You know where you are moving; you have a new address to prove it! Whether it is across town or across the world, your new home will not be the same as your old home. Knowing the difference can transform your move from a nightmare into an adventure.
Start with the obvious: the home
When you consider moving your household from your current home to your new one, think in two different directions: functional and cosmetic.
What repairs need to be made?
If you are renting your new home, inspect your living space as soon as possible. Note anything that needs to be repaired. Discuss these repairs with your landlord or home owner.
If the owner refuses to make the repairs, try to negotiate a reduced rent or reimbursement for the repairs if you want them made. Remember to check before you make any repairs yourself to avoid any contract violations.
Your options are much different if you are purchasing a new home. After you made an offer, you probably got a home inspection. If not, consider getting one as soon as you can.
Your home inspection will tell you about such things as rotting wood, electrical or plumbing violations, heating and cooling issues, roof and foundation condition, and so on. Any issues spotted in the inspection deserve attention.
In some cases, you can negotiate with the people from whom you are buying the home to make the necessary repairs. This should be a consideration for any major repairs.
Keep in mind that a note in an inspection report does not necessarily mean a defect in your new home. Your inspection report will also recommend minor repairs and maintenance issues, such as torn screens, chipping paint, leaky faucets, and normal wear-and-tear items.
Use your inspection report or your own observations to determine what repairs or maintenance needs to take place before you move in, shortly after you move in, in a year or two, or not until you decide to sell the home in the future.
What needs a cosmetic make-over?
Picturing yourself in your new home can be the most exciting part of moving. Visualize your furniture in your new home: Will it look good? You also want to consider your own likes and dislikes.
Sometimes it helps to consider options in the following categories:
External appearance: Does the home need painting, or do you want to change the color? Are the plants and yard in good condition and do you like them, or do you need to replace or trim plants? Are you a gardener at heart and have major landscaping in mind?
Before you make any external changes, check with your landlord or neighborhood or condominium association by-laws and local codes. There’s nothing worse than painting your home and planting trees than having someone say you have to re-paint or pull the trees out!
Furniture: Get a schematic drawing of your new home. If you are purchasing a home, you may have one in your documents.
But you can always draw one yourself. Take measurements, if you can, or beg a favor from the current owner, your landlord, or your real estate agent. Make sure to include closet measurements.
When you have a schematic, measure your furniture and figure out where it will go. You can do this with sophisticated computer programs or just pencil and graph paper.
What you will learn is whether you need to get rid of some furniture or obtain additional pieces. If you decide to purge some of your furniture, there are many good ways to do so.
Consider giving furniture to friends or family (recent graduates will take almost any furniture!), sell it at a garage or yard sale, contract with a consignment furniture store, or donate it to church programs or other community services such as Goodwill Industries and Salvation Army.
Decor: Do you like the color of your walls and the floors? Do your bedding and window treatments match what’s already there? Maybe you would prefer carpeting instead of wood floors or wallpaper instead of paint. Often, new carpeting is either a necessity or a high-priority desire.
If you plan to redecorate walls, ceilings, and/or floors, it is easier, faster, and less expensive if you can do it with an empty home.
Consider the order of your redecorating:
- Any major installations, such as cabinets, countertops, or building improvements, need to be done first. These major projects cause chaos throughout the home.
- Install wood floors or tile before worrying about walls. These are physical jobs that often result in gouges, splattered material, and smudges.
- Paint, strip, and stain before installing new carpet. This includes walls, trim, and ceilings. The painters (you or someone else) will not have to worry about dripping paint on the floors, which will make the job faster and easier. If you pay someone to paint, faster and easier can also mean cheaper.
- Install carpeting after painting. Although this could result in some minor touch-up paint (especially on floor boards), the result is a nice, clean carpet, free of traffic and paint splatters.
- Wallpaper last. It’s just too easy to rip when other renovations are happening.
Of course, many of these types of changes can be done after you move. You will need to determine which will fit into your time and financial budget.
The little things: Though far from necessary, it’s the little things that make a house your home. Picturing your new home can give you ideas about decorating items that you want to get rid of, and those that you might like to obtain.
