that your new house is ready for you and your family, it’s time to move in! Use professional moving tips and tricks to make your move easy and stress-free, and chat with your real estate agent who knows the area like the back of their hand about any other to-dos you should tackle to make this unfamiliar place feel like home in no time.
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