Updated on 06.28.07

Three Fears I Have About Moving

Trent Hamm

There are a lot of small financial fears I have about the whole moving process – future costs, lifestyle changes, and such. This is my first go-round as a homeowner, so lots of questions float through my head. Here are three of the most prevalent ones – and my attempt to answer them.

Increased energy bills Although our apartment may be the most energy-inefficient place on earth (a box air conditioner, terrible air flow, and baseboard electric heating), we’re moving to a space with more than triple the square footage of where we currently live. The energy bills are going to go up – I’ve looked at some estimates of their bills, but I don’t know how they lived in comparison to us.

My plan Take all of the energy efficient bulbs we have at our current apartment and move them with us. Install a programmable thermostat shortly after moving (the house may already have one). Lower the water heater down to 125 degrees or so and put a blanket on it. These are the first steps I’ll take, and I plan on many tweaks after that.

Lawn maintenance An ongoing debate between my wife and myself has been how to handle this chore. Should we buy our own lawnmower and maintain it and invest the time, or merely pay the person who has been mowing and trimming the grass for $20 a week? We keep oscillating on this issue, but I believe we’re leaning towards the service at first.

My plan Hire someone to deal with the lawn the first week or two, then evaluate where we’re at when we’re settled in. I have no objection to doing the lawn care myself, but the startup expenses plus the time investment is something I’m going to have to calculate carefully.

Neighbors As I’ve mentioned before, interacting with people sometimes can cause me trepidation. However, we will have to meet our neighbors shortly after moving, one in particular because there are some property boundary line issues that need to be discussed (both ways, there are items that each home apparently owns that reside on or very close to the property line).

My plan My wife and I are planning to go meet all the neighbors shortly after the move one evening, then have a barbecue with them sometime after that. Better put on the social hat, I suppose.

For those homeowners out there, what aspects of moving filled you with trepidation?

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  1. Moneymonk says:

    They are always hidden costs of moving up in house.

    Property taxes
    Energy bills
    Furnishing the house ( more space, more furniture)

  2. Dennis says:

    Moving can be fun… you may make some great new friends.

    On making your energy use more efficient, be sure to check all the windows and doors to make sure they are sealed correctly. That should help save on air conditioning.

    Good Luck!

  3. Neighbors are always my biggest fear. I’ve lived next to some horrible people before, and I can’t help but remember them every time I go somewhere new.

    Good idea with the BBQ, making a good first impressions is critical, in my experience.

  4. psymin says:

    After moving into our home we slowly discovered that there were numerous major issues with the property that we hadn’t planned on. I’m sure its too late at this point, but I hope you hired a good home inspector (or two).

  5. Bill says:

    Lower the water heater temperature to 120F and your kids will never get scalded (an extremely painful and expensive injury)

  6. Beth says:

    Cook your neighbors something yummy. How could they not love you?

  7. Some people are just bitter, no matter what. But indeed, everyone loves food Beth :-D

  8. stephen says:

    Push Lawn Mower @ Wal-Mart = $100

    Number of times to mow the lawn yourself to recoup costs of mower / gas = 6

    Exercise on a 100 degree day = priceless

    When it doesn’t rain, mowing the lawn once a week might be excessive.

  9. Mary says:

    Lawn Care: Let someone else do it, $20 is not a lot of money, plus as the summer goes on and there is less rain the lawn will need to be mowed less. The expense of buying a mower, buying gas, maintenance, spark plug, oil and filter, sharpening the blades, storage, plus weed eater expenses, gas/oil mix, now to cans of gas, string and the time envolved. I go with having someone do it if you can get it done for $20 or so.

  10. Jennie says:

    What filled us with trepidation? Probably the whole “What is going to break and how are we going to pay for it?” thing. And for the record, in two years, it has been: gas range, garbage disposal, one toilet, air conditioner condenser unit, and a couple of ceiling fans. So even if your home appears to have been “lovingly maintained” and even if the inspection passed with flying colors…be prepared.

