When you move into a new house — especially if it is in a new city or state —it can be hard for it to feel like home. The process of moving is difficult enough, with all of the packing and unpacking, address and utility changes, and trying to figure out where the grocery store is. But settling in can be even more of a challenge, and for some of us, it can take weeks or months to fully adjust.
On top of the obvious moving checklist items like registering your kids in a new school, making sure the internet is set up immediately, so you don’t have to live without it for a day, and forwarding your mail, there are actually a few things you can do right away to make you feel at home and truly comfortable as part of your new community.
1. Collect Receipts
If you file an itemized tax return and are moving for a new job, some moving expenses are deductible, so be sure to keep all of your receipts in a file and store it in a safe and secure place. And even if you don’t think you qualify for a deduction, still keep receipts relating to the move, like gas and mileage and travel expenses. Also remember to keep the Bill of Lading for anything you have shipped, plus the payment receipts.
2. Register to Vote
A good way to become part of your new community is to register to vote. When you move to a new city or state (or even a new precinct), be sure to update your address for the local voter rolls so when election day rolls around, you can be a part of it. Checking on local news websites and maybe even getting a subscription to the local paper will help you get up to date on local issues and candidates. And, it is an excellent way to get involved and become a part of your new community.
3. Change the Locks
When you move into a new house, one way to secure it is by changing all of the locks. You have no idea how many keys the previous homeowner gave to friends and family. So, to avoid strangers having keys to your home, change the outside locks and also remember to change the codes to your garage door.
4. Check All Boxes and Furniture
One of the first things to do after all of your boxes and furniture are unloaded is to inspect everything to make sure nothing was damaged or lost. Hopefully, you conducted a home inventory while packing up your old house, and this is the time you want to revisit that list. If you discover that something is damaged, make sure to contact your insurance company or mover as soon as possible so you can submit a claim and get reimbursed.
5. Host an Open House
This might seem a bit odd, and having strangers in your home is probably the last thing you want to do after a move. But, this is an excellent way to meet your new neighbors, and many of them probably want to see the inside of your house. You don’t have to throw a formal party, just keep it simple, and schedule a few hours on a weekday afternoon for people to stop by. Offer snacks and drinks, like chips, cookies, beer, coffee, and soda, and take the opportunity to meet your new neighbors and learn about your community.
If you are moving to a new city, or a different part of your current one, reach out to your friends and family to find out if they know anyone who lives near your new home. Ali Wenzke, an Art of Happy Moving blogger, told Realtor.com this makes it easier to meet new people, and it keeps you from starting at zero.
“Reach out to your network of friends to see if anyone knows someone in your new city … and then reach out via email and maybe meet up for coffee once you’re there,” Wenzke suggests. Even if you don’t hit it off, you still get the chance to talk with a local and find out fun things to do in the area.
7. Contact Insurance Companies
Moving requires new insurance, or at the very least making some changes to your current policies. So be sure to call your agent or the insurance company so you can make changes to your homeowner’s insurance, as well as your health and auto coverage. This is especially important to do if you move to a different state.
8. Go Outside
After days and weeks of dealing with cardboard, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and old newspaper, take the opportunity to take all of that outside once you are finished unpacking. Instead of working inside the house or in the garage, break all of your boxes down in the driveway or on the lawn. It will give you the chance to talk with people walking by and get some fresh air.
Also, try timing tasks like raking leaves or bagging recyclables for when people are picking up their kids at the bus stop so you can create an opportunity for a meet and greet.
If you have a dog, be sure to walk your fur baby around the neighborhood, so you both can get some exercise, have the chance to meet someone new, and get familiar with your new surroundings.
9. Get To Know The Neighborhood
Go for a drive or walk around your new neighborhood so you can get comfortable with the area while finding the nearest gas station, grocery store, bank, and hospital. Also, take the time to find local stores and restaurants. Owners of local shops and diners are well-connected members of the community, and you can easily get to know people in those settings.
Of course, you want to make sure you know where the closest Walmart and Target are located. But, shopping local and patronizing family-owned restaurants can help you settle into your new neighborhood.
10. Light A Candle
One of the best ways to get comfortable in your new home is to create familiar sights, sounds, and smells. Lighting candles with your favorite scents, playing music that you love, and unpacking a few of your favorite items can help the transition to your new surroundings.
Put some familiar items in a “favorites box” for when you move, so you can easily access them in your new home. Then, like Apartment Therapy founder Maxwell Ryan, unpack those things immediately to help you settle in.
“I’ve had a cuckoo clock for years that sings every 30 minutes,” says Ryan. “To me the sound of the clock is home, and having it running right away always does the trick.”
11. Personalize Your Space
Start creating your own vision for your new home by painting, adding some decor that you love, and making some minor repairs. But, hold off on hanging any artwork or photographs right away. Instead, unpack a few pieces each night and lean them against a wall or nightstand so you can enjoy them, but you are also giving yourself time to figure out where to place them permanently.
12. Closets First
You want to be comfortable and living well in your new house from the moment you move in. So, instead of unpacking the common areas first, focus your efforts on your closets. When your first day at your new job or the kids’ first day at a new school rolls around, you don’t want to have to waste your time searching for your favorite clothes.
Instead, unpack your clothing first before moving on to larger areas. This will allow you to have immediate access to that favorite sweater or pair of jeans from day one.
Many people will find that having access to everyday comforts can help with the settling in process. When making a big move, blogger Joy Cho told Good Housekeeping she makes bedding a top priority.
“The first thing I do when I move in is pull out all my clean bedding,” she says. “Pillows, duvets, sheets, and throws — the works. There is nothing more comforting than sleeping in your old, cozy bed.”
14. Don’t Order Take Out
Cooking a meal might not be a top priority for most people. It might require you to unpack all of your dishes, silverware, pots, and pans, plus it usually means a trip to the grocery store.
However, don’t always opt for going through a drive-thru or ordering pizza. Instead, prepare a home-cooked meal in your new house to help you get settled. It can be something simple, and it will help you feel more comfortable in your new home, even if you are still living among boxes.
Having a daily routine is important for many of us when it comes to being comfortable, but it can be easy to lose things like keys or a wallet in a new house because you don’t know where you put them. So, as soon as you move in, create a space for bags, keys, and coats. And, use the same bins or hooks that you did in your own home if that works for you. Just because you have changed houses, it doesn’t mean your routine has to change. So, set things up in a way that allows you to get back into your routine in your new space.
It is inevitable for your first few days or weeks in a new home to feel foreign. But, don’t wait for a milestone like a birthday or holiday to feel happy and settled. Instead, doing some little things on this list can help you make that transition to a new house and neighborhood much quicker, and your new house will feel like home sweet home.