My Own Home: A Year In
17th January 2021 marked one year since I picked up the keys to my own home – my little flat just outside Glasgow. It’s not the first time I’ve moved out of the family home – I spent 3 years living in Portsmouth in my early twenties. I came back in 2011, with the intention of getting my own home shortly afterwards. Things didn’t turn out that way for various reasons (including me getting a degree), but I finally flew the nest again last year.
I’d never OWNED a property before. I still wonder how on earth I managed to get a mortgage – I’m not exactly the most mature individual! And even though I’d lived with friends for years down south, I’d never lived alone before. Having my own home has been quite the learning curve, to say the least! I’ve definitely grown up over the past 12 months – and I’ve learned many lessons along the way. Ironically, the most valuable pieces of advice I would give anyone are the smallest little things that often get overlooked.
I thought I’d compile a quick-fire list of tips for moving into a property for the first time. Some will only apply to owned property, but most of them are just as valid if you’re renting! I didn’t discover all of these the hard way, but I’m sure you can guess which ones are personal experience…
Getting the Keys
Solicitors leave EVERYTHING to the last minute, so try not to stress too much if you aren’t hearing much progress. I know it’s hard when it’s something as important as your own home! The week before completion will stress you out enough when everything hits you at once.
On a less positive note, there’s always a chance things can fall through. So make sure it’s all signed off before you start ordering sofas!
Do a quick Home Bargains or B&M trip before you pick up the keys. The thought of needing a wee and not having any loo roll is tragic! And stock up on snacks, plus tea or coffee supplies to tide you over until you can do a proper food shop.
Be prepared to CLEAN when you first get in. Some previous owners are lovely and leave things spick and span – others not so much! Flash Kitchen and Bathroom are your new best friends. If you aren’t sure how to clean something in particular, there are lots of groups on Facebook with an answer for everything!
Give the entire property the once-over as soon as you can. Report any issues to your solicitor so that it can be fixed. There’s often a timeframe for liability written into the contract, so be quick!
Similarly, take meter readings for the gas and electricity supplies straight away. The last thing you want is for your suppliers to use estimated readings! I recommend taking photos of the meters – partially for evidence, partially because I’m too short to see numbers on my gas meter properly.
On a similar note, don’t assume that sticking with existing suppliers will be the least hassle! Most suppliers will switch you to the standard tariff when you contact them, so do some online comparisons such as Money Supermarket and make sure you’re getting a good deal.
You’ve probably already done this one, but just in case you haven’t – create a budget or spending tracker. This will help you stay within your means – especially during the first few months when you’re buying furniture. I use Excel for mine – and it’s the most Type A document you’ve ever seen. I’ll be sharing my budgeting tips in a separate post shortly.
Make sure you have insurance sorted! Check what cover you need and take out a policy which starts on the completion date. Read over the fine print first, though – you’d be surprised how much isn’t covered as standard.
Some Essential Items
An iron & ironing board. Why is that one of the most important items, you ask? You try smoothing out creases on brand new bedding without one. Even Lenor Crease Releaser ain’t touching those.
A toilet brush. I won’t say any more on that.
A tin opener. I’m still shocked that not all tins have ringpull tops these days. Turns out they don’t. Especially tuna.
Extra phone data. You’ll be waiting at least a fortnight before you get WiFi.
A box of standard light bulbs. Some people are known to take their light bulbs with them when they move. Mind you, others are lovely and will leave all the light fittings – but best to be prepared.
Cutlery. You won’t be eating in style while you move in, but even a Pot Noodle needs a fork.
And some final thoughts once you’re in and “settled”
Don’t feel pressured to buy everything at once! It can be ridiculously expensive to furnish your own home. Do you really need a guest bed straight away?
Similarly, don’t rush to decorate every room as soon as you move in! Some things can’t wait – I painted my makeup room pink within a fortnight of getting my keys. I’m so happy with how it turned out! But taking on too much at once can be stressful – and making a home should be enjoyable. Why rush all the fun?
Don’t forget to make the place yours! It could be your favourite artwork, some crazy mugs or lots of photos. It may start like a blank canvas, but your property is an extension of your personality.
Factoring companies are a pain in the arse. They always want money, and they take ages to respond to anything. This is a universal trait. If you have an issue, phone them every day until things are resolved.
Take some time to ENJOY your new space. Pop on some music, get comfy on the sofa in your pyjamas, and pat yourself on the back for creating such a welcoming home! It won’t be perfect straight away, but it’s yours. You made this happen. You should be celebrating!
Hopefully I’ve shared some pearls of wisdom on moving into your own home – do you have any tips for moving? xx