Last Updated on March 4, 2022 by Alarm New England

1. Change of address notifications and set up utilities

Notify the post office that you’ve changed your address so they can forward mail to your new home. However, that forwarding service only lasts for a few months, so remember to modify your address on all important accounts, such as bank accounts, health insurance, and memberships.

You’ll also want to contact gas and electric companies and tell them you’ve moved. If you’re still in the same city, they may be able to simply transfer your account to your new address. The same thing applies to internet service, magazine subscriptions, and if you’re still using a landline, phone service.

2. Change the locks

You can’t be sure who has key access to your home, so change the locks to be on the safe side. Installing new locks yourself is fairly inexpensive. Alternatively, you can call up a locksmith — if you supply the new locks, they typically charge around $20 to $30 to install each lock.

While you’re changing out locks, consider upgrading to a keyless deadbolt for convenient access and to gain more control over who’s entering your home and when.

Also, if you have a keyless garage door panel, make sure to program a new code for opening the garage doors. It is also a good idea to make sure the automatic openers are functioning properly.

yale smart lock as part of your home security

3. Clean house

Before you unpack and before the furniture arrives, enlist the help of family members and friends and do a thorough cleaning of your house.

Don’t forget to vacuum and wash the carpets, mop the floors, bleach the bathroom, clear out the fridge, scrub the sinks and the oven, and wipe down all your cabinets, drawers, shelves, and closets. Consider adding shelf paper in the drawers and cabinets, especially if you are not the first owner of the house.

4. Check for plumbing leaks

Home inspectors usually take care of this one, but it doesn’t hurt to verify that everything is okay yourself.

To identify whether your property has leaky plumbing, check the water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour window when no one is using any any sinks, toilets, or showers. If the number changes, you have a leak.


5. Terminate pests

Mice, rats, and cockroaches are some of the more common ones, but depending on where your home is located, you might have to deal with bats, termites, and other uninvited guests.

Take steps to uncover any nests or holes in the wall that could be signs of vermin in the home, then contact a pest control specialist.

6. Learn your way around a circuit breaker box and main water valve

Find out which fuses control what parts of your house and label them accordingly.

You’ll want to know how to turn your house’s main water valve off. Water from a burst pipe can flood your home with water in minutes, soaking everything in sight.


If you know how to turn off the water to your home, you’ll be prepared to minimize damage if you have a plumbing emergency, if a natural disaster is heading your way, or if you’re going out of town.

Just locate the shut-off valve or handle — it could be inside or outside your house — and rotate it until it’s off. Test it by checking your faucets to make sure that no water comes out. You should also learn where the emergency shut off is if your home is heated by oil.

7. Plan ahead for emergencies

If you have a team of professionals you trust and their phone numbers readily available, you’ll be prepared to handle the unexpected. You don’t want to be searching up plumbers when your toilet is spewing sewage onto the bathroom floor. Ask your new neighbors for names of contractors they recommend.

Check all emergency exits, and create a family fire plan that has a dedicated rendezvous point outside.


Prepare yourself for more severe disasters with an emergency preparedness kit. Stockpile enough supplies for every member of your household, including pets, for at least 72 hours.

8. Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Installing smoke detectors will help protect you and your loved ones in the event of a fire. But smoke detectors can fail, so you need to ensure they are working correctly.


Test every smoke detector and replace any batteries that are running low — the fire department will be happy to inspect your home to make sure it is up to code.

Some homes also have carbon monoxide detectors; these usually have a built-in test function.

9. Secure your home against fire and burglary

Adding in a monitored security system is a great way to ensure that your home is protected from an environmental disaster (i.e. fire, carbon monoxide) or crime. Knowing that police and fire departments will be able to respond quickly to any emergency at your home can help you find peace of mind.


While standard alarms in homes are just designed to trigger a siren in the event of an intrusion, alarm monitoring decreases your risk of burglary by over 300%. Plus, depending on your provider, you can save around 10-15% each year on your homeowners insurance.

10. Investigate the walls

Adding artwork, shelves, and wall cabinets means drilling into your walls. Doing so, however, runs the risk of damaging your plumbing pipes, ductwork, wires, and cables, so precise drilling is essential.

A stud sensor detects changes in density to sniff out studs, cables, and ducts. They are also great for finding out what parts of your wall are danger zones.

However, stud sensors aren’t always right. Never drill more than 1¼ inches deep into the wall — that level is deep enough to clear drywall and plaster, but not deep enough to damage your wires or pipes.

Household wiring runs horizontally from outlet to outlet about 8 inches to 2 feet from the floor, so that’s a no-drill zone. Stay clear of vertical locations above and below wall switches as wiring runs along studs to reach switches.

11. Get a ladder

If you ever need to get to high light fixtures, ceiling fans, wall decorations, or climb onto the roof, ladders are a safer way of getting up high while providing extra stability than a chair or table.


