Shhh: 5 Living Room Design Ideas That Nail the Quiet Luxury Trend

For the better part of 2023, the fashion world has been enamored with the quiet luxury movement. Characterized by a minimalist, quality-over-quantity ethos, quiet luxury is all about embracing timeless designs with a strong point of view and prioritizing good craftsmanship.

Interior design trends are often informed by what’s “in” in fashion, so we weren’t surprised to see examples of quiet luxury popping up all over Instagram. This week, we’re focusing on the living room—one notoriously chaotic area of the home that arguably needs an infusion of quiet luxury the most.

So whether you’re new to this subtle yet impactful design movement or are looking for ideas to refine the elegant interiors you’ve been curating for years—this week’s roundup has something for everyone. Here are five living room looks that will elevate your home sotto voce.

1. Textured wall art

We all love compelling wall decor, especially when it works with (rather than competing against) the rest of the space. This piece of art, seen in a post by @homebymaddy, strikes the perfect balance.

“Textured wall art adds a tactile and visual interest to a space, as well as a contrast to the clean lines and smooth surfaces often found in modern interior design,” says interior expert and visual curator Liam Davis, of Art File Magazine. “The combination of texture and simplicity creates a sense of balance and harmony, which is essential for a relaxing living room.”

Get the look: Balance your space with this deconstructed circle wall art.

2. Ceramic vase

When it comes to creating a simple yet thought-provoking space, this post from @theblossomshome captures the vibe beautifully. We’re especially drawn to the texture of the ceramic vase.

“A single ceramic vase can be a great focal point,” says designer Katie Colormaiden, of EmbodyArt. “The curves add to the overall feeling of flow, and the natural grain aligns with the current sustainability focus. Ceramics will last decades and are a great way to bring art into your home.”

Get the look: Create a sense of flow in your living room with a ceramic vase. Shop this collection of vases on Etsy.

3. Catchall basket

If you’re in need of a piece that’ll help keep those odds and ends in the living room organized, then you’re going to love this catchall basket seen in a post by @brookemoraleshome.

“Not only do catchall baskets add an element of practicality to the space, but they also serve as a decorative element,” says Davis. “One of the main reasons catchall baskets work so well in living rooms is that they offer a sense of warmth and texture that can be difficult to achieve with other design elements.”

Get the look: Give your living room some textured functionality with a woven tray.

4. Cork coffee table

For a slightly larger focal point, consider this unconventional cork coffee table seen in a post from

Lightweight, durable, and easy to move into any corner of your living room, a table like this one will soon become your new favorite piece.

“One of the main reasons why cork coffee tables work so well in living rooms is their versatility,” says Davis. “Whether you have a contemporary living room with sleek, minimalist lines or a more traditional space, a cork coffee table can be an excellent addition.”

Get the look: Bring some unexpected texture into your space with this coffee table.

5. Irregular-shaped mirror

We all know about the magical space-defining powers of a well-placed mirror, but there’s something extra special about this irregularly shaped one seen in the home of @homebymaddy.

“Irregular mirrors—or blob mirrors—are a fun switch-up from the squares, rectangles, and circles we’re used to,” says Colormaiden. “The organic shape pairs well with natural textures, and anything that shakes up our usual way of doing or seeing things can have a great effect on our lives.”

Get the look: Shop the actual mirror in the post above, or check out this more affordable dupe.


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You may know that the gold standard in environmentally responsible homes is known as passive housing—but what exactly does that mean? And is it possible to make your current home more passive? To find out, we talked to Katrin Klingenberg, executive director and co-founder of Passive House Institute US (Phius), a nonprofit dedicated to making passive housing the market standard.

The First Thing You Should Do to Make Your Home Greener (Spoiler: It Isn’t Switching to Electric)

What is passive housing?

Passive housing is basically synonymous with energy efficiency. Passive homes use insulation, air-tight seals, solar energy, and more to reduce the amount of energy required to heat or cool your home. They also provide superior air quality, noise reduction, and overall structural resilience. Who wouldn’t want that?

Most passive home projects are built from the ground up.

(Gabe Border Photography / Phius)

The only problem: Most passive homes are built from the ground up. A conversion of a single-family home can get complicated and costly, Klingenberg explains. That said, there are steps you can take to get your house closer to passive status.

Conduct a home energy audit (and seal up your leaks).

The very first thing you should do isn’t switch to electric. Instead, Klingenberg suggests an energy audit to help you find heating and cooling leaks and figure out ways (new windows, more insulation) to get closer to the ideal “sealed envelope” of a passive home.

Your best bet, according to Klingenberg, is a certified auditor. “Residential Energy Service Network trains energy raters to do energy audits and testing, maintaining a roster of raters in good standing,” she says. “The cost can vary based on the size of the home, starting [at] about $300.”

If you want to do it yourself, some utility companies provide a basic checklist for little to no cost. Of course, these DIY audits won’t be as thorough as one performed by a professional, but they can be a good starting point.

Add ventilation.

Once your home is air-tight (or nearly), you’re going to need to add some kind of ventilation to exchange fresh air and exhaust—and recover energy from the exhaust. You can choose between an energy recovery ventilator (ERV), which transfers heat and moisture and is generally a better choice for a larger home, or a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), which transfers just heat and is suited to a smaller home. Expect to pay between $600 and $1,200 for the unit itself, plus another couple hundred (or more) in installation costs. Note: When your home is truly airtight, these are not optional. “[Ventilation] will be necessary for health and life at those levels of airtightness and is also required by code,” says Klingenberg.

A contractor or architect can help you begin the process of switching to electric.

(Casey Dunn / Phius)

Switch to electric.

At this point, you’re ready to update your appliances and water and heating systems to electric. This can get complicated quickly, and it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a contractor or architect who has experience working on passive house projects. These professionals will be able to guide you on important questions such as product and vendor selection and the proper sequence of installation.

Consider installing solar panels.

If you’re ready to take your energy efficiency even further, you can harness the power of the sun by installing solar panels on your roof. Klingenberg says her solar panels produce enough electricity for her home with enough surplus energy to power her electric car.


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Many Americans doubt their ability to cover the costs of buying a home. But that only means exchanging monthly mortgage payments for monthly rent payments.

Renting vs. owning — what are the advantages of each? Here are some things to consider before signing your next lease.

