Tips for first time homeowners

I learned firsthand this summer how stressful a move can be, especially a local move to your first home. Add to that an international trip, some unexpected home damages to handle and the start of a school year…and you’re looking at a very stressful few months. But, I found a few things helpful as we were prepping to buy, packing and unpacking. Here they are! Ps. door mat in cover photo is from Target.

1. When friends or family offer to help, let them. Our family and friends offered to paint, drive furniture, move us, pack our stuff and unpack our stuff. I felt weird about accepting so much help, but then I realized that’s kind of a pride thing. In truth, they made our move happen. My aunt unpacked my kitchen, my father-in-law painted our house & our friends moved all our stuff. I was left feeling so grateful and inspired to help others in their time of need.

2. Utilize cheap foam paper plates and get free boxes. Foam plates are perfect for separating nice plates instead of wrapping them in newspaper. They also make great dividers in boxes. As far as boxes go, people give them away on Craig’s List or you can find them in neighborhoods.  We got some barely used boxes that someone was going to throw out and ended up not having to buy any.


I’m really excited to use this thing when it finally cools down! Also, can’t wait to find the perfect piece of art to frame over the fireplace.

3. Sell what you can to help pay for expenses and clean out your stuff. We ended up with 2 sets of washers & dryers, as well as a few extra appliances. List them in whatever selling sites you like and the extra money can help pay for paint or the moving truck. We also took this move time as a good time to donate things to the Salvation Army or someone we knew who could use our stuff. Moving can even make the biggest pack-rat reassess why they are keeping so much stuff.  I got reallllyyy good at throwing things away during this move.

4. Pace yourself. I got this advise from a couple of people and it didn’t sink in until a month or so into owning our home. When you first move in, there are SO many things you feel must be done now. Lots of people want to give you their opinions on what needs to be done. I’m also just that kind of person who wants everything done right away. So this was really hard for me. We had to prioritize things because of time and money, and ultimately realize that everything would be okay until we got to it. After all, you still have to go to work and have a life outside of this home buying/moving process.

5. Make a 6 month, 1 year, 3 year and 5 year plan. An old man at the paint store told me this one. I’m all about plans and lists so I did this right away. This goes along with point number 4, because it helps you prioritize and make things feel more doable. For my 6 month plan, I had little things like “buy a rug” and “get our furniture from FL.” The 5 year plan has things like “remodel bathroom.”

6. Plan to spend more than you expected. When we decided to buy a home, we put all of our expenses in a budgeting software for over a year. We knew what our expenses were and knew what we could afford. Even with all that planning, we were told to make sure we had extra money set aside. That’s on top of the down payment and extra fees (inspections and surveys aren’t cheap). You’ll need things like lawn equipment, paint, repairs, shelves, plastic storage tubs, etc. All of that can quickly add up. We have definitely needed that extra money because we had some major unexpected expenses pop up in the first month of moving in!


I love this wall color so much. It’s the sea salt color I mentioned in my last post. My mom gave me a bunch of china, so I am definitely due for a bigger china cabinet. But, I’m taking my own advice and pacing myself on that one. ;)

7. Don’t buy all new furniture and things all at once. My sister and others have told me this many times. They felt the need to fill up their home and ended up rushing to buy furniture that they didn’t even love. Pace yourself so you can get pieces you really want and give yourself time to find a direction for your home decor.

8. Don’t be afraid to give old pieces new life and utilize hand-me-downs. Fortunately, both of our families gave us a ton of furniture so we were able to give it new life in our new home. That ended up saving us a lot of money. Plus, I just think it’s fun to use old pieces and redo them.
9. Find a realtor and broker that you trust. It’s really important that your views of buying line up with theirs or they at least honor your decisions. We LOVED everyone we worked with and have been super happy with our experience. I will say word of mouth is probably the best way to find a realtor and broker.
10. Don’t be afraid to consider a 15 or 20 year mortgage. Matt loves numbers, so he mapped out what it would look like and how much we would save if we did a 15, 20 or 30 year mortgage. Let me just say, it’s shocking how much you save in interest by doing a 15 or 20 year mortgage. On the note, I highly recommend putting 20% down because everything will be easier with your loan and you’re more competitive. Seeing those numbers on paper made it easier for us to decide what type of loan was better for us.

And then one day after you’ve moved into your first home, you’ll be sitting there having breakfast (with a vase of flowers from your yard) and you just can’t believe this is really your own house. :)