  11. Rick says:

    My opinion about the lawn care is three letters: D-I-Y.

    I bought a decent lawn mower at K-Mart for $150 and a trimmer for $35. Gas is cheap too. I have a small yard now, but when I was younger and lived with my parents, we had an oddly-shaped (difficult to maneuver) yard of about 1/4 acre. It took me at most 1 hour to mow. A single tank would last for two separate mows.

    Therefore, it takes about $200 upfront costs, and about 50 cents in gas and 1 hour each week. So, unless you have a huge yard, I would much rather spend that than $20 a week to pay some neighborhood boy.

  12. OregonWmn says:

    We just moved from an apartment into our new home a month ago. We were a little slow to get into a routine watering the yard and a few things were burnt by the sun. We were busy with unpacking, etc. and let the watering slide. Make sure you stay on top of it.

    Also, put in your address change via the USPS site. You have the opportunity to sign up for coupons when you do. We received 10% off at several stores – Home Depot, Lowe’s, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Linens and Things. This has been so helpful as there are so many little things to buy when you have a new home.

    Our neighborhood organized a garage sale for the week after we moved in. We were able to go to several houses and introduce ourselves.

    Just say hello to your neighbors when you see them. It is a bit awkward at first, but each time it gets easier. Some will be very friendly back and others will be very standoffish.

    Enjoy your new home and thanks for your posts!!

  13. Rick says:

    I do have a question about the water heater blanket. Is this just a normal bed cover blanket, or is this a special water heater blanket? Do you need to take special care not to cover the front of the water heater where the gas pipe is?


  14. kim says:

    I would advise taking an inventory of the yard plants. When we bought our first home, the people before us had put in beautiful flower beds. Unfortuantely, they were filled with many toxic plants. We had to remove several species when our children were born. Take a sample of anything you can not identify to a green house or the county extension office. Better safe than sorry!

  15. Jim Kane says:

    Used lawnmowers can be had pretty cheaply around here — I paid $20 for a Black & Decker MM575 electric that I use right now. I believe it uses $0.25 of electricity each time I mow the lawn. The previous owner didn’t like dealing with the cord — it’s not a big deal for me.

  16. Justin says:

    It may sound kind of corny, but doing lawn care yourself can be a pretty satisfying hobby and a good way to get a little exercise. If you’re going to be doing your own gardening, I see no reason not to do your own lawn care as well.

    Besides, how often do you get to work outside?

  17. Jenn says:

    I agree with Rick, paying $20 a week is a waste of money unless you have a huuuge lawn or some debilatating injury. We also got the cheapest mower Home Depot sold ($150) and it’s worked just fine for four years. Even just getting a service for 3 or 4 weeks would have covered half the startup cost. And let’s face it, are you going to be diligent about canceling after 2 weeks with everything else you’ll have on your plate?

    Besides, it’s exercise, fresh air, and pride of ownership!

  18. Jenn says:

    Also, think of it this way: Your choices are to either pay $20 a month or to pay maybe a $200 start-up cost. You’ve chosen to do BOTH, which never makes sense to me from a financial standpoint.

  19. It can be overwhelming to learn everybody’s name in a new neighborhood. I recommend drawing a rough map of your block, and labeling each home with its occupants’ names as soon as you learn them.

    Bonus: leave such a map for the new owners any time you move.

  20. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Thanks for the advice, guys. It’s really appreciated.

  21. Stephen says:

    Good luck on the move.
    As moving in anywhere, be it another apartment or a house,there’s always the little repairs, or comfort items to install when moving, that aren’t always obvious at first. A door that leaks air needs new weatherstripping, you’ll probably have an army of ants marching inside somewhere. Don’t forget switches that don’t work. Set aside $150-$200 for these miscellaneous repairs.

    I also second the recommendation to lower the water heater to 120*. The lower the better, and 115-120 is usually the lower limit.

