While there seems to be no shortage of posts on how to buy a house (Google has over a billion results last time I checked!), there are only a relatively few on the more important process – how to find the right place for you.
How to Buy a House (That's Right For You)
If you're looking to simplifying your life (including finances), where you live can either be a tremendous help or hinderance. With so much on the line, doing some work upfront can pay off big time.
Looking for ideas on where to start? Here are the discussions we had and process we went through to find our next place.
Define Our Why
The decision to move began with understanding and defining exactly what we wanted and why.
When we bought our townhouse years ago it was pretty good fit for our lives. Now, however, it not working (you'll see the details below).
Before we even put the townhouse up for sale we talked extensively about what we wanted this time around.
Our listed included a place that:
- was more centrally located where we're spending most of our time already,
- suited our needs with two little ones,
- and was within our budget.
With that in mind, it made it easier to come up with a list of details to give to an agent later.
Once we pin-pointed where we wanted to live, we scoped out the neighborhoods around it.
It takes some planning for sure, but you'll come out ahead if you can keep your home base close to most of your activities.
My husband's commute would go down by third distance wise, saving us some gas money, which is nice. More importantly it will shave off time giving him more time to enjoy, recharge, and relax at home.
We need a more open layout for both our day-to-day activities (working from home with little ones) and for how we like to entertain.
When we bought the two house having three floors was a big plus. Each floor had its purpose and we could easy have one of us work in the office and not hear a peep from the living room. With our kids, though, that separation is no longer a benefit.
I'd like them to play in their room while I work, but I want to be able to dip in easily if need be.
When we were exploring homes, we were very conscious with the spaces to see if they were a good fit.
We realized that as long as a minimal square footage was met, there was quite a bit of leeway on size. There were 1800 sq ft houses that felt more cramped than the 1300 sqft we found.
Though not a necessary item, having a basement was on our nice to have list.
Depending on the house, it can be a versatile space. For us we saw some wonderful uses.
- Entertaining: We love have people over time to time so having a basement would give a nice sized space for gatherings.
- Work Space: Since I work from home, having a dedicated space would be wonderful as we can take advantage of some more tax deductions.
- Apartment Potential: Eventually we'd like to convert a basement into an apartment. The main reason is for family, but it would also be a nice way to earn some income.
The basement will take years to get to where we want things to be, but we're okay. We have some time to figure out how we're going to transform it into a space we can use.
Finally to keep things affordable, we based our home search on 25% of my husband's take home income.
It may seem really conservative, but we've found that this guideline has been a tremendous help for when things get tight.
Being self-employed my income varies (and adjusting with two littles at home has taken longer than planned). Basing it on one income gives us a little more peace of mind.
Thoughts on Buying a House
It's not a perfect system, but we're happy with the general process. Since you have a peek at how we did our search, I'd love to hear about your home search.
How did you find your current place? If you had to do it again, would you change anything?
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