Understanding your lifestyle when buying a home will help you feel more comfortable and confident in your eventual decision. What you are trying to figure out are your general preferences on how you usually spend your time, energy, and money. You should also take into account your likes and more importantly your dislikes. By doing this it will help you to select preferences as wide ranging as building type, ownership style, location, amenities, site influences around the home, and more.
Prioritizing what is more important to you is also an important aspect of this exercise. For example, you may enjoy the environment of a small town, but absolutely hate spending a lot of time in traffic. If you work downtown, these lifestyle preferences are contrasting and need to be prioritized. Similarly, if you think that the urban lifestyle is right for you but want a whisper quiet area to live in with lots of street parking for friends, then you would have to prioritize what impacts your day to day lifestyle more. You are simply acknowledging things in your life that you prefer over others, not judging them.
Here are 5 tips to help you understand you lifestyle preferences:
- It more important to say 'no' to things than it is to say 'yes'. Remember that you will be saying yes to only one dream home, which means you will have to say no to thousands of others that are on the market. Here is one technique to employ: If you are unsure, ask yourself "If I never had this in my life, how disappointed would I be?".
- Look forward to the future when considering lifestyle. You may be living a single lifestyle right now, but if you are engaged and plan on having kids in the near future, then it would be wise to look forward into the future a few years to see if your current and future lifestyle will be changing drastically.
- Take a week to find out your lifestyle. Document for 1 week what you do with your time - work, commute time, socializing, etc. - and then at the end of your week tally it up and see if you like that or would like to increase/decrease the time you spend on it.
- Don't underestimate your location - Many home buyers underestimate how moving to a different area of the city affects their lifestyle. A location change affects work commutes, schooling options for kids, social lives and sport and recreation activities.
- Being 'house poor' is a HUGE lifestyle changer. Many people consider the lifestyle benefits of the big house new house in the shiny new neighborhood more than they consider the negative effect on their lifestyle resulting from increased housing costs. Here's a great CBC article on the impact of being house poor.
Understanding your lifestyle when buying a home will help you to buy a home that fits your lifestyle, rather than you having to change your lifestyle to fit your home after it's too late!