Pattie Lovett-Reid: The unexpected costs of homeownership
Moving is stressful.
In fact, it often ranks as a top three life stressor behind the death of a spouse and divorce.
Yet for many, the dream of homeownership is a top priority. Experts will tell you one of the keys to success is getting prequalified so you know exactly what you can afford and, more importantly, what you can’t.
I would argue the keys to success are being both financially and emotionally prepared.
Homeownership isn’t for the faint of heart. There are so many considerations beyond the financial aspect — although the financial aspect is huge. Dealing with being house poor can kick your emotions into high gear.
The last of our four children, Jane, is moving into her first home this weekend. It is a big move taking her further away from the family – but not that far. We are talking only a 1.5-hour drive, but it is far enough she won’t be popping by for a coffee. And it’s a lot further than her previous home, which was just two blocks away.
The conversations around the move have been mostly positive, but at times overwhelming. This is a huge life transition. Many have experienced this, but you never fully appreciate it until you are the one going through it.
Once you have saved for the down payment and are prequalified, the numbers become the easy part. As the housing market show signs of moderating, those who might have thought home ownership was out of reach are now facing a market that’s a little more accessible. This is where the emotion comes into play.
Are we really ready to become a homeowner?
Here are a few steps you can take - beyond the financial - to help with the transition.
1. Plan, plan, and plan some more. Plan to have a positive attitude, plan on meeting new people, plan do some research on the new location, and plan to succeed.
2. If applicable, talk to your partner when you are overwhelmed. Cut yourself some slack and make plans to see family and friends. It isn’t goodbye, it’s when will we connect next?
3. Expect there will be new routines, new experiences, and a ton of new beginnings.
4. There will be costs you didn’t plan on: movers that have a mishap or cost more than you thought, furniture that once fit doesn’t any more, and incidentals you absolutely never thought of such as rakes, garbage cans, cleaning supplies, etc.
Moving is all about the three ‘Es’: exciting, expensive, and emotional. Understanding the numbers, planning for contingencies, and acknowledging it will be stressful are all important. But in my experience as a serial mover, playing to strengths and relying on your support system is what will get you through the transition.
Jane has boldly claimed the place will be 100 per cent completed, unpacked, and live-in ready by the end of the weekend. Now, that is stressful. But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.