Advantages of Renting

Renting a house or an apartment has several distinct advantages, including:

  • Fixed rent
  • No property taxes or HOA fees
  • Lower insurance costs (no homeowners insurance)
  • Your landlord is responsible for all repairs and maintenance
  • Various amenities (e.g., pools, gyms, common areas, etc.)
A suburban home

Furthermore, you’re usually only locked into a year-to-year contract when you rent. Unlike buying a house, you won’t be tied to your rental property any longer than you want, which can be ideal for young professionals, college students, or those who need to relocate frequently.

Advantages of Owning a Home

Young adults especially find themselves torn between renting vs. owning — what are the advantages of buying a home? There are a few, such as:

  • Homeowners build equity with each mortgage payment
  • Mortgage payments are often cheaper than renting
  • Freedom to modify the property as you see fit
  • More room for you and your family
  • No need to share living spaces or walls with neighbors
  • Available tax deductions

For many Americans, owning vs. renting can be a better option for building equity meaning the value you invest in a property. Otherwise, your rental monthly payments merely go to support your landlord, which isn’t the best long-term outlook.

Financial Considerations for Renting vs. Owning a Home

Chances are that your decision about whether to rent or buy has to do with finances and the current housing market. Here’s how to think through the different costs associated with owning vs. renting.

Upfront Costs

Buying a home comes with greater initial costs. Even if you don’t make a traditional 20% down payment, you’ll still be responsible for closing costs and administrative fees that can make the process costly.

By comparison, renters usually only have to put down a security deposit equal to one month’s rent, and this payment is fully refundable as long as you don’t damage the property.

Ongoing Costs

Some ongoing costs will be lower when you rent. For instance, many landlords perform maintenance and landscaping on the rental property. Likewise, renters don’t have to worry about real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, or other costs associated with owning a home.

On the other hand, rental payments can often be steep and unpredictable. In some cases, mortgage payments can actually be lower than what you would pay for monthly rent. And with fixed-rate mortgages, you won’t experience any surprise price hikes over the course of your loan.

If you’re thinking about buying a house, an online mortgage calculator can help you figure out how much you can expect to pay every month compared to renting.

Potential Savings

When you’re young, renting may give you time to build your credit and savings account. In that respect, it can provide a path toward financial stability — assuming you can secure a rent payment that’s lower than a mortgage.

On the flip side, homeowners can generally deduct property taxes and home offices in some states, and these tax benefits don’t always apply the same way to renters.

Lifestyle Factors for Renting vs. Owning

Your finances may be your primary consideration, but it’s also important to think about your current living situation.

Generally speaking, it isn’t a good idea to purchase a house if you’re planning on moving within the next five years. If your job is unstable or you’re finishing your education, renting can give you more flexibility than buying.

Others, however, may crave the stability that comes with homeownership. If you start a family, you may need more living space, a yard, or access to local amenities such as schools and playgrounds.

Impact on Long-Term Financial Goals

Your long-term financial decisions and goals should also influence your choice to rent vs. own. Homeownership allows you to build equity in your home. Once you’ve paid off your mortgage, you’ll own your property outright, and the value of your home will stay with you.

The same cannot be said for those who are renters. Renting may be a short-term necessity, but it won’t help you reach your long-term goals.

Loan Products for First-Time Homebuyers

Some renters stay put because they’re wary of high home prices, while others assume you can only buy a home after saving a full 20% for a down payment. The reality, however, is that there are many loan products that can make owning vs. renting an easy decision.

FHA Loans

FHA loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration are designed for homeowners with substandard credit. As long as your credit is 500 or above, you can obtain a home loan with only 10% down. And if your credit score is 580 or above, you only need 3.5% down, putting homeownership within easier reach.

VA Loans

If you or your spouse are a current or former member of the U.S. Military, you can get a loan backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. These loans don’t require any money down and are available even to those with below-average credit.

Understand the benefits and qualifications for a VA loan.

USDA Loans

Loans backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are another zero-down payment option aimed at buyers who purchase a home in a qualifying rural or suburban area.

If you think a USDA loan may apply to you, learn more.

Conventional Loans

Conventional loans offer the lowest interest rates for buyers with solid credit. And even these loan programs only require a 3% down payment, making it even easier to become a proud homeowner.

Understand the pros and cons of conventional loans here.

Find the Home of Your Dreams

Don’t let fear of home prices keep you locked into your decisions to rent forever. Act now by talking to a local loan officer. We can help you secure loan options that fit your lifestyle and budget.



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From Low-Lift to Ready-to-Renovate, Here Are 6 Ways to Make Your Dark Room Lighter and BrighterNot all rooms are blessed with natural light—but that doesn’t mean you should bury your dreams for lightness and brightness. There are a handful of tricks you can employ to pull almost any space out of the dark. From low-lift tweaks to crank up the lumens to renovation ideas for rooms (i.e. windowless basements) that need a bit more effort, here are six ways to let the light in.

But first: If your dark room has windows, the first thing you should do is clean those windows inside and out. You’d be surprised how effective this simple (often-overlooked) task can be. After that, assess the area outside the window and prune overgrown bushes or trees that may be blocking sunlight.

Clean windows can make all the difference when it comes to brightening your space.

(Rob and Julia Campbell / Stocksy)

If you want to work with what you have: Switch out your bulbs.

Sometimes all you need are better light bulbs—or more lumens. You may be working with a soft, dim 400 lumens (40 watts), when really 800 (60 watts) or 1,000 (75 watts) would better suit your space. Before you make the swap, though, be mindful of color temperature. “Cool” lighting markers on bulbs can veer blue quickly, especially in an already dark room. Opt for “natural” or “warm” varieties to keep things comfortable and homey.

If you’re willing to do some renovations: Install a skylight or sun tunnel.

Installing a skylight is a great way to bring sunlight into a room where existing (or non-existent) windows aren’t sufficient. This will likely run you $300 to $2,000 for the skylight itself, plus an additional $1,000 to $2,500 for installation. Another option is a sun tunnel, which is less expensive, easier (and faster) to install, and useful in spaces where a skylight may not be a possibility.

A skylight can be a solution for letting light in where windows are not possible.

(Getty Images)

If you want a tried-and-true solution: Use mirrors to amplify light.

If you put a light source on a mirror, it’s going to reflect it and bounce it around a space. But you need to be strategic. If you have a window, try a medium or large mirror on the wall across from it. No windows? No problem. You can also use table lamps or even floor lamps in front of a mirror to extend its power and fill your room with brightness.

If you want to play interior designer: Create a layered lighting plan. 

Designers know how powerful a proper lighting plan in a room can be. The key is to make sure you have lighting at every level: overhead, at eye level when standing, and at eye level when seated. And of course, when picking lamps, opt for soft, translucent lampshades to let more light through.

If you wanted to redecorate anyway: Swap your textiles. 

