First time buyer moving essentials

First time buyer moving essentials

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Portrait - Caroline Beckett

Caroline Beckett

Website Editor,

It’s one of the biggest and most stressful but also most exciting things you’ll ever do – buying your own place. There’s so much to think about – surveys, mortgages, fees, signing your life away – as well as all the practical stuff involved in moving in to a new home and getting settled, never mind making improvements.

You’ve probably got a “to do” list as long as your arm, but we’d like to extend a helping hand, if you’ll excuse the pun. On the assumption you may only be equipped with what friends and family are prepared to loan or offload on to you in the way of household necessities, we’d like to offer a list of essentials and a little advice that we hope will ease you gently into domestic bliss without being too demanding on your already-overstretched finances, and avoid the sensation of camping.

Of course, if you’ve just got married and taken advantage of our Gift List service, our economy-class tips may act only as an aide-memoire - but you can download and print off the list here.

Moving in day

Moving in day

There are a few obvious things to make sure you pack somewhere immediately accessible, like a kettle, mugs, tea, coffee, cleaning stuff and loo rolls; but it’s also a good idea to make sure you have spare light bulbs, as it’s not unknown for parsimonious previous owners to remove them on vacating, or that it’s just your luck that one or two of them expire as soon as you cross the threshold. And speaking of lighting, if a bare bulb is just too minimal or you want to take some time to work out a colour scheme, these paper shades offer cheap chic and a softer glow.

If they haven’t left curtains or blinds, and again you want time to think about colours, it’s not a bad idea to opt for a voile panel or two in rooms where you don’t want to be overlooked by curious neighbours. You can put these up with curtain wire and hook and eye fittings for a temporary solution on a wooden window frame, or use rods and self adhesive hooks.


Bed and bath

For the obvious big outlays like beds, mattresses, duvets and pillows, for your own room you should buy the best you can afford – the unit price per night over many years is miniscule and you can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep.

For bed linen, make sure you have 2 sets for your own bed – one on and one in the wash. Take a look at our duvet cover sets - and if you’re shopping in late June or straight after Christmas, take advantage of our special buys in Linens where you can save around a third.

For your bathroom, again at least 2 sets, with one bath sheet and two hand towels per person, plus 2 bath mats. Our towels come in 10 colours and are great value for a decent quality towel.

Assuming the previous owners have left the fixtures and fittings, you’ll at least need soap dish, toothbrush mug, and loo brush in the way of bathroom accessories – we’ve plenty of suction fittings too.

Cooking and dining

Cooking and dining

Start small with a collection of basics for the kitchen to make sure you’re not living off takeaways or ready meals from the microwave. The 3-piece Basics saucepans set will get you going. It’s often cheaper to buy a set of knives - they’re available to buy in our shops.

For serving spoons and other utensils, House by John Lewis comes into its own again; but don’t forget a wooden spoon or two, a colander and a sieve.

For utility purposes, you’ll need a washing-up bowl, draining board rack, bucket, mop and bin.

Paper plates and cups may be a great idea for moving in day, but after that you’ll probably feel like eating off proper tableware with proper knives and forks – go for at least 4 place settings, even if there’s just one or two of you – life’s too short to spend it washing up.

For glasses, a set of tumblers and a set of wine glasses should do you fine for a few weeks. If you’d prefer not to eat off your lap, this basic white wood table and 4 funky coloured chairs will set you back just over £250, to avoid embarrassment when family and friends come to dine and check out your new home. Folding chairs like this can be useful too.

Living room

Living room

If you’ve the budget for a sofa, these sofas are available in a hurry. And if not? In my first flat, I set up deckchairs. They may not be the lap of luxury, but they’ll still allow you to sit back, admire your new surroundings, and begin to fall in love with your new home.