When you first move in there's probably not a lot to do. Little things like painting the walls and cleaning the windows might seem exciting. Remember, you're going to be living here for awhile, so you don't have to make all the updates at once, but you do have to stay on a regular maintenance schedule.
Get the essentials
There's no guarantee for what comes with your home and what doesn't. A seller might leave their awesome leather couch because it doesn't go in their new home. Or you might get stuck buying all your kitchen appliances because the home wasn't occupied before you got it.
Getting the essentials in place will probably be your first priority after you move in. We're talking beds, washers, dryers, stoves and anything else you'll use on a day-to-day basis.
Ideally, you'll be able to budget for all of those items before you move in, but that's not always the case. Not having a stove or a washer and dryer will cost you more money the longer you go without them because you'll need to pay to eat out or go to a laundromat. So, those should be your first priority. Other items are just uncomfortable or inconvenient not to have. There's probably only so long that you'll be willing to sleep on that blow-up mattress or sit on beach chairs in the living room, but it won't cost you anything to keep doing it.
First-time homebuying tip: Start making your list today! Here are 12 things you'll need in your new home.
Find the funds
We get it. You just spent a ton of money on a down payment and closing costs for this house, so where are you going to get the money to get it set up the way you want? The first step is to go back to that budget you created when you started hunting for a house. How much money can you afford to spend each month to get your home the way you want it? Knowing that number will help you prioritize what you're going to buy, when you're going to buy it, and how much you can spend.
Remember, you don't always have to spend a fortune on things for your home. You can start hunting for new furniture at yard sales, flea markets, and Goodwill stores. Sure, you'll probably have to dig through a lot of junk, but you might also find a few treasures for cheap.
This is also a great time to start getting used to comparison shopping. Putting in a lot of research and work on the front end of your purchase will help you save money in the long run.
First-time homebuying tip: Being frugal doesn't always get you where you need to go. It might be time to think about a personal loan.
Decorate on a budget
Remember when we mentioned yard sales and flea markets? Trust us, they can be a gold mine for inexpensive decorations that are truly unique.
If you're not finding anything you like, don't worry! You have plenty of time to get your house the way you want it and you don't have to do everything all at once. Plus, minimalism and a decluttered house are on trend right now—lucky for you!
First-time homebuying tip: Get some great tips on how to decorate on a budget.
Learn the ropes
There's probably a lot of maintenance that was happening behind the scenes when you were a renter. You weren't responsible for it, so you might not have even known it was happening. But now that you're a homeowner, there's no one to tell you what kind of weed killer you should use on your backyard or when your recycling needs to go out.
Remember, there are a lot of people who want to help. Your parents or friends with a home are a great resource! Ask them what you should be thinking about on a weekly, monthly, and seasonal basis. Don't forget about your neighbors either. Bake some cookies or grab a bottle of wine and knock on the door next door. Once you introduce yourself, it'll be easier to ask more specific questions about the neighborhood, learn more about the common areas, and get advice.
First-time homebuying tip: Goodbye landlord. Here's what your responsible for now that you're a homeowner.
Maintain your house
Home maintenance isn't just about calling a plumber when the garbage disposal needs to be fixed. Owning a home means there are certain things you need to do regular maintenance on. That might mean changing out the air filter once every few months or it might mean remembering to stain your deck once every three years. Some people love working on their house and they actually look forward to doing all the maintenance work themselves, other would rather be doing literally anything else with their time. If you're in the second camp, just remember that it's a lot more expensive (and time-consuming) to replace a deck that's rotted through than it is to do the regular maintenance. Plus you can always think about hiring someone to do the work for you!
First-time homebuying tip: Start off on the right foot! Get our guide to home maintenance.
Up next: Stay informed
As you grow and change, you'll want your home to change with you. Be sure to follow our blog to get tips on renovating and remodeling, owning a home, relocating, and buying a second home (you can dream, can't you?!).