15 Things to Buy (And 6 To Skip) Right After Moving

Sell Your Moving Boxes

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Sell Your Moving Boxes
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Smart Moves

Moving into a new space is exciting, and there's an overwhelming desire to decorate it immediately and make it entirely yours. Certainly, some things are needed right away to make life comfortable, however, not every inch of floor and wall space needs to be filled immediately with furniture and decorative items. In fact, it's better to wait on some items until the house has been lived in for a while. Here are some things that need to be purchased soon if you don't have them already and others that can wait until you're a little more settled. 

Related: How Moving Can Actually Make You Money

Buy Paper Items

Buy: Paper Items

It may not be the first thing you need when you walk through the door, but you can bet that toilet paper is going to be a requirement soon. In addition, paper towels will help with spills and cleanup. And with plenty of dust moving around, tissues are in the cards, too. A big trip to the supermarket right away, or even better, before the actual move, will assure that these essentials are on hand.

Buy a Corkscrew and Bottle Opener

Buy: Corkscrew and Bottle Opener

Moving is hard. Adult beverages will likely need to be consumed when the big day is done. And friends who helped with the move are undoubtedly deserving of beer or wine. Do not let this part of the proceedings go awry, and make sure there are a corkscrew, bottle openers, and wine glasses on hand right away. It's okay if the glasses are paper or plastic, but the openers must be functional. If these items are going to be moved from a previous residence, be sure they are in the first box to be unpacked when you organize your move

Related: How to Fully Stock Your Bar for Under $300

Buy Bedding

Buy: Bedding

A bed is pretty much a given, but make sure that at least one set of clean bedding for each bed is either brought along or ordered before you get to your new home. Once the adrenaline rush of moving day passes, everybody will be exhausted. While camping out for a night or two might seem like fun, it's far more comfortable and restful to be in a real bed, with real sheets and pillows and blankets that surround you like a welcoming cocoon.

Buy a New Lock

Buy: New Locks

How many people have the keys to the lock on the front door? Who knows? Best to be safe and change them right away. Make sure to get new keys for all the members of the household, and one or two extras, just in case. If you live in an apartment, the building superintendent or property manager may need a copy, too. 

Related: 20 Cheap Ways to Protect Yourself From Thieves

Buy Tools

Buy: Tools

Book shelves will be going up; Ikea might be visited, which means furniture will need to be assembled; furniture legs that the movers removed before the move need to be put back on; and eventually, pictures and mirrors will be hung. All these things require a variety of tools and fasteners, some of which you may need to buy if you don't already have them on hand. What is needed most: a hammer, and nails and picture hangers; a drill with screwdriver heads, both flat and Phillips, and a variety of screws and anchors; a rubber mallet; and an adjustable wrench in case some nuts and bolts need tightening. 

Related: 10 Tools Under $20 That Everyone Should Own

Buy a Shower Curtain

Buy: Shower Curtain

A shower curtain and some towels should be put in that "open me first" box, and you're likely going to want to purchase fresh ones ahead of time for your new home. Moving is dusty and a really long haul. A warm and well-needed shower will go a long way toward a feeling of refreshment and readiness to tackle the chore of unpacking. Of course, taking a shower also supposes that your bath supplies and toiletries came along with you. In fact, having the bathroom setup is one of those things that makes a house feel like home.

Buy Lighting

Buy: Lighting

It's really quite amazing how many apartments and houses do not have any overhead lighting outside of the kitchen and bathroom. Usually people see these spaces in the daytime, so it's not something they think about too much. But without a few lamps on hand, your first night could be spent in total darkness. A few light bulbs would not be amiss either, in case the light fixtures in the house have burned out bulbs. Make them LED bulbs, and you'll never have to think about them again.

Buy Extension Cords

Buy: Extension Cords

Before the move, did you map out where all the outlets are? Of course not. This is something that will have to be dealt with once the furniture and shelving and decorative objects are in place. Meanwhile, make sure that all the necessary phone and device chargers, computers, and lamps can be plugged in. Extension cords assure that not only will everything be sitting somewhere reachable, but also that more than two items can be plugged into one outlet.

Buy Cleaning Supplies

Buy: Cleaning Supplies

Yes, the previous residents are supposed to clean before they leave. However, it's anybody's guess whether this is actually going to happen. Be prepared for the worst, and bring cleaning products and supplies so cabinets and built-in shelves can be cleaned before anything goes on them. Check the refrigerator, stove, and oven; they may need to be cleaned as well. Don't forget dish soap. Dishes that were wrapped in newspaper need to be washed before they get put away. And while you're at it, get a dish rack so they can dry. 

Related: 20 Cleaning Products That Are a Complete Waste of Money

Vacuum Cleaner

Buy: Vacuum Cleaner

The move-out rule is that floors need to be broom cleaned. That's not the same as vacuumed. It's a good idea to vacuum up high — crown moldings, for instance, and down low — in the corners of closets. These are places that most people won't think of cleaning as they leave, and it's much harder to do once the place is full of furniture and the closets are full of clothing. Using a vacuum cleaner won't create any more dust, and there's plenty of that coming, as boxes get unpacked. Additionally, if there is any carpeting already in place, it can be fairly gross at move in — get it clean before the furniture is arranged.

