5 Things That Surprised Me About Moving into a New House

Here are 5 things that nobody tells you when you move into a new house. Learn the best way to handle these unexpected surprises!

Ryan Homes Palermo, Elevation L, Gray Craftsman Style Home
the exterior of our house on the day we moved in

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in our new house for more than 8 months already! Sometimes it feels like we just moved in yesterday, and other times it feel like we’ve lived here forever! 🙂

Before we moved to our current house, we had lived in the same little townhouse for just over 7 years, so it had been a while since we’d moved and adjusted to a new place.

And there were a lot of things that I had forgotten about.

You see, I tend to be a bit naive of an optimist. When I thought about moving in to our house, I thought that we would just plop down the boxes, unload everything, put our furniture in place, and be good to go!


In actuality, there have been several things that have surprised me about adjusting to a new house. I wouldn’t call them bad surprises. I’m actually REALLY enjoying the process of making our house a home, and all of these things are part of that.

But since I was sort of taken aback by some of these changes, I figured that others who are moving would experience them as well, so I thought I’d write them all down as a little “heads up” for people so you can know what to expect much more than I did! 😉 Here we go!

5 Things That Surprised Me About Moving into a New House

1. Moving from a house that’s “done” to a house that’s “in progress” is an adjustment.

Moving from a house that was pretty much exactly how I wanted it to a totally blank slate was more of an adjustment than I thought it would be. By the time we left the townhouse, I had decorated and organized nearly every inch of our space. I had routines and systems in place and felt like everything ran smoothly and efficiently.

And then we moved.

I LOVE our new house! Love, love, LOVE it!! But there are a lot of unpainted walls, blank spaces, unorganized areas, undecorated rooms, routines that could use some work, etc. etc. etc. And I am so looking forward to working on allllll of those things as we continue to get settled in! It just surprised me that I’ve kind of missed that “settled” feeling I had in the townhouse.

our living room on move in day
our living room on the day we moved in

Update: See what our living room looks like now!

2. You’ll have the urge to get everything decorated and “done” right away. Resist.

So if you haven’t figured it out yet, I like order. I like everything to be in its place. I like our spaces to be functional and beautiful. So of course my first instinct when we moved in was to get everything done as quickly as possible.

I wanted to organize and decorate allllllll the things, and for some reason naive little me thought that I could do that in the first month we lived here. HA! 🙂

The truth is, it takes time to “get to know” a house. The space is laid out differently. The way you *think* you’ll use a room may end up being different from how you *actually* end up using it. The furniture arrangement you thought would be perfect actually isn’t ideal at all, etc.

I am a planner for sure. But as much as I planned, there were things we learned from just living in our space that we wouldn’t have been able to figure out any other way. Because of this, I have tried to resist the urge to furnish and decorate every single room right away.

Yes, there were some things that were necessities. The boys didn’t own beds, for example, and several rooms didn’t have any light sources, so we had to address those needs ASAP. But for the things that aren’t needed NOW, I’m trying not to make hasty decisions in the name of getting things “done” that I may regret later.

prioritize repairs & Upgrades

Making a new house your own is exciting and overwhelming. Before diving right in, get the necessities out of the way first. Then move on the more fun and pretty projects!

The kids bedroom with two beds against the walls with a nightstand in the middle
My boys’ room, aka the only room in the house that is completely finished…for now!

Related: Tour the boys’ completed room!

3. There will be more expenses than you think.

At least there were more expenses than I thought there would be. I knew that moving to a new house was going to involve some extra expenses, but I don’t think I foresaw exactly how many.

As I mentioned above, many of our rooms were in need of light fixtures. All of our window treatments from our last house stayed there, so we had to start from scratch with those.

a decorated dining table with candles and flowers

Our new house has doors out to where a deck or patio could be, but no actual deck or patio. So we’ll need to add that ourselves, which will be a fairly large expense.

Update: See how the deck turned out!

We left most of our storage pieces at the townhouse because they were custom-ish to that house, so spaces like my office and our garage and basement are in serious need of storage units.

set a moving budget

While it’s obvious that moving takes money, I wasn’t thinking about the extra expenses. Early in the house hunting process, start setting aside a little at a time to spend on the new house.

the office before organizing and after unpacking boxes
My office– in serious need of storage pieces!

