Suddenly Shopping

Well, we got some interesting news in our local paper. Seems some bureaucrat has approved a new highway, and the wholesale development of the community right on the border of our quaint little town. We could soon be living on the edge of an endless suburb. Now, if we'd have wanted to live in a big bedroom community, we'd have bought there! We bought in a little village because we like the smaller environment of a little town, and we like the ambiance. Frankly, we really like walking to the Saturday morning farmer's market and buying our produce fresh from the land which surrounds our town.

On top of everything else, we just found out my wife is pregnant with Baby #2. So, this house-hunting business is REALLY not what we thought we'd be doing as we looked forward to enlarging our family!.

So, quite by surprise, we've found ourselves doing more than just tire-kicking at those weekend open houses; we're actually thinking about where we want to live. We're seriously checking out places that we notice in the paper. It's a big decision. The factors are many; and our budget is limited!

When you are thinking about changing residences, it would be nice to have a "checklist", wouldn't it? Something that helps you think through all your options while you are trying to compare apples to oranges. Because, let's face it; every house is a bit unique and has pluses and minuses.

We've been coming up with our own checklist. Maybe it will help you in thinking about yours.

1. Is it within a reasonable commuting distance to my wife's workplace? (We refuse to buy the house of our dreams and then have my beloved on the road for hours and hours a day. This is not quality of life; it's quantity of commute.)

2. If it's not exactly as we'd like now (but close) can we afford to live in it, as is, for at least 3 years? (Moving in and immediately having to renovate may be fun for some, but it's not high on our list with a 4 year old in tow, and baby #2 on the way.)

3. Can we ensure our mortgage won't increase by more than $10,000 to $20,000? (While not everyone's consideration, we are reluctant to increase our debt load. Again, Baby #2 is on the way. So, unless we can make it work with our current level of savings in deposits and the stock market, we are not going!)

4. Then there's our "laundry list" of features. Air conditioning? Gas heat? At least 4 bedrooms? Big structural items in good repair? (This includes roof, windows, basement, and items that would be checked by a home inspector). Renovations to make the house "ours" would be no more than paint and surface changes? A main floor laundry would be preferred. (Babies make lots of laundry!)

5. No one likes to think about this, but you have to be able to handle the associated bills for your lovely new home. Are the taxes manageable? (If the home is in the same municipality as you are, you can likely estimate taxes, if you are on a "market value" system. If not, you could be surprised after you've purchased the home!) What were last year's electricity bills? Heating bills? You have to be able to pay the mortgage, and pay your utilities.

This is absolutely not an exhaustive list. It's our basic list, and sometimes we realize we've missed somethign important for our buying at that particular time (we've bought twice now) and we've had to add items. But it should give you something to think about, if you too have suddenly found yourself shopping for a home.


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