Moving into a new house? Your task list doesn't end once you pack up your old place - and we're not just talking about all the fun unpacking you have ahead of you. There are a few more things you're going to want to do before you get in and start living it up.
Change the locks
It doesn't make you paranoid to want new locks on the doors to your home. It makes you smart. "Who knows how many people have keys to what's now your home? The fix is easy: ‘It's usually a minimum charge for a locksmith to come to the house," said Ron Phipps, principal with Warwick, Rhode Island-based Phipps Realty and past president of the National Association of Realtors, on Bankrate. Phipps' advice: Don't just re-key the locks - replace the hardware, too. You get a nice update, plus peace of mind."
Don't forget to change your garage door opener code, too.
Do an in-depth tour of the house
Do you know where the water and gas shut-off valves are? How about the electrical box and water heater? Any idea how to use your sprinkler system? Familiarizing yourself with all the ins and outs of the house and making sure key members of the household are also aware can help avoid disasters.
Seal off rooms you don't use - or won't be using right away
The first few months in a new home might be a revelation financially - and not in a good way. Between moving costs, new furniture, any renovations that need to be done, and the cost of turning on all your utilities, you're probably going to want to save a few dollars where you can. Sealing off rooms you won't be using for a while can help lower your heating and cooling costs.
Meet your neighbors
Your neighbors may be planning to come by once they see that you've moved in, but think about beating them to it. You never know where you might make a new best friend (or find one for your kids), and being friendly and outgoing from the get-go establishes good will.
At the very least, being able to see a friendly face or two in the neighborhood will help you acclimate - and it won't hurt to have someone point out the neighborhood gossip, tell you which Starbucks makes the best lattes, and help you find the most traffic-free route to the elementary school.
Need a babysitter, a dog walker, a handyman, or a recommendation for the best Chinese restaurant in your new neighborhood? Nextdoor will help you find it.
Clean your carpets
A thorough cleaning of the home should have been done when the sellers were moving out. In some cases, it's stipulated in the contract, and a seller who fails to live up to that aspect is "at risk for a lawsuit," said Realtor.com. But unless specific cleaning tasks are called out, the house may not be as spic-n-span as you want.
Even if the house looks clean and tidy when you move in, they may have skipped the carpets. A good cleaning can extend their life, improve air quality, and remove allergens.
"Little do most of us realize that what we are seeing is only a tiny fraction of the soil that a carpet contains," said the National Carpet Cleaners Association (NCCA). "The visible grime we notice is only the tip of the iceberg; up to 85 per cent of the dirt the carpet holds is buried deep within the pile. And when you consider that a carpet can eventually trap its own weight or more in soil - as much as 150 pounds for an average-sized living-room - you'll agree it's no trivial matter."
Wipe out drawers and cabinets
This is another oft-ignored task, and one that could be responsible for leaving germs, or at least crumbs, behind.
Change your fire alarm batteries
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends that fire alarm batteries get changed twice a year. Since you probably won't know when the last time this was done, it's best to change them when you move in. That way you won't be awakened at 3am by a blaring alarm your third day in the house.