Considering these cosmetic items before you move can result in finding the perfect accent at a good price by taking advantage of garage or yard sales, consignment shops, clearance or sales at retail stores, or even finding a long-ago-forgotten item as you pack to move. Items like rugs, shower curtains, silk plants, window treatments, and even that perfect occasional table may unexpectedly jump out at you if you have your new home in mind.
What needs to be thinned, discarded, or stored.
Pre-move planning is the perfect time to re-evaluate your “stuff.” Pay special attention to the storage space in your new home.
Measure it! Compare your current storage space to the new space available. Does your new home have a third garage stall that can be used to replace your attic or basement storage? Do you have attic or basement space that is ready to use, or can you put plywood on attic ceiling supports to give you more storage? Did you gain or lose a coat closet?
Regardless of less, more, or different storage space, now is a good time to go through your possessions and decide what to do with them.
If you find that you can’t, or don’t want to, move everything, you can to do something about it. An easy, but expensive, option is to rent a storage unit near your new home.
You might consider building an external storage unit, as long as you have the yard space and it meets applicable codes (association and public). You might be able to build or install shelving in closets or garages to add valuable storage in limited space.
To decide if you need to reduce or replace your possessions, start by sorting them. Decide whether it you need to keep it, if you really want to keep it, whether it can be sold or donated, and whether it should just be thrown away.
Keep in mind that anything you donate is tax deductible. Be sure to obtain a receipt, itemize what you’ve donated, and estimate its value.
Look beyond your dwelling…the neighborhood
You don’t spend all of your time inside your home or in your yard. Your neighborhood will have a lot of influence on your happiness.
What are the rules?
Whether you are renting or buying, you have restrictions. Your real estate documents should tell you if you live within an association. Request the association covenants from the seller or ask your real estate agent if he or she can get them. Ask your landlord about restrictions if you are renting.
Review these rules before you make any changes (including paint or plants). You’ll also want to know if there are any restrictions on watering your lawn or burning yard waste.
Who are your neighbors?
Your neighbors will be very important to your future happiness. Anytime you can learn about them, do so. Of course, you don’t want to invade anyone’s privacy. You probably don’t want to know THAT much about them anyway.
You want to know what you can learn by talking to them. Walk or drive by your new home as often as you can. Whenever one of your new neighbors happens to be outside, stop and introduce yourself.
If you already know someone living near, talk to them. Let them know you are moving into the neighborhood, and you can get all kinds of information. A home closing that both you and the seller attend is a great time to ask about the neighbors.
See the big picture.
- The Internet can be a wonderful tool to help you become oriented to your new home. Put your new address in www.mapquest.com and www.googleearth.com. Zoom in and out, north and south, and east and west. Locate landmarks you know and their relevance to where you will live. Locate other areas of interest as well, like schools, the post office, airports, hospitals, and so on.
- Another good way to learn about your new community is by reading the newspaper. Identify the local newspapers and get subscriptions or browse them on the Internet. You may be able to find local television news programs on the Internet if your new community is large enough. If not, try to find the closest large city that might have such a program.
- Finally, it would be a good idea to compare the demographics and economies of your current community and your new one. Your real estate agent or landlord might be able to help with this. You can also go on the Internet to search for some sources.
Learn about the schools.
If you have children, they and you will be curious about the schools. Ask your real estate agent, the current owners, neighbors, or landlord about what schools your children will attend. You can probably also learn this information by searching the Internet for your new school district. School district websites often have boundary maps or provide a contact where you can get the information. If you are moving into a school district that allows open enrollment, you will definitely want to compare the schools in the area to find the ones you want to send your children to. To learn about schools, try these suggestions:
- Order a school report from an Internet source.
- Locate a state or school district report of standard test scores and their comparisons to state and national levels.
- Search for the schools’ websites; many have them today
- Call the schools and speak with their principals or guidance counselors.
- Tour the schools with your children.
The more you and your children learn about their new schools, the more comfortable everyone will be when the time comes to change.