So you're in your brand-new apartment or house. Some of the boxes are still waiting to be unpacked, but you're so excited about making this space into a home that you're spending hours at IKEA comparing couch pillows and loading up shopping carts to see how much everything you might want is going to cost.
But take my advice: buying everything you want right away is a mistake. It's worth taking some time to get to know your new place before filling it with furniture or appliances. Here's what you should buy right away -- as well as what you should avoid buying until you've lived in your new home for a while.
BUY: Cleaning supplies and pantry staples -- and see if you can get them delivered
Moving is messy -- your floors might be covered in flecks of packing peanuts and all those clothes you shoved into your suitcase might need a good wash (or iron) before they're ready to wear in public.
So go ahead and get the broom, the mop, the vacuum, the drying rack, the economy pack of laundry detergent.
While you're at it, start stocking up on pantry staples. You don't need me to tell you to buy groceries after you move -- it's fun to eat delivery pizza on the first day, but that gets old -- you might need a reminder to buy spices, olive oil, extra pasta and rice, all of the stuff that you'll be glad you have when it's time to make the choice between "cook dinner" and "order takeout".
I ordered an enormous pile of food/toiletries/cleaning supplies from the local supermarket in advance and arranged to have it delivered on the day I moved. If you've got a supermarket that does delivery, go ahead and use it for that first big order -- especially if it's a place that waives the delivery fee if your order is large enough.
AVOID: Cheaper versions of the stuff you really want
When you put in that first delivery order -- or when you go to Big W for that first big shopping run -- you're going to be tempted to economise. Remember that you're going to have to use everything that you buy, so if you want the brand-name facial tissues with the lotion in them, don't buy the store-brand facial tissues that feel like sandpaper.
Same goes for stuff like vacuums, ironing boards, water pitchers, etc. You're going to be handling these items over and over again for the next few years, so don't let that initial "I'm spending SO MUCH MONEY" anxiety convince you to cheap out. I've purchased the lower-cost vacuum before. It sucks -- but not in the good way.
BUY: That one luxury you wanted in your previous home.
What's the one thing you wish you had in your last apartment or house, but could never justify buying? I sat on a cheap, uncomfortable couch for years because I didn't want to spring for a better one. (I kept telling myself it wasn't that bad.)
Do you know what I love most in my current apartment? My new, comfortable couch. It's soft! I can lean against the arms without getting poked by plywood! It's deep enough for me to curl up in it if I want to!
I know you've got some luxury or upgrade that you've never bought for yourself. Maybe it's a set of really good sheets. Maybe it's a set of extra-long bath towels. Go buy it, or figure out how to save up for it. It will make your life so much better.
AVOID: Filling your new home with furniture
If you aren't bringing a lot of furniture with you to your new place -- maybe because you're moving out of a roommate situation, or moving to a significantly larger apartment or home -- you might be tempted to buy a bunch of furniture right away.
Don't. At least not until you figure out your new home's natural traffic patterns and gathering areas.
We can't always anticipate how we'll move through a space before we actually get the chance to live in it. That coffee table you planned to put in front of the couch might make the space feel cramped, for example, or it might block traffic between the living room and the kitchen.
So don't buy the coffee table just yet -- or the side table, or the lamps, or any of that extra stuff you've been adding to your wishlist. You don't know what the light in your new home is like, so how do you know what kind of lamps you'll need?
Give yourself at least a month in your new space before you start adding new furniture. It's worth the wait.
BUY: Stuff to make guests comfortable
You aren't the only person who needs to be comfortable in your home, so take some time to stock your space with guest-friendly items.
Maybe this means making sure every bathroom has a rubbish bin with a liner and a lid. Maybe this means buying a mirror and a clock for your guest room, or getting an extra set of bedding -- blankets, sheets, pillows, and pillowcases -- for someone who might someday sleep on your couch. Maybe this means stocking up on coffee if you're a tea drinker, or vice versa. (Don't forget the sugar.)
Think about the people who might visit you in the future and what they might need to feel comfortable while they're there.
You've put fresh sheets on the guest bed, or inflated the air mattress, and hung spare towels in the bathroom. You've tidied and you've stocked up on coffee and snacks. All ready for your houseguests? Almost.
AVOID: Buying too many decorations.
I know you want to decorate your home, but -- as with the furniture suggestion -- it's really better if you wait. This doesn't mean "leave all your walls bare", but it does mean "don't hang so much stuff that there isn't room to add anything new".
Part of moving into a new home is understanding that it comes with new experiences. Maybe you'll see a local artist's work at a gallery near your home and want to add it to your wall. Maybe your kids will bring home paintings or clay sculptures from their new school. Maybe your new friend will give you a decorative owl sculpture for your birthday.
Filling up your home before you get a chance to live in it gives you less room to fill it with new experiences and memories. (You can take this both literally and metaphorically.) Choose the best pieces from your old life to display in your new one, and leave the rest of the space ready for whatever comes next.