When you’re purchasing a home, most of your budgeting is built around the costs directly associated with your purchase. You’re probably planning for your Earnest Money Deposit, home inspection, some repairs, your down payment, and closing costs. However, it’s also important to think through the way your budget will change once you’ve signed on the dotted line and bought your first home or upgraded to a new one. Here’s a list of expenses to take into consideration as you prepare for the months and years following closing.
One cost that you will incur around the same time as closing is the cost of moving. This can be impacted by a variety of factors, including the distance you’re moving, the amount of furniture and personal belongings you own, and any additional services you require, such as packing, unpacking, or temporary storage.
If you’re looking for ways to save money during your move, think in terms of time and logistics. Stack boxes near the door to save the movers time carrying them from different rooms. Label everything well, and consider color-coding boxes with stickers so that it’s easier for the movers to put each item in the correct room in your new home. Most of all, make sure you have everything ready to go when the movers arrive. You don’t want to pay for their time while you empty a cabinet or closet you forgot about.
Updates and Upgrades
You may have a variety of major or minor repairs and improvements to make to your new home before you can truly settle in. These may be based on the home inspection or on your personal preferences. In either case, you’ll probably save some time and frustration by having them all done at once before you move in, if possible.
If you know you want to upgrade your space, consider talking with a real estate professional about value-added upgrades that can help you increase your home’s equity as quickly as possible. Consider updates and upgrades to the kitchen and baths that will make them more functional now and when you resell. Enhance the curb appeal and outdoor space with exterior upgrades that pay dividends for years to come.
Cost of Living Increases
There are many ways a new home can result in a higher cost of living. Maybe you will have a longer commute, resulting in higher transportation costs. Maybe you’ll be shopping at a local gourmet market more often instead of at a big-box supermarket. Maybe you’ll be required or expected to join your new neighborhood’s country club. Maybe you’ll simply take advantage of dining and shopping options that were not available to you previously.
While you have control over many of the costs associated with your move, you should keep in mind why you are moving in the first place. There’s no point in moving to a fun in-town neighborhood if you can never afford to go out or a rural area if you will be stressed out every time gas prices go up. Try to balance your home buying budget with the realities of your new location.
Property Tax and Homeowners Insurance
If you’re moving to a more expensive area or upgrading to a significantly larger home, you will probably find that your property taxes increase as well. Along with this, your homeowners insurance may become more expensive. Since these are commonly prorated and paid along with your mortgage payment, you may find that they have a significant impact on your bottom line. While you can’t do much to control your property taxes, you can and should shop around for favorable rates on your homeowners policy.
If you’re moving to a neighborhood with a homeowners association, you will incur additional fees associated with your home purchase. These HOA fees (or condo fees, in the case of a condominium purchase) fund the upkeep of common areas and amenities, as well as the hiring and payment of staff. Plan to pay these mandatory fees on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, depending on the rules of your association.
Utilities can vary significantly depending on a variety of factors. Utility rates may simply be higher in your new market or city, or costs can increase for the following reasons:
- Moving from a smaller home to a larger home
- If you go from a more energy-efficient newer home to an older home
- Transitioning from an apartment or condominium to a single-family home
- Moving from a home with few special features to one with more, including upgraded appliances, multi-zone HVAC, pool, spa, or others
When you’re putting together your budget for updates and upgrades, you may want to consider whether you need to make some changes to improve the cost of operating your home each month. Contact your local power company and ask about a home energy assessment to see where you can improve, including adding insulation, replacing old doors and windows, or replacing outdated appliances and systems with new ones.
Outdoor Maintenance Costs
You may experience some sticker shock if you go from a condominium or apartment complex to a single-family home with a large lawn or extensive outdoor spaces. Aside from labor and equipment for regular lawn maintenance, you’ll need to think about other landscaping tasks and tree maintenance. You’ll also need to maintain the roof, clean the gutters, maintain exterior trim and siding, and keep up with your hardscaping, deck, and stonework.
Consider whether you’ll do the work yourself or hire a professional service provider. If your commute has gotten longer, you may not have time or energy to spend in the yard when you get home in the evening. While you may love caring for the plants on your condo’s balcony, you may not love having to cut the grass every week for several months out of the year.
If you want to get a good idea of the way your home purchase will impact your overall household budget, contact your real estate professional who can help you do the research and find the numbers you need so that you can make a more informed decision and plan ahead financially.