If home ownership is something you've dreamed about for years, it's worth thinking about the lifestyle changes it will require before you take the plunge. Home ownership means you take on the role of landlord, and fixing problems takes time as well as money. So you'll want to consider how much time owning a house will take and whether you're willing to adjust your lifestyle accordingly.
Your home is your retreat from the world, or at least it should be. That means you don't want to sign up for more work that you have time to handle comfortably as there's much more to life than working … at work and at home.
You also want to consider what's going to work for you now, and in the future when you marry or have kids. There's no guarantee you won't change your mind but if you're planning to have kids in a few years, why not buy a house today that has the best schools, a park or playground nearby and a yard for kids to run around outdoors.
Hobbies are Part of Your Home Ownership Decision
Do you love to work on crafts? Are you an aspiring writer? Do you enjoy participating in workshops with other students, learning a new skill or hobby? (Read: Time for Women's Hobbies at Home and Elsewhere)
Hobbies help make life richer. They’re what we do when we aren’t stuck at a desk or on a job site. If your hobbies need lots of space and quiet time, being a homeowner in a bustling downtown area might not be good for your creativity.
Some hobbies require space and a little solitude. Woodworking, for example, requires a shop and noisy tools. Living in a condo might not be a good choice, but a house with a garage or shop in a rural area might be perfect. If you're a musician, the right location might be one where practicing doesn't annoy the neighbors.
On the other hand, some hobbies are better off when shared. If you love taking classes and working with other people, you’ll want a home that gives you easy access to classes, supplies and meeting up with others.
Downtime is Another Home Ownership Consideration
Do you enjoy going to the movies and dining out? A rural area might be peaceful, but if you like going out several nights a week, you’ll want to think about how much time you're willing to drive to find a good restaurant or participate in cultural activities.
If being alone by a fire in the backyard is more your speed, country life might be a better choice. Fresh air, birds chirping, a large garden and a peaceful deck or front porch for reading is precious to some homeowners.
If you love to shop, remember that living away from the city often means a long drive to something more than the average department store. Grocery shopping can be difficult away from busy areas, too. If you love to cook, a busier location could give you better access to special ingredients.
Most Homes Require Some Yard Work
If you own a single-family home, yard work will be part of the deal. Even homes in the southwest, those with more rocks and succulents than grass, need regular care.
Gardening can be a soothing and almost joyful activity, at least for some homeowners. For others, the idea of trying to make a flower bloom feels a lot like getting a root canal. My best friend Nance has gardening is her blood. She loves her 2 acres with great soil, plenty of sunshine and an established garden routine. It's one of the reasons she hasn't moved away from her four bedroom house, even though the kids have been done for more than 10 years. They're finally buying a snow bird condo in Florida, because her husband found one that opens out onto the community garden.
If working in the yard isn’t something you like, you can always hire it out. But if you’d rather not have a lawn at all, maybe owning a condo is a better idea. That way, someone else will take care of the grounds so you can enjoy them without the stress of planting, weeding, watering and more.
Real Estate is About Location!
The old real estate mantra is “Location, location, location!” But the right location for you isn’t the same as for someone else. Think about how you spend your time. And consider your hobbies, and how you want to approach each day of your life as a homeowner.
Home ownership is a big decision. Your home is your retreat, and nobody can decide what makes you happy except you. When you buy the right house (consider factors that affect homeowner finances), in the right location, you'll reap the rewards of home ownership.
Are you in the market for a new home, or your first home? We’d love to hear your stories about what you’re looking for, and why!