Jason Robie: Move-in mastery

By Jason Robie

It's safe to say that we've all "moved in" about a dozen or more times in our lifetimes. Whether you were a kid moving with your parents or an adult getting your first apartment or buying your first home, moving into a new place is exciting, stressful and filled with anticipation. You would assume after a handful of these experiences, we would be awesome at it. In reality, there are still a few neat tricks we can glean from others' years of experience. Let's see if we can pick up a trick or two to make the move-in experience more pleasing and more fruitful.

One of my favorite parts about working with professional, experienced, local real estate agents is their vast network of vetted service providers. A real estate pro's business is almost exclusively based on networking. You can be sure that a recommended plumber or electrician is going to be top-notch when referred by an agent. They want to be sure you are happy with the worker they've recommended and that you will remember them when it comes time to buy or sell again. Before you grab the keys and wave goodbye at the closing table, get a few solid recommendations from your agent. They'll appreciate your trust in them and you will appreciate not having to pick random goof balls out of the phone book or the internet.

One of the best pieces of advice (and honestly, hardest to heed) is to hold off on painting your walls for a few days. Believe me. I know how excited you are to get that sea foam green up on the bathroom walls, but hold the phone. Take a few days to "get to know" your home and really understand the lighting. The way the sunlight hits the walls during different times of day and even your choice of light bulbs will impact how a color looks and feels in a room. This is a perfect time to put a few paint samples on all four walls in a room and even get the ceilings painted while you're in the exploratory phase.


While we're talking about the walls, this might also be a good time to add some UV protection to those particularly sunny windows. We enjoy (no, really) a full-on sunshine assault every morning as our home faces due east. This is great for warming up in the winter months and is an invigorating way to wake up all year. But it tends to wreak havoc on paintings and wall hangings. It also tends to warm things up on the second floor, which was where my office was a few months ago.

By adding UV protective films on the windows, we can now hang paintings and an historic, traditional Peruvian dress that was handed down for generations without fear of the sun's rays bleaching them out. It also has dropped the temperature upstairs a few degrees since the film offers protection from those harmful and heating rays. Lastly, there is a whole range of film colors and protection levels. We chose the lightest version that provides the desired protection, but doesn't hinder our view. You honestly can't even tell it is on the windows.

"One of the best parts about moving into a new home is the excuse to plan a party," Badger Realty agent Peter Pietz said. "If you set a date a couple weeks out, it will serve as a constant reminder to get those boxes unpacked and stop eating pizza off the floor of the living room. You'll be motivated to entertain your friends and might even be able to get a few of them to help paint a room."

If you are like us and live in an area where dog ownership is essentially a local law, during those first few weeks of living in your new home, get out and meet the neighbors. It is important to meet the two-legged variety, but my preference (in general) is the four-legged ones. That's not to say they still won't bark at you and it may take a few meetings to secure the relationship, but meeting the locals and introducing them to your four-legged friend can go a long way to stabilizing those relationships early on. It will help them know where your pet lives if they mount an escape and always helps break the ice when getting acquainted.

The last item on our list today has to do with keeping your home (and yourself) warm and/or cool throughout the year. While walking through our home with the home inspector, he had one of those super-cool infrared cameras that he was using. While showing me how it worked, we noticed a few significant areas of the exteriors walls that were entirely devoid of insulation (the work of some local birds). This sort of tool is one of many that an energy audit will utilize and show you some of the trouble spots in your new home.

This is not to say that you will run right out and re-insulate your walls, buy new windows and doors and put on a new roof, but it will show you where you are losing the most heat/cooling and allow you to prioritize those areas in the coming years.

Moving into a new home is always exciting and filled with anticipation and adventure. Take a few of these hints to smooth the transition and even approach it more skillfully and with better preparation. You'll be less stressed and there's no question you'll make a few friends in the process. Happy moving.