Most people assume that painting your walls white is a surefire way to make a dark room brighter. In fact, your textiles—including your curtains, rugs, and even furniture upholstery—are likely to have a greater impact. If you have a heavy velvet or even heavily-lined window panel, try a sheer option for your window coverings. And don’t underestimate the power of widening your curtain rod so that the fabric sits fully to the left and right of the window opening, rather than partially in front of it.

If you’re feeling bold and daring: Lean into the darkness with paint and furnishings. 

Oftentimes a darker palette in a well-designed room can make a space feel purposefully dark. Go all-in on drama with a deep, jewel-tone-inspired palette. Paint the ceiling, the baseboards,  crown molding, and even the doors and opt for a higher sheen, which can make these design choices glow.



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Falling to his hands and knees, Cameron Rauenhorst excitedly peels back the shrubbery of a moss-covered hill to reveal a light-orange, button-shaped mushroom standing a few inches above the dirt. “Mushrooms love to hide,” he says. “It’s all about training your eyes to find that tiny hint of color.”

After 20 years of foraging for mushrooms along the Oregon Coast Range and a decade of leading educational programming for Oregon State Parks, Rauenhorst considers himself an amateur mycologist. Through his Coast-based tour group, Captain Clameron’s Excursions, Rauenhorst helps visitors discover the joys of activities like clamming, crabbing and agate hunting. But one of his fastest-growing tours is mushroom foraging.

“Out here, mushroom hunting in the Pacific Northwest is very special because we’re able to get out into these old-growth forests,” he says. “We’re able to slow down and enjoy nature.”

Oregon’s food scene is known for its creative meals made from high-quality ingredients sourced from local makers and growers. Some of those ingredients are hand-foraged — and that includes mushrooms. These tasty fungi give pizzazz to a number of dishes by adding an earthy, umami flavor — and they can be found around the state. While the challenge lies in discovering a consistent place to find these tasty treats (secrecy abounds in the foraging community), unearthing your own patch is a big part of the adventure. If you’ve never gone foraging for Oregon’s edible mushrooms, here are some basics for having a fun and safe time.

When to Go on a Mushroom Hunt

In Oregon, fall is the ideal season to go mushroom hunting, as this is the time of year when most of the edible-mushroom species fruit. This typically starts in late August and stretches to the end of November and sometimes into December. However, some mushrooms, such as morels, fruit in the spring, meaning the best time to find them is between March and May. The weather conditions are also an important factor in timing your excursion just right. Mushrooms grow and sprout just after rainfall, when the forest floor is soft and damp.

If you find mushrooms, don’t pick them when they’re very young, and never harvest all the mushrooms in a patch. Waiting until the mushrooms are big enough gives the mushrooms a chance to mature and leaving some behind allows them to drop spores to keep future generations going.

Hands holding mushrooms
Chanterelles are the big prize for Oregon mushroom hunters. Only pick what you need and leave the rest for others. If you can’t go foraging, your local farmers market or grocery store will have a bounty each fall.

A Bounty of Mushrooms in Oregon

Oregon is home to a wide variety of edible mushrooms that deserve a spot on your dinner plate.

Chanterelles, which range from salmon to orange-colored, are flute-shaped fungi, prized for their meaty texture and sweet, apricot-like flavor. They’re also known as Oregon’s official state mushroom. “Chanterelles have a great identifier: They peel like string cheese,” Rauenhorst says.

One of the best fall-season mushrooms include the American matsutake, which are snow white and large, with a long stipe and flavor sometimes described as cinnamon candy meets dirty socks. Another sought-after mushroom are king boletes, which can grow to eight inches wide or more, with a cap that resembles a hamburger bun and bulbous tan stipe. They’re also found in Europe, including Italy, where they are known as porcini. Cauliflower mushrooms, named for their likeness to the white vegetable, have the texture of cooked egg noodles and are great for soups. Another large specimen, lobster mushrooms, appear in vivid oranges or reds and resemble an otherworldly goblet with the faint scent of seafood.

There’s one popular Oregon mushroom that you’ll see popping up at farmers markets and restaurants in the spring: the morel. These are brown and have a spongy conical appearance, beloved for their nutty, earthy flavor.

Cameron Rauenhorst is an amateur mycologist who leads mushroom foraging trips. It’s always best to go with an expert or join up with a local foraging group as you’re starting out.

Top Spots for Foraging

The Oregon Coast and the Coast Range are great areas for finding mushrooms, as well as the Cascade Mountains, including the forested areas in the Portland Region, Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon. Mushrooms tend to be found near Douglas firs, cedars and evergreens — which Oregon is flush with — and in rich duff, or forest floor. “Anytime you find soft, spongy ground, you’ll find mushrooms,” Rauenhorst says.

Mushrooms can be found in moist, shadowy areas, so it can be difficult to find even in moments when you’re a few feet away. Look at the base of trees, near tree stumps, and underneath ferns and brush. “You scan left, scan right, you’re ducking and climbing,” Rauenhorst says of mushroom hunting. “This is not for everybody.”

But once you do find one mushroom, stop and scour the region immediately surrounding it, because where you find one, you’re likely to find more.

A few guide books on the ground
Field guide books are a forager’s best friend. It’s best to keep one on hand for easy reference. Don’t eat any mushroom unless you’re 100% sure it’s safe.

Safety First When Foraging

Walking through a forest with your head down can leave you lost. When you head out mushrooming, be sure to let someone know where you’re going and when to expect you back. Look up from time to time to take inventory of your surroundings, and bring a friend with you. “If I can, I’m going to bring a safety buddy with me,” Rauenhorst says, adding: “The more eyes we have out here, the more mushrooms we’re going to find.”

Do not eat anything you find unless you’re 100% certain that you know what type of mushroom it is. Bring a field guide for reference or wait until you get home to correctly identify the mushroom you’ve found. “If you still don’t know, don’t eat it. It’s just that easy,” Rauenhorst says. There are online resources, such as the Pacific Northwest Mushroom Identification Forum and the Oregon Mycological Society, which has great tips. To celebrate mushrooms among like-minded enthusiasts, check out the Mount Pisgah Mushroom Festival in Eugene.


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Portland’s dedication to play for all is producing creative, accessible playgrounds for kids of all ages and abilities.

It all began in 2009 when two Portland parents, G Cody QJ and April Goldberg, took matters into their own hands in an effort to create a play space where their then-five-year old daughter, Harper, could play without her walker getting stuck in wood chips. Working hand-in-hand with Portland Parks & Recreation, and their new foundation, Harper’s Playground, the Goldbergs and the city set new standards for play in Portland neighborhoods.

