What to do first? I bought a townhouse... now what?
April 14, 2014 7:29 AM   Subscribe

I did it -- I bit the bullet and bought a townhouse! I'm so excited! The sale completes today, and by Wednesday by the latest I'll have the keys. Movers are scheduled for Saturday, and I'm already mostly packed. What should I do with the place between those two dates? It's a local move, only 20 min away, and I will have a least a day and a half to do stuff -- what should I be doing?

I'm not going to paint or do any work on the place yet; I want to live with the place for a bit before making any changes. On my todo list is to change the locks and clean what needs to be cleaned, and install a couple smoke detectors. I've already called everyone that needs to be called to set up utilities, forward mail, etc. What else can I do that will make (a) my new home feel like home and (b) make the move as painless as possible? What do you wish you had done? What did you do that you're so glad you did?
posted by cgg to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
If you need to do anything like add shelving in the closets, now is the time to do it. It's a lot easier to unpack directly to your storage solution than to have boxes sitting around waiting for you to get around to the installation. I'd also recommend going around and checking things that will be harder later: making sure there are no cracked or loose outlet faceplates, and so on.

I also painted before I moved, because it's so much easier without furniture in the way; so if there's any room you definitively want to change (I had a gross green color in one of my bedrooms), do it now.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:35 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get some carbon monoxide detectors.
Set up the bathrooms with soap, towels, rugs, TP, shower curtains.
Do your basic kitchen set up, cups, plates, silverware, coffee pot.
Identify nearest home improvement store.
Decide where all the big furniture is going.
Put some beer in the fridge.
Plant something pretty outside.
posted by florencetnoa at 7:36 AM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you are even THINKING about painting or new flooring I urge you to think very hard about doing that before you move.

Also if you might need any new outlets or cable drops run as those are also significantly easier to do in an empty place.
posted by magnetsphere at 7:38 AM on April 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

Congrats on your home!

I wish I would have set up an alarm system before moving in. It was on my to-do list within the month, and my joint got knocked over two weeks after moving in. It's pretty common, sadly.

One thing that helped with movers was to number boxes, and then number rooms. Make arrangements for pets, if any (consider having them boarded for the day?). Use the spare time to move plants and art gently.

I think I got this advice here, but changing out the toilet seats was great. New house, new thrones.
posted by Lardmitten at 7:38 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you think you may paint, decide now. Painting while empty is 700 times easier than painting around furniture. if you know you're going to paint, but you haven't decided what colors, at least buy a 5 gallon tub of paint and paint everything one, neutral color until you decide.

If you sort of like the paint, leave it.

Window coverings. Hang blinds and curtains. You don't want the neighbors peeping in.

Move your fridge and pantry contents. If you can do your kitchen ahead of time, I recommend it. At least coffee maker, mugs and flatware. Stock your fridge with bottles of water and soda for the movers and trades-people that will be working in your house.

Line your shelves with shelf paper.

Bring over your bathroom stuff. Hang shower curtains.

Be sure there's plenty of Toilet Paper in both places. Also a roll of paper towels in each john and in the kitchen!

Buy extra packing tape!

Make 100% sure you are packed up. One closet can take longer to pack than your kitchen.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:40 AM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Lots of easy to grab snacks. Cooking is off the table during a move, and drive-thru gets really old and is shitty for you.

Your supermarket will have tasty things that are easy to just grab and nom. Hummus and veggies, cheese cubes, fruit, pre-made sandwiches, etc.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:42 AM on April 14, 2014

Think about everywhere you get mail from and start changing your address. (For me, the big ones were Cable bill, utility bill, Car insurance, Pay stubs etc)

I gave the new place a deep and thorough clean before we moved in. Even though the seller was supposed to leave everything clean, we obviously had different standards! This was SO much easier to do without any boxes etc. hanging around and I'm so glad I did it.... in a way I was symbolically erasing the old owner and clearing the slate for me and my Fiance.

Change any lightbulbs that need replacing

Bring some toilet paper with you

But honestly, I'm in your shoes right now and believe me - everything just takes TIME and lots of it. We didn't feel as if we had too much to do and we've only lived in our new home for 2 weeks but there are still boxes everywhere and we are still working out where everything needs to go.

