A Guide to Organizing Two Homes

A Guide to Organizing Two Homes
A Guide to Organizing Two Homes

Running one house is difficult enough. You must maintain organization when you have two homes in two different regions of the country. 

Fortunately, with a little preparation, your properties – as well as your life – can remain organized. 

Read on for tips to staying organized when you own two homes.

Tips for Organizing Two Homes

Running one house is difficult enough. You must maintain organization when you have two homes in two different regions of the country. Fortunately, with a little preparation, your properties—as well as your life—can remain organized.

Vacation homes offer the ability to live a more laid-back lifestyle with entertainment available right outside the door; boating, water activities, fishing, hiking, and outdoor dining are all within easy reach.

When it’s time to enjoy your second home, everyone is eager to leave their busy schedules and work week behind as they look forward to this change of pace. Being organized helps to make a quicker transition into downtime and eliminates the frustration of constantly moving stuff from one house to another.

When you buy a second home, it won’t take long before you realize just how crucial organization can be. 

Paying attention to a few routines and details in advance allows you more downtime with a good book and fewer hurried grocery store runs because you thought you had ketchup. Try these strategies and tips to make easing into and out of a visit to a second home a routine process. 

Be prepared

Designate a heavy canvas tote bag to be your “travel bag”.

Everything that needs to go to the second house on the next trip goes in this bag. You can make this bag more unique by having the name or address of your getaway location embroidered on it.

Everything that is intended for the other house is gathered in this bag. Place it in a prominent place so it won’t be forgotten. For example, if you use your back door to enter and exit your home, put the bag there so that you frequently see it.

In this bag, put items such as new batteries for the smoke alarms, more kitchen towels (if you’re short of towels at your second home), any books, games, etc. that you don’t want to forget to take with you, etc..

Load this bag into the car before you add your luggage and groceries so it’s not forgotten.

Stock the pantry and fridge

Finding a few quick dinners, snacks, and appetizers that you can quickly put together is the ideal method for stocking the fridge and pantry. Keep canned foods like salsas and black beans on hand, along with dried fruits and nuts, for quick solutions, and the pantry ingredients for these dishes. 

When you go shopping for your trip, be sure to pick up the perishables for these meals. Purchase a few extra loaves of bread so you have them on hand for quick lunches or to complete dinners. Bread keeps nicely in the freezer.

Keep a list

Divide your grocery store list into two columns; one for your second home, the other for your main home. Create a fresh one as needed. List the food essentials and fundamental cleaning supplies you need to restock.

To make the most of the foods you purchase, plan your meals, using the bottom of the list so that everything is in one place. Next to each meal, make a list of what you need to buy, especially if you plan to take advantage of any farmers markets near your second home.

Try different systems until you find something that works for you.

Do the laundry before leaving

It is much easier to do the laundry before you leave each house, preferably the morning you plan to return (or leave). Towels and sheets that have been used and are dirty should be piled in the laundry room by the family members and guests. 

Who wants to come home from vacation with a ton of dirty laundry to clean?

Do the towels first. Once your coffee is finished, start a load. The towels are a good place to start since they are simple to wash and dry, and when you start folding and putting them away, the house will start to look a little more organized.

Clean the bathroom and kitchen sinks and wipe down all the countertops while the towels are being washed. Load, then start the dishwasher. Leave any extra towels from the last shower hanging out to dry so you can deal with them the next time.


If it’s warm enough, leave the doors and windows open to let the breeze in. If you need to make any weather-related adjustments to the thermostat, check it. Bring all the bags from the car inside and place them right where they belong—in the rooms.

All the items you have gathered for this house should be unloaded from your “house bag” and placed in the appropriate rooms. If you didn’t clean it the last time you were there, clean out the refrigerator. As you unload the cooler, take the time to sort the food into the fridge by kind (fruit, deli meats and cheeses, fish, and chicken) so you can easily prepare meals later.

This offers you the opportunity to catch anything you might have overlooked. Add anything you missed to your list. Stock your pantry with the dry goods you brought and clean up any stray objects that were not put away when you packed and left the house the last time. 

Keep cleaning tools handy

Active lifestyles have an impact on kitchens and bathrooms. Storing a small broom and dustpan in a handy spot in the kitchen makes sweeping in the middle of the day or at night much quicker. 

To clean cabinet doors and countertops, keep a clean sponge in a holder by the sink. 

When you go in to the bathroom to check on the sink, faucet, and counters, the disposable cleaning wipes in the cabinet immediately make everything sparkling.

The departure

Clean linens should be folded and kept in the closets of the bedrooms. After you’ve put fresh sheets on the beds, make them up so they’ll be ready for next time. If new guests will be using them, simply wash them or exchange them for clean ones when you return.

Pack whatever clothing and toiletries you’ll need to take with you. Finish with the kitchen. When you arrive, exhausted, at your home base, leftovers are the perfect choice because they store nicely in glass jars and storage containers.  Fill up a cooler with your leftovers together with cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and meats. To deter bugs, store any food you leave behind in glass jars in the cupboards, refrigerator, or freezer.

Leaving for a longer term

If you plan to be gone for an extended time, make sure your home is secure. Long-term absences require careful planning. What degree should you leave the thermostat at? 

It is important to turn off the water and leave the temperature in the house at least 55 degrees during the winter. Ensure that all storm windows and doors are shut securely, and stow bicycles, canoes, and other outdoor equipment in a basement, garage, or shed.

When it gets below freezing, boats need to be winterized and covered. Make sure everything outside is secure since storms, even in the summer, can harm property from flying debris.

Guest instructions

Having a set of guidelines and house rules in place before allowing friends or family to use your vacation home prevents issues from arising. Keep a duplicate that has been laminated at home and send another one, together with instructions on how to get there and where to find the keys, before they come to visit.

Welcome them to your house, give them your cell phone numbers in case they have any questions or have an emergency, and then go through the fundamentals of the house systems in the instructions.

They should know about things such as:

  • ⬥ the location of the breaker box
  • ⬥ how to use the grills and appliances
  • ⬥ where to store the firewood for the firepit, and
  • ⬥ how to use the thermostat

Specify where the keys are to anything you lock such as vehicles, garage, dockhouse, etc. So they don’t have to do laundry on their last day of vacation, advise them to bring their own towels and bedding. 

Tell them where to take their trash or recycling and finally, mention local eateries, fishing locations, worthwhile walks, mini golf courses, and movie theaters.

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