    Depending on the size of your yard, you may be able to use one of the old fashioned blade push mowers, which require no gas at all. The economic and environmental advantage to this should be obvious.

  22. Elaine says:

    Push mowers are even simpler, cheaper, less maintenance, no gas, better for your lawn. QED.

  23. terri says:

    Having two kids and a large lawn and a manual push mower, I’d pay to have someone do it if I could. Right nowthe neighbors are on vacation so we are using their riding mower. Having also lived in Iowa I bet your lawn is 1/5 the size of mine. But you just cannot imagine what a second child will do to your life….going from 1-2 is harder than 0-1 if you ask me! At least start with the service this year and decide next summer what you want to do after the new baby and getting settled. Oh and there just seems to be so much you have to buy when you get a house….small stuff that adds up. Make more laundry detergent…you are going to need it!

  24. Lauren says:

    We moved into our house almost 8 years ago and after 4 years we finally had a yard sale to get rid of the stuff that got piched in the attic in the rush of moving. We are getting ready to move again! This time we are setting out a donation box(maybe two or three boxes) as we pack if we haven’t used in a great while we are donating it to a charity. No need to pay milage for stuff we are not going to use. Plus the charity picks up!

  25. Kathryn says:

    Been in this house for 5 years now. My suggestion is to start a line in the budget for home repair/maintenance and then set aside money each month for this and building up a designated savings account. There WILL be repair expenses, probably more of them than you had in the apartment. (Our garbage disposal blew out the first night we were in the house!) And if nothing small breaks…well then you’ll have the money saved up for the roof when it comes time for that.

    The interesting question is how much should you set aside? Many years ago I found a government website that had an suggestion for estimating (based on home value) but I lost it. If you find some suggestions, please post them.

  26. Todd says:

    Lawn care? Do it yourself. If I walk fast and the grass isn’t too long, it takes an hour and fifteen minutes to mow ours. That’s the only truly ME time I ever get. I can’t be working, I can’t be playing with my son, I can’t be talking to my wife or emptying the dishwasher. (All of which I love, BTW–except emptying the dishwasher.) All I have is the voices in my head.
    I wouldn’t trade that for much.

  27. Tena says:

    As soon as you start getting your utility bills figure out which ones are the lowest each month and the ones that seemed to get higher with every turn of the calendar, call that utitility company and find out if they offer something like a “budget billing” program. There may be a waiting period of a year in your new home to join the program.

    In my hometown that type of program is offered by the electric company and the natural gas company, but my husband and I chose to get on the program for the electric bill since that is the highest bill of all our utilties. (We’re in the south and using central air is essentially necessary to breathe. Therefore the highest bill. We do a lot of grilling in the summer so the only time we use gas is for the water heater).

  28. Flounder says:

    Non-gas powered push mowers http://www.cleanairgardening.com/reelmowers.html

    I’ve never used one but I’m going house hunting next week and will probably get one when I move to Indy.

  29. You might want to go to http://www.vistaprints.com and order free or next-to-free business cards, but just use them to print up your names, new house address, and contact info – email, phone, cell. Neighbors would be happy to have them. It’s really embarrassing to me that I can’t actually REMEMBER my new neighbors’ names, after they move in, so it would be handy to have it written down.
    If a few neighbors are friendly, you might organize a tool-sharing thing. there are all kinds of tasks that you’ll need to attend to, and it’s a drag to go buy all that hardware that you might not need again. Good luck in this new home – me it truly be a dream house.

  30. JT says:

    Energy Bills: We put our natural gas and electric bills on the utility company’s budget plan. We live in MN so our gas bill really fluctuates. Sure it bites to pay $70 in June for a $20 gas bill, but it is worth it in January when you pay $70 for a $200 gas bill. Plus it is much easier to plan your monthly expenses. When we bought our first house the gas company set our budget amount based on the previous owner, but they adjusted it after 6 months because we used so much less gas. We also are on the electric company’s “Cycled Air” program where they can cycle our A/C on and off in 15 minute intervals. The fan stays running during that time. They give us a $10 credit on our bill each month during the summer for being on the program.