In 2012, the city unveiled Arbor Lodge Park’s inclusive playground, aptly named Harper’s Playground. Since then, PP&R has been working with partnerships to create and renovate playgrounds that go above and beyond for all kids of all abilities and all ages.

What makes a playground inclusive? Designed to be enjoyed by children and caregivers of all abilities, inclusive playgrounds eliminate barriers to play. Synthetic, accessible surfaces take the place of bark chips, curbs are minimal, and structures, slides, sandboxes and features are easily accessed. In addition to physical play, inclusive playgrounds feature sensory elements to engage and nurture, including interactive music installations and tactile elements.

Many playgrounds in Portland are being retrofitted with adaptive and inclusive elements, while others are undergoing full renovations to meet the design standards of inclusivity.

Discover new favorites with our list of inclusive playgrounds in Portland.

 Designated inclusive play area
Improved accessibility including synthetic surfacing instead of bark chips, adaptive swings or slides, and ramp accessible features.
Under construction / future plans

North Portland

Dawson Park

Dawson Park, courtesy Harpers Playground

In 2013 Dawson Park underwent an improvement project, delivering synthetic surfacing for universal access as well as an easy-access splash pad to the popular neighborhood spot. The play area features two accessible swings, merry-go-round and see-saw, in addition to balance and coordination components. Insider tip: Plenty of street parking, but be aware of the no parking zones adjacent to the park itself. N Stanton St. and N Williams Ave.

⇔ Harper’s Playground at Arbor Lodge

Harper’s Playground, photo courtesy of Portland Parks and Recreation

The park that started it all. The entire play area is universally accessible, with highlights including musical interactive instruments, climbing walls, adaptive swings and ramp-accessed double slides. It also has one of the coolest sand and water play areas in town, echoing a waterfall where kiddos can build and create dams, castles and moats. Insider tip: If you’re headed somewhere other than home after visiting the park, bring a change of clothes and shoes as the sand/water play area is a perennial favorite. N Bryant St. and N Delaware Ave.

Northeast / East Portland

⇔ Gateway Discovery Park

Gateway Discovery Park, photo courtesy of Portland Parks and Recreation

With its grand opening  in 2018, Gateway Discovery Park has plenty of room to romp, roll and enjoy. Fully stocked for all things play, it includes ramp-accessed double slides, smooth entry sand play area, musical sensory interaction, adaptive swing, including a parent swing with attached child seat and a merry-go-round. An accessible splash pad compliments the rolling astroturf hills, climbing features and interactive design. Insider tip: The trees are still young and the park lacks shade, so plan accordingly for sun exposure. NE Halsey St. and NE 106th Ave.

⇪ Khunamokwst Park

Khunamokwst Park, photo courtesy of Portland Parks and Recreation

Opened in 2015, Khunamokwst features an accessible synthetic turf surface, adaptive swing and ramps into the play areas. The splash pad resembles a river, with accessible water sprays. When the kids need a break, follow the smooth, paved path to the skate park to watch the action. Insider tip: The tale of the Mouse and the Fir Tree is portrayed in the giant fir cone in the middle of the play area. 5200 NE Alberta St. (NE 52nd Ave. and NE Alberta St.)

⇪ Luuwit View Park

Luuwit View Park, photo courtesy of Portland Parks and Recreation

Before you’re even out of the car, the kids will be clamoring to explore this wide open, futuristic-looking park. Formerly known as Beech Park, Luuwit View’s inclusive amenities feature smart, synthetic surfacing, smooth paved paths and a rubberized surface to an accessible merry-go-round and adaptive swing. Inspiring sensory play features musical instrument installations, ramp-accessible slides and nature paths through the expansive property. Insider tip: Don’t miss the artistic mosaic sundial atop the small hill – a paved trail leads to the vista point. NE 127th Ave. and NE Fremont St.


Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park

Courtesy Portland Parks

The new and improved Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park Playground features a synthetic play surface, adaptive swing, and wheelchair access. Children can play on balance and climbing structures, and a slide is built into the topography of the park. SE 165th Avenue and Market Street.

⇪ Lents Park

Courtesy Portland Parks

Nestled in southeast, Lents Park received a facelift in 2017. The brightly-colored synthetic play surface meanders throughout the playground, leading to accessible slides, interactive musical installations, an adaptive swing and sensory skill-building components. The large, diverse park is also home to the Portland Pickles collegiate baseball team. Insider tip: For such a well-used park, bathrooms are limited. It’s smart to pack some TP for the restroom “just in case.” SE 92nd Ave. and SE Holgate Blvd.

⇪ Ventura Park

Renovated in 2017, the updates at Ventura Park playground make it a favorite for adults and kids alike. In addition to synthetic surfacing, a large group swing and inclusive merry-go-round, the design includes interactive musical play and a water play area, complete with dams. It even boasts an astroturf hill, perfect for simulating sledding, and plenty of open space to set up basecamp for the day. Insider tip: Ventura Park has plenty of shade and is a good option for sun-scorching days. 460 SE 113th Ave. (SE 113th Ave. and SE Stark St.)

⇪ Westmoreland Park

Westmoreland Park, photo courtesy of Portland Parks and Recreation

While not as extensive as other inclusive playground areas, Westmoreland is not to be left off our list. The nature play park features an accessible large slide and ramp access to the play areas. A large sand area allows for sensory and tactile experience. Insider tip: The play area surfacing is bark chips, but the paved path allows for maneuvering and access to the nature trail, bridges and model boat pond. SE McLoughlin Blvd and SE Bybee Blvd.


Couch Park

Couch Park, photo courtesy of Portland Parks and Recreation

Couch Park features safety and synthetic surfacing, adaptive and group swings, a ramp-accessible play fort and more. There’s also a plaza and Portland Loo. NW 19th Ave. and NW Glisan St.

Southwest / West

 Gabriel Park

Gabriel Park Inclusive Playground, courtesy City of Portland

Thanks to its central southwest location, Gabriel Park is now home to an inclusive playground. Easily accessible by public transit, Gabriel Park is an inclusive destination for the entire Portland Metro area. The new park includes an in ground trampoline you can wheel or walk onto! SW 45th Ave. and SW Vermont St.

⇪ Rose Garden Children’s Playground (Washington Park)

Washington Park, photo courtesy of Portland Parks and Recreation

Nestled in Washington Park, the extensive playground features universal access to the maze of ramps, castle-esque play structure, slides, seated rockers, bridges and more. Insider tip: When tummies start grumbling, head up to the food cart by the International Rose Test Garden, an eight-minute walk away, for yummy frozen bananas. SW Kingston Ave.


