What size home is right for you?

In a crazy real estate market, first-time home buyers are always wondering if their choices regarding their home purchase are the right ones. Among the many choices that a buyer needs to evaluate – including the nitty-gritty details of their financial suitability and type of mortgage – is choosing the right size of home for your needs, and how quickly you anticipate those needs changing in the days ahead.

Are you single and unencumbered? Married without any kids? Do you plan to stay that way? When you’re looking to buy a home, you may not want to stay there forever, but you do want to be able to withstand any life changes that may take place in the next few years without feeling like you have to move. If a family expansion is on the horizon, maybe the 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom bungalow isn’t the best idea. The last thing you want is for your 1,500 square-foot home to feel like a sardine can two years into owning it! If you’re combining households with an elderly parent and are thinking about caring for them longer-term, make sure that you buy a big enough home that everyone is comfortable under the same roof. Your first home doesn’t have to be your forever home, but if it doesn’t accommodate your future plans for the size of your family, then moving will be inevitable, regardless of whether or not you love it.

Conversely, don’t feel pressure to buy the biggest home that you can afford. Bigger homes are not only more expensive when it comes to the purchase price, but also in terms of maintenance, and the easiest way to combat yearly expenses is to own a smaller house. A smaller home means less money spent in overall energy costs, and often a decrease in property taxes. Will you hate cleaning your three bathrooms each week or dusting the guest room that’s never used? Will you dread spending two hours on your riding lawn mower every week? Bigger isn’t always better if you’re not enjoying your home anymore, not to mention that the smaller mortgage you have, the less interest you’ll pay over time.

Also important to take into account is the size of certain areas of your home relative to your lifestyle. If you’re an avid gardener, you probably won’t be happy with a small yard that gets minimal sunlight. If you like to entertain friends and family and do it often, you’ll probably be most comfortable in a space with a dedicated dining area, or at least one large enough to accommodate a large table. If you have plans to buy an RV, then you might not need much square footage in your home itself but instead want to look for a larger lot or driveway to park your RV. If you’re a minimalist, then it probably isn’t a great idea to buy a large home that needs to be filled with stuff. These are all things that may seem insignificant when buying your first home, but will affect you on a daily basis if you neglect to factor them into your decision.

A home is more than a place to rest your head, and your home should be part of your life, not an obstacle to it. Make sure you’re in the right-sized home for the life you live, and for the life you want to live in the years to come!

- Justin