Congratulations—you bought a home! Whether you’ve just gotten the keys or are anxiously awaiting possession day, there are probably a million things running through your mind. Between unpacking, decorating, possibly renovating, and all the rest of it, it can be hard to know where to begin. That’s why I’ve gone ahead and put together my top tips for new homeowners to help you get started.
Creating a budget is an essential first step to owning a home. Mortgage payments can be more (but also sometimes less!) than the average rent, so planning for how best to save and spend your money can go a long way in relieving financial stress. Start by making a list of your expenses every month. Include everything from your phone and Netflix bills to your mortgage payments and property taxes. If it comes out of your bank account every month, make sure it is there. This can give you a realistic expectation of what you need and how much you may have left over for non-essentials to prevent overspending.
2. Make Yourself at Home
Sure, you took a walkthrough of the house before you bought it, and likely during the home inspection, too. But everyone knows it can take a while to really feel at home in your house until you get to know it a little better. Take time to look around every room and familiarize yourself with your new surroundings. Find the important things, like your water shut-off valve and electrical panels, to make maintenance easier. Who knows! You may even find a new favourite feature this time around.
3. Plan for Regular Maintenance
Regular home maintenance is one of the most important parts of owning a home. This keeps everything in working order and prevents unnecessary stress from unexpected problems. Create a plan and schedule in the recurring tasks that need to be accomplished throughout the year. This includes changing air filters, cleaning the gutters, testing smoke detectors, indoor plant care, and routine cleaning.
4. Get a Toolbox
If you don’t already have a toolbox, getting one is one of my best tips for new homeowners. Hammers, screwdrivers, levels, and drills are essentials around the house, and you can’t always plan for when you’ll need one. Expect the unexpected and keep essential tools on-hand in an easy to find place. Just don’t forget to put them back when you’re finished!
5. Meet Your Neighbours
While the digital age has made meeting people easier in some ways, it can never replace the value of face-to-face interactions. And when you buy a new home, getting to know your neighbours can be a lifesaver. They can provide a helping hand in an emergency, keep an eye on your house while you are away, and foster a sense of community.
6. Create an Emergency Plan
Though we may pray they never do, emergencies happen. From power outages to house fires—you never know when the unexpected could hit, and it is better to be prepared. Make sure to have a plan in place and go through it with everyone in the family so you’re all on the same page. Create an emergency kit with the essentials, know where the first-aid supplies and fire extinguishers are, and have an evacuation plan ready.
It’s not every day that you get to move into a new home that is all yours. Yes, there’s a lot of responsibility in homeownership, but there should also be some fun, too. It’s a significant accomplishment and something to be proud of. Take a moment to celebrate with a housewarming party or even just a quiet bottle of wine on the living room floor—you deserve it!