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First Home Essentials Checklist for Buying and Moving into your first home

by Lisa Stentvedt
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Just a couple of months ago I bought my first apartment, and not long after I moved in. It was the best feeling in the world, and I’m still excited to finally own my own home. But, there were a few things I wish I knew, and so I have decided to write a first home essentials checklist type of post so that anyone else buying and moving into their first home will know the things I didn’t!

Basically, I had some pieces of furniture to take with me when I moved, after years of renting and living at home. But, I was still missing loads of things, and I couldn’t actually figure out what those things were! So, I started writing a checklist on my phone, calling it my ‘first home essentials checklist’. And trust me, I needed it.

I added to the list every single day, as I was standing in the kitchen with my cereal realising I didn’t have any spoons, or in the bathroom realising I didn’t have a bin in there. You’d be surprised at the number of things you need for your first home, and hopefully, this checklist will make it a lot easier for you!

If you travel a lot, like me, you don’t want to miss this guide to how I find interior decorating styles and home decor inspiration when I am travelling!

first home essentials checklist
Hopefully this first home essentials checklist will make buying and moving a little easier for you!

First home essentials checklist for buying your first apartment

Here you will find the first home essentials checklist for the buying process. I decided to split it into one checklist for buying and one checklist for moving, as they are two different things that require so much stuff! Below this list, I’ve shared my experience in buying an apartment for the first time, just so you can get an idea of what it can be like. Then, just below that, I’ve shared the moving day checklist.

Your finances

Before you buy your first home, do some reading up on what is needed in order to get your finances in order. Most of us don’t have millions lying around to buy an apartment and will need to get a mortgage in order to buy our first apartment. So, set up a meeting with your bank (I did), and have all your questions ready. Ask them what they need from you, how much they think you can get, and how much you’ll have to expect to be paying every month. Once you know your numbers, it’s so much easier to start searching for your new home.

Proof of your finances

Basically, there is a document the bank can give you that works as ‘proof’ that you can get a mortgage from them if you end up winning a bidding war. This is different in every country, but in one way or another, the bank has to guarantee a sum, and you may (or may not) have to have this ready for a realtor to inspect if needed. So, when you speak to the bank, make sure to be clear about when you are planning on looking at apartments, and when you are hoping to start bidding. That way they know that they need to be clear in return.

You don’t want to have a meeting with the bank and give them the impression that you’re only thinking of buying a new home, only to find the perfect apartment for you and not be able to bid. Once you have the proof from the bank that you will get a mortgage if you find the right apartment, you can get in the game and start bidding!

Top tip: Don’t go to viewings without this document. You’ll risk finding what you believe is your dream apartment, only to watch it go to someone else because you can’t bid. Naturally, it’s different in every country, but as a general rule, you shouldn’t bid without proof that you can pay. Winning a bidding war is considered a binding contract, and is not something you can easily change your mind about.

Your apartment essentials list

This is not the same list as the one I’m covering now (neither the moving day checklist or the first home shopping list I’ve covered below). This is a list of what you feel are your ‘apartment essentials’. Basically, we all have things that we feel are non-negotiable, and it is important to be clear on what they are when you are buying your first apartment. For example, if you really want to see the ocean from your apartment, even if it’s just a tiny glimpse of it from your window, then that’s on your apartment essentials list. If it’s important for you to have a fireplace (as it was for me), then add that to your apartment essentials list. Get it? Being clear on these things before entering a bidding war is super important, as you are preventing yourself from future disappointment in your decision.

An understanding of what the bidding process is like

Again, I urge you to do some prior research when you start looking for your first home. You won’t have any experience of buying an apartment, and probably have no idea what a bidding war is like. By doing some reading on the topic, you won’t be completely lost when it all starts.

Another thing I recommend doing here is asking the realtor. The realtor who sold me my apartment was super helpful, and I told him straight out that I hadn’t done this before. I even asked him for advice on how to proceed with my first bid (I actually put in a bid before the public viewing, which was a bold move to scare off anyone who wasn’t 100% sure), and I am incredibly glad I did. The realtor is there to make the process as smooth and good for both the seller and the buyer, so do take advantage of that.

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Checklist for your first home essentials

Buying my first home

Buying an apartment (or a house) for the first time proved to be much more straight-forward than I thought, as I had prepared myself for months and months of searching and losing bid wars and whatnot. In reality, I moved into my new apartment within a month of starting the process! How crazy is that?

I actually ended up with my new home in quite a ‘meant to be’ kind of way. Basically, I started looking up apartments for sale in Bergen before I had everything sorted with the bank, and I knew I was only looking for a new place to see what was out there. Naturally, I found loads of apartments that were currently on the market and made sure to read everything about them. Then, I found one that ticked all the boxes on my checklist.

I really wanted a fireplace in the living room, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the Norwegian winter without it. I also dreamed of a balcony, and really wanted 2 bedrooms (even though my budget, and most people, told me I should aim for one).

So the one I found ticked all the boxes, but since the viewing was the next day, and I didn’t have my finances sorted, I simply sent it to my parents saying “this is exactly what I am looking for”, just so they would know what to keep their eyes peeled for in the future hunt for a new house.

Fast forward a week, and the apartment still hadn’t been sold. They had actually scheduled a new public viewing, but not the same day as my dad and I were heading to Bergen to look at potential first homes for me (it’s a 3-hour drive from the fjords). So I called up the realtor and asked for a private viewing, and booked it in as the first viewing that day. We actually viewed 5 apartments in 3 hours and were quite proud of ourselves.

