Updated on 12.06.13

Ten Things To Do When You Move Into A New Home

Trent Hamm

Since my wife and I are less than three weeks away from moving into our first home, we’ve been researching the things that we need to do as soon as we move. It wouldn’t be The Simple Dollar if I didn’t compile a list of the things we’ve found and posted it here! Here are ten basic things that you need to take care of as soon as you move into your new home (or just before). Some of these seem extremely basic, but they’re all very useful in making sure that your bases are covered when you move in.

Get your address changed At the very minimum, stop by your old post office shortly before you move and ask what needs to be done. You may want to contact your creditors as well as any magazines that you subscribe to directly so that they’re aware of the move and you don’t miss an issue or a bill.

Contact the utility companies If you’re moving into a preowned home, get the contact information from the previous homeowner for all of the utility companies they used for the house – this is often a great place to start with that because all of the hook-ups should be in place. In most places, you will need to have the basic services in your name before you move in. The ones you need to contact include electricity, gas, cable, telephone, internet, garbage, sewer, and water.

Get your emergency kit in the house first thing During the moving process, there are many, many opportunities for minor first aid issues. Make sure you have your first aid kit in a known place. Also, get the emergency numbers for the area and put them in a known place.

Know where the main circuit breaker is Check it out and make sure you fully understand the labeling. If it’s a new home and not labeled, label it yourself before moving in too much so that you know which breaker turns off which area.

Know where the water shut-offs are This includes the main water shut-off as well as shutting off outside water. This is a very useful question to ask the previous homeowner and also to find yourself as soon as you’re there.

Check the smoke detectors Find all the smoke detectors and test them all. If you don’t feel the home is adequately covered with them, install some more as quickly as possible. Similarly, make sure there’s a fire extinguisher on every floor.

Identify emergency exits Make sure everyone knows how to get out in the case of a fire. In many homes, this is straightforward, but it’s good for everyone to know where they should be going to get out.

Check your street number Make sure that your house’s street number is clearly visible from the road, especially if you’re expecting a moving truck and/or delivery truck shortly after the move.

Get your locks changed This isn’t a strict requirement, but it’s a good idea to get the locks changed in the house shortly after moving. If you haven’t had them changed, there could be any number of keys out there floating around that match your lock.

Update your driver’s license, car registration, and voter registration In Iowa, you can do most of this very quickly, but don’t let it slide or you’ll get a nasty surprise in the near future – this should be done within a month of the move.

A bonus tip: send out your new contact information This is a great way to touch base with a lot of people. My wife and I are going to make a brief one page announcement to send out to basically everyone on our holiday card list, which will include some pictures of the house, our new address, and so on.

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  1. StockRake says:

    Know the cross streets for when you order pizza — and you will be ordering in during those first nights in your new house.

  2. Don@AffiliateWatcher says:

    I hope you had your new home inspected by an independent code certified inspector. Speaking from experience, both personally and from friends/families, it’s money well spent. Don’t rely on the city or county.


  3. Me says:


    Yep. you read it correctly.

    Caulk everything air-tight.

  4. Good post, and congratulations on the new home!

  5. Justin says:

    I was wondering why so many of your recent posts have applied so specifically to me… we, also, are moving in roughly three weeks, from an apartment to our first house! Perfect timing as far as I’m concerned.

    Good list, by the way. I would also recommend getting your new phone/address registered with the national Do Not Call/Mail lists. If that’s your sort of thing.

  6. Bill says:

    You might want to replace those smoke detectors.

    Mine were required by code when the house was built – but they are AC only (don’t work if the power fails)

    I just mounted battery-powered models next to the pre-installed detectors, but you can buy replacements that include a battery backup.

  7. Another tip: write down the names of new neighbors as you meet them. If you can draw up a crude map, and match names with houses, that really helps, too.

    When we move (hopefully never), we’ll leave a map with neighbors’ names for the next homeowner.

  8. GeekMan says:

    It may seem a stretch, especially considering this is a PF Blog and frugality is the norm, but you might also want to make a list of handymen/professional contractors in the area. No matter how well the home might have passed its inspection when you bought it, there are bound to be things that you will feel need to be “fixed”, and some of those things will most likely be beyond your personal abilities. A leaky sewer line, roof leaks, a necessary new phone jack, rewiring a light fixture, an unsafe stair railing or even something as seemingly unnecessary (but vital to you) as building built-in bookshelves can crop up as sudden things that you find are absolute “MUST-HAVES”.

    Trust me, that list can save a marriage.

  9. Lani says:

    As far as changing your address and things, its best to wait until your loan has funded. Because there is always the off chance that the lender will pull another credit report and you’re new address will be on there, OR need new paystubs and your new address is on there. They don’t like it very much.

    Lani – in the mortgage business

  10. My father and I have very similar names and when I moved out of his house and into a new place, all our mail was sent to me. Is there a way to prevent this? It’s been such a hassle for him, because he’s missed a lot of payments and what not. I live far away from him.

