Whether you’re looking for an apartment, a condo, a full-size home, or just a starter house, everyone has goals for all aspects of their home. After all, our house is where we spend a considerable portion of our lives, and we all want them to be comfortable, safe, and functional! Regardless of the type or size of house you’re looking for; your house-hunting criteria will likely fall into several popular categories.
The information in this guide applies whether you’re looking to buy your first home, rent an apartment or condominium, or move to a house big enough for an entire family. In order to fulfill as many goals for your new home as possible, it’s essential to keep several parameters in mind, such as location, price, size, and important amenities.
In this guide, we’ll go over the most important goals for your house, regardless of whether you’ve lived there for days or years. We’ll divide the following concepts into two categories: those that apply to new homes, and those that work better for old homes.
Buying a New Home
Buying a new home is very exciting, especially if it happens to be your first! Purchasing a home or renting another residence is a big step, however, and you should have goals and guidelines in place before you make any such commitment.
In this section, we’ve gathered several of the goals you want to keep in mind when you’re looking at a new residence. The “big three” that you should plan out right away after deciding to get a new residence are price, size, and location, but there are a few more things to consider, too, like the age of the home, the distance from work, and other amenities. We’ll go over all of those and more in this section.
Your financial investment should be the very first limit you set when you’re looking to find a new residence. Whether you’re renting, renting-to-own, purchasing with a mortgage, or buying with cash, you should always take several key points into account when forming your house budget:
- How much can you afford?
- How much can you pay for the house each month?
- What loans do you qualify for?
- Will your credit prohibit you from renting or getting a loan?
- Can you afford to renovate?
The above bullets aren’t all the things you should consider, of course, but they’re a great place to start. Your house budget will knock the most contenders off your list, after all. When you have a robust and logical budget in place, it’s much easier to remove the homes that aren’t financially good choices for you.
Your credit plays a big part in your financial availability, too. If you have a good credit score, you may be able to qualify for a better home loan that lets you raise your budget a bit. However, if your credit is bad, the opposite might be true, or you might not qualify for a loan at all. If this is the case, you may need to look into alternative methods of paying for your home, such as paying with cash or finding a forgiving lender.
In the worst cases, you may need to look to improve your credit score before you can even consider purchasing or renting a home. However, if you’re willing to get creative – renting a room from a forgiving landlord or from a relative, for example – you can still fulfill your house goals. Just remember to set attainable goals; if your credit is preventing you from taking out a loan, for example, that goal may have to wait or be removed altogether.
If you don’t currently qualify for the house you want, or if your goals can’t be made a reality, all is not lost. You have two real options: you can revise those goals, or change your situation so that they become possible. While your financial situation isn’t often one that changes quickly, there are things that you can do to make yourself more financially available. Consider some of the following options:
- Save up to make a larger down payment
- Work towards a pay raise or promotion
- Liquidate some possessions or assets
- Pay off other debts
- Increase your working hours
It’s not impossible to make your house goals a reality from a financial standpoint, even though financial changes can be difficult to make. It’s all about having the determination to make your goals a reality, as well as having the willingness to revise your goals when they’re too far out of reach.
The next contributing factor to what you’re looking for in your new home is its size. In most cases, the size of your house will be the main factor in its price. Square footage plays a role, but the simplest way to evaluate this is to look at how many bedrooms the residence has. If the apartment or home has three bedrooms, for example, it will usually be more expensive than one that has two bedrooms.
However, bedrooms aren’t all you’ll need to think about, and neither is square footage. You might be looking for a starter home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, but one that has several hundred more square feet than the other will have significantly larger rooms. These larger rooms can change the entire feel of the house, and you might find yourself with a preference for one size or another.
There are even more things to think about, too, besides the above. You’ll need to ask yourself questions like:
- How many bedrooms do I want?
- How big do I want my kitchen to be?
- How much furniture do I want to be able to fit into my bedrooms?
- Do I want walk-in closets, or are smaller closets okay? How many do I need?
- Do I want a finished basement? Is an unfinished basement or no basement at all okay?
- Do I need attic space for storage?
- How much yard space do I want?
It’s better to ask yourself many questions like the above before you move forward with buying your new residence, especially if you’re considering different types, like apartments, condos, or houses. Different sizes and different types will have advantages as well as disadvantages, and you’ll want to take all of these into account before tying yourself to a new home.
If you find yourself with too much or too little space after you’ve made a deal, after all, it’s hard to fix the situation. Deciding how much house you need should be one of the first tasks you handle after deciding to purchase a home.
Once you’ve narrowed down price and size, location will be the last thing you need to decide before the true finalists in your home search will start to show through. Location can throw a huge wild card into your house-hunting quest, as the location of a home greatly affects its price, its desirability, and the nature of your neighborhood.
For example, a smaller house in a not-so-desirable city with a tiny yard might seem dirt-cheap when you first find it, and in truth, a home like this might be a good option financially for some people. However, the same house in a quiet suburb with a larger yard might cost tens of thousands of dollars more. It might even reach twice as much as the other house, depending on the neighborhood, the age of the house, and its distance to amenities.