Update: See what my office looks like now!

Since our new house is larger than our old house, we have purchased/will need to purchase some additional furniture. We have barely done any painting yet, but when it comes time for that, that will be another expense.

Everyone’s list will be different depending on the house they’re moving into, of course, but be sure to budget for some of those added expenses when you move!

4. A lot of the furniture you have won’t fit in the spaces where you need furniture.

The furniture situation has been one of the things that has surprised me most! It’s almost comical!

We have several furniture pieces that don’t really have a home in the new house. And we also have a lot of blank spaces that could use a piece of furniture; however, none of the extra pieces we have seems to match up with the open spaces that need furniture. Go figure!

the dining room with two pictures on the wall and decorations on the table
I would love to have a little buffet under those canvases…eventually!

furnishing tips

  • You may already know that some furniture will not work in your new home. If that’s the case, sell or donate it before moving. The extra cash can be set aside for new pieces or a repair fund.
  • Before heading to a retail store, check out the thrift stores for furniture that can be refreshed, if it will fit in the space.

5. The organizational systems that worked perfectly in the last house may not work at all in your new house.

Honestly, I thought organizing our new house would be a snap. I had good systems in place in our last house, so I just thought that I’d do the exact same thing or similar in this house and we’d be good to go. Except a lot of the items I used in our last house don’t fit in this house, even though this house has way more square footage.

For example, I didn’t realize it when we lived there, but for being a small-ish home, the townhouse actually had fairly large closets for storage.

With the exception of the primary bedroom, all of the other bedroom closets in the new house are smaller than the townhouse closets. Because of this, we’ve had to maximize every inch of closet space and really get creative with storage in some of the bedrooms.

front view of the boys small closet with clothes hanging
our boys’ shared small closet in the new house after we had added some extra shelves for more storage

Related: See the boys’ closet project.

There was also a lot of room under the sinks in the bathroom vanities in the townhouse. And while the under-the-sink space is probably about the same in this house, it is set up differently.

Our last house just had one big open area under the sinks; this one has a smaller open space but also has a few drawers. As a result, the cute little drawer organizers that worked perfectly in the townhouse, don’t work well at all here.

under the bathroom sink organization bins
These cute drawers worked perfectly in our old house…not so much in this one!

Related: High/Low Bathroom Cabinet Organization

I could list several more examples, but all this to say, I’m ending up needing to rethink the pieces and systems I used to get organized, which isn’t something I expected to have to do.

So those are the 5 things that surprised me most about the move! I hope this post didn’t end up sounding like a rant. I’m so, so grateful for our house and am LOVING the process of figuring out the ways to make it work best for us!

But since I was surprised by some of these things, I just thought I’d give a heads up to others as well so they would have more realistic expectations than I did!

Thank you so much for following along with our journey!

Moving to a New Home: Frequently Asked Questions

This really differs from family to family. I would say it took us about 9 months to really get a feel for the space and 18 months for it to really start to feel like home. As I type this, we’ve lived here a little over 6 years, and there are still projects on my list (and there probably always will be)! But it’s the journey that’s the fun part!

The best advice is to take one step at a time. It’s not a race and there’s no rush to complete everything immediately. In fact, it’s better to take time to get to know the house rather than making rushed decisions just to call it done.

Consider completing a space that is meaningful to you– like your bedroom, office or craft room– near the beginning of the process so you can use that area as your haven when the rest of the house is feeling overwhelming.

Want to save this post to revisit later? Be sure to pin the image below so you can find it easily!

5 Things No One Tells You About Moving

Was there anything that surprised you about moving into a different house? What would you add to my list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Abby Lawson, Just a Girl and Her Blog


  1. Exactly! We just moved. Our house is a fixer but so similar. Many rooms are missing lights, our cabinets need hardware, and every wall needs to be painted. Ah! And I am still figuring out my systems- shoes, bags, etc. Such a reassurance that even in a new house you have the same struggles. ? And the expense ? Took our movers TEN hours over 2 days. It was crazy.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh yes… the struggle is still very real! 🙂 Enjoy your new house, Caroline! Sounds like a fun project!

