Life in an apartment is fairly easy: When something breaks, you call the apartment manager and it is taken care of. The grounds are tended for you. The pool (if your community has one) is cleaned regularly. Need exercise? Your apartment complex’s gym is just a short walk away. The clubhouse and business center are both useful and great for socializing. Your apartment’s small size acts as clutter control – there’s only so much you can store with limited closet space, no basement, and no attic.
When you’ve decided to leave the apartment lifestyle in favor of a house, it may be a bit of a shock – especially if this is your first voyage into home ownership. Don’t worry – with a few simple tricks you’ll be a seasoned homeowner in no time!
As you pack up your apartment and move into your house, you may quickly realize that you don’t have as much as you thought you did. The cavernous house seems to swallow up your tiny, apartment-sized furniture. Decorating this new space will be an adventure, so take your time and don’t worry about how bare your house seems. Avoid the temptation to fill your home up as quickly as possible with items you may not necessarily like. Turn down the hand-me-downs from friends and family unless you truly want the items – your aunt’s flowery couch may have looked great in her house when you visited as a kid, but can you really look at it in your new living room every day?
Finding furniture and decorations can get expensive, so take it slow and make flea markets, discount stores, antique stores, and garage sales your favorite new haunts. As you bring new items in, those things you dragged from your apartment may look old and tattered. Toss what no longer works as you bring new items in, and refurbish what you think just needs a facelift. Eventually, you'll have a space you love, filled with items you've selected with care.
You may want to paint – especially if you weren't allowed to in your apartment. Get some tips on how to do it right and don't be afraid of color – you can always repaint if you decide emerald green or tangerine weren't your style, after all. You may want to collect photos of rooms you love, such as on Pinterest, for ideas and inspiration.
In addition to decorating, you'll want to head out into the garage. If it is a big, empty space with just your car for company, you'll want to consider what you will need: a lawn mower, edger, a rake, a leaf blower, a shovel, and perhaps a snow shovel will all come in handy, especially once you begin working on your landscape.
Your new house will need maintenance, so learn the basics. You'll need to clean the gutters twice a year. While you are up there, check the roof for loose or torn shingles. If you don’t want to get up on the roof yourself, hire a company to do this for you. You'll also want to change your heating/air filters twice a year and check around your property for any signs of decay, loose siding, etc. Also, be sure to check smoke detectors on a regular basis, as well.
The attic, basement, and/or crawl space are ideal storage locations for seasonal and infrequently-used items, but they can also be infiltrated by moisture, mold, termites, carpenter ants, and even rodents. You'll want to check periodically for mold, signs of leaks, and rodent droppings.
Don’t forget about your yard! It may have been a major factor in the decision to buy a house – an outdoor space to enjoy. Once you settle in to your house, you may find that you aren't sure where to begin. Start with the space where you will spend the most time – whether it is the front porch or the backyard. Start with one space, perhaps near the back patio. Plant a few flowers, add some shrubs, get a grill, set up a patio table and chairs – once you get started, you'll be amazed at how quickly this space will take shape, and before you know it you'll be enjoying evenings on your patio, watching the sunset.