The Ultimate New Home Checklist

By Natalie Yerger

After closing on a house, many new homeowners feel blindsided by the accompanying moving to-do list. Given the option, few of us would volunteer to jump on a laundry list of tasks immediately following such a serious purchase.

While many chores can be completed over the years, there are a few essential tasks that should be done right away. As for the remainder, it’s important to at least familiarize yourself with the projects, appointments, and errands you’ll need to complete as you get settled in.

New home checklist: pre-move

Here’s a shortlist of moving tips, the tasks you need to complete before moving day, and the items you’ll need to buy.

1. Gather packing supplies

Getting your things to the new house is half of the battle. If you’re going at it alone or hiring professional movers for transport only, you’ll need packing materials and moving supplies. Gather boxes, a box cutter, tape, stretch wrap, labels, markers, packing paper, bubble wrap, scissors, trash bags, and a few small, sealable plastic bags. Most items on this list can be purchased from a packing supply store. For moving boxes, you may be able to obtain a handful from your local grocery or liquor store free of charge.

Start packing as soon as you know you’ll be moving—this will help you organize your belongings over time and prevent you from rushing to get every little item safely secured and stored in a box.

2. Research and hire movers or book a truck rental

Make a list of questions to ask a moving company, ranging from liability coverage to cancellation policies. Then, contact at least three reputable moving companies for an estimate. It’s a good idea to ask the movers to perform an in-person inspection of your belongings, especially if you plan on hiring them to help pack. This will ensure the quote they give you is as accurate as possible. If you’re taking on a DIY move, you’ll be researching truck rental options and booking a moving truck.

3. Notify insurance, schools, and service providers

Contact health, auto, and home insurance providers, and give your employers at least two weeks’ notice prior to your move. If you have school-age children, notify school officials of the move at least six weeks ahead of time and send over current school records. You’ll also want to transfer records to any healthcare providers, pharmacies, and veterinarians in your new location.

4. Forward the mail and transfer utilities

Two to three weeks before moving, contact the post office and schedule a change of address. This will help you avoid missing important bills, packages, and letters. During this time, you should also contact utility providers to give them a heads up about your move and schedule disconnect dates for gas and electricity. Don’t forget to contact your cable, internet service, and home security providers, as well.

5. Deep clean the new house

The best time to do a clean sweep of your new home is when it’s completely empty. Take advantage of the window of time when it’s no longer occupied by the previous owner and you’re not moved in just yet, and hire a housekeeping service for a deep clean. The highest level package is usually best as it will include additional rooms like the basement and attic, as well as light fixtures, windows, closets, the refrigerator, and cupboards.

6. Paint, stain, and complete other projects

By the same token, home projects become complicated when a house is full of furniture and people. If relatively minor jobs like painting rooms, staining hardwood floors, and removing wallpaper are on your list of to-dos, have someone do the work while the house is still empty.

It’s nice to allow the paint and stain to air out while you’re not living there, and it’s even more enjoyable to move in with a fresh coat of paint or beautifully stained hardwood floors.

New home checklist: post-move

After you move into a new house, you’ll be eager to kick back and relax, but once you’ve enjoyed a celebratory moment (or glass of champagne), take care of chores that will help you feel more at home.

1. Change the locks

For your first task, look no further than the front door. It’s likely that the previous owner’s broker or real estate agents had a key, so change the locks and make new keys for you and your family. This is also a good time to install a home security system, if you plan to do so.

2. Schedule internet, television, and telephone connections

It’s best to have these providers wire service a few days before you arrive. It usually doesn’t take more than 48 hours or so to have these services scheduled and installed.

3. Unpack

This is a relatively straightforward process of opening boxes and putting their contents in the proper place, but the way you go about it can be efficient or cause it to drag out for days. Start with the contents of the most important rooms like the kitchen and the master bedroom. Once you’ve unpacked your day-to-day essentials, tackle the rest of the house. It can be helpful to create a floorplan at this time and unpack each box in the room it’s designated for. 

4. Explore the community

Take a few hours or an entire day to get out on the town and familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Locate a grocery store, pharmacy, local coffee shops, playgrounds, restaurants, hospitals, and other destinations you expect to frequent. This is also a great time to walk next door and get acquainted with your neighbors.