There’s a sweet spot when it comes to home locations. Homes in very rural areas will often be very cheap because they’re far from cities and other conveniences. However, homes in the heart of many cities will be inexpensive, as well, with some exceptions (think large, populous cities like New York and Los Angeles), even though they’re close to the action.
This is because homes in the city are sometimes in the center of high-crime areas. If a house looks too good to be true in terms of price, make sure you do some research into the neighborhood it’s located in, because even very nice, renovated houses can go for very cheap if they’re in a bad part of town.
That being said, any house in a desirable area will, of course, go up in price. These desirable areas usually include places like:
- Low-crime areas in or close to the city
- Commutable suburbs on the outskirts of the city
- Up-and-coming areas that are seeing new interest in housing and development
- Homes with large parcels of land that aren’t far enough to be considered “rural”
Any house that matches the criteria above will be much more expensive than similar homes that you’re looking at. However, if you’re looking to avoid paying a premium for a house like those we listed above, there are some ways to do that. We’ll cover some of them in the sections below.
The age of a home directly impacts its price. If you’re willing to compromise a bit on the modernity of a home, you may be able to snag a home in an ideal location for a much better price. However, you must be willing to renovate for this idea to work.
With home prices at an all-time high, renovating has become a popular option for home buyers in recent years. However, renovating a home requires dedication, work, and some financial flexibility. It’s not an option for everyone; for some people, it can allow them to get the house of their dreams for the right price, but for others, it can put a house out of the equation entirely if it needs renovations.
Consider an older couple looking to downsize for retirement, for example. While they may have enough money saved up to afford the renovations that the house requires, they might not want to bother themselves with them. After all, the motivating factor for most who decide to buy a fixer-upper is price. If you can afford a move-in ready house, a fixer-upper might seem like excessive work in comparison.
However, a house that needs renovations also offers the opportunity for you to decorate it however you’d like. While a move-in ready house might not require any work, there might be some finishes you want to change anyway, like wall colors, layout, or flooring. A fixer allows you to make these changes without paying a premium for the house itself.
Instead of an older couple with money saved up, imagine a young couple buying their first property. They have the time and energy available to put “sweat equity” into their dream home, but they may not have the funds available right away. A fixer-upper allows them to purchase a home in their ideal neighborhood while staying within a comfortable financial range.
However, the age of a home can present some problems, too. When a house is old but hasn’t been renovated, there may be more that needs work than just surface fixes, and not all of these things should be attempted by the average joe. Rewiring a house, for example, should only be attempted by an experienced professional. Many old homes have outdated wiring or plumbing that need to be handled by a professional.
The design of a home can play a role in the decision that you make, too. Some people have a goal to use a certain design theme in their house, and if a house doesn’t match up to that design, those buyers might pass it over. This is another point in favor of a fixer-upper, although it’s relatively easy to update the design of a move-in ready house, too.
If you are looking for a house with a specific design, it might be smart to look for a house that already uses that design, although this strategy can limit your options quite a bit. If you have decided on a certain design, it’s often better to buy a house that’s more of a “blank slate” and update it accordingly instead. It doesn’t have to be a renovation monster, either; a house that’s slightly outdated but still in working order is an ideal candidate.
If you’re looking for ideas, some of the most popular home design themes of today include:
- French country
- Mid-century modern
Updating your Existing Home
If you’ve already bought a house or you’re looking to set some house goals for the place you’ve lived in for years, we’ll cover those topics in this section! Goals for a house you’ve lived in for a while or are just moving into are very different than the goals you might have for a brand-new house. A brand-new home, for example, will usually be very clean, while you might have spring cleaning goals for a house that you’ve lived in for a while.
When you own or rent your own residence, it’s your responsibility to keep the décor of the house up-to-date. Whether you’re a fan of one specific style or like to change it up every so often, keeping your house stylish to your own standards is an admirable and very achievable goal, thanks to the numerous popular design trends today. We already went over some of these in the Design section above.
Redecorating your house is an excellent thing to do when you need a bit of a refresher or when your love for your residence has waned. If you’re feeling a bit stir-crazy or bored with the familiar, but it’s still not quite the right time for you to move somewhere else, redecorating is an excellent alternative that can help rekindle your love for your current residence.
Redecorating is simple because it typically only extends to the visible aspects of your home. While taking down walls or changing architecture can certainly change the design of a house, that’s a bit out of the scope of most homeowners, so we’ll be focusing on only face-level décor changes here.
If you’re looking to give your home a facelift, consider changing the following:
- Paint color
- Room accents (baseboard and crown molding, doors, windows, lights, etc.)
- Furniture and window treatments
- Cabinets and sinks
The easiest way to change the décor in a home is to simply swap out your furniture with things that fit a different design. However, it’s not difficult to repaint parts of a home to make it suit another style better, either. It just comes down to what your goals are for refreshing the look of your home, as well as how much work (and money) you’re willing to invest in it.