      ~Abby =)

  2. Yael Bendahan says:

    Hi Abby!
    I CANNOT TELL YOU how much this post resonated with me! We are about to move into a newly built apartment (in Israel where we live, private houses are the exception rather than the rule) which is a lot bigger than our old one, and I’m completely overwhelmed with how much there is to do, organize, and BUY! We didn’t factor all these new expenses that keep cropping up into the equation when we bought the apartment and so being patient is really hard for me, because I’m generally a very neat and organized person and living in chaos is really really hard for me. I love your blog so I was comforted to know that I’m not the only one.
    Second of all, I’m in the middle of your Building a Framework course and loving it! Thank you so much for a fantastic product!
    Thirdly, my mom is also a big fan of your blog! So thanks for all your amazing content!
    Good luck in your new home!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      You are too sweet! Thank you, Yael! So glad Building a Framework has been so helpful for you! Best of luck with your move… I know it can be so overwhelming but try to enjoy the process! (even when you have to be patient… SO hard 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  3. Christy McQueen says:

    Great post! We are almost 5 years into our “new house” and I still struggle with figuring out how we want to use some of our spaces. I wish I had read a post like this before we moved in because I thought everything had to be all set up within a few months of moving. I think I drove my poor husband crazy with my insane timetable for completing everything. This is a great reminder to me that I shouldn’t rush trying to figure it all out right away. Living in the house for a while is the best way to really understand what I want in a space. We still have a lot of work ahead of us and I am going to remember from here on out, to have some patience and to slow it down. Thanks Abby!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful, Christy! I so understand wanting to have everything finished in a few months… I have to keep fighting that urge of just wanting it to be done! Having patience is SO hard! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  4. Abby our moving stories are almost identical. We lived in a townhome for 7 years and then moved to our new construction home about 3 years ago. We’re still customizing. We’ve painted two rooms, our daughter’s and the laundry. Added a backyard shed. And got the Homeschool room in order with help from ikea and the cabinet guy who worked on our home. But there is still plenty more to do. I fuss daily about the lack of a linen closet but gush over my walk in pantry and 8 ft kitchen island. I have two more sets of blinds to install and we’ve never found a rug to fit our dining space. Sometimes it’s fun sometimes you’d just like it to be over so you can enjoy your home. Anyway I’m usually just a lurker but I follow you on instagram and subscribe to your blog. And even though I’ve been blogging quite a while I took your Building a Framework on vacation with me and learned a fair bit. Great work ?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks, Kemi! Our stories do sound so similar! I do think it’s smart that you’re taking your time to customize it and not hurrying just to get it done. One day it’ll be done and we’ll get to relax and enjoy it, right? 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  5. Carrie Myers says:

    We are 3 years in our new home and since its a fixxer upper I have to resist constantly wanting to finish everything all at once. The expenses keep coming but each time a room is finished I feel better and can’t wait to tackle the next room. With summer coming landscaping is our next project each year we work on something for the outside. This year it’s a new deck for our gazebo we just purchased. How is your decision making going for your outside? Deck or patio? Thanks for post…

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Glad it was helpful, Carrie! I think we may do both eventually. This summer we are building the deck and then hopefully it will have steps down to a patio with a fire pit, etc! That’s what I’m thinking right now anyway… we’ll see! 🙂 Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  6. Ellen from Ask Away Blog says:

    OMG this is all so insanely true. I have redecorated and reorganized our home for the past two years bc thats just how it goes. And you’re so right about the expenses. It’s damn expensive and when ppl are like yea its not that bad im like no trust me… it is. haha
    XO Ellen from Ask Away

    1. justagirlabby says:

      It really is SO expensive! It’s hard to know until you go through it! Hope you’re having a wonderful week, Ellen! <3

      ~Abby =)

  7. Great post Abby! I think moving is such a hassle (who doesn’t!). And the expenses is where it really gets you haha. Oh well. You have such a lovely home now 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you, Nina! We are loving our new home! 🙂 Happy Thursday!