Buy yourself some champagne too and MANY congratulations! I haven't stopped smiling since we bought our place. I feel kind of rejuvenated in a weird way because my routine has been completely shaken up and that's a good thing!
posted by JenThePro at 7:44 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

If the unit has been empty for any significant length of time, it's probably going to need smoke-detector batteries. All of them should be tested forthwith either way, along with the aforementioned CO detectors. Read up on what's required as well as what's recommended.

re: address changing, some people in my area have had huge headaches because certain government agencies related to tolling have out-of-date address information. Update your voter registration, any kind of automated billing system. Update your credit cards and banks (because some stores will only allow high-value items to be shipped to a billing address that's on the card, etc.).
posted by Sunburnt at 7:50 AM on April 14, 2014

Call your isp! We'd hate to lose you.
posted by Cranberry at 8:00 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like to clean and line the cabinets & kitchen drawers with drawer liners.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:23 AM on April 14, 2014

Do you have a garage and does it need painting? That's the one thing I wish we had done, because it's never been empty after we moved in.
posted by gt2 at 8:24 AM on April 14, 2014

Painting and flooring work. Painting because it's easier without things in the rooms, and flooring because it's next to impossible with things in the room.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:25 AM on April 14, 2014

Make a floor plan of the entire place, there's a nice app for that. Take lots of pictures so if you're looking to make major changes, such as a new couch, you have a blank canvas for photoshopping a preview.
posted by Sophont at 8:29 AM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

In addition to all above ...
Measure everything, including heights and all windows and filters (change those).
Find out where the water shutoff is.
Label the breakers in a way that makes sense.
Hang ceiling fans.
Plan your first special "meal" that's celebratory.
posted by mightshould at 8:42 AM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding the blinds and curtains and shower curtain. We forgot and had zero privacy the first couple of days.

A portable radio that played the iPod was key, some familiar music blasting as you unpack is fun.

A welcome mat for the front door. Sounds stupid but was a nice touch that immediately made me feel like I was entering my home.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 8:46 AM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Paint! We had a couple of rooms painted before we moved in to our current home, but didn't do our bedroom because I couldn't make a snap decision about what color. 8 years later, we are still living with the ugliest neon yellow. Ugh. I agree with RB above: if you're not sure what the ideal color would be but you don't like what it is now, pick a neutral (any neutral!) and just do it. Folks at the paint store can advise on good, popular neutrals (things that tend to look good in a variety of lighting), so you don't have to worry about making anything worse.
posted by msbubbaclees at 9:16 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pack a bag or box with things you will want right away-
- A few complete changes of clothes
- Coffee/breakfast things- You will have a MUCH better first morning in the house if you have solved the breakfast problem before you wake up.
- a few plates, glasses, forks, etc. and the means to wash them
- any pet supplies you will need immediately
- at least two rolls of TP per bathroom
- a small first aid kit with band-aids and pain relievers
- a lamp if your house is not well equipped with overhead lights
- shower supplies
- some easy to eat snacks

Not having to search for these things makes the first couple of days of the move so much less stressful.
posted by Adridne at 9:54 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Definitely set up your bathroom now. Nothing worse than trying to take a shower without a shower curtain. Also the "first open box" with easy-to-eat food, clothes to change in to, etc.

I would also recommend painting now.
posted by radioamy at 10:23 AM on April 14, 2014

To make the move easiest, decide now where you want the furniture to go. Measure all the spaces, make sure things are going to fit, and map the space out. Then get a stack of post-it notes, and go around to each room marking the position of everything. Include all the things the movers will need to place, as well as where you want the stack of boxes to pile up in each room. That way the movers will be able to move as fast as they want, without depending on you for instructions every minute.

If you want to make things super-easy for the movers, get packing tape in a couple of different colors, or use labels in a couple of different colors, and color-code your rooms. You know that the box labelled "yarn" goes in the guest bedroom, and the box labeled "winter sweaters" goes in storage not in the bedroom, but the easier you make it for the movers to put things in the room they're supposed to go in without direct help, the easier it's going to be for you directing traffic on moving day, and the less likely you're going to be late to work and frantically hunting for a pair of boots that's actually stacked under 10 boxes in the living room because it looked like it said "books". (No of course that didn't happen to me.)
posted by aimedwander at 10:30 AM on April 14, 2014

Get the carpets cleaned, if there are any. I did that for my new home before moving in, and was shocked to see the black water they brought out. Ew.
posted by veerat at 11:22 AM on April 14, 2014

How long has it been since the ceilings were painted? Even if you leave the walls for later, a fresh coat of paint on the ceilings can improve the look of a place enormously, and doing it while the rooms are still empty is lots easier.
posted by Corvid at 12:22 PM on April 14, 2014

posted by raisingsand at 12:48 PM on April 14, 2014

When we bought our condo we flea-bombed it before we moved in.
It is comforting to know, now, that the fleas we have are OUR fleas.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:38 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Take something with a plug and go around figuring out which circuit each outlet is on. Create a map of this.
posted by anaelith at 6:08 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I bought my place and I had an evening gap before the movers came, I bought a big bag of cleaning supplies and a six pack. I spent the night cleaning the crap out of the place because it helped me get to know every nook and cranny. I danced around to the radio in a furniture less house and slept in a sleeping bag on the floor. It was home. It was heaven.
posted by floweredfish at 6:28 PM on April 14, 2014

« Older Graduate Housing for the Complicated   |   Flat foot Cinderella strikes again Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.