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11 things to do when moving into a new house

How to protect your new home and set up services

Last Updated 7/17/17
by Rosemary Avance, Ph.D. ConsumerAffairs Research Team
Couple unpacking boxes

Introduction

Moving is one of life’s most stressful experiences, and once you’re finally moved you’ll probably feel both relieved and exhausted. There are still a few things to take care of to protect your new home and get settled in. Read on for 11 things to do as soon as you move into your new place.

Woman looking at receipts

1. Organize moving receipts

As you start to unpack, you may be tempted to throw out moving receipts and documents just to start getting things organized. Don’t! Depending on your situation, you may qualify for a tax deduction. Read more about whether you’ll qualify for the deduction on the IRS website.

Although you won’t necessarily need to provide your receipts when you do your taxes, keeping them will help you remember exactly how much you spent. You’ll also need the receipts if you get audited.

White empty room with windows

2. Take pictures of your new space

If you’re renting, take pictures of the new home or apartment before you move your things in. This is extremely important because you could lose your deposit when you move out if there’s damage to the home, so you’ll need proof of any existing problems. Take several photos of anything that’s damaged or not in new condition.

If you’re buying, you should still take photos of any damage that wasn’t there before or wasn’t documented in the home inspection paperwork. Then contact the seller, tenant or moving company responsible for the damage and ask them to make it right by fixing the damage or providing you with equivalent financial compensation. Be sure to take notes on your conversations with them; if they don’t want to make it right, you may end up in small claims court if you decide the damage is bad enough to pursue your case.

Front door with key in lock

3. Change the locks

If you’ve purchased a new home, change the locks as soon as you move in. You never know who has copies of keys to the old locks, and new locks will give you peace of mind. It’s a good idea to change the locks even on new construction if anyone else (like a builder or project manager) has had access to the key long enough to make a copy. Don’t forget the front and back door, garage door as well as any sheds or other locked buildings on your property.

If you’re renting, check to see if your contract prohibits you from changing the locks. Even if it does, ask the landlord if he or she will change the locks for you at your expense or provide evidence that they’ve done so since the last tenant moved out. Otherwise, former tenants may have access to your home.

Plumber fixing pipe

4. Check for leaks

Water damage can cause significant and expensive damage to your new house. Start with a basic visual inspection of the areas under your sinks and around toilets. Run the water, flush the toilet and watch nearby pipes for leaks. Identify any inside water valves during this process so you’ll know how to turn water off to specific faucets if you need to do so.

To find hidden leaks occurring in unseen pipes, turn off all the faucets in your house and make sure the dishwasher isn’t running. Then, check the water meter. If the dial is moving, you likely have a large leak. If you have a slow leak, it will take a while for the water meter dial to change. If it isn’t moving, wait two hours (making sure to leave the water off the whole time) and check the dial on the meter again. It’s a good idea to find your main water valve while doing this and figure out how to turn it off, in case of a major leak later.

Person flipping breaker

5. Find your fuse box

When you move in, find the fuse box for your house. You should always check the fuse box first if your power goes out to rule out any problems with your house before you call the electric company.

If your fuse box is outside your house, lock it to prevent anyone from tampering with your power. If your fuse box is inside, place a flashlight or battery-powered light near it. This will come in handy if you need to check the fuse box during a power outage.

Man signing a document

6. Submit claims for damages or losses

If your moving company damaged or lost any of your property during the move, it’s time to submit a claim. Most companies have a short window of time that they’ll accept claims for damages. Take lots of photos of the damaged items or property, then contact the company to initiate the claims process. If you took a moving inventory, submit a copy of that document to your moving company if items were lost. Be sure to document every conversation you have with the claims representatives.

Internet router

7. Set up your utilities

When you move, you’ll need to ask about utilities services in your new area and set up services from the ones you need. You may need to set up water, natural gas, electricity, internet, satellite or cable television, trash services and security services like home alarms. It can take a week or more for a utilities provider to set up your services, so contact the company with your move-in date early if you can.

If you’re moving into a regulated market, you may only have one choice for municipal utilities like gas, electric and water. In deregulated markets, different utilities providers can compete for your business so you may need to choose. Check out our guide to compare utility companies.

Setting up home security on phone

8. Set up or install smart and security devices

After your internet is turned on, set up and program your smart home devices. This process will vary greatly depending on what smart home devices you have.

Moving is a great time to add new smart features to your home. You can easily install items like smart thermostats and leak detectors when you move in to save money on energy bills and protect your home. Read our guide to learn more about home automation and security devices that keep your family and your property safe.

Man opening up mail envelope

9. Change your address and register to vote

If you haven’t already completed a change of address form with the United States Postal Service (USPS), you can pick one up at the post office to ensure that all mail sent to your old address is forwarded to the new one. You can also complete the forms online at the USPS website.

You should also update your voter registration address as soon as you can. If there’s an election within 60 days of your move, you can use your old polling place or mail in an absentee vote. But other elections will require you to register at least two weeks before the voting date. Check out this government resource to download a form to change your address on your voter registration.

Man driving red sports car

10. Get a new license and registration

No matter where you move, if you drive you’re required to get a new driver’s license with an updated address. Most states require you to do this within 30 days of your move. You can visit your nearest tag agency or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.

If you move to a new state, you’ll also need to register your vehicle in that state. You may have up to 60 days to complete the new registration. Check out this page from the DMV for information on how to update your registration in your new state.

People going over insurance papers

11. Update insurance policies

As soon as you move, it’s important to update your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance policy with information about your new home. You’ll also need to update your information with your car insurance company, since rates vary by region and they’ll need your updated address.

If you have a home warranty or service plan, you’ll need to update that policy as well. If you’ve just built a new home, check with the builder to see if a home warranty is included.

Modern living room with yellow chair

Conclusion

There’s a lot to do right after you move, but once you get these items checked off your list you can move on to the fun stuff: setting up and decorating that great new home. Check out our Home Improvement resource page for ideas for decorating, remodeling, landscaping and more.

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by Rosemary Avance, Ph.D. ConsumerAffairs Research Team

Rosemary Avance, Ph.D., uses her social science research background as a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team to help people make smart choices. She researches products, businesses and industries thoroughly, then passes on the most relevant and essential information for consumers looking to make important purchasing decisions.

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