Reader Question: We are thinking of buying a home and starting a family. We are in our early thirties with good jobs and in for the long haul. We are a bit “out of the box” with many interests and don’t want a cookie-cutter in suburbia. Do you have any ideas for us? Zach and Brittany G.
Monty’s Answer: Many people do not compare the pros and cons with different housing lifestyles. More often than not, they are driven by what they have experienced, housing wise, to this point in their lives. While parents, friends, and co-workers will have suggestions, today the bulk of the real estate selection is single-family homes. This is because single-family homes are the prevalent lifestyle in the country.
While the idea we have for you is not new, many first-time homebuyers look no further than a single-family home because they grew up in one. Sit down together and discuss what is most important to you as a family. What are you drawn to in life? At what do you excel? How do the two of you spend your free time now? What kinds of work schedules are you likely to have in the future? What are your goals together? Have you observed friends that have started families and the changes an infant or infants has on their lives?
You may have already completed a similar discussion yet this type of conversation can often be an ongoing dialog. Add a new variable to the mix. Ask yourselves, what type of housing will most likely fit our work, goals, and lifestyle? Here is a simple tool to use in your ongoing discussion. It is called a home “lifestyle consideration” chart. Let me know if you come up with a better name for it.
An example of a lifestyle consideration
Some people work long hours most days of the week while others work involves a number of days on and then a number of days off. Firefighters, emergency room personnel, and law enforcement officers are prime examples of the latter group. By combining a number of days off with a person who is handy and can fix anything could suggest a duplex or apartment building in their future.
By reviewing your options now, you may avoid wasting valuable time when someone introduces you to a lifestyle you like better down the line a month or two. Worse yet, you could discover after you have moved you bought a lifestyle with which you were not satisfied.
Check out the financial side
Home seekers will sometimes set up their goals based on buying a home in a certain neighborhood or price range. As an example, the neighborhood they like will require a two hundred fifty thousand dollars starter home. Their plan is to save more money over the next three to four years to make a good down payment to keep their housing costs around thirty percent of their income.
They never considering buying a home now in a moderate neighborhood with a low down payment that is about the same size and costs as the apartment they are living in today. It may be possible to set their sights lower now, and by so doing, they will get to their ultimate goal sooner.