    Lawn Care: I agree with the others that say DIY. I would think in IA you are looking at a mowing season going until late Sep to mid Oct. At $20 a week that will be $240 to $300. Plus for me, some weeks it seems the only exercise I get is pushing the mower.

    I would recommend spending the money to get a top quality mower if you can afford it. I would get a Toro or a Snapper from a dealer. I would avoid the ones sold at Home Depot or other big box retailers. They are not the same quality. I bought a top of the line Toro 10 years ago, from a friend who owns a small gas engine shop. It still starts and runs great. I just change the oil a couple of times a year and the spark plug and air filter every spring. The oil is only a pint each time. The filter and spark plug cost less than $10 and are simple to change. I also bought an attachment for my Dremel tool so that I can sharpen my own blade.

    Depending on how much important the appearance of your lawn is to you, you can have a lot of sneaky expenses in your water bill, fertilizer, weed killer, sprinklers, hoses, fertilizer spreader, rakes, etc.

  31. brent says:

    someone posted that the lawns won’t need mowing in summer: which is why you SHOULD have someone show up to mow the dust?????

    The REASON you move from a nice, maintenance free apartment to an ACTUAL home is that you shape the home with your own hard work: it’s YOU who fixes the garage back door, it’s YOU who turns off the plumbing and replaces all the leaky taps, it’s YOU who trims the trees, mows the lawn, plants the vegies and puts up a tree-house for the kids.

    Home-ownership is all about adding value to your experience, not farming it out to contractors. Trust me, you’ll not only save money and carbon emmissions by mowing your lawn yourself (you’ll end up doing it less often than a contractor) you’ll be imbued with a sense of purpose – it’s not just any old grass your mowing: it’s YOUR grass.


    Biggest things you can do to improve your energy bills: look at the insulation in the roof, buy better curtains, hang shade cloth in front of the sun-facing (north facing in Australia, south-facing there) windows to block out the sun, look at the energy rating on your fridge, then your washing machine, then worry about your hot-water heater, remember to run the grey-water from your washing machine onto the lawn, park your car undercover so it’s not 40 degrees (celcius) when you get into it in summer.

  32. David says:

    Mowing the lawn yourself is the way to go, I mowed my parents’ lawn for many years before I moved out and it was incredibly satisfying being able to finish up and look at the job that I did. That is one of the things I miss the most, living in an apartment.

  33. Ursula says:

    @Rick — To answer your question, it’s a special water heater blanket, not a blanket from your linen closet. :)

    The water heater blanket is a cylindrical-shaped, insulation-filled thingie. They’re usually silvery colored. And, yes, there’s typically cut-outs or openings for the valves and such that are on the water heater.

  34. Bones says:

    I don’t know if someone has told you yet, but here’s my piece of advice: when removing CFLs put on plastic gloves (kitchen gloves are perfect for this). Never touch the glass with bare hands as the acid on human flesh eventually eat up the enclosure and the light won’t work any more.

    Just my two cents, come out of a lot of moving experience.

  35. reulte says:

    Go with a push lawn mower to start and do remember that it does take a little maintenence to keep the blades sharp and the gears clean. In the winter plan a garden (flower or vegetable) . . . not necessarily to plant for this year but for long term plans – xerophytes require less water, some ground cover tops out at 4 inches. In Texas, where it can get hot and dry, I’ve seen yards where the front yard is covered with gravel – sometimes painted green, sometimes natural with a few cacti or shrubs for decor. So there is no maintenence! Check out a few books on landscaping from the library simply for ideas.
    If you have central air/heat — turn off the vents in the unused/rarely used rooms. Minimize cooking in the summer – salads, cold soups (mmmm! Gazpacho!), ceviche (OK, that’s an acquired taste), veggies & cheese & crackers. Last night dinner for me was popcorn sprinkled with almonds. Can you get use to BBQing quite often? I had a neighbor who rarely used his stove and could be found almost every evening BBQing dinner on his patio. I’ve seen a recipe for dishwasher fish – you put the fish (in tightly sealed foil) in with the dishes for the evening. Haven’t tried it, but if you’re running the dishwasher every night anyway . . .