      ~Abby =)

  8. Kendra @ www.joyinourhome.com says:

    I agree Abby! We’ve bought and sold 4 times and for me it’s the part of fitting all your furniture into each new house! Fun, but an adventure for sure! Your hie us beautiful, friend!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      It certainly has been an adventure! 🙂 Thank you, Kendra! Happy Thursday! <3

      ~Abby =)

  9. Would you mind sharing the details on closet system you have pictured? That is perfect for what we need.

  10. Charlotte Howard says:

    Abby, I’m so happy I came across your post! I have clients who are having movers anxiety as well, but I believe your tips will come in handy. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I hope your home turns out looking absolutely stunning 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh, good! I hope they will be helpful for them! It can certainly be a stressful process! Thanks for sharing it and have a wonderful day! <3

      ~Abby =)

  11. Julie Briones says:

    Great post, Abby! So thankful for your inspiration and insight! I feel the same way about wanting to decorate all the things. I’ve been in My Wee Abode for about a year now, and I’m realizing I need to take one room at a time. 🙂 Also, it was helpful to see some of your ‘undone’ areas (like only a little space in your office is done… I would have NEVER known from your post about a while back)! It was encouraging to see, you can still blog about your home, even if it’s not all done.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I would definitely be in trouble if you couldn’t! 🙂 It really is so hard to be patient but I really do feel like it’s the best way to go! Thanks so much and hope you have a wonderful Thursday! <3

      ~Abby =)

  12. Oh! My! Word! I am having the exact issues in our new home as well. At times it stresses me out and nearly sends me into a downward spiral. I keep reminding myself to be patient…God has a plan, I just have to be patient. Accidentally stumbling across your blog was divine for sure! This blog and all of the readers comments are keeping me in a positive mindset….knowing I am not alone! Sorry, that we are all finding this same “struggle” but thankful that we have all been blessed with finding homes we love and can grow into! Thank-you Abby for sharing your journey!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, yay! So glad it was helpful for you, Teresa! I totally understand feeling stressed… it is SO hard to be patient but I know it’s what is best to end up with a home that I absolutely love! Prayers for you on your home journey! <3

      ~Abby =)

  13. yes Abby one always underestimates the amount of work on a job/move. I suggest to my clients that it is like a new relationship – it takes time to get to know each other. Sit back relax and enjoy all the little surprises you did not anticipate.:)

    1. justagirlabby says:

      LOVE that comparison! SO true! Hope you have a wonderful week, Marianne!

      ~Abby =)

  14. Lydia @ Thrifty Frugal Mom says:

    Yes! I totally was nodding along as I read this post. We moved to a new fixxer upper house almost 3 mo. ago and these are the exact things that have taken me by surprise too! I thought by now that we’d be mostly settled in and have the rooms all decorated but truth is, I’m realizing that like you said, by living here a bit before we fully decorate, it’s helping me not have buyer’s remorse. And hopefully in the long run, it will be worth it because we’ll end up buying things that we truly love and that truly fit and work well in our current space!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes! Being patient is TOTALLY worth it! 🙂 Have a wonderful week, Lydia!

      ~Abby =)

  15. I especially agree with number three. People rarely plan for all the extra expenses of moving. I have moved more times that most people and I am always shocked by how much I spend on cleaning supplies during a move alone. Cleaning the old place for the new tenants and cleaning the new place because, well I just don’t trust someone else’s cleaning lol!
    I am very much looking forward to building and having a blank canvas to work with but I am very certain the costs will be more than I anticipate. I just smile thinking about a home that feels “homey”.
    Have a great weekend.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes! SO many expenses! Crazy! Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Deanna!

      ~Abby =)

  16. I’m looking into buying a Ryan Home and really loved the model I visited. However, I’ve read some bad reviews online (actually tons of them) about the workmanship and how they deal with issues. Have you had any problems? How do you feel after almost a year there? Thanks! Hope you’re loving it!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I have read those too. I’m sure it probably depends on the contractors they use in each individual location. We have honestly been thrilled with our home. We had a few issues with appliances when we first moved in and had one small leak at one point, and everything was always addressed quickly and without a lot of hassle. We have had a very positive experience with Ryan. (And they didn’t sponsor our build in any way, so I’m not bound to only say nice things about them or anything, lol.) If we were making the decision again, I would still definitely build our home with them. Best of luck with your new home!

      ~Abby =)

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