1. HAVE YOUR DEED / ALTA SETTLEMENT STATEMENT HANDY FOR WATER
When you get your water turned on, you'll need to submit your closing statement / settlement statement to the water department. Do this as soon as you leave the closing - it's nice to be able to take a shower after a long day of moving. For City of Atlanta customers, click here. For DeKalb county residents (not being serviced by CoA) click here.
2. CHANGE THE LOCKS
Change the locks to all of your exterior doors and storm doors as soon as possible - even though the sellers gave you the keys, you don't know how many copies are floating around out there somewhere. Better safe than sorry. All you'll need is a screwdriver to do this, and it'll usually take less than an hour.
3. HIRE CLEANERS OR DIY
The previous owners likely left the house in good condition, but the average "broomswept" space still has dust and dirt and maybe a cobweb or two since the last time anyone was in. I think it's worth it to hire cleaners to come on the date you take possession and do a thorough cleaning including windows, cobwebs, wiping out the fridge and kitchen cabinets, steam cleaning carpets and washing any draperies left behind. That way, you'll be moving your things into an ultra-clean space and be off to a fresh start.
4. SAVOR THE EXPERIENCE
I went ALL IN with my house. I was up until 1 AM for a week straight painting, putting up photos, unpacking, cleaning...you name it. Whatever there was to do around the house, I was doing it and I was exhausted. The first few weeks were more stressful than they needed to be because I was on this self-imposed race to get it all done as soon as possible. Sit back. Relax. Look around. Enjoy the fact that you're in your new place for years to come and know that you've got PLENTY of time to sort it all out.
5. CHECK OUT RE-USE STORES BEFORE BUYING BIG BOX
There's a lot to be said for buying everything brand new, but when it comes to buying a home, you've already spent a lot of money - why not save a few bucks by going to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore or the Lifecycle Building Center to look for supplies and materials for your new house? They've got everything from extra paint to antique doors and light fixtures at prices way lower than big box stores.
If you're looking for vintage pieces that are true to an older home, visit the Scott Antique Market once a month (usually the second weekend of the month) or keep an eye on Craigslist.
6. BECOME HOUSE SAVVY
Do you know which switch in your electrical panel turns off the power to your bathroom? If there was a water issue, do you know where the main shutoff is located? If you smelled gas (the smell of rotten eggs or sulphur) do you know who to call and what to do? Do you know where your smoke alarms are located and have you checked the batteries? Have you thought about buying fire extinguishers and where you plan to put them? Familiarize yourself with all of the technical and safety aspects of your home and come up with a plan to address them.
If you're like me, you'll probably end up hiring a handyperson to handle most of the big HVAC, plumbing and electrical jobs you need done, but I like to know how stuff works and what the specialist is doing. Honestly, the only things you really need to get to work on most day-to-day household projects are: a simple IKEA toolkit, a good pair of Mechanix gloves, a roll of plastic dropcloths, a cheap pair of safety glasses, a strong flashlight and a good reference book like How Your House Works.
7. INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO THE NEIGHBORS
I was really bad at this. When I moved in, I focused so much on getting my things unpacked and the walls painted that I didn't take the 15 minutes I should have to introduce myself to the neighbors directly across from me, on the sides, and behind me. Each day that you draw it out, you make it more awkward! You may not end up being their best pal, but a friendly introduction goes a long way in building relationships in your new community. Also remember that these are the people who lived there before you, sometimes for decades - there's a lot you can learn from them and a lot they're probably willing to help you with.
8. FILE A HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION
Filing a homestead exemption reduces the amount of taxes you owe on your primary residence owned on January 1st of each year. So if you bought your home on February 1st, there's nothing to do, but after the 1st of the new year, you'll want to go online and submit your application and the county will then apply the exemption in YOUR name to the property. You will only need to do this once. Afterward, it automatically applies each year.