  36. Brip Blap says:

    Kathryn had a good comment on setting aside some money each month for home repairs. We effectively did this as part of our emergency fund, but there will always be a thousand “small things” that aren’t really emergencies but need to be done. As big city apartment dwellers my wife and I were a bit overwhelmed by all the stuff we needed to buy for a house. I didn’t own a shovel, and you need a shovel for the yard if you do any sort of yardwork. We needed to buy a big trash can for hauling trash to the dumpster instead of dumping it in the apartment’s trash chute. We had to buy tools for the little around-the-house chores (if you don’t own a wrench, for example, the first loose nut on a toilet/sink/etc. is going to be a nightmare). The toilet bob breaks, a key breaks off in a door lock, etc. etc.

    Owning a home is a lot of work and a lot of expense compared to an apartment. Worth it – but be prepared for many, many more unexpected expenses!

  37. Deb C says:

    Good luck with the neighbors. The day we moved in the next door neighbors dropped off a casserole. It was a great way to break the ice. Later in the month when returning the dish I filled it with homemade muffins. It was the start of a great relationship. Now 20 years later they are our best friends! My husband and I thought of moving over the years to a bigger home, but we could never find the community we have here. That’s worth so much. Also, I agree that mowing your own lawn is so much better than hiring a service. Enjoy your new home!

  38. Critterknit says:

    For home maintenance budgeting, I’ve heard of 1% of the home’s value per year. That way, the cash is available for the big stuff (painting, termite treatment, roof, etc) when it becomes necessary. Although, there is obviously a great deal of accrual built in there, so over a good 3-year period, you could end up with a rather substantial dedicated savings account – up to you as to how much cash you feel comfortable having sit in savings.

  39. Bellen says:

    Love all the comments on lawn care but nobody seemed to comment on the boundary line issue.
    Your lawyer should have picked up on this and worked out a solution before you signed the papers. Boundary line issues can become extremely bitter, nasty and may end up in court. In one town we lived in 2 neighbors had an issue with a 4 inch over the boundary planting. Ended up in court after several ‘had to call the police’ incidents – took 4 years and several thousand dollars to correct. Even if the neighbors appear to be nice, you just never know when it comes to boundary lines.
    BTW, I’d opt for doing my own yard – good way to meet the neighbors and sure does give you pride of place.

  40. Monica says:

    When I buy a house, I plan to get a reel mower — yes, the old-fashioned kind that needs neither gas nor electricity! Because I live in an urban area, I know I won’t have a huge lawn — it should be quite manageable (especially given that I hope to have a vegetable garden). I look on this as an opportunity for fresh air and exercise. It’s kind of crazy in our society how we try to reduce as much as possible the amount of physical activity we get in our daily lives, and then we turn around and pay for gym memberships!

  41. Elizabeth says:

    It seems that Bellen was the only other person to discuss it; but the boundary line issue that you very briefly mentioned is likely a much bigger deal than you think. I lived in house where the neighbor’s had built their garage (unknowingly) 5 inches into our yard (this was before we lived there.) It wasn’t discovered until after we moved in and surveyors and lawyers had to get involved. It didn’t get messy with the neighbors in terms of relationships (we all became great friends) but the boundary lines had to be redrawn and it was a slightly expensive drawn-out headache. I would recommend that you approach it as gently as possible, but be prepared. (And don’t ignore it, because if you just ignore it then it could possibly be considered consent if you knew about it and didn’t do anything.)

