Moving into a new house is a stressful endeavor. Aside from the chaos and mess of packing and getting all of your worldly possessions to a new place, once you arrive it can also be pretty overwhelming. Everything feels foreign and a little surreal, and in the middle of the night, muscle memory leads you to what you thought was your bathroom but is actually your new closet. Getting settled into a new house can be unsettling.
We arrived in our new house a week ago today and we have been working our butts off trying to get everything unpacked and settled. Hubby and I are completely exhausted by the end of each day and we’re still playing the guessing game with about half the light switches when we walk into a room. Despite all the stress and confusion of getting settled into a new place, we are thrilled to be here.
To help us feel more at ease in our new place, we did some things right away (or are in the process of it now) to help make our new house feel like home. Many of these things are completely optional, and not necessary, but all of them sure do help us feel like this house is becoming ours.
Tips for Making a New House Feel Like Home
Test all your new gadgets and gizmos. Make sure all your fire/carbon monoxide testers are working. Locate and program your thermostats. Locate your main circuit breaker. Test your water sprinkler system. Get your new security system installed. Make sure all the lights and appliances work. Basically, just familiarize yourself with all the technology and widgets and gadgets you will use on a daily basis and make sure you know where everything is located.
Change the locks. Call a locksmith and have him come out to change your locks on the front and back door. While the previous owners probably gave you all the keys, you never know what weird relative or neighbor they gave a key to when they went on vacation years ago. Even if it’s not necessary, it always makes me feel better to get new locks on my house that I know for certain no one else has a key to. Also, change all the codes to any current security system if you’re keeping the one that’s already installed.
Create a family escape plan. One thing you must do, especially if you have kids, is to familiarize them with the layout of the house and go over what they need to do and where they need to go if there is an emergency. If you feel disoriented in a new house, imagine how your kids feel. They need to feel safe and know where to find mommy and daddy if they have to.
Get the carpets cleaned. Frankly, I prefer hardwood floors throughout but sometimes (most times?) you will move into a house that has some carpet. If you’re lucky enough to have time to have the flooring replaced before you move in, more power to you. But if you don’t have the time or budget, at least hire a professional to get the carpets cleaned. Carpets are inherently pretty dirty; they catch all kinds of allergens in the air, dust, dirt, hair and skin cells, etc. If the previous owners had kids or animals, the carpets are probably even dirtier. Just do yourself (and your family) a favor and shampoo those carpets (you can also purchase your own carpet shampooer if you want to make this chore a quarterly ritual).
Find your local grocery stores and restaurants. One of the first things you’ll want to do when you get moved in is get some groceries in the house. But until you find your preferred grocery spot, you’ll need to figure out where to get a quick dinner on those night where you’re up late unpacking. Research the best local restaurants to get you fed in the midst of the chaos and then hightail it to your favorite grocery store as soon as you have a chance. There’s not much better than a home cooked meal to make you feel right at home.
Start a list of all the things that need to be done. For me, I get pretty overwhelmed by all the changes I want to make to a new place. As you can imagine, I have a very specific idea of how I want a room to look before I even move in (what else does a person think about in the days before closing or is it just me?). So when I’m trying to get settled, I often get distracted with trying to “fix” things instead of just focusing on unpacking. To keep myself on task, I make a list for each room of all the things I want to do to it so I don’t forget all my ideas. It helps me to focus on getting rooms set up and ready to live in instead of obsessing about all the fine-tuning that can happen a little later on.
Take a walk. My family takes a walk every evening before dinner so this is really important to us. One of the best ways to get to know your neighborhood and get familiar with all the streets and routes is to take a walk around the block. Familiarize yourself with all the landmarks and street names so that when you’re out and about later, it will be less of a stressor trying to find your way around.
Say hello to neighbors. Sadly, I have noticed that neighbors rarely introduce themselves to each other anymore. I totally get that you want privacy and that saying hello to perfect strangers is intimidating and weird, but you’re going to be living next to these people until you or they move again so, like it or not, you’re going to have to get to know them. I’m not saying you have to go knock on their door if that’s not how you roll, but if you see them out in the yard or checking the mail, just shake their hand and say hello.
Take a break. This tip is key for feeling at home in your new place. It’s likely that you’re going to be neck deep in boxes and stuff everywhere for at least a few days. Work hard to get things settled, but don’t forget to know when to call it a day and relax. My hubby and I made it a point to call it quits early one night and we had a drink and watched a movie on tv. Snuggling with my husband on the couch in our new place was a great way to make me feel right at home during those first few days.
Moving in is hard; maybe even harder than moving out, in some respects. It can be stressful for adults and scary for kids. But if you make an effort to do some easy things like these to make your new place feel more like home, you’ll get settled in mentally sooner than you might physically!
What are some other ways you like to make a new house your home?