What to do after you buy a house – checklist minimalist guide to moving into a new home

Today I’m going to talk to you about my plans for our next big move. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s keeping things minimal and creating a plan for what to do after you buy a house. I may be a moving pro now, but it always wasn’t like this. 

I grew up in a military family that had us moving every three years. Once I was an adult and moved out on my own, I found myself in a new apartment every year or two. I thought that once I was married with a family that my tendency to move around would go away. But here I am planning what very well could be my 20th move. 

Our current phase of life

Three years ago we decided to move south to be closer to family. We sold our house in the northeast in a hurry and decided to rent so that we could get to know the area before we bought another house.

Being renters again was a great experience and we also loved the house that we were renting. We loved it so much that we tried to buy it but sadly it wasn’t meant to be. 

After a few months of house hunting we fell in love with a bright little ranch in a happy cul-de-sac. So here I am, planning to move once again. 

Moving Again!

I consider myself a moving expert. I know how to pack boxes and I know how to make the most of our limited moving van space. 

That’s not to say that I haven’t made a couple of mistakes during my many moves. During my 20’s I hauled around with me a lot of junk that would end up sitting in closets in the same moving boxes that I brought them in. 

I think about all that functional space that I could’ve used but instead chose to pack it full of junk that I didn’t care about and didn’t want to look at. 

I don’t regret hauling those boxes around because I had to grow as a person and decide that I was ready to let those things go. Now the clothes from my high school days are gone. Even if I ever fit into them again, they aren’t my style anymore. 

What to do after you buy a house – checklist

Click below to download the PDF

1. Make a plan

Before I ever packed a box I had to create a plan for how we were going to get all of our stuff from one house to the new one. There were a couple questions that we asked ourselves. 

Do we want to move everything ourselves or do we want to hire movers?

If we hire movers do we want them to box up our things or do we want to pack it ourselves?

Are we going to move things over to the new house gradually or will it happen all in one day?

For this move we wanted to move as much as we could by ourselves. I wanted to get as many boxes as I could for free since in our last move we ended up spending over $200 on boxes alone. This time I wanted to try and do things a little bit more frugally. 

We did want movers for all of the big items including our furniture. Neither me or my husband wanted to try navigate our bedroom furniture down a flight of stairs. 

2. Sourcing Materials

  • Buying
  • Scavenging
  • Tools you will need

Skip the expensive packing materials and use what you have. 

  • Reuse bubble wrap from orders received
  • Pack towels, blankets and linens with breakable items that need more cushin
  • Picture frames packed between your folded clothing

3.Organizing packed items

Before we started packing I created a quick sketch of our new house floor plan and color coded the rooms. I did all of this with MS Paint which is built into to windows. I also printed out a sign to hang on each of the rooms which I outlined in the color matching the layout.

I’m a big fan of labels so I prepared some Avery labels that I had an outline in the colors correlated to the colored layout. Avery labels are a peel and stick label that can be printed on with your ink jet or laser printer.

Using the Avery labels save me a lot of time because I didn’t need to go through and hand write on all of my labels. If you don’t have labels you can print out the name of the room on colored paper, cut them into squares and tape them onto the boxes. 

I used a black permanent marker to write in what was in each box. This way I could prioritize what needed to get opened once we are moved into our new home. 

My Movers thought this was hilarious and probably thought I was a little neurotic. But I hope that it helped them figure out where everything needed to go. 

4. Create your boxes to open on the first day

Three years ago when we moved from the north east down to the south my sister-in-law put together a very sweet care package for when we arrived at our house. We were going to spend a couple days in our new house before our belongings arrived. 

In the care package she packed garbage bags, bottles of hand soap, hand towels, bath towels, paper towels, paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils.

All of this was packed inside a laundry basket and it was a much welcomes gift. 

As we were packing I was trying to be mindful of the items that we use every day. I made sure to label a few boxes to open first. These were a couple of the categories for our open first boxes.

  • Bathing
  • Eating
  • Sleeping 
  • Clothing

5. Keep the stress in check

I get really stressed out anytime we need to pack for a trip so I try to keep myself organized and plan my time prior to our trip. I’m a big fan of checklists and I like having a loose schedule for when I want to get things done. 