Buy Filters

Buy: Filters

Granted, air filters are about the last thing that anyone would think about when they move, but it's a good bet that the filters for the air conditioner, heat vents, range hood, dryer (if there is one), or HVAC system have not been changed in a long time. This is a job that might take about 10 minutes to do, and filters are cheap. It will do a great deal to provide peace of mind. Clogged air filters make it harder for the air flow system to work, which will lower the air quality in your home and cost more money. Dryer vents get clogged, even if the lint trap is often cleaned out; and cleaning or changing the filter will prevent dryer fires down the road.

Buy Window Curtains

Buy: Window Coverings

Generally, it's not a great idea to buy window coverings right away. In fact, this should usually be done as the décor of a house is being put together later on. However, if there are windows, particularly in bedrooms, that face the street, from which light pours in, and people can see in, by all means, cover them right away. Custom made shades or blinds, or perfectly matched curtains aren't really necessary at this point, but put up some curtain rods with that drill you brought and get neutral curtains that will work until decorating decisions are made.

Buy a Coffee Pot

Buy: Coffee Pot

Moving day is a hot mess. To get the day after off to a good start, sip a slow cup of coffee while getting the battle plan in order. If you already have a coffee pot, make sure it's packed to open immediately. If not, buy one ASAP. Along with that, coffee, filters, and milk and sugar should be around also. And mugs, of course.

Buy Food
Miroslav Pesek/istockphoto

Buy: Food

It's fine to do take-out for a while after moving. There are certainly better things to do than to break in a new kitchen. However, there are some items that should be stocked right away so that once the cooking mood comes around — or you want to quickly fix something without paying for take-out — you're ready. So when you're out getting the milk, sugar, and coffee, pick up some other staples as well. That means things like salt, pepper, olive oil, rice, pasta and a few jars of tomato sauce, cereal, peanut butter, and snack foods like crackers and nuts to keep energy levels up while unpacking. 

Related: 10 Pantry and Freezer Staples Worth Buying in Bulk

Kitchen Stuff

Buy: Kitchen Stuff

How is it that the kitchen is often one of the smallest rooms in the house, and yet it requires the most stuff? Good question, but not everything that stocks a kitchen needs to be on hand immediately. If you're settling into your first home, or perhaps moved a long distance or shared with roommates before, and don't have many kitchen items, you'll need to get some basics to start off. At least one frying pan and one saucepan need to grace any kitchen. A kitchen knife, a cutting board, and a vegetable peeler are essentials. As are silverware, a few glasses and mugs, and a plate and bowl for each household member. It doesn't need to be beautiful, and it doesn't need to last forever, but it definitely needs to be present. Plenty of garbage will be generated as unpacking continues, so be sure there is a big garbage bin and plastic bags to line it.

Don't Buy a Rug

Don't Buy: Rug

Although you have the measurements of the room, it's really hard to visualize how big of a rug is going to be needed. A beautiful rug can be a starting point for decorating, or it can be an accent to pick up colors in other furniture. But experts agree that saving up to buy the best rug you can afford, one that fits perfectly in your space, and one that will constantly delight you is the best way to go about things. That rarely happens when you're in the flurry of moving, so wait a while and really look around before choosing one.

Don't Buy Paint

Don't Buy: Paint

It may seem like a good idea to paint the walls before the furniture goes in, because with less to get in the way it would seem easier. But it isn't. Decorator Judith Taylor's No. 1 rule for decorating is to paint last. Picking a paint color is tricky business. It should absolutely not be done before the move, because there is no way to tell what that color is going to look like on the walls, in whatever kind of light the room gets. Some paint colors will also look perfectly hideous with particular colors of hardwood floor. Wait until the forever furniture is in place. It's much easier to find a paint color that will complement a sofa than the other way around.

Don't Buy Expensive Furniture

Don't Buy: Expensive Furniture

It's fine to live with Ikea furniture for a while. It really is. Some people, before moving, see a sofa, for example, that they love, and they know it will fit into the room, and so they get it before move-in. But some sofas can be overwhelming, and can actually fill up the room so much that there's little room for anything else. Remember that to pull a room together, all of the pieces need to be in proportion. Wait till you've been living in the room for a while, when you know how much space is needed where doors open and people pass through.

Margarita Khamidulina/istockphoto

Don't Buy: Artwork

Any artist would agree that a painting should never be bought because it coordinates with a color scheme, but because it is beloved. They are right, up to a point. A huge painting can be a starting point for buying furniture, but most of us are not buying art from galleries. In that case, wait until the biggest pieces are in place and select wall art that complements what's already there in period, color, and size.

Don't Buy Throw Pillows

Don't Buy: Throw Pillows

It's tempting to pick up a few throw pillows before moving because the color and pattern are beautiful, or even because they're on sale. But throw pillows are accessories, not the essential little black dress itself. It's smarter to wait until the big items of furniture have been bought. If those are neutral, it's perfectly fine to go crazy with colors and patterns, although this should be within the bounds of coordination. Experts say that colors should be pulled from a piece of art, or even a sofa or bed linens, if they are patterned.

Don't Buy a Coffee Table

Don't Buy: Coffee Table

Coffee tables are important items — great spots for a pile of books, putting up tired feet, or in a pinch, for coffee. But there are rules for getting a coffee table. It should be bought after a sofa, because it should be about half the sofa's length and at least as high as the sofa cushions, but not more than 2 inches higher. Big, square coffee tables are trendy, but don't get one until you are sure that people will still be able to walk around the living room with plenty of room. There should also be at least 18 inches of space between the sofa and the table, so there's room for peoples' legs. As always, the material the table is made of should fit well with the style of the room.