Homeownership has been a long-standing symbol of the American Dream. However, your very first home doesn’t have to be your dream home.
Growing up, I used to play the board game called LIFE with my sisters. It’s still available today. The main idea is that you get to spin a wheel and move across the board to land on different options regarding your college, career and salary. You can also learn who you marry, how many kids you have, and more.
When I got to the part of the game where I had to buy a house, I’d get really upset when I didn’t get the “Victorian Mansion,” my dream home. These days, though, I believe your first home doesn’t have to be your dream home. Here’s why.
Dream Homes Can Be Expensive
Dream homes can be expensive, whether you want to build your own or fund lots of extra additions. And, even if your lender tells you that you qualify for a large loan amount, that doesn’t mean you have to borrow it.
There are so many costs associated with becoming a homeowner, and you don’t want to become house poor. Generally, your monthly housing costs should not exceed more than 30% of your income.
People who are house poor often have so much of their disposable income tied up in their homes. This makes it difficult to meet other financial goals or simply have a life outside of your mortgage.
You’re Not Be Used to Owning a Home Yet
If you’re just buying your first house, you don’t have much experience being a homeowner yet (and that’s ok.)
My husband and I purposely bought a starter home so we could test out how we liked being homeowners. We knew it would be a big change to go from calling the maintenance department to fixing everything ourselves.
We have a larger front yard so it requires quite a bit of maintenance and care during the warmer months. I couldn’t imagine what we’d do if we had a bigger home with more land.
You Want to Do it For the Right Reasons
Some people rush to buy their dream homes early so they can impress others. That’s what shows like House Hunters are built on. In the show, some people have strict guidelines for their home regardless of their budget.
There’s nothing wrong with having specific preferences, likes, and dislikes. However, many first time home buyers make it their top priority to find a home that has a large guest room and impressive entertainment areas.
While it’s important for your guests to be comfortable, remember that the people you invite over will not be living with you full time. They won’t be paying your bills or helping you replace the furnace when it goes out or repair the roof.
Your home should first and foremost be a space that you like and can handle, even if it doesn’t have all the impressive features your friends and family might like. You don’t have to purchase your dream home first if you don’t feel ready. You should do what is financial right for you.
Buying Your Dream Home Early Could Delay Other Goals
If your dream home is currently outside of your budget, you can still become a homeowner if you buy a more affordable starter home.
We bought our first house last year, and it’s definitely not our dream home. It’s an older house with a few perks and benefits, but we don’t have a basement or an extra full bathroom like I wanted. The closet space is also a little too small, and we only have a one-car garage even though my husband and I each own a car.
Still, we bought it as a starter home because it will allow us to continue to live below our means. We can enjoy having more space along with the freedom to do things like customize the home and start a garden in the yard.
However, we can still put extra money toward debt and save for goals like retirement and travel. As our financial situation improves, we may think about getting our forever home, but we’re content now and still able to reach immediate financial goals.
Your Dream Home Can Change
Another reason why your first home shouldn’t be your dream home is because your dream home can change over time. I definitely am not interested in buying a huge home like the one I fantasized about having when I played the Game of LIFE as a kid.
My husband and I would much rather prefer a sizable, but manageable home. I don’t want to spend a ton of time cleaning and maintaining my home or paying someone else to do it.
Your vision of your dream home in your 30s can be different than what you wanted in your 20s. You may even want to relocate for a job or a new opportunity. If you plant your roots too soon, it could wind up becoming a costly mistake.
Ultimately, there’s no rush to buy the home of your dreams especially if it will cause your lifestyle and finances to decline. And, while your first house doesn’t have to be your dream home, it can still be a home you love and enjoy with your family.
Have you ever thought about what your forever home would look like?