1. The real expense comes after the down payment.
You’ve finally saved up enough money to put a down payment on your first house. You and your wife are tired of renting and you’ve pulled overtime, skipped eating out, and worn the same shoes until you’ve walked holes in them. You have no clue what movies premiered in the last year and can’t remember the last time you went out on a Friday night. Everything is finally paid for and you’ve just been given the keys to your new house. Time to break out the top shelf liquor, celebrate with friends, and enjoy a relaxing life of 40 hour work weeks, steak dinners, and nights out on the town, right? Hmm…well, let’s see.
Do you have a garden hose, a rake, a ladder, more than one door mat, a lawnmower? Does you apartment furniture fill up your house? Half your house? A third of your house? Do you hear echos your house is so empty? Love that bright red paint color in the office? Wonder why you didn’t notice how dirty the grout is in the bathroom? Figure out how you’re going to landscape your yard without a trailer to haul limbs and mulch? No? No steak for you.
Owning a house is completely different from renting, especially renting an apartment. You find out quickly that there are tons of little expenses that go into maintaining a house that you never thought of until you stare up at your vaulted ceilings and realize you don’the own a ladder and can’t reach the lights to change the bulb without one. While it’s really tempting to be a little more relaxed with your spending and slack off on saving, realize that for at least the first year you will constantly be buying essentials you need to keep up the maintenance on your house and that doesn’t even include trying to furnish the empty office or spare bedroom. Relax, enjoy your new home, get some new shoes, but keep the extras to a minimum for the time being.
2. It’s a lot of work.
Used to coming home on Friday, vacuuming, washing a load of laundry, then binging out on Netflix for the rest of the weekend? Well those days of blissful apartment life are over. You(probably) have a lot of extra space to clean and a yard to take care of. Enjoy getting to spend your weekends now cutting the grass, redoing the flower beds, raking leaves, and hauling off branches.Don’t forget pressure washing the siding, sweeping the porch, cleaning the windows, washing the baseboards, and…dusting!
Everyone puts a little of their personality into where they live, regardless of whether they rent or own. But all those things you didn’t worry about at your apartment because you were moving in a year, are now things you have to live with every day. Your new house feels like a huge reflection of who you are, and you’ll be surprised how much you’ll care about weeds in the flower bed or how dusty it gets between the wall and the fridge. Strap up, buckle down, scrub those tiles, and be proud of your new home. Just be prepared for all the extra work it’s going to take keeping things up.
3. You will drive to and from work every day. Forever.
Well, not every day, and not forever, but a lot. You’ve checked Google and your new house is an extra 15 minutes away from your work? No big deal. You can do that. It’s just 30 minutes a day..150 minutes a week….7800 minutes a year. That’s a little over 5 DAYS a year worth of extra driving, and Google isn’t always right! Maybe there’s a lot more traffic on your new route and it’s actually closer to an hour a day of extra driving. Math aside, the point here is you really need to take into account all the small ways your life will change based off where you move. Work is just one aspect. You might be lucky enough to live really close to work? Is it far away from family? Far from friends? Will you get to spend less time with those you care about because it makes it harder to visit? What about something as simple as which pizza places deliver? Before you make a final decision actually drive to the places you go to most. Check out the stores in your area. See what’s around you and what traffic is like at various times of the day. A crappy location can end up turning your dream home into an isolating, time draining, nightmare.
4. You have no clue how a furnace works.
Or an AC unit, or a dryer vent, or an ice maker. OK, so some of you may be regular handymen and have all the answers, but for most of us YouTube DIY is going to be showing up on your browser history quite a lot. One thing to really consider when you buy a house is its age. Now, this isn’t quite as straightforward as just when the house was built. A house built in 2003 should be much less work than a house built in 1993, right? Well….not necessarily. You need to consider the age of your appliances as well.
A furnace or AC unit has a lifespan between 15 to 20 years. A roof is somewhere around that time frame as well. A deck? Depends on how often it was stained among other things. So far on the house we just bought the dryer vent system had to be completely rebuilt, the AC and furnace both went out, and we are starting are GoFundMe account to hopefully replace the deck before it collapses. We have a fairly new house, but it’s old in terms of appliances. Because it’s fairly new, everything is original to the house. So all the major appliances will most likely have to be replaced in the next 5 years. We knew this going in so we have a home warranty and a savings account to help cover the major cost of these repairs. All the small things I try to repair myself. We love our house, and this is worth it to us and sometimes it’s even a fun learning experience. Just keep in mind your willingness and ability to make major repairs on a house before you make your final decision.
5. You can make it what you want it to be.
This has already been touched on briefly, but it’s important enough to say again. You want a quiet retreat where friends from out of town can come spend the night? Do you want to throw fancy cocktail parties? What about a barbecue in the back yard? Do you want to impress or feel cozy? A quick trip to entertainment, or a sanctuary away from it all? Buying the right house gives you the ability to put many different faces on your new living space. More important than anything else, find away place that fits your needs and will continue to be the home you look forward to coming back to every time you leave. Looking to work from home, buy a boat, remodel an old car, start your own baking business, or have a baby or two? Find a house within your budget that you can see helping you fulfill all of those needs then you’ll truly know you’re in the right place.