Moving to my first house in a week. Any last minute tips?
November 27, 2005 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Moving to my first house in a week. Any last minute tips?

I've already hired movers and cleaners, and I have a couple days between closing and moving day. The new house is only about 10 minutes from my apartment. I think I've got everything covered. What do you wish you knew before your move?
posted by kdern to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Throw out more stuff. Seriously.

I don't know what your previous living arrangements are/were, but chances are you've accumulated a whole lot of stuff in your apartment that you don't actually need. (Or even really want.) Go through stuff as you pack it and do quick mental arithmetic: Is keeping this object worth more than the effort of packing, moving and unpacking it?

Unpacking is far, far more work than you think it's going to be. You'll be tired, dirty and cranky. Unpacking another newspaper-wrapped knickknack will be the least appealing thing in the world.

Good luck though, moving to a new place is a great way to start fresh!
posted by generichuman at 3:58 PM on November 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

Make sure your new place is SPARKLING clean *before* you get all your crap in there.

Follow generichuman's advice - unpacking is the gift that keeps on giving.

Gonna paint the new place anytime soon? Do it before you move in.

If you have super shitty furniture that you plan on replacing soon, junk it NOW and live w/o that particular thing until you can replace it. Don't drag shit with you that's going to end up in the dump or on the curb. Junk it now.
posted by tristeza at 4:01 PM on November 27, 2005

Remember to say hello to your neighbours when you arrive.
posted by Navek Rednam at 4:01 PM on November 27, 2005

Throw out more stuff. Seriously.
Absolutely. It doesn't matter if you're moving into a bigger space. Most people, myself included, have way too much stuff; and the silver lining of moving is, it's a chance to pare down your belongings. Take advantage.

There was a previous thread to this effect on AskMe, and someone suggested buying a brand-new toilet seat for your new-to-you house. I thought that was good advice.
posted by cribcage at 4:12 PM on November 27, 2005

The "go bag" equivalent for moving is a box/bag with a shower curtain & rings, toilet paper, lamp, extention cord, one set of eating-ware [fork, spoon, knife, plate cup], phone, soap, towel, trash bag or two, duct tape and a box cutter/knife. If everything else goes missing and you're in a house with severely lacking amenities, you can at least have a shower, take a dump, eat a pizza, and not be sitting in the dark come evening.
posted by jessamyn at 4:12 PM on November 27, 2005 [8 favorites]

I will second the neighbor comment above... a good neighbor is a wonderful, wonderful, make your life less stressful, .... help out when needed.... get you into the community.... thing.

I did it at my current house, and have had absolutely no problems.
posted by Benway at 4:12 PM on November 27, 2005

Three things:

1) Make sure you have a toolbox with handy necessities (screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, box cutters, copy of Home Depot's home maintenance for complete dunderheads book), and make sure it is in a place where you can find it. The box of critical things you can't live without is also a good idea.

2) Not only should you get rid of stuff you think you aren't going to need before you bother packing it, any box that you haven't unpacked 6 months after moving should be viewed as stuff you should probably consider giving away. Exceptions for seasonal stuff and maybe one box of sentimental stuff.

3) Be sure to mark boxes in sharpie with something that will let you know what is inside, and what room it belongs in.

Oh, and just so you know, don't count on the house closing until all the papers are signed. You would be surprised what kind of things can go wrong at the last minute. Don't sweat it, though: the realtors and loan officers and escrow agents want the deal to close, because they don't get paid until it does!
posted by ilsa at 4:27 PM on November 27, 2005

If you're going to paint, do it before you move in.
posted by leapingsheep at 4:40 PM on November 27, 2005

Set off "bug bombs" a few days before. Just in case of lingering fleas, roaches, etc.. Easier now then when you are moved in and getting bitten.
posted by 6:1 at 4:40 PM on November 27, 2005

Seconding/thirding/whatevering getting rid of stuff (and setting limits on what you're allowed to keep for non-functional, sentimental reasons). Seconding labeling the boxes well, especially because you REALLY need to pace yourself when unpacking, and that way you will know what's in which box so you can unpack what you need when you need it and leave other things for another day - I would even go so far as to list what's in a given box if applicable, that way you don't have to go through six "kitchen" boxes to find the damned coffeemaker.

It's a BAD idea to get overenthusiastic about unpacking everything all at once, believe me, I speak from experience, you end up with a badly-organized mess because you were too tired and fed up to do it properly - especially because you're moving into your first house, do it right the first time, it makes everything easier.

Hook up the TV/stereo/computer/whatever you do for entertainment as soon as possible, having music to listen to while you work makes everything better, and I start feeling at home almost immediately once I get music happening, you will also likely be exhausted and wired at the same time at the end of the first day, and having something relatively mindless to do (like watch TV) to help you relax is a big plus.
posted by biscotti at 4:44 PM on November 27, 2005

Set up and make the bed first. This way, at the end of the day, when you're tired and cranky and all you want to do is sleep, your bed is already made.

Take pictures so you can look back and see what your home looked like without furniture!

Get to know your neighbors.

Throw out or donate stuff. If you have a storage locker, consider emptying it now so you won't waste money on storage rent.

Don't forget to tip the movers!

And above all, congratulations!
posted by fandango_matt at 5:02 PM on November 27, 2005 [2 favorites]

Set up and make the bed first.

This is fantastic advice.
posted by yerfatma at 5:15 PM on November 27, 2005

This thread had some very good tips on moving from place to place.
posted by Coffeemate at 5:22 PM on November 27, 2005

Oh, you have made arrangements to put power, water, sewer, gas, and garbage in your name, right? I hate to bring up the obvious, but you know what happens when you assume.
posted by ilsa at 5:31 PM on November 27, 2005

Along with painting, if you want to do anything to your floors or rugs, do it before you move in.

