So you’re officially a home owner (congratulations by the way!). You’ve got the keys (keys, keys), the design possibilities are endless and your to-do list keeps growing but fret not! I’ve got some initial pointers which I hope you’ll find useful.
Take your time
You may have all these ideas running around in your head and it can quickly become overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start. But that’s absolutely normal and my solution to that is to take your time. You should never feel like you have to do everything at once. Start small and work your way up.
One thing I found was that once I’d had a chance to really live in and get to know my house, all my initial design ideas changed. The minor draught I noticed when I sat by the window completely changed the type of curtains I thought I wanted for the living room. The plant I wanted next to the TV ended up being swapped out for a floor lamp once I realised how dark that area was when the ceiling lights were off. The point is, you won’t always know what you need at the start, so don’t worry about trying to make your home look like a Pinterest board straight away. It’ll come together eventually, I promise.
If you’re a first time buyer, or even a previous homeowner moving into a new place with different room sizes, there’s no way around it, furniture will need to be bought – and it can quickly become very expensive.
I’m a huge advocate for second hand furniture/resale items but try not to skimp on items of furniture that will be used the most like your sofa, bed and fridge/freezer. Always go for the best quality you can afford and choose something you can live with for as long as possible. A bright orange sofa may look great at first, but 5 years down the line are you sure you’ll feel the same way?
Once you’ve got the big stuff out of the way, let the bargain hunt begin! IKEA is great for inexpensive items of furniture and there are hundreds of IKEA hacks all over the web that can transform the most basic item into something out of a bespoke furniture catalogue. Charity shops like the British Heart Foundation also have some great pieces, and as a bonus you also get to donate to a good cause by buying from them.
Bills, Insurance and Admin
Now’s the time to sort out contents insurance, boiler cover (believe me, it’s worth it!), household bills and all of that other boring stuff. Check out my other post on household bills here for some hints and tips, but the main thing to remember is to shop around! Bills naturally increase every year so commit to as little as possible at the start to ensure they remain affordable in the future.
You’ll also want to make sure you change your address with your bank, any subscriptions you’re signed up to, work, phone providers etc. Royal Mail offer a mail redirect service for up to 1 year so you have some time, if you forget to let someone know you’ve moved.
If you haven’t already, set a realistic budget for your first year. This will likely be an expensive year, especially if you are a first time buyer and are starting from scratch. You’ll feel like all of your money is going towards making your house a home, but it’s important to make sure you keep saving and also keep some money aside to spend on yourself. Once you’ve got the larger pieces of furniture, budget a specific amount each month towards whatever else you may need for your home and stick to it. If you have one, try and minimise the amount of furniture you put on your credit card and avoid it altogether if you can. There’s nothing worse than spending your second year of home ownership paying off expenses from your first year.
It’s not the most pleasant thing to have to think about, but in the event that something happens to you, who would you want your home to go to? Your solicitor should have given you some information on this but just to reiterate, now you own a home, you own a major asset. You don’t have to rush out and create a will straight away, and if you’re young this might be a scary thought! However, it’s good to have an idea of what you want to happen written down somewhere safe for future reference.
Soak it in.
It’s been a long process, but you’ve made it through. Let that sink in, enjoy it, bask in the amazing-ness of it all – you deserve it!
Karibu Nyumbani (Welcome Home)