Here’s a rough draft of my moving checklist

  1. Find free boxes starting four weeks prior to our move. 
  2. Start packing items in storage and items that don’t get used very much very often
  3. Create my color-coded system for each room and plan out where things will go in the new house
  4. Continue to pack items leaving only the essentials for the night prior to the move
  5. Label my “open first” boxes

Other things to prior to moving

  • Utilities set up
  • Internet schedule installation
  • Set up garbage pick up
  • Schedule any work you want done before moving in
    • Repairs
    • Painting
    • Carpet Cleaning/Replacement

I have a serious procrastination problem which means that I put things off and don’t do them right away. Creating a checklist helps keep me on task and motivates me to get things done.

You may be tempted to do the bare minimum since moving is an exhausting process.

If you can find it in yourself to get the small cosmetic things done you will thank yourself later. No one wants to walk into their house everyday, looking at some terrible paint color or that crack in the finish that you wanted to repair but never could find the time to do.

Related Post: Declutter your life: How to get and stay organized

6. Getting completely moved out and cleaning your prior home

Once you move all your stuff out of your old place and into the new one, you want to go through and clean everything. 

If you are a renter like I am you’ll usually have a checklist that the homeowner will use as a guide. At the time that you move out, they’ll bring up concerns about either damage or things that aren’t clean. Makes sure you do all that is in your power to correct these issues since this could mean the difference between getting your security deposit back or not. 

It took me a long time to understand my rights as a renter and I think that when you’re young adult people think you’re naïve. Sometimes they will try to take advantage of you. Just keep in mind that it’s much easier to correct a cleanliness issue prior to the last day of your lease than to fight it in court later.

With all my experience as a renter I would say the times that I got my full security deposit back we are at about 50%. This time I want to be a little bit proactive with the shape that we’re leaving the property in. 

Related Post: How to create a cleaning supply caddy

Carpet repairs and patches

We have a cute kitty cat who likes to tear up the carpet on the stairs so we need to replace the damaged pieces. The piece of carpet that is the most worn is not properly tack down so I was able to lift it off and take it with me to the store to find a good color match. 

Unfortunately I was unable to find a close match so I ended up harvesting the fibers from the rest of the floor. Since the carpet was builder grade the fibers always seemed to shed. I then created a patch so that the damage was not as noticeable.

I then went through and trimmed any of the strings that were sticking out from the edges of the carpet to give it a cleaner look.

Carpet cleaning

As part of our lease agreement we had to pay to have the carpets professionally cleaned normally this is something we try and do ourselves. Honestly it was a one less thing on my plate and I was glad to not have to deal with it. 

Mopping and cleaning the hardwood floors


I like to think that our hardwood floors stay pretty clean I give them a good sweep at least once a week. If there are spills I’ll spot mop or use a wet rag. And every so often I’ll do a full wet mop of all the hardwood floors. This was the last step of cleaning the house once all of the walls were cleaned everything was moved out and there was nothing left on the floors. 

For the longest time I didn’t know how to properly mop. I had one of those sponge mops that would just push the dirt around and it didn’t really do a good job cleaning. We eventually got a cotton fiber mop and a bucket with wheels on it which is amazing for mopping. 


I learned the proper way to mop the floor while I was working at a coffee shop a long time ago. Part of our duties closing the store involves picking up all the chairs and mopping the floors. I learned that you wanted to get the floors really wet and lay the water down in small sections. And then use the same pattern to mop up the dirty water.

Getting back the security deposit

Always request to be at the final walk-through of your rental after moving out also make sure you schedule this prior to the end of your lease and this could be as little as the morning of on the last area of your lease or if you if time allows a couple days before the end of your lease the point is do you want to make sure you have time to fix whatever problems come up during your final walk-through 

I wants had a landlord want to withhold part of our security deposit because there was dust on the ceiling fan and the inside of the dishwasher was dirty. Instead of telling him to keep my money I said no I’ll clean it and had it in good shape in about 30 minutes not worth the hundreds that he had planned to keep. 

7. Moving into the new house

Door knobs

One of the first things I always do when buying a new house is to replace the locks. You never know who has a key or if there was a spare left somewhere outside. It’s better to be safe than risk having someone enter your home without your authorization. 

New package of door knobs and deadbolts

Drawer liners

Another thing I like to do when moving into a new house is to line the cabinets with contact paper. I do this mainly to protect the shelves and drawers from damage and also because it looks nice. 

Places that you will need to update your address


This is what to do after you buy a house. This move I’m determined to make a smooth low stress process. The goal is to get everything in the new house unpacked and set up within a month. I only have myself to keep myself accountable to. Let’s do this!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.