So it’s finally over. You’ve worked with your home builder and planned out every detail. You’ve hashed out everything with your mortgage and developed monthly payments you can live with. You’ve sat down with real estate agents and attorneys and signed pages upon pages of legal documents. Lastly, you’re handed the keys and you receive a handshake.

Now what?

There’s an old saying that war is basically long periods of boredom broken up by moments of intense terror. To a much lesser degree, buying a home is similar. It can be a roller coaster of adrenaline and emotion, and by the end, you just want it all to be over. But after those keys fall into your hand, there are still a few things to do before you can truly relax. Read on for a few tips to help you settle in.

  • First and foremost, either visit your local post office or go online to the United States Postal Service website and change your address. Make sure to contact your bank with your new address, and do the same with credit card companies and any other financial institutions you’re involved with.
  • Your great new home won’t be so great if the lights are out and there’s no hot water. Before moving in, contact all of your utilities and schedule the switch. You’ll need electricity, water, internet service, gas, and cable/satellite service. If you’re still using a landline, call your local telephone company to make the switch. Otherwise, contact your cell phone provider and change your address with them.
  • Remember those keys in your hands? Make sure they all work. Check spare keys to the front door, as well as side and back doors if they have exterior locks. Make sure all garage door openers are functional as well.
  • Safety first! Make sure that carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors all have batteries and are functional. If you have fire extinguishers, take a look at their expiration dates. If your home has a security system, be sure it works, and if you have a security company monitoring your home, make sure coverage with them is all set up.
  • Take the time to get to know the components that power your home. It’s important to know not just where the main circuit breaker is located, but also which breaker powers which area. Take a minute to label breakers for quick reference. Also, find all of the water shutoffs in your home.
  • Now that you have a new neighborhood, you need to know where everything is. Take a drive, bike ride, or walk with the dog and find out where supermarkets, hospitals, gas stations, banks, and post offices are located. You’re also sure to find interesting shops and restaurants to check out.
  • Reviewing the homeowner’s association policies is a wise move. Many HOA’s have very definite rules about what you can and cannot do with your property. If you know what’s expected ahead of time, you can avoid annoying fines. During this time, also find out what the pickup schedule is for trash and recycling.
  • Take a few moments to introduce yourself to your neighbors. It’s not just the polite thing to do, but they can keep an eye on your home when you’re gone, and they can develop into friends.