How to Settle into Your New Home After Age 55

Realtor selling a home to an older couple.

Realtor selling a home to an older couple.

If you have moved before, but never into a newly constructed home, you're in for a treat. New homes are much easier to move in to than those that have been previously occupied! There's very little prep work needed. No dirty refrigerators or ovens to clean. No old carpeting to have replaced. No broken items to repair. Instead, you get to walk into a fresh, brand-new living space that is just waiting for you to bring it to life. That cuts down on the amount of work you'll have to do to get settled. There are still a few things you'll have to do, but for the most part, they are simple and don't involve getting your hands dirty.

Must-Do's For The First Week In Your New Home

Set Up Services
Chances are that you scheduled the water, sewer, electric, and gas to be turned on shortly after your closing so they would be on when you moved into the home. Hopefully, all went according to plan and you have lights and water when you move in. Now is the time to contact other service providers and get them scheduled to visit your home for installation. You may need services like cable, Wi-Fi, and phone, but you might also need to call about garbage/recycling pick-up, lawn care, or security systems.

Make Address Changes
You will definitely want to change your address with the U.S. Postal Service so all of your mail can be forwarded to the new house. This way you are certain to get important documents, even if you forgot to inform the sending agency about your change of address. While you're at it, contact your insurance company, doctors, credit card companies, banks and lenders, employer, and other service providers from whom you receive bills or communications such as cell phone providers, attorneys, financial advisors, etc. If you are receiving Social Security or Medicare benefits, be sure to file a change of address with the Social Security Administration as well.

Familiarize Yourself With Your New Home
Use this first week to get to know the inner workings of your home before they get covered up with boxes, furniture, and clutter. Learn where the water line comes in to the house and where the shut off valves are located. Inspect the circuit box and take some time to label the breakers if it hasn't been done already. Check the temperature of the water heater and make sure it's below 120 degree Fahrenheit.

Make Safety Improvements

Inspect all of the basic safety components of your home and make sure they work. This includes smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, locks, and outside lights. In most cases builders use construction locks until the house is complete, then they key the lock for you, but if your builder did not use construction locks, make sure you get all of the keys to the house or change the locks yourself. There is no telling who has keys to your home. Next, make sure the home is safe for you. Do the stairs need treads? Do you need handrails in the shower or bathroom? Would certain areas benefit from more light? 

Gather Your Paperwork
In a new home you will have a lot of new appliances. That means warranties and owner's manuals galore. Gather all of these together and keep them in one place so you can easily find the paperwork you need if something breaks or needs a repair. "It's smart planning to know how long your warranty is on everything in your home and to know what to expect in terms of the lifespan of each appliance," says Marianne Cusato, a housing expert with HomeAdvisor and a professor at University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. 

Check In With the HOA
If you have moved into a retirement community there's a good chance that there is a Homeowners Association (HOA). You should make contact with them soon after you get settled and definitely before you decide to make any changes to the exterior of your home. Many communities have restrictions on what can and can't be done to the exterior of a home as well as who is responsible for maintenance. Request a copy of the HOA rules so you know where your responsibility ends and the HOA's begins. 

Meet The Neighbors

Take a break from unpacking and get out to meet the neighbors or explore the neighborhood. Retirement or active adult communities may have organized events that will help you break the ice. Otherwise, a simple walk around the block will do. Don't forget to explore the greater area too. You'll want to know where the closest grocery store is located as well as nearby shopping, recreational activities, and even doctors and hospitals. "Collect emergency information for the fridge — know the address and phone numbers of the nearest hospital, police station and fire station," suggests Marc Jungers, president of Houston-based Grand View Builders.

Capitalize on the adrenaline of the move and the excitement of your new home to get through this checklist during the first week in your new home. After that you can focus on the fun stuff like planning a housewarming party!
Sarah Kinbar is a freelance writer and editor for leading print and online publications. Formerly editor in chief of Garden Design, she has also written and edited for Cottage Living, Modern magazine and Orlando Arts. You can find her on Google+.

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