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Searching for a New Home on a Budget

Moving is an exciting event in anyone’s life, but with it come many stressful factors, the most obvious of which being cost. Home and apartment prices are through the roof right now, and sometimes you do not have the luxury of waiting for the housing market to shift in your favor to make a move. You may need to relocate for a new job, family reasons, or perhaps you have been priced out of the location you are currently in due to recent increases in rent. Whatever the case may be, it is understandable that sometimes moving cannot wait for ideal market conditions. With that in mind, if you are looking to move from your current place of residence to a new one, but are not sure if you can afford to, here are four helpful tips for finding a new home or apartment within your price range. 

  1. Figure out exactly how much you can afford – The best way to go about making any major purchase is to first evaluate your financial situation. Sit down (with a financial planner if necessary) and go through all your current expenses in comparison to your income. If you come up short on cash, look for areas where you can cut back on spending. We all need our morning coffee, but if you are spending $200 each month on Starbucks, that could be an area where you may want to cut back. Another way to prevent yourself from bleeding excess money is to go through your monthly subscriptions and see if there are any you no longer need. Cancelling unnecessary subscriptions is a terrific way to save yourself money that you might not normally even think about. Once you have your finances sorted out, you can then figure out how much you can afford to spend on a down payment plus your monthly rent/mortgage cost. 
  1. Expand your search radius – Once you have figured out how much house or apartment you can afford, it is time to start searching. Unless you are confined to an extremely specific location that you have no room to deviate from, try expanding your search radius to accommodate as many options as possible. If you need to move close enough to a major city to commute to work, the cost of living in the city itself may be out of your price range, but the cost of owning or renting may be sufficiently cheaper just one town over. Cities are often expensive places to live, but a more rural town within a reasonable driving distance of wherever you need to commute to, say for work, could be enough of a difference in pricing that you can afford a respectable living situation within your budget.  
  1. Consider a roommate – Nobody really wants to have to share their living space with a roommate, but the financial relief that an extra party can provide could be the difference between affording a place to live and having no viable options at all. There are plenty of ways to find a roommate these days. You can ask a friend who lives in the area, a friend who is potentially willing to relocate with you, you can turn to social media, and there are even websites dedicated to the sole purpose of pairing up people who are looking for a roommate. If you do decide to find a roommate, make sure you choose carefully and vet the person properly before allowing another individual access to your living space. 
  1. Avoid HOAs if possible – While some people enjoy living in a development that has an HOA to make sure everything is taken care of, the added fees of living in an area with an HOA can certainly add up. If you are on a tight budget, you may want to forgo the promise of all your neighbors having perfectly manicured lawns in exchange for not having to pay extra beyond what your monthly mortage costs are. Keep in mind that if you do move somewhere that does not have an HOA, you will be responsible for upkeep such as waste disposal, snow removal, lawn maintenance, etc., so weight the cost of taking care of those things yourself versus the cost of paying a monthly HOA fee.