The apartment was small, but exactly what I envisioned – and wanted. And so every other apartment we saw that day was compared to the first one, and none of them could quite measure up.

What was so funny was that we found out that someone from my village (of 5-600 inhabitants) lived in the same apartment complex. And, in addition to that, my dad had joked in the car about how I should make sure to live near a Peppes Pizza (a pizza restaurant chain in Norway) because when they franchise somewhere new, it’s a sure sign of the area being ‘up and coming’. I laughed him off as silly, but guess what? There was a Peppes Pizza right around the corner from this apartment.

So many of these things happened, and you know I’m a sucker for Law of Attraction and how sometimes things are meant to be. Some of you may remember how I manifested an Emirates Business Class Upgrade on my trip to Bali?

In short, my first home ended up being the exact apartment I had found a few weeks earlier, telling my parents that “I won’t be able to get this one, but I’m looking for something like it”. You have no idea how excited I was when moving day finally came!

moving into a new home checklist
Moving day checklist next!

Moving into a new home Checklist

When moving into your first home (or even your second), there are certain things you simply shouldn’t forget to make it a smooth sailing. Moving day can be stressful and busy, and the day can often end up being a lot longer than anticipated. I remember staying up for hours because I so wanted all my clothes to be in their allocated spots in my new closet. I spend so long unpacking, and when I finally went to bed, my feet were throbbing and I felt as if I had run a marathon!

This first home essentials checklist covers everything you need to remember for your actual moving day. A little further down you’ll find a ‘first home shopping list’, of things you need to make sure to buy when you are doing your first shopping trip after moving into your new home.

A cleaning spray and a cloth

Seriously, you have no idea how much dust you’ll discover as you start moving your stuff around. So make sure you bring a cleaning cloth and some spray with you and keep it easily accessible (don’t pack it). Trust me on this.

All your bags and suitcases

You’ll be surprised with how quickly you run out of boxes when moving, so make sure to take advantage of what you already have. Fill up your suitcases, weekender bags and even laptop bag with stuff you are bringing with you. They are much easier to carry as well.

A mailbox badge

This is not an essential per se, but I remember being so excited to get my name up on my first mailbox. It was one of the first things I did on the day I was moving into my new apartment!

A list of where things are packed

Have you noticed in movies how they write on their boxes with massive sharpies? Each box will say ‘Books’ or ‘Kitchen’ or something similar. Well, there’s a reason for it. Keep a list in your phone of what you packed in each box/bag/suitcase, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time when it’s time to start unpacking.

moving into your first home
Nothing beats the feeling of moving into your first home (especially once you’re done)

The Complete First Home Essentials Checklist

Now here we are, it’s time for the complete checklist. Now that you have covered what you need to know for buying your first home, and the things you shouldn’t leave out from your moving day checklist, it’s time to get to the good stuff.

This list covers everything from furniture to groceries, and are all things that I needed for my apartment pretty soon after I had moved in. I wrote these down as I thought of them, and had to learn the hard way that I didn’t have so many of the essentials. So, if you are about to buy or move into your first home; have this list ready!

For some of the items I’ve even included how many of each I made sure to have when I moved into my apartment, or bought on my first shopping trip.

Please note that you may not need all of these things immediately, and some not at all, depending on your apartment layout, the size and your interests. I still don’t have a mirror in my entry way, for example, as I have a massive one in my bedroom. Use this as a base for writing your own first home essentials checklist. A good tip is to separate it by room, as you’ll be able to see what’s missing in a much easier way then.

Basic furniture

  • A bed
  • Nightstand(s)
  • A dresser if there isn’t a wardrobe in the apartment already
  • A night lamp
  • A couch
  • Coffee table
  • A rug (I went for a unique, handmade rug from India)
  • A TV and TV stand (or wall mount)
  • Dining table and chairs
  • A mirror
  • A laundry machine and/or a dishwasher
  • A bookshelf/shelf

Basic home items (from the grocery store)

  • Dishwasher liquid
  • Hand soap
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Laundry powder
  • Tooth paste
  • Shower gel, shampoo and conditioner
  • A razor (if you forgot to bring it)
  • A tooth brush (same as above)
  • Mouth wash
  • Sanitary items (sanitary wipes, pads, tampons, cotton buds)
  • Cleaning spray for the bathroom
  • Cleaning spray for the kitchen
  • Universal cleaning spray (for surfaces and windows)
  • A washing up cloth or brush

Basic home items (from home decor/interior shops)

  • Towels (I started with 2, so I had enough for myself, and bought 3 more sets before I had guests staying for the first time)
  • Hand towels
  • Pillow
  • Duvet
  • Pillow and duvet covers / bedding (I brought 1 set with me from home, so I was sorted for the first few nights in my apartment)
  • A hamper
  • A shower rack
  • A bin for the kitchen
  • A bin for the bathroom
  • A toilet paper holder if there isn’t one mounted on the wall
  • A toilet brush
  • Bathroom scales
  • A clothes rack
  • Clothes’ hangers
  • Posters and other wall decorations (my favourite posters are from Desenio, see how I decorated my wall here!)

Tools and handy stuff

  • A first aid kit (always good to have)
  • A bottle opener (here’s my new favourite)
  • A hammer
  • A screw driver with several different ‘ends’ (is that what they are called?)
  • A measuring tape
  • A small tool box (seriously, where else would you store your new tools)
  • A few pens and some paper
  • Pegs for the bathroom (to hang towels on)
  • Something to hang photos and posters with (whatever fits your walls best)

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first home essentials, everything you need to buy and move into your first home, including a helpful checklist

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