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This year may go down in real estate history as the year of correction. After a pandemic-fueled, seller-benefitting boom — with bidding wars, inventory shortages and spiraling prices all over the country — the housing market began to cool down in 2022. The impact of inflation and fast-rising interest rates dampened buyers’ interest, causing sales to slow and price appreciation to decelerate.

Those housing trends are continuing in 2023, making it something of a transitional year. Sellers still have an edge in many areas, thanks to continued scarcity of houses, and no one expects a dramatic crash in home prices or values. Still, the frenzied pace has definitely subsided, and many analysts see a shift toward a more balanced market, benefitting buyers.

Whatever the economic state of the real estate market, buying a house can be an exciting and emotional process. Before starting your search, be sure you understand the ins and outs of homebuying. Doing so will empower you to make the best decisions for your family — and your wallet.

buying a house 2023

A step-by-step guide to buying a house


1. Understand why you want to buy a house

Purchasing a home is a major decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’re not clear on exactly what you want out of homeownership, you could end up regretting your choice.

How to get started: Define your personal and financial goals. “Buyers should think about things like when they intend on moving and what they want in a home — amenities, ideal location and how long it could take them to save for a down payment,” says Edwence Georges, a real estate agent with RE/MAX in Westfield, New Jersey. “These are all important to help define the goals they would like to meet.”

Key takeaways
  • Make a list of what’s important to you in a home. Is location the top priority? Any must-have amenities?
  • Determine whether it makes sense for you financially. Would renting for another year or two improve your financial standing?
  • Be sure you’re prepared for the ongoing expenses of maintaining a home.

2. Check your credit score

Your credit score will help you determine your financing options; lenders use it (among other factors) to set the terms and rates of your loan. The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you will be eligible for — which means that lower scores equate to more expensive mortgages.

How to get started: You can get your credit report and score from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, for free once a year. Your bank or credit card company might offer free access to your score or credit report, too. If you discover any discrepancies, contact each agency and report the error.

Key takeaways

3. Save for a down payment

To avoid having to pay private mortgage insurance, or PMI, you’ll need to put down at least 20 percent of the home’s purchase price for a down payment. Some lenders offer mortgages without PMI with lower down payments, but expect to pay a higher interest rate. Be sure to do your research: Many types of loans require a much lower minimum down payment, and there are many government programs to help cover down payment costs for qualified buyers. Shop around carefully based on how much you’re able to pay upfront.

How to get started: Research the down payment requirements for the loan you want so you know exactly how much you’ll need. If a friend, relative or employer has offered to provide a down payment gift, initiate a conversation early on to learn how much they plan to contribute and if there’s any shortfall you’ll need to cover — and secure a gift letter from them well in advance.


Key takeaways
  • Consider options backed by the federal government. If you qualify for an FHA loan, a VA loan or a USDA loan, your down payment requirements will be considerably lower than 20 percent.
  • Conventional loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, meanwhile, require just 3 percent down.
  • Look into local and state down payment assistance programs to see if you’re eligible for a cost-saving loan or grant.

4. Create a housing budget

The purchase price and down payment aren’t the whole picture. Setting a realistic budget for your new home will help inform what you can afford and how much your all-in costs will be.

How to get started: Carefully factor in other expenses to determine what you can afford long-term. “Buyers tend to forget to factor in other costs, like homeowners association fees and setting money aside for maintenance costs,” says Paige Kruger, Realtor and founder of Signal Real Estate in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. “Just because you can afford a mortgage and a down payment doesn’t mean you can afford those long-term costs after you move.”

Key takeaways
  • Figure out how much you can set aside for a down payment, plus a buffer fund for ongoing or unexpected maintenance costs.
  • Determine the maximum loan you qualify for. Getting prequalified can help (see Step 5).
  • Analyze your monthly budget to make sure you can handle mortgage payments along with your other day-to-day bills.

5. Shop for a mortgage

Getting preapproved for a mortgage gives you a firmer handle on how much you can afford, and it’s helpful when you make an offer on a house because it shows sellers you’re financially qualified. Once you’re ready to apply for official approval, you’re not obligated to stick with the same lender that issued your preapproval — compare the terms and rates offered by several companies.

How to get started: Shop around with at least three lenders or a mortgage broker to increase your chances of getting a low interest rate. Sign up for a Bankrate account to determine the right time to strike on your mortgage with our daily rate trends.

Key takeaways
  • Work with an experienced mortgage lender who can walk you through all of the options and overall costs.
  • If you’re a first-time homebuyer, inquire about what programs or incentives might be available to you.

6. Hire a real estate agent

An experienced real estate agent can save you time and money by helping you find your dream home and negotiating with the seller on your behalf. Agents are licensed professionals who know their markets well and can guide you through your homebuying journey.

How to get started: Contact several real estate agents and talk with them about your needs before choosing one. “Someone with knowledge of an area can tell if your budget is realistic or not, depending on the features you desire in a home,” Kruger says. “They can also point you to adjacent areas in your desired neighborhood or other types of considerations to help you find a house.”

Key takeaways
  • Before hiring a real estate agent, ask about their track record, knowledge of your desired neighborhood and workload. You don’t want someone who is over-scheduled.
  • Agents can often refer you to other real estate professionals, too, like home inspectors, contractors, appraisers and title companies.
  • Bankrate can help match you with a qualified agent in your area.

7. See multiple homes

Viewing listing photos online is helpful, but isn’t a substitute for visiting homes in person and getting to know the area and its amenities. In some cases, the right neighborhood might be even more important than the home itself.

How to get started: Be specific with your real estate agent about exactly what kinds of homes you want to see, so they can more effectively find options that meet your criteria. And keep an open mind: You may not be able to check off everything on your wish list, so prioritize what’s most important over things that are nice to have but not crucial.

Key takeaways
  • Explore neighborhoods you like to see what’s for sale, and attend open houses for homes that pique your interest.
  • Take notes on each property you visit — after a few, they can start to blend together in your mind.
  • Keep your schedule open so you can pounce when a great home is listed, especially in a competitive seller’s market.

8. Make an offer

Understanding how to make an attractive offer on a home can help increase your chances the seller will accept it, putting you one step closer to getting those coveted keys.

How to get started: Once you find “the one,” your real estate agent will help you prepare a complete offer package, including your offer price, your preapproval letter, proof of funds for a down payment (this helps in competitive markets) and terms or contingencies.

