How to Choose the Right Home for You

Even though buying a home is no longer considered the most important part of the American Dream, it still remains a very important part of many people’s financial ambitions. I currently have a mortgage (although I’m not sure I will ever buy again), and I understand the appeal.

However, if you are going to make a commitment like a house purchase made with a mortgage, you need to make sure you get the right home for you. Here are some things to consider as you look for a house:

What’s Truly Affordable?

The first thing you need to do is figure out what you can truly afford. If this is your first home, it can make sense to check out Home Start or a similar organization that can help you find grants and other programs that can help you with a down payment. Many cities have neighborhood programs, as well as sweat equity programs that can make the home more affordable.

You also need to make sure that you will be able to comfortably handle payments. Do you have a stable source of income? What happens if you run into a problem with your finances? Would you still be able to handle payments? Don’t forget to consider how much other debt you might have, as well as realize that, if you aren’t careful, you could end up house poor. This means that you spend so much each month on your house payment that you don’t have time for other activities and purchases that you might enjoy.

Be realistic about what you can really afford, and only look at homes in your price range.

Consider Lifestyle Factors When Choosing a Home

Once you establish an affordable price range, it’s time to check into the different lifestyle factors associated with your home. Some of the things to consider include:

  • Neighborhood: What’s the neighborhood like? Do the people currently living there take care of their homes? Drive through the neighborhood to get a feel for things. You can usually get an idea of what to expect when you look through the neighborhood. Try to choose a home in a neighborhood that you think you’ll fit in with.
  • Amenities: Don’t forget about the local amenities. Do you value public transit? Do you want to be close to shopping and dining and entertainment? Or do you prefer to be a little further away from the hustle and bustle? Don’t forget to consider the commute and availability of jobs.
  • Schools: If you have kids, and you plan to send them to school, rather than homeschool, you need to consider the local schools. Many parents prefer to live in school districts with top-notch schools, or to have access to acceptable private or parochial schools.

Think about how your family will react to the home, and discuss the options with your family. It’s important to consider things like yard, in-home amenities, and whether or not you are capable of fixing up a “project” home. You want to choose a home that works for you and your family, and that reflects your lifestyle.

About the Author

Miranda writes about financial topics for several web sites. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds, and her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, is available on Amazon.