There are all sorts of positives associated with moving to a new home. It’s a fresh start, full of promise. It may be that you’ve finally found somewhere you can spend the rest of your life. It could be your first step onto the property ladder. And maybe you’re upsizing to something bigger and better than your previous home; perhaps it’s more spacious and has a bigger garden. But even a downsizing move can be full of optimism; a pragmatic move to streamline your life now that you don’t need so much space.
Yet, despite all your expectations, you could find, once the removal men have lugged the last of your cardboard boxes indoors, you feel a crashing sense of anti-climax. Perhaps you feel powerless to begin the unpacking process, and the sight of all your belongings in the wrong places leaves you feeling weak and exhausted. You may even start indulging yourself in regrets and rumination. Have you made the right decision? What if it’s all a terrible mistake?
The important thing, at this point, is to recognise these feelings as perfectly normal. And they’re feelings, not facts. Moving home is such an all-consuming undertaking, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have doubts. But with a few simple steps, mainly comprising just putting one foot after the other and trudging forwards, you’ll get through this stage and be left with a fully habitable new home that starts to feel like it was made for you.
Grab a vacuum cleaner and duster
This has multiple benefits. Not only will you immediately feel as if you’re actively doing something, rather than drowning in feeling, but you’ll be taking advantage of an opportunity that might not come around again for a while – you can clean every edge and corner of your rooms in a way that will be much harder once furniture and appliances are in their fixed positions. Of course, you may be moving into somewhere that’s already spotless, in which case you can move on to the next task.
Create a personal area
This could be as simple as moving an armchair near a window or arranging a sofa in your living room. It just means that, while you proceed with other tasks, you have somewhere in the home that already feels like yours, where you can retreat for rests.
Start unpacking boxes
It sounds so obvious, like something that shouldn’t need to be pointed out, but doing this on Day One means you’ll have got one of the most onerous tasks out of the way. You won’t have to live surrounded by the daunting sight of unopened or partially opened boxes. You’ll be able to find the things you need, whether that’s clothes for Day Two or towels for having a shower. Unpacking can be a stressful, imposing task, but procrastinating over it is far more stressful in the long run and the psychological pay-off you get from unpacking is more than worth the effort.
Now that your boxes are flattened and ready for recycling, it’s time to deal with furniture. This is the stage when your new property starts to take on your character and taste, so even though it can be challenging, especially where the more bulky pieces are concerned, it’s like sprinkling magic dust through every room – once you’ve done it, a transformation takes place and you could well find that those niggling regrets stop playing on your mind. Once you’ve finished, you can repeat the process but with artworks, appliances and decorative items. Then you really will feel like you’re home.
You may have been fortunate or foresightful enough to get these in place so that they’re all ready and waiting for you, but for any number of reasons that might not have been possible. Broadband, water, gas, electricity… if any of these vital services isn’t already in place, then Day One is the time to do it, especially given that some (e.g. broadband) can’t usually be arranged within 24 hours. And while you’re setting these up, it’s also a good time to check the details of council services such as bin collection and recycling, familiarising yourself with the schedules so you know when to put the bins out.
There’s one task which, once it’s completed, can really diminish stress levels; making sure your new home is safe and secure. You may not, for example, want to take any chances given that it’s impossible to know how widely the previous owners disseminated copies of their keys. So starting afresh with entirely new external locks might be the answer. You may have ideas about additional security measures, from having a London bar fitted around your front door, to internet-enabled locks and cameras, or an old-school burglar alarm. Whatever your preferences, this is a vital step that shouldn’t be skipped and which should also include checking the state of existing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Step outside and take a relaxing walk, whether that means strolling to the local high street and getting to know the grocers and cafes, or introducing yourself to neighbours. This is a particularly important undertaking if you’ve moved to a completely new area and aren’t yet fully apprised as to the location of helpful amenities like banks and gyms, train and bus stations.
Change of address
You may have been one step ahead and accomplished this before moving day, but if not then it’s high time to make sure you’ve changed the address on key documents including your driving license. You could also update all the important contacts in your life, including friends and family (this would once have been accomplished by having change-of-address cards printed, but now it’s far more quickly achieved by email or text). And do you need to set up mail forwarding from your old address to your new one, via the post office?
After all the above have been checked off your list, you’re almost certain to feel settled. Then you can gradually explore other settling-in activities, including throwing a housewarming party, going to a local restaurant, joining clubs and associations in your area and meeting more of the people in your street.