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How to make your new house feel like home.

After the hard work of buying a house, you’re probably feeling relieved to finally get the keys. Now, if only the house could magically transform into your “home” board on Pinterest. In the meantime, here are some ways to start to make your house feel like home – without busting your budget.

Make your bed, then set up the kitchen.
After a long day of moving and unpacking, you’ll want a familiar, cozy place to crash. So, making your bed takes priority. But after that, consider getting kitchen basics unpacked and stored in a spot where you can easily find them. Make a run to the local grocery store and prepare a meal to start to feel settled in your home. The sooner your kitchen is functioning, the less tempted you’ll be to eat out while you’re getting your house unpacked.

Interior of a house

Meet the neighbors.

Introduce yourself to the neighbors to start feeling like a part of the community. They’re probably eager to meet the person who bought the house next door. And you may be neighbors for many years to come, so it’s best to start off on the right foot now. You never know, they may throw the best dinner parties on the block, have all the neighborhood gossip or end up becoming your best friends.

Take care of the responsible stuff:

Set up utilities.
Call your utility companies to set up accounts and maintain electricity, heating and cooling, water, and trash collection. Contact local internet and cable companies to get estimates and compare prices before selecting a provider. If you’re interested in installing a smart thermostat like Nest, look for rebates in your area.

Do a safety check.
Double check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working and change batteries if needed. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher.

Change your address.
Notify the U.S. postal service that your address has changed. You can do this online or at your local post office. Then update your address on your accounts, including at your bank, with any lenders and credit card companies, and on shopping websites. Make sure to let your friends and family know, too!

Change the locks.
Hire a locksmith to change the locks and make sure all doors and windows are secure. You might consider installing an electronic lock with a keypad, which is a convenient alternative to carrying keys. Depending on your budget and preferences, an alarm system or video monitoring system may also be worth exploring.

Find a home for would-be clutter.
Right away, designate a place for those things that like to live in entry ways and on your kitchen table: like keys, mail, unpaid bills or other random items. When it comes into the house, place it where it should go, store or file it, or throw it away. This will also help you keep track of the mail and documents you do need during the transition.

Tip: Get a stack of storage drawers and create labels for different categories, including a “miscellaneous” drawer.

Interior of a house

Get thrifty for now.

If the empty rooms are starting to get to you, but you’re still saving up for the furniture you really want, consider looking for used furniture to fill the space for the short-term. There may be deals in your area online, at thrift stores or even with friends who are looking to donate. You can also try your hand at upcycling pieces you find.

Interior of a house

Decorate one room at a time.
You probably have big plans for your house and want them to happen all at once. But you also just completed a major purchase and may not have much room in your budget. Tackle one room – and one project – at a time. What room will you spend the most time in? Start there, and budget for each project alongside your other goals.

If you’d like to make cosmetic updates, think carefully about what you’ll hire others to do and what you’ll tackle yourself. You can find video tutorials online for almost anything, but if you don’t have the skills you can cause some serious damage and rack up extra costs.

According to HomeAdvisor, the cost to paint a room can be anywhere from $380 to $790 if you hire professionals. If you’re prepared to take on the job yourself, the cost is closer to $200-300.

Tip: Hang artwork and photos to help cover bare walls and add personality.

Interior of a house

Adopt some plants.
Feeling an itch to adopt a dog, cat or other pet? Since a pet can be somewhat expensive, you might opt to adopt some plants instead while you save up. They’ll help your house feel more lived-in, and you can start to practice your caretaking skills. To get a sense of what a pet would cost, consider reading “Planning for a family pet: How much will it really cost you?”.

Interior of a house

Get out in the yard.
If it’s nice outside, spend some time in your yard as well. Even better, start collecting the supplies you’ll need to take care of it and maybe do some light yardwork. You’ll probably need a lawn mower and maybe a shovel, hose and gloves, and you can find used supplies at your local hardware store or see if friends or family have items they’d be willing to pass on. Check with your local hardware store or plant nursery to see if they have affordable bulbs or seeds if you’re interested in starting a flowerbed or garden.

Host a low-key housewarming party.
The last step to feeling like you’re at home? Inviting friends and family to help you celebrate your new house. Ask people to bring potluck items, provide some beverages and get ready to give plenty of tours of the new place.

It’s okay if your house isn’t perfect right away. Part of the fun is getting it to be just the way you want it. In the meantime, the important thing is to enjoy your new home and the fact that all your hard work paid off.

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