Selecting a home is a very personal decision. It should be based on your needs and preferences, and those of the people who will be living with you.
Other People’s Opinions
When you start shopping for a house, everyone will have an opinion. That’s fine. It’s wonderful that your friends and family are interested and excited for you. Be polite and smile… then do as you please. You shouldn’t purchase a house based on what your mother thinks, what your best friend tells you is the latest thing, what other people expect, or what the latest home décor magazine recommends.
House as Status Symbol
Sure, many people consider their home a status symbol. In many cases, these people also work long hours to afford the house they are seldom home to enjoy.
Sometimes, they spend large sums to furnish rooms they never use, to redecorate every time the trends change, to groom a yard that no one enjoys, to outfit a huge chef-quality kitchen where no one ever cooks, and to insure, clean, and maintain a house they don’t love.
It’s jewelry, it’s not a home.
Your Home, Your Lifestyle
Ideally, your home is a tool for your life. It should improve your quality of living—set up to meet your needs and serve your lifestyle. It shouldn’t include more space than you require, or have fewer features than you really want. Nor should areas be “closed off” and only used for special occasions.
You want a home that will be used every day, in the ways you find most enjoyable. Don’t go for a “traditional” floor plan, if you don’t see yourself using certain types of rooms. For instance:
- You don’t need a formal dining room if don’t have a large family or host dinner parties.
- You don’t need a formal living room and a den, if you prefer a media room and a home office.
- If you’re a single person, you probably don’t need three bedrooms. But you may want to turn one into a game room, a home theatre, a craft room, an art studio, or a place to run your model trains! Make your space fit your personal passions.
- Have an extra bedroom, but no walk-in closet? Turn the smallest bedroom into a dressing room with all your clothes and accessories, special lighting, mirrors, and even a laundry center, if you like.
- You don’t need a guest room unless you have regular overnight guests. Instead, add a pull-out couch or a Murphy bed to your office, living room, or media room.
- Don’t buy a house with a huge kitchen if you always eat out. Kitchens are typically the most expensive room in a home, and you will be paying for space that’s never used.
- If you hate to mow, and don’t plan to hire the work done, don’t buy a house with a huge yard.
Buy a house with the spaces that matter most. For example:
- If you love to cook, choose a house with a great kitchen, or with the space to create a great kitchen, when you can afford to do so.
- If you love planting flowers or growing a garden, don’t settle for a house that has no yard, no matter how wonderful the price may be.
- If you need a big master bedroom, don’t accept a house with tiny bedrooms—unless they can be combined (without removing load-bearing walls) to form the sweet suite you want.
- If you prefer a smaller house because you are seldom home, or simply because you like smaller homes, don’t buy a big one because of what others might think, or because you think it’s expected. (Billionaire Warren Buffet still lives in the $31,500 house he bought in 1958—although he’s made some additions to suit his own style.)
- If you love being outside in the summer, be sure the home you choose has (or has room to build) the deck, swimming pool, cabana, screened-in porch, and/or gazebo you have always wanted.
- If you like an adorable one-bedroom cottage, buy it. Ignore what people say about resale value.
- On the flip side, if you like (and can afford) a 3,000-square foot, three-story Victorian, and you need or want the space to pursue your passions, don’t let people convince you that it’s too much house for a single person.
Your home should be as big or as small, as lavish or as simple, as you want it to be. The floorplan should fit your preferences. The finishes should be of your taste, not someone else’s. If you hate carpet, rip it out and go with tile or hardwood. If you need lots of natural light, don’t buy a dark home with tiny windows unless you plan to replace them with a wall of glass in the future.
If the house is close to work and the amenities you desire, to activities and social opportunities, great eateries and the people you love, it will be a better choice for you. If you are at work, out with friends, at restaurants, at the gym, and pursuing hobbies outside your home, you may not need a big (and more expensive) house, as much as you need a house in the right location.
Picking the right location for your lifestyle and work-style could save you money and improve your quality of life.
The house you select will be your home. It’s where you will go to retire, to rejuvenate, to re-energize. It will be your place of solace and serenity. Select it carefully so getting back home—from work, from visiting family, from a vacation, or just from a trip to the store—makes you smile and want to hug yourself.