Key takeaways
  • Think carefully about what contingency clauses to include in your contract. Common contingencies can hinge on financing, appraisal, home inspection and more.
  • It’s not unusual for sellers to make a counteroffer. You can respond if you wish to keep negotiating, or reject it and move on.
  • Once an offer is accepted, you’ll sign a purchase agreement and pay an earnest money deposit, typically 1 to 2 percent of the purchase price. The funds will be held in escrow until closing.

9. Get a home inspection

A home inspection provides an overall picture of the property’s condition and any mechanical or structural issues it might have. This will help you determine how to proceed with the closing process: If major problems are found, you might want to ask the seller for repairs, or you might even decide to back out of the deal (provided there’s an inspection contingency in the contract).

How to get started: Your agent can probably recommend a home inspector, but do your own homework before choosing one. Depending on your contract and what state you’re in, you’ll generally need to complete the inspection within 10 to 14 days of signing a purchase agreement.

Key takeaways
  • Check the inspector’s experience by reading online reviews, asking for client references and looking at their credentials.
  • To understand what is and isn’t covered, read Bankrate’s home inspection checklist.
  • Fees can vary, but according to HomeAdvisor, you’ll likely pay somewhere between $281 and $402.

10. Negotiate repairs and credits

Your home inspection may reveal a few issues, especially if it’s an older home. Major problems might need to be dealt with before your mortgage lender will finalize your loan, and it’s common to negotiate for the seller to either pay for the repair or offer the buyer a credit to cover the cost.

How to get started: The need for repairs is not unusual, but negotiation can be delicate work and is best left to the pros, so enlist your agent’s help with this. They will work with the seller’s agent to come to an agreement about repairs or credits.

Key takeaways
  • Hazardous problems like structural damage or improper electrical wiring could keep your lender from approving your loan, so take the solutions very seriously.
  • Some sellers won’t agree to extensive repairs. That’s why a home inspection contingency is important — it gives you a way out of the deal if you need it.

11. Secure your financing

A preapproval is not the same thing as official approval. Getting final loan approval means you need to keep your finances and credit in line during the underwriting phase. Don’t open new credit lines or make any major purchases until the paperwork is signed, and avoid changing jobs before closing too, if possible.

How to get started: Respond promptly to requests or questions from the lender, and double-check your loan estimate to ensure all the details are correct. You may need to submit additional paperwork as your lender completes the process, such as bank statements, tax returns or additional proof of income., so keep your paperwork organized.

Key takeaways
  • Being preapproved doesn’t mean you’re in the clear — that’s not the case until a lender has given the final stamp of approval.
  • Keep your finances and credit in good shape from preapproval until closing day.
  • Avoid running up credit cards, taking out new loans or closing credit accounts too. These things can hurt your credit score or impact your debt-to-income ratio, which can imperil your final loan approval.

12. Do a final walk-through

final walk-through is your opportunity to view the property one last time before it becomes yours. This is your last chance to address any outstanding issues before the house becomes your responsibility.

How to get started: Your agent will schedule the walk-through for shortly before closing. Bring your home inspection checklist and other documents, like repair invoices and receipts, to ensure everything was done as agreed upon and that the home is move-in ready.

Key takeaways
  • Ask your agent to attend with you — they can act as a witness and help answer any questions.
  • If there are problems that haven’t been addressed, have your agent communicate immediately with the seller and your lender. Your closing date might have to be delayed to ensure those issues are remedied first.

13. Close on your house

Once all contingencies have been met, you’re happy with the final walk-through and your lender has declared your loan “clear to close,” it’s finally time to make it official and close on your new home. Once all of the paperwork has been signed, the home is officially yours and you’ll get the keys. Congratulations!

How to get started: Three business days before your closing date, the lender will provide you with a closing disclosure that outlines your loan details, such as the monthly payment, loan type and term, interest rate, loan fees and how much money you must bring to closing. You will attend, the closing along with your real estate agent, possibly the seller’s agent, the seller (in some cases) and the closing agent, who may be a representative from the escrow or title company or a real estate attorney. This is also when you’ll wire your closing costs and down payment, depending on the escrow company’s procedures.

Key takeaways
  • When you get your closing disclosure, compare it to your loan estimate to ensure the terms are the same. Ask any questions and correct any errors before you sign the paperwork.
  • On closing day, review all of the documents you sign carefully, and ask for clarification on anything you don’t understand.
  • Make sure you’re given all house keys, entry codes and garage door openers before leaving the closing.

Other things to consider

Determine the right time to buy

Traditionally, spring is the start of the homebuying season, with many listings hitting the market and activity peaking. However, your own financial readiness is more important than the time of year.

After reaching record lows in early 2021, mortgage rates jumped way up in 2022 and remain high today. Meanwhile, strong demand for homes has pushed prices higher and frustrated many potential homebuyers. This combination of high rates and high prices has plenty of people wondering whether they should try to buy a home now, or wait for things to settle down.

The answer likely depends on your own personal circumstances more than the condition of the housing market. Market predictions night vary, but if you’re financially stable, you have enough in savings to cover the down payment and other expenses, your employment and income are secure, and you’re ready to stay in one place for a while, then now is a perfectly fine time to buy a house. On the other hand, if your savings are tight or your credit score is less than stellar, it might make more sense to take more time to build those before buying.

One thing to keep in mind: Home prices recently rose slightly after several months of slow declines, so be sure to exercise caution if there’s a sudden spike in prices. “Be careful about buying near the top of the market, especially if you want to be in the home for only a few years,” says Ken H. Johnson, a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University and co-author of the Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent Index. If you’re looking to buy under these conditions, says Johnson, “bargain aggressively and be willing to walk away.”

Consider your local market

The area you’re house-hunting in has a major impact on what to brace for as a homebuyer. Each market has its own quirks to consider; the taxes, cost of living, job market and housing situation in California will yield different buying conditions than Florida or Texas, for example. And even within the same city, real estate is very localized — you might be surprised by how drastically market conditions can vary from one neighborhood to the next. This is why partnering with a knowledgeable local agent who understands the intricacies of their market is so important.

Prepare for extra costs

The down payment is often considered the biggest homebuying expense, since that’s what a buyer has to actually pay upfront. But homeownership involves plenty of additional costs that you should be ready for. Before you even close on the purchase, you’ll need to make sure you have enough money set aside to cover closing costs. These fees will vary by state and by individual transaction, but they will almost certainly range into the thousands of dollars.