Safety and Technology
In our digital age, the safety of the home is increasingly transferring to smart devices and other emerging technologies. While a keyed doorknob and deadbolt are more or less sufficient, more and more homeowners are turning to digital security systems, smart locks and cameras, and other smart home solutions to bring their homes into the 21st century.
Your home doesn’t need to be filled with smart devices to be safe. On the contrary, as technology evolves, we are constantly finding security lapses, breaches, or overlooked loopholes that are exploitable by malicious parties. However, a normal house is just as exploitable with a lockpick or a sledgehammer.
In any area where crime is even a small possibility, it’s good to have a security system that will protect your possessions and your family from theft or other danger. With today’s technology, it’s not necessary to wire an entire security system into your home anymore; some systems work via cellular technology and are entirely wireless, making security very easy and accessible.
If your goals involve creating a truly technologically-optimized home, however, you might consider some upgrades like:
- A smart thermostat that can intelligently set the temperature in your home to save you money
- A smart electrical meter that can help you optimize your electricity consumption and reduce your monthly costs
- A voice assistant for your home to control all of your compatible smart devices
- A video doorbell for your front door
- A smart deadbolt that you can unlock with your smartphone
Many of us long to make our homes more technology-friendly and easy to use, but technology can be expensive and confusing at the best of times. Thankfully, as smart home technology is becoming more common, it’s also becoming more affordable and user-friendly. Just about any homeowner should be able to find a smart device that would make their home life easier.
Cleaning and Storage
Keeping our homes clean is something that takes up a great deal of our time at home. As such, finding new solutions to keep our homes clean is a decently high priority. Spring cleaning and other seasonal cleanings are excellent, but there is, even more, you can do to keep your dwelling tidy and organized. After all, it’s keeping things clean that’s the problem, not getting them clean!
Storage solutions are excellent for keeping your house consistently organized and clean. Think things like closet organizers for clothes and shoes, well-marked attic space for storing holiday decorations and old mementos, and a whiteboard for keeping an organized chores list.
Having chores that consistently get done to keep the house clean is a huge part of it, so if you have children, relatives, or a significant other who can help keep things tidy, make sure you bring them into the loop, too.
In order to keep your house consistently clean and tidy, you’ll need to get into the habit of cleaning it every day. To make this happen, make a habit of things like:
- Making the bed every morning
- Doing a load of laundry every morning, from washing to putting away
- Ditching perfectionism – “clean enough” is ok
- Prioritize important tasks
- Set aside time every night to clean up and put things away
- Declutter your rooms
- Never leave a room empty handed
No matter what incredible organizational systems you have in place, short of hiring a maid, your house will not keep itself clean on its own. If your goal really is to keep it looking nice, you will have to be content with cleaning a little bit every day. If you can’t do that, hiring a maid or housekeeper is an option, if you can afford it!
Save Some Money
All of us would benefit by saving some money on frivolous expenditures. As such, saving some money around the house should be on everyone’s goal list this year. Sometimes, though, the way to go about doing this isn’t so clear. Fortunately, there are many ways to save money on or in your house. Your home is an investment, after all!
We mentioned investing in smart devices already, and these devices, especially cost-focused ones like a smart meter to track your electrical consumption, are an excellent way to start bringing your costs down. Keep in mind, though, that many smart devices come with an initial investment cost that may put some homeowners off at first. These devices will often pay for themselves eventually, though.
Not all energy-saving devices will be appropriate for all homeowners. This is because different devices take differing amounts of time to pay for themselves and start saving you money. Solar panels, for example, take about seven or eight years to pay for themselves in energy savings under ideal conditions. If you don’t plan to stay at your current residence for that long, there’s no reason to invest in the technology unless you know you can take it with you.
Besides solar panels, other money-saving technologies that you can look into, along with an approximation of how long they take to pay for themselves, are:
- Geothermal power (3-7 years)
- LED light bulbs (1.5 years)
- Smart or programmable thermostats (about 2 years)
- High-efficiency appliances (varies by device)
- Low-flow water fixtures (toilet: about 3 years)
- Ceiling fans (within 1 year)
As you can see, there are many different things you can do to save some energy (and some money along the way), and not all of them have to be a significant investment. Replacing your showerhead and sink fixtures doesn’t need to be expensive, but it can save you money every month by reducing your water consumption. Even something as simple as buying a different kind of light bulb can put a surprising amount of money back in your pocket!
There are many different house goals out there, and each person, whether they already own a home or are looking for a new one somewhere, will have different ideas of what they want to achieve. Thankfully, having a well-rounded list of home goals will help homeowners and renters alike choose the things that are most important to them about their residence.
Even if you have some kind of off-the-wall house goal, like making your home a paradise for cats, for example, if you follow the ideas in this guide and work toward that goal, you will eventually be able to reach what you want! Your home is your dwelling and your place, so use your goals to make it exactly what you want it to be.