Last Saturday marked exactly one year that I’ve owned my own home. Living on my own has given me the freedom and space I didn’t have while living with my parents. It’s given me something to call my own, and something to be proud of. It’s also given me headaches, stress, and a thinner wallet.
Leave room in your budget
Budgeting played a big role in shopping for my first home. I expected the expenses like utilities and groceries would vary month to month, but was pretty sure my mortgage payment would always stay the same. I was surprised after 6 months to receive a letter from my mortgage company notifying me my mortgage payment would be going up. Not only is my mortgage paid from my escrow account but also my taxes and insurance. Something I never thought about was if property taxes or homeowners insurance went up, so did my mortgage payment! Needless to say, I had to rearrange my budget a bit.
I knew it was important put money aside in case anything went wrong with the house, but wasn’t sure how much to expect. Admittedly, I was probably a bit naive about the cost of repairs that would unexpectedly pop up. After the first year of living in my home, I’ve dealt with a flooded basement, a leaky roof, and countless other small issues. I learned quickly that the $150 dollars I was putting into an emergency fund month by month would cover a plumber to work in the basement for about an hour and a half… another revision to the budget.
Estimate the time of your project, then double it
Being handy and doing things yourself can save you tons of money. Now I may be overly ambitious, or just flat out bad at estimating the timespan of a project, but it seems every project I take on ends up taking longer than expected. Something small like replacing a dented piece of drywall seems like it should only take a few hours. Three days later, after 2 extra trips to Home Depot and getting drywall mud on my favorite tshirt, I’m making dinner and staring at this project that’s still unfinished. This leads to something else I’ve learned over the past year.
Your everyday chores/tasks take up a lot of time
Before I bought my own home I lived with my parents. Mom or Dad always made dinner and did the grocery shopping. I helped around the house, doing simple chores like taking out the trash and mowing the lawn, which weren’t very time consuming on their own. Something I learned very quickly after owning my own house was everyday tasks take up a large chunk of time. Getting home from work at 5:30, going grocery shopping, cooking dinner, cleaning up, and cutting the grass will use up most the spare time in the evening, with no time to finish the stupid drywall project I started a week ago.
Owning a home is gratifying
Although it’s expensive, and sometimes stressful, owning your own home is extremely satisfying. Being able to have friends and family over to show off the projects you’ve completed is great, and gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment that’s incomparable. Homeownership has definitely had its ups and downs, but so far has been an awesome experience. I’m looking forward to the years to come, and all the knowledge that will come along with them.