6 Tips When House Hunting

I will be writing a series of posts about the process of moving over the next couple months. Whether you’re moving across the country or across the street, this guide should help decrease your stress level and increase your bank account!

Moving Part 1: House Hunting

Moving is expensive and can be very stressful without a plan. There’s the house, packing, how to get your stuff from point A to point B, and paying for it all. Since I am in the process of moving halfway across the country (for the second time), I learned from my previous mistakes and have been able to experience a stress-free move (so far)! One of the most important and possibly the most expensive part of your move is finding a new place to live. Below I outline some steps to take to make finding a home stress-free and actually fun!

1. Budget. Think about how much you can/are willing to spend on housing. The recommended amount to spend on a mortgage or rental is NO MORE than 25% (or a week’s worth) of your annual salary AFTER TAXES. The “after taxes” part is really important because it makes a HUGE difference in your ACTUAL income. See “Your Salary”.

2. Prioritize. Make a written list of what you’re looking for in a home, starting with your #1. If you’re a pros/cons person, write it down and take it with you when you go and look.

3. Research. Start looking 5-6 months ahead on websites like Zillow, Trulia, and various real estate websites to get an idea of what types of houses or rentals are in the area and their prices. Getting an idea of what you can afford in the area you’re looking will help cross things off your “wish list” or re-arrange your priority list.

4. Help. Get a Real Estate Agent! This really did make the entire house hunting experience so much easier. We are renting, so it’s a little harder to find an agent that is willing to work with someone for a rental, but when you find the perfect person, your life will start getting so much easier. I worked with THE BEST realtor possible!

5. Take A Tour. Plan a trip to view a variety of places, even if you think some may not be what you’re looking for. The townhome we ended up renting was one that I was about to cross of my list and then thought, “Why not? We’ll be there anyways”. It ended up being perfect in every way!

6. Narrow it down. Now that you’ve set your budget, make your priority list, know the neighborhoods, and see your prospective future homes you can start narrowing down your options. I would recommend crossing off overpriced options (rent/mortgage costs more than 25% of your take home income) from your list, but if you end up looking at them and choose one, make sure than you not only can AFFORD it, but happily live there without breaking your budget and feeling stressed all the time.

FLHouseFor me, the most important part of finding a home was price. I’ve made the mistake of living in an apartment that was WAY over what I could “afford” (I had money to pay my bills every month, but it was stressful and hard to get ahead). Make sure that the home you end up choosing allows you to have the life you want to live. Don’t try to Keep Up With The Jones’ and become “house poor” (aka broke).

Good Luck on your move!

For more information on starting a personal budget, check out our Getting Started tab at the top of the page.

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