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Congratulations on purchasing your new home! Now that you’re all moved in, it’s time to start the real work. There’s a lot to tackle in your new home, ranging from security to comfort. Whether you’re a first timer or a real estate guru, these tips for new homeowners can give you a good jumping off point!
Security Tips for New Homeowners
Change the Locks
How well do you really know the previous homeowners? You’d like to think they’re honest people, but would you bet your belongings on it? Probably not.
It’s not possible to truly verify if you have every copy of every key to every lock in your house. The simplest solution to this problem: change the locks. It’s a quick way to give yourself a little peace of mind and protect your possessions.
If you’re big on home security, we recommend the Schlage Z-Wave Connect. It includes a built-in alarm, touchscreen with personalized codes, and a deadbolt. Sometimes, installing a simple standalone deadbolt can do the trick, though.
Install Security Cameras
When 86 burglars were asked if a visible security camera would keep them from breaking into a home, they generally answered yes. That alone should be enough to convince most homeowners to invest in an outdoor camera.
Ideally, a great outdoor security camera should have the following features:
- WiFi connectivity
- Night vision
- HD video resolution
- Motion detection smartphone alerts
- Microphone and speaker
- Weatherproof rating
If you’re in the market for an outdoor camera, we recommend the AMICCOM Outdoor WiFi Security Camera. It has all of the above listed features and is compatible with iOS and Android smartphones.
Oh, and the setup manual has simple instructions, so it’s easy to install yourself.
Check Crime Statistics
They say crime doesn’t pay, but that doesn’t mean you won’t become a victim. Checking the crime statistics for your neighborhood is something you should do before you move in. Once you’ve moved, however, you have to make the best of the situation.
Entering your address in crime watch and reporting websites like AreaVibes can give you a better sense of what you’re up against.
If your new home happens to be in a high crime area, prepare accordingly. Focus on deterring criminals from your home with visible cameras, hefty door locks, and plenty of lighting. Motion-activated security lights might not be a bad idea either.
You Already Have a Home Alarm System
No, we aren’t talking about the dog. A common way for burglars to case a house is to pose as door-to-door home alarm system salesmen. If you tell them you don’t have a home alarm system, your home might become their next big score.
If you do want a home alarm system, it’s best to call a provider directly. Alternatively, purchasing your own home alarm system and installing it yourself can save you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars over the next few years.
The 5-Piece Ring Alarm System is our top pick. There’s no contracts, it has a smartphone app, and there’s optional 24/7 professional monitoring.
Comfort Tips for New Homeowners
Hang Some Pictures
Barren walls tend to be boring to look at, even with a new coat of paint. Hanging some pictures is a great way to spruce up a home and make it feel like yours.
It doesn’t particularly matter what you hang up as long as you like it. For example, when we moved into our first home, we hung up this Assassins Creed Unity flag using removable adhesive strips. Needless to say, we made a memorable impression on most of our guests.
And no, we aren’t kidding. Here’s a picture of the flag (before we painted the wall).
We like video games, so the flag was a perfect fit for our home. If you like pets, consider finding some portraits of animals or go with a classic, like Dogs Playing Poker.
We can go on forever, but only you know what’s the right fit for your home and personality. Hanging up pictures will make you feel more at peace so you can kick back and relax all evening long.
Spend a Night In the Guest Room
If you have a guest staying the night, odds are you like them enough that you want them to be comfortable. The best way to do that is to spend a night in the guest room yourself.
By sleeping in the guest room, you’ll notice any invasive lighting, drafts, and annoying noises. Once you’re aware of the problem, you can fix it. Then again, if you don’t want guests crashing at your place all the time, you can ignore minor annoyances.
If your guest room is getting too much street light at night or sunlight in the morning, for example, blackout curtains are a quick and affordable fix. Thermal curtains are great for keeping cold air out and warm air in during winter. Plus, curtains help block out drafts, too.
The key to maintaining a clean home isn’t to perform a deep scrub every weekend. By performing small cleaning tasks every day, you can spread it out over the week. After all, the weekend is meant for relaxing after a long week of work.
Creating a cleaning schedule can streamline the homeowner experience. For example, clean the counters and do the dishes on Monday. Take care of the bathrooms on Tuesday. Tackle the living room and vacuum on Wednesday.
Once you run out of cleaning tasks, start over. Cleaning daily is the key to a comfortable home. Plus, a clean home is less likely to become a habitat for invasive pests, like rats, ants, and roaches.
Make it Yours
Personalize your home to your heart’s desire. Slap some fresh paint on the walls, hang posters and pictures that you like, and arrange the furniture however you prefer.
After all, you just spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on a place to live. The least you can do is make it a comfortable place to spend your time, right?
You’re a new homeowner. You have all the creative freedom. Take advantage of it – just don’t do anything you’ll regret a few months down the road.
Enjoy Your New Home
Out of all these tips for new homeowners, enjoying your new home has to be at the top of our priority list. A home is a place to live, relax, and make memories, right? One mistake many new homeowners make is taking on too many projects too quickly.
Your home shouldn’t be an ongoing construction project. That’s a great formula for stress, injury, and exhaustion. Don’t pull out your toolbox just yet.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy your new home.
General Home Maintenance Tips
Change the Furnace Filter
Changing the furnace filter improves your heating systems efficiency, helps get rid of any foul smells, and could extend the life of the unit. On top of that, replacement furnace filters are relatively cheap and take less than five minutes to install.
To replace the furnace filter, you need to know the size of the filter. Generally, you can just look at the old filter the previous homeowners (hopefully) left behind. If there’s no filter, measuring the opening is a simple solution too.
Installing a new filter is easy. Remove the old filter and make sure to note which way it was facing. Installing the new filter backwards won’t help your system’s efficiency. Slide the new filter into place.