Two years ago I put a new floor in one room before I moved in and said I'd do the one in the livingroom afterward. It hasn't happened yet and it seems like such an enormous undertaking now.
posted by jdl at 5:53 PM on November 27, 2005

Check out the empty house for damage just before closing, you might have to have adjustments made at closing. My house was supposed to come with working appliances, they had taken the stove, the refrigerator didn't work and it had leaked water all over the floor. They also took the kitchen faucet, and all the built in light fixtures. My lawyer got a $2000 price adjustment for this stuff.

Folks may have also left a bunch of stuff behind. Junk it before you move in, anything you stack your stuff on will stay in the house for a long time.

Big seconds to the "making the bed" and "painting" suggestions.
posted by Marky at 10:52 PM on November 27, 2005

The "go bag" suggestion is extremely well advised - there can be nothing worse than trying to find which box the kettle is in when all you want is a nice cup of tea to help you recover!

ilsa has mentioned changing the amenities into your name - but also find out where things like the water and gas stop-taps are (before you hide them in clutter!) and also work out where the power is controlled (i.e. if there's a trip switch).
When we moved into our first home, there was no power - little did we realise that there was a normal trip switch *and* a master power switch.

Painting and decorating is great fun when you're in a completely empty room, especially if you haven't got any flooring down yet. Once stuff is in the way, you'll tend to put things off - I know we have!

If you're inclined, take photos/video of the place you're moving from (before and after packing) and where you're moving to (again, before and after unpacking) - even though it's only been a year for us, looking back at our moving video recently was great fun, and we'd forgotten quite what everything was like...
posted by Chunder at 3:12 AM on November 28, 2005

We changed the locks on our home when we moved in, and again when we came back after having had tenants. It may sound a bit paranoid, but you never know how many copies of the keys were in circulation before you got them, or who had them.
posted by sagwalla at 4:16 AM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

The big mistake I made was moving into my new house debt free then jacking up my credit cards purchasing random crap that only existed to 'fill up' the house.
If you can live without it, do so.
Go on a cash only basis for making purchases.
Spread those purchases out over the first year, rather than 30 days like I did.
Still regret it, still paying off the credit card debt.
posted by willmize at 4:27 AM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Definitely make an effort to meet your neighbors, and try to consider how stuff you do affects them--this is especially an issue if you're a first-time homeowner and used to apartment/student life. In particular, ask about things on the property line--do you trim that bush, or should I do it? Whose fence is that? These little things can turn in to larger issues, and if you're clueless about it you might never dream you've offended them. Fostering a good, or at least a neutral relationship, is so much better than getting involved in some weird feud that festers for years.

Similarly, get a survey of your lot done--it'll cost $250-$700 depending on how easy the corner stakes are to find. The lot lines might not be where you think they are or might have changed since a fence was built (it happened to my parents!), so it's essential to do this before you do anything near the edges of your property (even planting a tree).
posted by handful of rain at 7:01 AM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Some of the items suggested are not things that can be done before you move, but have to be done after you move, but I'd guess you're interested in all suggestions so I have some of both:

I second almost everything so far, but I strongly second these: the suggestions re neighbors (you may have problems with them someday, and you don't want your first conversation with them to be a complaint), painting, unpacking, taking pictures, re-inspecting, identifying all power/gas/water points, a toolbox, marking boxes with a sharpie, and having a survey done.

I would add specifically that you test all outlets and light fixtures before you start shoving furniture in front of them, and while you're doing this label the furnace circuit breakers or fuse box so you know what is controlled by which breakers/fuses. Buy some spare fuses if the house uses fuses. Include a flashlight in your tool bag. Make sure you know where the flashlight is.

Make sure you have a local phone book, especially a yellow pages.

I would specifically look for possible varmint ingresses for future reference. If you're in an area where things such as mice, carpenter ants, termites, etc, live, it would be good to go around and identify any obvious holes/flaws that might let them in now or later. You don't necessarily have to do anything about it now, but again this is easier to check for and solve before you put heavy furniture and appliances in place.

Prepare a list of local repairpeople/tradespersons/services that you might need in an emergency. Your real estate person probably has this list. If not, think electricians, plumbers, the utilities companies, furnace/boiler repair if applicable, and if you're not on city water or sewer then whoever handles well and septic services.

Without planning it, we ended up in a long conversation with the previous owners of our house shortly after closing, and this was a gold mine of information. After closing, they were willing to tell us about all the little idiosyncracies and problems with the house that they didn't want to divulge before the deal was done. Nobody knows the house like the previous owner/tenant. They can also tell you which tradespeople have done good work on the house.

Do you use your home address on any online accounts or shopping carts? Change it...

Miscellaneous things you have almost certainly already done: arrange to have your mail forwarded from the old place. If your phone number is changing arrange for anyone dialing the old message to get a message including your new number if your phone company supports this service. Make sure any important vendors you use - like banks, credit card companies, or investment firms - have your new details. Book the moving elevator in your apartment. Make sure you get your security/key deposit back when you leave the apartment.
posted by lockedroomguy at 11:18 AM on November 28, 2005 [2 favorites]

Based on my experience, I would advise that you not get worked up about the problems with the house that naturally surface as you live in it. I know when we bought our first house, every new crack in the wall and every newly discovered broken outlet was a big deal with us. I know the first-time buyers of that house when we moved out got way did the same.

So just enjoy the house and when the problem bits appear don't freak out about them. You'll love the house a lot more for a lot longer this way.

Does that make sense?
posted by booth at 11:26 AM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

sand and varnish the floors (if applicable) before you move in. its a dust monster if you try to do it once your belongings are in situ.
posted by johoney at 1:05 PM on November 28, 2005

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