When budgeting for your monthly housing costs, factor in not only the principal and interest amounts of your mortgage payment, but also property taxes, home insurance premiums and homeowners association fees (if applicable), plus private mortgage insurance if you’re putting down less than 20 percent. And don’t forget to set aside money for ongoing maintenance and unexpected repairs, too.


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5 Things All Homeowners Should Know Before Painting Their WallsPainting the walls inside your home is a tried-and-true way to make an old space feel new again. While some homeowners hire professional painters, others do the job with their own two hands.

But be forewarned: If you’re a DIY kind of person, a seemingly simple paint project can go awry. It might seem like all you need are a few rollers, paintbrush, ladder, and paint. In reality, pulling off a professional-looking paint job requires much more than that.

It’s crucial to equip yourself with the right tools and do your homework beforehand, lest you risk losing time, money, and your patience.

To help ensure your next painting endeavor plays out smoothly, take these interior painting tips into consideration.

1. Use room-specific paint

If you have kids, you need a durable, low-maintenance paint.

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Wall paint is not one-size-fits-all. Different rooms need different kinds of paint, based on the location and activities that happen there.

“Bathrooms and kitchens may require moisture-resistant paint, while high-traffic areas may need more durable paint,” says Phi Dang, CEO of Newline Painting in Melbourne, Australia.

Besides factoring for a room’s function, you should choose a paint that fits your lifestyle, advises Bill Nishanian, owner of Nash Painting in Brentwood, TN.

“If you have kids, you need durable, scrubbable, easy-to-touch-up paint that won’t leave marks when you clean it,” Nishanian says.

Considering this, Benjamin Moore’s Regal Select Interior Paint is an excellent choice for busy areas in the house. It can withstand scuffs and marks and is easily cleaned with soap and water.

Paint sheen should also always be factored in.

“The higher the sheen, the more visible the imperfections,” Nishanian mentions.

2. Walls should not be painted from the bottom up

Paint from the top down.

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A successful paint job requires planning, and that includes figuring out where on the wall you’re going to start with your brush. And painting a wall from the bottom up might be more of an issue than you think.

“Always paint from the top down,” says Harry Adler, co-founder of C2 Paint and president of Adler’s Design Center & Hardware in Providence, RI. He explains that this helps prevent unsightly paint drip marks that often happen if you paint from the bottom up.

“You want to cut in the perimeters and frame everything out with a brush first,” Adler says. “Then paint from the top down, so that gravity is your friend.”

He also points out that high-quality paints are better at leveling, which means brush marks will blend better.

3. Undertones matter

Many factors can affect the way the paint color appears.

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Lisa McIntee, owner of The Staging Professionals, cautions that a paint color’s undertones can cause it to look one way in the store and a different way in your home.

“Things like lighting sources and the direction the windows face can have a beige paint looking pink in no time,” McIntee explains.

To ensure you’re 100% satisfied with your color, she recommends consulting a professional at your local paint shop. These experts can explain each color’s undertones and how the color can change based on a space.

“Paint a test sample on your wall—ideally a wall adjacent to a window,” McIntee advises. “Alternatively, you can locate a staging professional in your area who can work with you on proper color selection.”

4. Let paint dry fully between coats

Patience is critical when painting walls. Even if you’re eager to wrap things up, you can compromise the end result if you don’t give the paint enough time to dry between coats.

“Make sure you allow enough time for the first layer of paint to dry—especially in hot, cool, or damp conditions,” says Kerry Sherin, consumer advocate at Ownerly. Not allowing the paint to dry correctly can cause wrinkling or bubbling in your finished product.

“It’s important to not underestimate small paint problems, such as bubbling, as they can quickly become major issues if left untreated,” Sherin adds. “Properly preparing your surfaces and ensuring they are dry before painting typically solves this.”

If you do this and still have a problem, a deeper moisture issue could be to blame, Sherin says. In this case, you may need to install vents or set up exhaust fans.

5. Don’t use low-quality supplies

Resist the urge to skimp on painting gear.

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Although tempting, you should rethink buying budget brushes to tackle home painting projects.

“When painting, it is incredibly important to use high-quality paint brushes,” says Shaun Martin, owner and CEO of We Buy Houses In Denver. “Not investing in the right brush can cause streaks, uneven coverage, and other issues.” 

McIntee adds that not all brushes are created equal, and quality really is paramount.

“Certain rollers will have a higher nap and hold more paint, allowing you to cover textured walls more evenly,” she says. “Some may leave lint on the surface, and you want to avoid those.”

She adds that high-quality rollers and brushes will go a long way in making your walls look top-notch.

“There are some paint brushes that, even for the inexperienced, will make you look like a professional when cutting your edges,” she says. “Don’t discredit the power of a great brush!”


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One of the nation’s best state parks systems is busy updating facilities, studying climate change, and becoming a more welcoming environment for all types of visitors.


ince Oregon’s first state park was established 101 years ago, visitors have come to delight in the ability to easily access some of the state’s most beautiful locations with great trails, well-maintained facilities, and interpretive programming to help people understand the history and culture of those sites to gain a sense of place.

But plans for a grand celebration in the years leading up to the state parks’ centennial were disrupted by the pandemic. What was shaping up to be a tremendous effort to commemorate 2022 turned out to be more of a “slow burn,” says Chris Havel, deputy director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Due to lingering concern over hosting large public gatherings, centennial celebrations turned out to be smaller, more focused events such as movie nights at Rooster Rock, as well as stewardship activities like weed pulling at Cove Palisades and river cleanup at Champoeg.

Havel says that was disappointing for the agency’s staff, who for many years were expected to be the silent force behind the scenes making the system work.

“What we’ve seen more recently is that if you really care about the experience visitors have, you need to be more visible,” he says. “There are lot of not-so-glamorous parts to this job, but in the end it’s the satisfaction we see on people’s faces that makes it worthwhile; 2022 was an opportunity to recognize that accomplishment.”

While some park facilities like picnic shelters, restrooms, campgrounds, and other gathering places were closed for part of 2020, trails, biking paths, and paddling routes were still open, allowing people to safely get out of their homes and enjoy some sense of normalcy during a year where life was flipped on its head.

“The state parks system was a balm for body and mind,” Havel says. “It was a silver lining in that awfulness. People have woken up to what state parks can do.”

The foundation of Oregon State Parks was laid with a 1913 declaration by Gov. Oswald West making all ocean beaches below the tideline public highways. Nine years later Oregon would add its first official state park to the roster, a wayside near Monmouth. Samuel H. Boardman became the first parks superintendent less than a decade later, adding dozens of new properties and thousands more acres.

