Just bought your first home? Moving into your first condo or house is exciting but it can also be stressful. After all, you have to coordinate movers, choose between paint swatches, and pack all your stuff. With all that going on, it can be hard to keep track of everything you need to do, enjoy the momentousness of the moment, and also plan for your life in your new neighbourhood.
Here’s a few things to consider before and during your move.
1. Purge before you pack
Before you pack anything, look at all your possessions and ask yourself what you actually need (or want) in your new home. Ready to replace the rug in your bedroom? Maybe you can donate the clothes you never wear or books you’ve already read?
“Reducing the amount of stuff you take can help streamline your move, saving you time and money,” says Tonya Currie, CEO of MoveSnap. “It can also mean less clutter in future — giving you more breathing space in your new home. Reach out to friends with trucks or large vehicles to help you save on moving costs. Your helpers will appreciate you streamlining your items ahead of the move, especially if they’re bulky – just remember to order pizzas to feed them.”
2. Make unpacking easier
Before you tape up a box, clearly label what’s in it and what room it goes in. This will help structure your unpacking. A good idea is to label the boxes you need to open first with stickers, coloured markers or a large “OPEN ME FIRST” so they’re easy to find.
Want to reduce waste and avoid a stack of cardboard boxes? Consider renting plastic containers or bins to move your things. Many cities have businesses that will drop off bins at your home and pick them up from your new place a week later.
3. Start gathering the furniture you need
Even if you have furniture from your old place, you might need some pieces for your new home. And buying a new home might mean your furniture budget isn’t as robust as you might like. “Buying your first home might make the budget a little tight in the beginning. Many new home buyers have a first night without a bedroom set, just a mattress on the floor,” says Tonya. “And that is okay! Furnishing your home doesn’t have to happen all at once. In the first year or so, budget for what you absolutely need and build slowly.”
When you can, see if you can set up furniture deliveries for on or after your move date – less to move on the day and less potential for damage to your brand-new (or new-to-you) pieces.
Finally, consider asking friends and family if they have furniture they don’t want anymore. Older pieces — like Grandma’s stylish mid-century modern pieces — were made to last and are classics. You can find other used furniture on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Kijiji.
4. Set up your utilities in advance
A month before you move in, call up all your utility providers — electricity, natural gas, phone, internet and cable companies — and make appointments to get your services in your new place. Planning well ahead of time will help ensure there aren’t any gaps in service and everything is ready soon after you move in.
5. Ask questions about the house
Once you’ve purchased the home, ask the current owners or occupants if they will make you a cheat sheet with stuff you need to know about how the home functions. For example, how often the heating ducts have to be cleaned or how the dishwasher works. Does the garage have a code to enter it? Ask if they know how to reset it. Ask if they have product manuals for the appliances they can leave for you. Make sure to ask so you don’t end up annoyed or unable to use some part of your home later on.
6. Take ‘before’ pics to show your progress
Before moving anything in, take “before” pictures. You’ll thank yourself later! You can show off your design skills are and the impact of any home improvements you make. “One quick change that makes a big difference is paint,” Tonya says. “A fresh coat of paint or an accent wall are low-cost ways to make a huge impact. And making low-cost decorating updates early on means you can save up for bigger purchases later on.”
7. Lean in to the emotions
Allow yourself to be excited — not just stressed. Think about all the memories you’ll create in your new place: parties, movie nights, holidays, entertaining friends and family. If you have kids or plan on having kids, where will you create a family growth chart?
If you plan on staying in this place for a while, this is where you’ll be making memories for a lifetime. Moving into a place that will serve as the backdrop of your life can be an uplifting moment.
8. Meet your new neighbours
Planning a housewarming party? Don’t just invite your friends and family — consider extending an invitation to your new neighbours as well. You might end up living next to them for years — or even decades — so getting to know them early may be a good idea. After all, you never know if you might need them to accept a package. Or they may have kids the same age as yours.
9. Link up your socials
Not the housewarming type? Many neighbourhoods and condos have social media groups to help neighbours connect, ask questions, get recommendations, look out for each other, and even volunteer for local causes. Join your neighbourhood groups and other local sites that include your new postal code. You’ll meet new people and get to know your community better.
10. Explore the new neighbourhood
Once you’ve unpacked most of your boxes, be sure to head out for a walk in the neighbourhood to see what’s in the area. Is there a cute mom-and-pop diner you want to try out? Or maybe there’s a community centre down the road with a pool? Check out the parks, cafés and shopping areas to figure out where you’ll spend your time and get your necessities.
It’s fun to support local businesses and get to know the people who work in your area. Developing relationships with a favourite barista or your local dry cleaner can help you feel like your home isn’t just a place to live but a part of a community.
Settling in won’t happen immediately. It happens over time. More likely, a month or two will pass before you unpack the last box or find your favourite restaurants in the area. But the more you can do before you move (or just after), the faster your new home will feel like home.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.