  42. E says:

    -Property taxes are a constant worry.
    -When I first moved into my house I was concerned about hoodlum kids hanging out in the street until ungodly hours of the night, trashing the neighboorhood, breaking into cars, drug use/selling, etc. I feared the worst but have been pleasently surprised. It could always be worse, I could live downtown!
    -As we were preparing to move in I remember being almost paralyzed by the thought of discovering some defect with the house that was not discovered or disclosed before closing. Again, turned out to be my own pessimism.

  43. Debbie says:

    My only fear was stuff breaking all the time.

    Now my only fear is not being able to find good repair people. My awesome car mechanic retired, but my new one is okay. My awesome plumber has disappeared. I never have found a good appliance repair person or a good electrician. I am too weak to do my own plumbing and too afraid to do my own electricity (except installing GFCIs everywhere).

    I’m thinking of getting another house inspection to see where things lie now. The inspector may be able to give me some hints on this sort of thing, too.

    I’d heard that one should save 1-2% of the value of the house (which keeps changing!) each year for upkeep. If you want to make any improvements, you’ll need more.

    My lawn recommendation is to not change much (unless you absolutely know you want a tree somewhere) until you’ve lived there the entire year and have seen all your current plants through all the seasons. You might find little surprises all year. Of course, some of them might be bad surprises. (Nut grass. Johnson grass. Fruitless mulberry. And my personal favorite, “beggar’s lice.” Those were some of my bad surprises. But I also had crepe myrtle, lantana, fig, redbud, and a thing that breaks out into a billion white blossoms for one week each year.)

    Those mowers that don’t require gas don’t work so great on some of the plants in my yard, but I live in a dry area, so maybe I have more tough plants than you do.

    For energy issues, see if your utility companies have any programs. I got my (50-year-old) house weatherized when I first moved in and my utility company subsidized it a bit. Before the weatherization, my air conditioner could not cool off the house to a temperature I found acceptable enough for inviting people over into, even though the inspector had said the air conditioner was only two years old and worked great. After the insulation and sealing was improved, I could cool my house, and my bill went down even though it got hotter outside.

    I worry about neighbors moving in with obnoxious dogs. My plan is to throw chocolate chips over the fence because I’ve heard chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Okay I would never actually do this plan. I guess my real plan is to fantasize about throwing chocolate chips over the fence when I am trying to fall asleep to the sound of dog barking.

  44. Karen Isaacson says:

    First of all, energy costs are controllable – you can zone your house [pick areas to heat/cool] and keep one room comfortable in case temperatures go to extremes. That’s what keeps us going given that our little house [

  45. wayne says:

    $20 is pretty cheap, but the people doing it will run over anything in there way (pick up your hoses). I have a battery powered lawn mower that I got used about 6 years ago. It is great. No gas, no spark plugs, no real maintenance to speak of. I plug it in to charge. Thats it. It’s much quiter than a gas, but not as quiet as an electric (I think).

  46. wayne says:

    Oh, and about energy bills, install ceiling fans. I live in Tx and can’t imagine a house without them. My youngest daughter’s room doesn’t have one yet, and there is a noticable difference.

  47. Jeff S says:

    We’ve moved 3 times in the last 17 years and there are many financial concerns. Here is one I didn’t think about that could be the most expensive. In our last move into a rental house while our new home was being built, we researched and hired a reputable company here in Phoenix. Since the rental was less than 5 miles away, we moved a lot of the “small” stuff ourselves. On moving day the movers just had to move the big furniture. We took the computer with us in the car, but the office desk was to be handled by the movers. I watched them take out the file drawer, wrap it in shrink wrap and load it on the truck. The truck followed us the short distance to the rental. At the end of the day, the file drawer was missing. We looked everywhere, but I saw it on the truck when we left. It was gone! Long story short, it had EVERYTHING – marriage license, birth certificates for my my wife and kids, social security cards, bank statements, everything! I had heard a story about a cross country move where the hard drive from someone’s computer was actually removed from the PC. Even reputable companies will sometimes hire temporary workers. We called our banks and the credit bureaus and alerted them all. Fortunatley, there has been no fradulent activity so far (4 months). Identiy theft could have potentially been the biggest cost of this move. Be sure you inspect the truck before you sign off saying you actually did! Take all your personal records and computers with you in your vehicle!