Changing a furnace filter truly is one of the easiest tasks a new homeowner can do.
Have Major Appliances Serviced
Your major appliances are considered “major” for two very good reasons:
- They perform an important function in your home.
- They’re pretty expensive to replace with a new unit.
Having your home’s major appliances, like the AC unit and heating system, professionally serviced can help you save energy and money when summer and winter are out in full force. Not only will these major systems run more efficiently, but you reduce the risk of having to shell out thousands of dollars for new ones.
As far as tips for new homeowners go, servicing major appliances can save you the most money over time.
Your home’s major appliances generally include:
- Air Conditioning Unit
- Heating System
- Washing Machine
Most new homeowners are already equipped to handle servicing a few of these appliances themselves. In most cases, you don’t need a professional to service the washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, and oven. Simply clean them, sweep around and under them, and you’re done.
As for the air conditioning unit and heating system, it’s best to pay a professional to handle service. If you’re a do-it-yourself homeowner, check out these short videos on servicing your heating and cooling systems.
Label the Electrical Panel
The electrical panel is typically something most homeowners don’t think about until they need it. Switching a breaker off is a lot easier than finding out if a wire is live the hard way. When it comes time to switch a breaker off, labels are a new homeowner’s best friend.
Switching a breaker off is simple – just push. Switching off the right breaker without labels can become a guessing game. Labeling the breakers in your electrical panel can save you time, money, and make general home maintenance much less strenuous.
As long as we’re talking about the electrical panel, it’s important to make sure you have clear access to it. If your panel is in the basement, make sure you can easily walk to it in the dark. Clear a pathway of boxes, chairs, tables, and anything else you could run into or trip over.
If your electrical panel is in the garage, pay close attention to how you access it. Avoid blocking it with toolboxes, woodworking benches, refrigerators, and any other bulky object. This is one of the most important tips for new homeowners that’s often forgotten.
We’re not saying you absolutely have to design your home around the electrical panel. Just make sure you can easily access it during home maintenance and in case of an emergency.
If you need a quick and painless way to label your electrical box, this Circuit Guides Kit is the perfect solution.
Perform Seasonal Cleaning
There’s nothing quite like starting off the warmer weather with a little spring cleaning right? If you’re like us, odds are you despise cleaning, or at least some parts of it.
Seasonal cleaning is a great way to start fresh and keep your home livable. You’ll also find some things you never used – or completely forgot you owned. Grab a box, fill it up, and donate it to charity. Not only do you declutter your home, but you get a tax write-off too!
If you’re a new homeowner, you want to keep your house as clean as possible for as long as possible. While you should clean daily, don’t get stressed out about it. Seasonal cleaning is a great time to catch up on the things you missed.
Finance Tips for New Homeowners
Get Copies of Past Bills
If you’re moving to a new city, state, or country, it’s a good idea to get copies of past bills. Having past bills for reference gives you a rough estimate of what you can expect to pay in utilities each month.
Having a ballpark amount allows you to create a better monthly budget. You’ll want to take certain things into consideration though. If you’re a recently married couple, for example, you shouldn’t expect to pay the same amount as previous homeowners with children.
If you aren’t able to get past copies of bills from the previous homeowners, call up the utility company. They’re usually more than happy to give you a general idea of what the previous customer paid.
Unable to get a copy of a previous utility bill? It might be a good idea to look into how much you can budget for each month. Speaking of budgeting…
Set Up Budget Billing
Budget billing can be a new homeowner’s best friend. While you’re navigating the expenses and surprises of your home, budget billing can help you afford your utility bills. Essentially, budget billing keeps utility bills at a steady, predicable amount throughout the year.
Most new homeowner’s don’t want to pay a $400 gas bill for the months of December, January, and February. With budget billing, the monthly bill is reduced to a lower amount and the entire cost is spread across the year. You’re still paying off winter’s heating bill, but it won’t drain your bank account in one fell swoop.
See if your gas or electric company offers budget billing with a simple phone call. Generally, all you have to do is pay your utility bill on time. Most companies don’t charge any extra fees to enroll in their budget billing program.
Make sure to ask if there’s a true-up month where you have to cover the excess costs though! You don’t want any unexpected surprises.
Create an Emergency Fund
Once you’ve bought a new home, it’s time to fix it up. Don’t go spending all of your money right away though. It still pays to create an emergency fund. How would you replace an air conditioning unit if you emptied your bank account to renovate the kitchen?
An emergency fund is typically a bank account with enough money to cover at least three months of bills. In the event you or your significant other lose their job, the emergency fund can tide you over until a new job comes around.
Without an emergency fund, you could find yourself spiraling into debt and potentially losing your new home. Be smart with your money. Create an emergency fund, just in case.
Bonus points if you keep adding to it until you have a year’s worth of bills covered!
Create a Payment Schedule
Typically, utility companies have set bill and payment due dates for each household. Once you’ve received your first month’s bills, create a payment schedule.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a physical calendar or in digital form. Notably, Google Calendar is great for syncing across various smartphone devices. Once you’ve created a calendar, it’s easy to create a better budget.
If too many of your utilities are due on the same day, try calling the company and asking if you can move the due date. In most cases, utility companies have some flexibility to help you make payments according to when you get paid.
Need some help streamlining things? Check out this desk calendar that can help you keep track of your payment due dates and much more.
Conclusion: Tips for New Homeowners
Now that you’ve moved in and are learning about your new home, it’s time to look towards the future. There’s no doubt you’ll have plenty of projects on your docket in the coming years. Hopefully our tips for new homeowners got you off to a good start.
As a last word of advice, don’t take on any unnecessary major projects right away. It pays to get to know your house. While the kitchen or bathroom arrangement may not sit well with you at first, it could grow on you. Live in your home for six months to a year before you start planning major projects.