  11. Dean says:

    To the person who has a similar name to his father:

    I have the same problem and when I moved out I had to call up every person/company that sends me mail and change my address. You can also use company websites to change your address quickly and easily in many cases. You do not want to use a post office change of address form in this case as you already found out. In your case, you may want to try to cancel the mail forwarding from the PO and your father will probably have to call the senders that have already changed his address to have it changed back. I don’t know how the PO handles changes of address so it might not be that simple but I’m sure there’s a way. Good luck.

  12. Christy says:

    Write up directions to your house and post them near your phones. Carry a copy with you. For deliveries and stuff, not having to rebuild the map in your head each time can save a lot of trouble.

    I actually have written directions to my house from all 4 points of the compass, so each person gets the most efficient set, but that may be overkill.

  13. tehnyit says:

    Check, check and then check it again that your insurances for your new house and contents are correctly and adequately up to date.

    Unfortunately, in the emotional high of moving into a new house, we tend to forget the STLI (small things, large impact) things.

    Congratulations on the new house.

  14. plonkee says:

    Don’t have my luck. I don’t think I’ve ever moved into a place where the previous occupants had paid their utility bills up until the day I moved in.

    In my recent house purchase, no one had paid the bills for 6 months. There were ‘we will take you to court and cut off your supply’ letters. Its not a problem to get the records amended, you just need to do it straight away.

  15. KMK says:

    May I suggest the emergency kit include a couple of rolls of toilet paper? Nothing is worse than having to go while you are moving and at the “wrong” home.

  16. You forgot the most important part:
    Before moving, in the empty new house, open a bottle of wine and celebrate with your wife !

  17. Mardee says:

    By the way, you can set up a change of address for the post office online at http://www.usps.gov. Temporary holds are free and changes are $1 for the credit card verification. It’s worth it to me not to have to get in my car and drive to the post office, and it takes less than 5 minutes.

  18. suse says:

    In addition to the toilet paper, a “now” bag would be good – with a roll of paper towels, a couple plastic utinsils and paper plates and cups, and some sort of soap and small towel for washing hands in the bathroom.

    Since you have little ones, a diaper bag with extra diapers, wipes and a few of your child’s favorite toys/blankets/books to keep them occupied.

    This will save frustration and time while you are diggging for the boxes you thought you labeled correctly(now where did that box go?!)

  19. Karen says:

    I have one suggestion: since moving is very tiring, find out in advance where you will order or get dinner from; even if it is a cheap burger or pizza, not having to cook the first night can be a lifesaver.

  20. Aknight says:

    I’ve managed to move about ever two years for most of my adult life. In addition to sending the “We’ve moved” announcements, I’ve found it useful to get a few (250 or so) cheap business cards with the new personnel info. You can include them with your announcement and give out to any new friends that you might meet at work/church/market…

    Plus if you need to tell someone your new address it’s a quick reference and you don’t have to worry about paper and pens to write it out each time.

  21. Jayme says:

    In regards to ‘get your locks changed’…recently several friens became first time home owners. Rather than each of us going out and buying new lock sets for our doors, we all swapped. I hung on to our old lock set to pass along to the next friend who moves. This renews your security by ensuring that the old owner’s family members no longer have the correct key to your new home, as well as saving money on the new lock set!

  22. martha in mobile says:

    Here’s an odd one. If there is more than a few days before you move into your new home, make arrangements for the mail to be picked up frequently. An enterprising person with no regular address sent off tons of credit card applications using our address before we moved in and picked up the cards in the mailbox; several arrived for him after we moved in. He came by and asked for them, but I told him that, as he wasn’t the previous resident, I had innocently written “return to sender” on them. Then we started getting his bills, phone calls and letters requesting payment. To the credit of the issuing companies, once we explained the situation (and opened a case file with the Postal Inspector) the calls tapered off. Still a bit of a bummer.

  23. Vicky says:


    I had almost the same thing happen to me, except that after we moved in the guy just started stealing our mail along with his. I found out when the letter carrier became suspicious of the number of names going to our address. He intercepted me while I was doing yard work and explained the situation: apparently there are people who use the addresses of vacant houses as physical addresses for online scams, and in all likelihood the stolen mail included checks from the victims. He handed me the mail in my name and suggested I put a few pieces of junk in the box to see if it disappeared. Indeed it did! After that the letter carrier automatically returned to sender any mail not in our name, at least for a few weeks. It’s a strange situation, but basically if you’re buying a house which had stood vacant for any time at all you may want to keep this in mind.

  24. Daniel says:

    I couldn’t understand some parts of this article o.us poetry, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

  25. Deb0725 says:

    Prepare a move in box. Add candles, flashlights, spare nails, screws, hammer, and any other type of spare tool you might possibly need for moving into a home. Someone has to hook up the fridge and the washer and dryer and your two little hands will not do it easily without the proper tools. Extra pens, paper, tape, and the emergencykit are all helpful in this “Rescue box” as our family likes to call it.

  26. Adrienne says:

    Vicky, thank you for that wonderful post. I am moving into a home that has been vacant for awhile and that is an issue I had not even thought of (it is sad how you have to think like a criminal these days). Thanks again for the post!

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