When choosing a ladder, consider:

  • How high you need to go. If you use an extension ladder to get into higher floors or rooftops, learn about the appropriate safety procedures, such as not standing above the support point.
  • Where you’ll use it. When you use a stepladder, you’ll want to make sure all four legs can be planted firmly on a flat area and don’t slide around. A straight ladder must be set up at a safe angle, so if a ceiling is too low, it might be too long for the room.

Check the ladder’s duty rating to find out how much weight it’ll support.
If you live in a multi-story home, get escape ladders for the bedrooms. The Red Cross recommends them.

12. Get a small safe or filing cabinet

Even if you’ve never had one before, you’re probably going to need a filing cabinet or small safe now. Documenting everything can only help you down the line.


While much of it may be digital, there are some documents that you may also want to keep hard copies of, such as home loan closing statements, the deed, the title to your car, or tax forms. That’s important stuff, and you’ll need it when it comes time to pay your taxes.

Filing cabinets or safes are also handy for keeping receipts and instruction manuals for appliances, insurance, property tax bills, and any estimates or statements from contractors as you make improvements.

Also, remember to store digital copies of every important document on multiple backup hard drives and cloud storage services for extra security, or in case you lose them in a disaster. For even more security, choose a safe that is waterproof and fireproof.

13. Automate your thermostat

Smart home technology has come a long way in the last few years. Adding a few internet-connected devices can make your life more convenient and give you peace of mind when you’re away from home.

Wi-fi enabled or smart thermostats are a great way to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home without racking up huge bills. If you’re buying a new home, this is a cost-effective investment.


Smart thermostats are one of the few items you can buy for your home that eventually pay for themselves – our top pick for smart thermostats can save you a substantial amount on your energy bills every month.

14. Take control of your home

Speaking of smart home technology, you can travel with more peace of mind with the availability of home automation functions. Doors can be locked and unlocked remotely. Lights can be turned on and off without being home, to give the appearance of occupancy. Other features of smart home technology include garage door and window shade controls.

15. Take photos of valuable items

Moving your valuables is nerve-racking, but if you take proper precautions, you’ll make things easier for yourself. A good method of damage control is creating a valuables inventory and taking photos of each item. Valuables could be anything from an antique dresser to your 70-inch 4K TV.

By taking photos of these items, you have proof of their original condition if they are damaged during the move. No matter how careful your moving company is, accidents can happen, so moving insurance is worth looking into.

16. Use your home inspection report to plan future upgrades

Your home inspector should give you a comprehensive report indicating the condition of all the major systems and structural parts of your home. Most homes will have a few dozen items that need attention, and you can use this as a basis for a home improvement plan.

Make some lists: The stuff that’s relatively easy to accomplish — or critical — go on the short-term, right-away list. Make sure there are a few low-hanging-fruit projects on there to help you build momentum! The big plans might have to wait.

17. Install security cameras.

Just the appearance of these little security gems is often enough to deter would-be intruders and vandals. As part of a home security system, security cameras are considered essential in adding a stronger level of protection to your new investment. And more likely than not, your homeowners insurance company will offer you a discount on your annual premium. It’s a win/win!

garage outdoor camera

18. Start a Home Journal.

This doesn’t need to be anything fancy – an inexpensive, spiral-bound notebook works! Take pictures of the interior of your home and add them to your journal. Then, as you make updates and improvements, you have a place to document what was accomplished; the names of contractors, suppliers, etc; and costs.

19. Emergency Services

Locate the nearest fire and police stations, hospital, pharmacy, and urgent care center. No need to add to your emergency by not knowing where to go!


20. Get the lay of the land…and the trees

Considering hiring a professional landscaper to inspect large trees and plantings. If your home is surrounded by majestic trees and plantings, it is important to know their health. Why? Because while a 30-foot oak tree looks healthy on the outside, it may be the home of a carpenter ant colony – which means a windstorm could bring it down right on top of your house or vehicle! Better to be proactive now than reactive later.

21. Check the windows

Check the functionality of your windows. Make sure they can open, and if possible, that they all have locks that work.


22. Childproofing

If children are part of your life, you may need to childproof your home. Anchor tall and heavy furniture to avoid tipping. Add safety covers to outlets. It may be necessary to put padding on the sharp edges of fireplace hearths, countertop corners and furniture. You may also need to add child locks to your appliances and cabinet doors.

23. Plug In

Make sure your appliances are connected. It takes at least three hours for refrigerators to cool to the appropriate temperature, even longer for freezers. If you have one, make sure your water and ice dispensers are working properly.

Make some lists: The stuff that’s relatively easy to accomplish — or critical — go on the short-term, right-away list. Make sure there are a few low-hanging-fruit projects on there to help you build momentum! The big plans might have to wait.