  48. David says:

    When I moved from my apartment to a house rental, I bought a reel lawn mower (the old manual push-style). It’s brilliant, because it requires no gas, oil, tune-ups, etc. Plus, the modern styles are quite easy to use. If your lawn is relatively small (i.e. would not need a riding mower), you plan to mow every week or two, and you have few trees, it’s an awesome way to save money, and provides a fairly decent work-out! If you do have trees, be aware you would have to rake up any twigs and leaves before mowing; it doesn’t handle those well. 5 sessions and you save your money from hiring external service. I would agree that for the first 2-4 weeks, you hire someone, as it can cause unnecessary pain during the move.

  49. Pam says:

    Don’t set your water heater below 120. You need that temp to keep bacteria from growing.

    As for savings for home repair – a good rule of thumb is to set aside 10% of the purchase price each year. This is for all repair items AND maintenance costs.

  50. Pam says:

    Oops! I meant 1%. Sorry – wouldn’t that be horribly expensive!

  51. MB says:

    Mow your own lawn. Put $20 a week away all summer. Use the fund to do something fun with your family — maybe host a big neighborhood barbecue so you can get to know your neighbors? Buy a swingset for your son? Buy a grill? Go away for Labor Day weekend?

    I find personal finance is a series of trade-offs. I practice frugality in a number of areas — not eating out much, driving paid-off cars for a long time and buying used, cleaning my own house and cutting own lawn, buying bulk and generics and using coupons, no premium cable, hand-washing and ironing instead of dry cleaners, limited use of cell phones — so I can splurge on “experiences” for the family…. we’ll be going to Jamaica for a week in September. As much as we hate cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, ironing (especially ironing!), I KNOW I won’t regret the extra work when we’re on the beach in Jamaica with my kids. You wouldn’t either if you know the reward was going to be something fun. (Now, I can’t imagine it’d be very motivating to mow your own lawn in the hot summer sun just to put an extra $250 or so in your retirement savings.)

  52. Kim says:

    My husband and I got by with a push mower we already owned for our first year of home-ownership. They work great as long as you mow often enough. If you let the grass get too tall, they’re a bear.

    This year, we bought a used electric mower for $25 from a small engines repair guy in town(just a little more than one week of the service). It works just fine and is certainly much cheaper. I wouldn’t go with the service unless both my husband and I really, really, really hated to mow the lawn.

  53. zoya37 says:

    A. and I use a reel lawn mower (no engine). Our lawn is not too large, but neither of us mind using it. It is exceptionally quiet, doesn’t stink, we get the blades sharpened once every two years for a minimal cost, we don’t have to buy fuel and it is very environmentally friendly.

    I love it, and unless my yards are two acres or more, I don’t ever intent to buy a motorized lawn mower.

  54. J.D. says:

    Trent, how big is your lawn? That’s a crucial piece of info. Our old lot was 7500sf with a 1500sf house plunked in the middle and RV parking on the side. Our front and back lawns together took me 20 minutes if I borrowed a power mower, and maybe twice as long if I used a manual reel mower (which is what I did most of the time).

    Now, though, we have 3/5ths of an acre. Even pushing a power mower takes me at least 90 minutes, and sometimes longer. But, as I’ve told you before, I always get my best blog ideas while I’m mowing the yard. I have no idea why this is the case, but it is. So, I’m willing to do it! :)

  55. Dawn says:

    The biggest headache we had was water in the basement. It started raining shortly after we mvoed and the basement filled up. It was an unplanned expense. There have been several of those. So we now have a budget item for repairs.