In 1967, the highway commission pushed Oregon’s Beach Bill with the help of Gov. Tom McCall and Secretary of State Robert Straub (who were political rivals at the time), which preserved all beachfront property as public, not just to the high tideline.

In 1989, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department broke off from the highway commission, and the young agency saw hard times. But in 1998, Oregonians approved a dedicating  a portion of state lottery funds to parks for grant programs and the acquisition of new properties. In 2004, Gov. Ted Kulongoski promised a  “park a year,” which added thousands of new acres and improvement over the next decade.

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Director Lisa Sumption

In 2014, Lisa Sumption became the first woman to lead OPRD. Under her leadership, the department has since seen millions invested in projects to update and modernize infrastructure and expand campgrounds. Some of the biggest investments of a two-year, $50 million bond project currently underway—thanks in large part to former Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney—are taking place at Silver Falls State Park. Roughly $8–10 million is being spent to improve the north gateway of the park with a new campground, visitor center, trails, and other infrastructure updates. Another $8–10 million is being spent in 2023 at Cape Lookout State Park to relocate campsites away from a breached dune and decommission old facilities.

But according to Havel, the most important work being done at OPRD isn’t related to facilities, but in protecting parks from the threat of climate change and striving to see that park visitors reflect Oregon’s increasingly diverse population. That means thinking differently about how parks fit into wild ecosystems, as well as getting more, different types of people onto trails and into campgrounds.

On climate, park rangers are seeing changes in how wildfire behaves on the landscape, how invasive species take root where they’re not supposed to, and how increased storm energy perpetuates erosion and other concerns. “If we don’t understand (those challenges) and respond to them, it can endanger the future of the park system over the next 100 years,” Havel says.

Improving the makeup of who visits state parks is less tangible. Removing barriers isn’t a physical task, but it’s one that parks employees are committed to, Havel says. Just last year, OPRD helped pass legislation banning people convicted of bias crimes from recreating in state parks. Another bill in the legislature this year would increase penalties for people who assault employees of state and county parks. While there is work being done to improve safety and make people feel welcome in state parks, Havel says, there’s still work to be done.

“Not everybody feels equally welcome in parks, either because of the way they’re designed, the way they’re run, or by the people that you see using them,” Havel says. “One of the challenges [Sumption] has put in front of us is to confront that.”

Looking forward to OPRD’s next 100 years, Sumption says the agency wants inspire a sense of stewardship and wonderment through interpretive programs so that the next generation of visitors will continue preserving these resources.

“We are actively reaching out to a wide range of communities so that staff and visitors of the future reflect the growing diversity or our state,” she says. “We want to break down barriers in access so everyone can enjoy these landscapes that belong to us all.”


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You put your signature on the closing paperwork. You’re happy with your loan … well, as happy as you can be, considering the magnitude of the debt you just accepted. Stress dreams have mostly subsided, barring the occasional vision of some movers dropping your grandmother’s curio cabinet, shattering this priceless antique while they run off with your money.

Moving can be a pain in the you-know-what. That’s why we’ll share some expert tips and tricks to make the process as easy and pain-free possible.

Make the Move Into Your New Home As Painless As Possible

Do repairs and painting first

Before moving in, take a trip through your new home with a critical eye. Look for any necessary improvements that can be completed before you bring your stuff in. Is the bedroom wall a nasty shade of taupe? Is the hardwood floor scuffed and dirty? Before your movers start lugging in boxes and placing heavy furniture, get it done.

“If you plan on painting or doing any light repairs, it’s easier to do those things before moving your stuff into the house,” says Kellie Tinnin, a Realtor® in Albuquerque, NM.

Skipping this step now can mean a headache later, when you’re forced to shove furniture into the center of the room just to paint the walls—or even take everything out of the space so you can access those scratched floors.

Hire a cleaning service

For the same reason, there’s no better time to thoroughly clean your home than when there’s nothing in it.

“The best gift to yourself is to hire a professional cleaner to give it the once-over before you start to move your personal items in,” says Kinnaird Fox, a Realtor with Sotheby’s in New York City.

Yes, it’s an added expense, but moving into a spotless home is guaranteed to make a stressful transition much happier. After all, wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t have to scrub out the soot and ash from the fireplace yourself—or spend two days on hands and knees polishing the baseboards?

Change the locks

As soon as you get the chance, hire a locksmith to change all the locks on your house (don’t forget the back entrance or any other access points). While we’re certain the seller is trustworthy, you never know who else might have keys to your new home. Better to be safe than sorry.

Doors aren’t the only locks that need changing: Buyers who use a community mailbox should make sure to have it rekeyed by the local post office, which should cost about $40 or $50. That’s not much at all for peace of mind that no one is digging through your mail.

Don’t forget the utilities

You don’t want a sudden power outage one month after your move. Even worse is when it’s your own darn fault.

“Many sellers are focused on their new move, and sometimes utilities are forgotten in the mix,” says Fox. By the time you move in, you should get in touch with all of your new providers to switch services to your name. If you’re moving into a standalone house from an apartment, you might be surprised by the variety of utilities you need to set up.

Check with the former owners to determine specifically what you’re paying for and what you need to set up, but expect to pay for water, gas, electricity, and trash—as well as any internet service.

Check in with the HOA

Does your new home have a homeowners association? If so, contact the HOA to make sure everything is up to date. You’ll likely need to fill out transfer paperwork so it has a record of the new ownership. Even great HOAs can be difficult to deal with, requiring meticulous paperwork and cumbersome restrictions, so make sure you understand the bylaws and neighborhood restrictions of your HOA. You don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with your new neighbors, so full knowledge of how the association works is absolutely necessary.

Make a detailed list of your belongings

Moving is a complicated, messy affair—so take the opportunity to make an inventory of your belongings during packing, labeling each box with what’s in it.

“You’ll be grateful for the detailed description of contents stored within the myriad packing boxes that now surround you,” says Fox. There’s a bonus: A home inventory is worth its weight in gold if you have any sort of accident such as a fire, or a natural disaster leaves your home a wreck.

Figure out the best nearby takeout

All done? Boxes in place, furniture in your house—if not in the right spot? Movers gone? The proper way to celebrate is with takeout and beer, eaten on the floor. Do your research ahead of time so you know what you want to eat, and aren’t left scrambling an hour before closing time.

“Know where the best pizza place or takeout is nearby,” says Eileen O’Reilly, a Realtor in Burlingame, CA. “When you are crazy busy with moving in, you don’t want to get hangry.”

Congratulations! You’re finished … until it’s time to sell, that is. In the meantime, though, it’s time to resume doing what this whole journey is all about: enjoying your amazing new digs!


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