How Long Before Your New House Feels Like Home?

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall
Credit: Shutterstock / Ground Picture

You finally found the home you've been looking for, whether it's your first house, second, or third. Over the first few months, you spend days unpacking, decorating, tweaking, fixing, and rearranging. But your new house still doesn't feel like it’s yours. Did you pick the wrong place, or does it just take time for your new house to feel like home?

It could take weeks to months before your new house feels like home. A lot depends on the reasons you moved. Major life changes, like a divorce, kids moving out, a growing family, or a new job, can influence your response to a new house. To help make your house a home, use familiar scents and items, get comfortable, and have a nice meal.

Even when everything in your new house seems to be going smoothly, looks great, and functions well, it can still feel a bit off-kilter. If you’re worrying you’ll never feel at home in your new place, keep reading for some much-needed comfort and suggestions.

What Makes A Place Feel Like Home?

When it comes to defining what makes a house a home, everyone will likely have a different answer. What home means to someone is a very personal thing. However, many people would typically say it’s the memories, people, and experiences that create a home more than the physical structure.

Also, a sense of comfort and familiarity helps a place feel like home. You know exactly what smells to expect when you walk into a room. It’s when you know where every light switch is and how that one drawer sticks in the kitchen. For others, it’s a sense of security and feeling safe.

If the area you move to is also unfamiliar, this could make it harder for your house to feel like home. In addition to learning about your new place, you’re also figuring out where the closest grocery store is, trying to meet new people, and getting the lowdown on your neighborhood. Therefore, in a situation like this, becoming more familiar with your community could be the key to your house starting to feel like home.

How Long Does It Take To Feel At Home In A New House?

It could take you a few weeks to feel at home in your new place, a few months, or longer. Some people claim to still not quite feel like they’re at home after a year or more. Of course, the answer to this question is subjective, since everyone is different and facing unique situations.

If you’re moving to a home in the same community and your family life remains the same, you could start to feel at home fairly quickly. As soon as you unpack and get settled, perhaps place a few familiar items, and start learning your new home’s quirks, you will feel comfortable in your new place.

However, what if you’re moving to a new city or state? Or perhaps you and your spouse are downsizing because you’re now empty nesters. Maybe you’re facing the difficult life change of losing your partner of many years. Or you've decided to grow your family and move to a bigger place that has a lot more square footage than you’re used to.

Now, you not only have a new house to adjust to but a new lifestyle as well. This additional newness can add a few months if not more to your timeline when it comes to making your new house feel like home.

How you feel about your move also influences how long your house will take to feel like a home. If you were on board with the move and excited, you’ll likely feel at home sooner than if you didn’t want to move. Also, if you adored your former house or had strong emotional connections to it, it could take you more time to feel at home in a new place.

Tips To Make Your New House Feel Like Home

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re not feeling at home in your new house. Since there’s no definitive answer to how long that can take, your next best option is to figure out how you can speed things along. Therefore, it’s time to learn some essential steps to help evoke that all-important feeling of home, sweet home.

1. Prioritize Function And Personal Items

You may think the sooner you get everything out of boxes and put it away, the sooner things will start to click. However, many people tend to start with places like the living room, dining room, and other shared areas. They think this way, if people stop by to visit, it will look like they have things together.

But, as much as you might want to unpack every single box as soon as possible, don’t. Instead, prioritize the things that are going to make your life easier and keep your routine chugging along with minimal hiccups.

Unpack your clothes and organize your closet, get out your toiletry items and makeup, and bring out the main things you use to cook. You want the things you need every day to be at your fingertips as soon as possible to avoid any unnecessary stress.

2. Bring Out Familiar Items First

In addition to bringing out the things you need to keep functioning, set out familiar items that you love. Perhaps it’s a cherished vase or the cozy blankets you keep on the couch, etc. A few family photos can help things start to feel homey.

Dig out your favorite coffee mug and your kid’s favorite toys. Unpack the mantle clock with the reassuring ticking sound. Seeing and hearing these familiar items helps you feel at home.

3. Don’t Rush To Decorate

Although you want to start unpacking soon (prioritizing function and familiarity), hold off on decorating every square inch of your new house. It’s common for people to begin designing and decorating their new space based on how they had things in their former home.

However, what worked in your other house may not make sense in your new one. Maybe some design ideas aren’t practical in your new digs. Also, you might decide you need different furniture or want to change your style a bit.

Therefore, concentrate on unpacking, getting situated, and decorating over time. Wait to hang artwork and place accessories, until you’re more certain about what you want to keep and where you want it to go.

4. Set Up A Routine You’re Used To

Maintain a routine that works for you and also helps your new house feel like home. The last thing you need as you settle into a new place is to spend hours searching for keys in the morning or trying to remember where you put the mail.

Therefore, as soon as you move in, create a command central with a spot for mail, keys, and other important items. If you had a system in place that worked for you at your prior house, recreate it here to keep things going smoothly.

5. Ramp Up Good Scents

A new house features lots of smells you aren’t used to. If it had any recent renovations or it's new construction, paint, drywall, and similar smells make it challenging to forget this is a brand new place. Light scented candles, use oil diffusers, bake a batch of homemade cookies if that’s your thing, or pop open a bottle of wine.

6. Get Comfortable

Cozy fabrics, textures, and plush blankets add comfort and warmth to a space. Make your bed, toss a fuzzy throw over the couch, and unpack your pillows and rugs. Your house feels much more like a home with these items. You can walk barefoot across a warm, comfortable rug or wrap up in a blanket while you watch TV.

Concentrate on making your bedroom cozy and your family room welcoming. Decide on window treatments so you can hang them sooner rather than later. These soft surfaces absorb sounds and echoes that tend to make a space feel cold and empty.

7. Make A Nice Meal

We get it. You’re tired, unpacking boxes day after day, and you just bought a house, which is one of the most stressful things you can do. It’s tempting to order take-out or pizza every night. But try hard to make a homemade meal, even if you have to eat it picnic-style on the kitchen floor.

If you're not in the mood to meal plan or cook, split the difference and try a meal service like Hello Fresh or Home Chef. These companies take out the need to plan, grocery shop, and even most of the prep. Select easy options so whatever meals you get you can make in about 20 minutes.

8. Don’t Try To Keep Everything Pristine

When you get a new outfit or pair of shoes, you want them to look their best as long as possible. Some people buy a new car only to have it sit in the driveway for months because they’re scared to mess it up.

But trying to keep your new home in pristine condition is likely to drive you bananas. It’s your house, not a museum. Live in it. Do what you need to do. Clean up spills when they happen, but don’t cry about them.

Discovering Home, Sweet Home Over Time

If you’ve lived in your new house for a while and it still doesn’t feel like home, don’t let buyer’s remorse creep in right away. It can take some time for a new place to feel like yours, especially if your move is accompanied by major life changes.

Maintain familiar routines, prioritize function when you unpack, and take your time with decorating. Fill your home with familiar scents, sights, and sounds, and add warmth and texture through fabrics, blankets, and other soft surfaces.

Don’t assume you should feel at home within a certain amount of time. Take your time, focus on creating a comfortable space, and get familiar with your surroundings. In time, you’ll start experiencing that much-desired feeling of coming home.

Related Guides:

Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

More by Stacy Randall