    Also, someone mentioned fertilzer and lawn case. We set aside about $150 for the spring “start up costs”. This includes some flowers, fertilizer, etc. and about $150 for end of fall costs. This includes fall fertilizer treatment and overseeding the lawn (both of these have been well worth the cost) and the cost of maintenance to the lawnmower, as well as salt and any shovel, ice remover, etc. materials for the winter.

    When we moved in to our house, the fence was several feet into our neighbor’s yard (but had probably been that way for forever). We didn’t know this and the house was empty then. the people who moved in turned out to be good friends and the property dispute did hurt our friendship. In the end, we moved the fence because as much as it killed us to lose part of the yard (our main reason for buying the house we did) the damage it was doing to the friendship was not worth it. If you have mutual issues, perhaps you could do some kind of swap of property or give each other easements.

  56. v says:

    IMHO, whether you decide to go with a service needs to depend on your climate, your yard, and your own valuation of your time, not on the experiences of others. Those life-affirming jaunts in the morning sun with a reel mower I dreamed of from my apartment never came to be: it’s a half-day ordeal that leaves me physically exhausted, overheated, mosquito-bitten, and grumpy with a load of sweaty laundry waiting to round out my weekend. Bleh.

  57. silver says:

    My husband and I recently moved from an apartment to a house that is twice as big. Around the same time, we had a baby and I changed from working during the day to staying at home (using electricity) during the day. Somehow, our electric bill stayed the same. Even with our crummy dryer that takes 1.5-2 hours to dry clothes (and I do 3-5 loads of clothing laundry and 2-4 loads of diaper laundry a week). I still can’t figure out how that happened.

  58. vh says:

    Thanks to Bones for the clue about using kitchen gloves for CFLs! I had noooo idea.

    Check out estate sales for lawn mowers…if you can recognize quality, wear, etc., you can often get good yard equipment reasonably at estate sales; garage sales less so, since people who are still living tend to hang onto their yard tools until the stuff turns into junk.

    My apartment utility bills were the about the same as the costs for my first house…interesting, since the apt was less than half as large and I was involved in a torrid affair that kept me out of the apt and over at the boyfriend’s about 23 hours out of every 24. One inexpensive trick that pays off is to put those insulating gaskets on the switchplates and outlet covers on all exterior walls. You’d be surprised how leaky electric outlets are.

    If you have air conditioning, set the temperature just higher than what you think is comfortable and then use fans. Turn off the fan when you leave the room….

    Jeff S is right on about carrying sensitive documents and anything else of sentimental or $$ value in your car with you. For my last move (the famous Move from Hell), the mover sent two hopheads who slopped coke (oh, yes, the powdery kind) on the tile floor of one bedroom and then flushed a baggie down a toilet, which overflowed exactly twenty minutes before my Realtor brought the buyers for their final walk-through. Get some friends and have them present, so you or someone you trust is THERE to ride herd on the movers every minute, every place they go in your house.

  59. Sabrina's Money Matters says:

    I am somewhat of an introvert, so the prospect of meeting the neighbors posed an issue for me, I’m just not that social. My husband met our neighbors to the left when they moved in (we live in a new community) and our other neighbors just moved in last weekend. I made my son introduce himself and I’ve waved a few times and my husband has spoken with the neighbors before when they’d come check the progress of their new home. So overall fortunately I haven’t had to do much by way of socializing, lol.

    Shortly after we moved to the neighborhood my son was invited to a birthday party of a child that had lived there for about a year already, so when I took him to that party just about every mother there lived in our community, so I got to meet them all at once!

    My other fears were similar to yours, the shift in bills, sure our apartment was expensive with air conditioning, etc. But those bills were somewhat regulated and expected. I knew we’d have a new electricity coop instead of commercial electricity service, which has proven challenging. But overall, having a home to come to at the end of the day has made all the fears and trepidation mere memories. Surprisingly too, having an energy star rated home has saved us a lot on our bill.

    Typically in Texas summer electricity bills tip at $300, often a whole lot more and I’m delighted to say mine hasn’t hit $200 yet and it’s July!

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