5. Update your address on important documents

Make a list of the different providers, accounts, and subscriptions you have and update your address on all of them. A few time-sensitive documents to update include your voter registration, driver’s license, tax forms, credit cards, and bank accounts.

6. Send out a moving announcement

If you haven’t let your close friends and family know about your transition, now is the time. Some people opt for a simple social media post while others like to send a customized e-card complete with their favorite colors and graphics. Whether via snail mail, the internet, or through a simple phone call, celebrate your big move by letting your loved ones know.

Room-by-room essentials

Now that you’re all moved in, take a look at the items below and make sure you have all the essentials for every room in the house.

Kitchen

  • Dishes
  • Fine china
  • Cups and bowls
  • Glasses
  • Pots and pans
  • Cookie sheets
  • Cutlery
  • Silverware
  • Cookbooks
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Spices and spice racks
  • Serveware and platters
  • Dish towels
  • Dish soap and sponges
  • Drying rack
  • Oven mitts
  • Tupperware
  • Cutting boards
  • Ice trays
  • Trash and recycling bins
  • Garbage bags
  • Paper towel holder
  • Strainer
  • Aluminum foil, plastic wrap, parchment paper, and wax paper
  • Coffeemaker
  • Crock pot
  • Drawer organizers
  • First aid kit
  • Pen and paper
  • Salt and pepper set
  • Coasters
  • Placemats
  • Sponge and sponge holder
  • Under-sink storage organizers

Dining room

  • Table
  • Extension leaves
  • Chairs
  • Table linens
  • Napkins and napkin rings
  • Buffet, sideboard, or console
  • Bench or settee
  • Wine bar or rack
  • Wall art, mirrors, or clocks
  • Centerpieces
  • Kitchen cleaning products

Bathroom

  • Toilet paper
  • Plunger
  • Toilet brush
  • Scale
  • Trash bins
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Toiletries
  • Shower curtain and liner
  • Shower caddy
  • Hand towels
  • Bath towels
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • Bath mats
  • Bathroom cleaning products
  • Tub mat
  • Bath towels
  • Hand towels
  • Washcloths
  • Hair towel
  • Soap dish
  • Shower caddy
  • Cosmetics organizers
  • Hair tools
  • Toothbrush
  • Razor

Bedroom

  • Mattress
  • Bed frame
  • Bedding
  • Pillows
  • Nightstands
  • Lamps
  • Alarm Clock
  • Rug
  • Floor mirror
  • Dresser
  • Phone charger
  • Drapery hardware
  • Curtains
  • Blackout curtains

Living room

  • Bookshelves
  • TV and remote
  • Chairs
  • Sofa
  • Rug
  • Lamps
  • Coffee table
  • Decor
  • Side tables

Home office

  • Desk
  • Lamp
  • Monitor
  • USB cords
  • Desk chair
  • Printer
  • Telephone
  • Scanner
  • Fax machine
  • File cabinet
  • Stationary
  • Ballpoint pens
  • Calendar
  • Fire-safe box
  • Paper shredder
  • Supplies (paper, stapler, scissors, etc.)
  • Trash can

Laundry

  • Washer
  • Dryer
  • Drying rack
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Laundry baskets
  • Trash can
  • Dryer balls
  • Dryer sheets
  • Detergent
  • Bleach
  • Stain and odor removers
  • Sewing kit
  • Over door hanger/organizer
  • Mesh wash bags
  • Sneaker washer and dryer bag
  • Hangers
  • Floor mat or throw rug
  • Fabric finish and spray starch
  • Dryer lint brush

Closet

  • Storage baskets and bins
  • Hamper
  • Hangers
  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Jackets
  • Extra linens
  • Drawer liners
  • Hanging closet organizers
  • Shelf dividers
  • Stacking drawers
  • Hooks/Hook racks
  • Hat organizer
  • Purse organizer
  • Luggage
  • Carry-on or backpack

Other household items to consider

  • Surge protectors
  • Extension cord
  • USB wall adapters
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Cables (ethernet, HDMI, etc.)
  • Headphones
  • Portable chargers
  • Batteries
  • Flashlight
  • Safe
  • Smoke detectors
  • Tools
  • Umbrella
  • Travel adapter
  • Step stool
  • Garage wall organizers
  • Hoses and extensions
  • Garage organization materials
  • Vacuum
  • Broom and dust pan
  • Yard and gardening tools
  • Lawn mower

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