Hope you’re all keeping well despite the global COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve been staying at home a lot more than I usually would… which I am loving! I think I’ve always been a homebody. Growing up, I’d prefer to spend time in my room doing something creative rather than going out with friends. I’m not anti-social by any means, I just realised early on that I was completely comfortable spending time with myself; a true mark of independence.
I couldn’t wait to move out from under my parents’ roof. Once I finished university, I saved up a deposit and started the search for the perfect first home. I spent a good three months finding houses for sale and attending home opens.
And finally, after what felt like forever, I purchased my first home: a 2×1 villa within 10 kilometres of the city.
As a young millennial; this was the biggest purchase of my life! I was so proud of myself achieving this massive milestone and the fact that I had done it all on my own. Well, almost.
My decision was based on Google searches of ‘what to look for in a house’, my personal expertise on the property market and of course, advice from friends and family.
Fast forward 9 years later; I’m still living in the same villa, reflecting on that time in my life where all I cared about was independence and hitting traditional goals that I grew up believing was a sign of success.
Interestingly, the things which influenced my purchasing decisions haven’t really changed; they are still floating around on the internet and through the opinions of older generations (shoutout to Gen X and Baby Boomers!). There are a multitude of articles which explain what to look for structurally, financially and also account for future considerations. Granted, they are all very important factors which help with getting your foot in the door and to make sure you’re not buying a lemon. But they all tend to forget one thing – comfortability!
Let me explain. Chances are you will most likely be living in your first home. Whether it’s by yourself, or with a partner. You also need to make sure that there is room for your personality.
And your stuff.
And your lifestyle.
And anything else that forms part of your everyday life.
These are different for everyone.
So, with the above in mind, I’d like to share with you 10 things that I wish I’d considered when buying my first home.
1. Storage Space
This is the number 1 thing on my list. When you’re looking for a house, make sure you look at how much storage there is! When I first moved out, all I had with me was everything I’d accumulated in my bedroom, so it really wasn’t problem and I slowly filled out my house over time. All good… right?
But now, there are two people living in my house and the lack of storage depresses me, to the point I will cry about it from to time. I continue to throw heaps of things out, and there’s still not enough space. The appliances in my kitchen cabinets have to be wrangled out to be used and it’s literally like playing Tetris to put them back in place. I have things in an open carport because I don’t have a garden shed, and I have things that are in the outside courtyard that don’t fit in my laundry. There’s an electric scooter in my living room because there’s nowhere else to put it. My clothes stay in the wash basket when they’re washed because I have no wardrobe space.
And on top of it all… lack of storage space has caused so many fights that I’ve run back home because I couldn’t deal with it.
Don’t end up like this.
Make sure to:
- Check the kitchen cabinets and pantry to make such you can fit all your appliances, pots, pans, plates, cutlery and crockery properly. And if you need to clean up; you’re not spending lots of time rearranging your whole kitchen to make it fit.
- Have space for a bin. If your bin has to sit outside your kitchen – then there’s not enough space.
- Look at all the cupboard space outside the bedrooms and that they are a reasonable size. You might have boxes of memorabilia, items or equipment that can’t be stored anywhere else (eg: heaters, fans, tennis racquets, power boards).
- Check the bathroom/s and laundry for space for cosmetics, toiletries, ben linen and towels. The latter takes up SO much space, so be careful you don’t Kmart impulse buy if you don’t have the storage area. Also, if you can’t fit a vacuum cleaner mop or a steamer upright in your laundry, then it’s not very well equipped.
- Investigate wardrobe space. Is it big enough for you? For your clothing? Shoes? Shoeboxes? Belts? Hats? Look at whether or not it’s fitted out, or you’ll have to spend money to get it organised.
- Account for guests and the space they might need. Last thing you want to do is to hire a storage unit because there’s no space for someone to stay for a week (true story!). Guests might need space for their bag or luggage, and to put things on hangers if they need to. This point isn’t a dealbreaker, but it’s nice to have to make them feel more comfortable.
2. Microwave Recess/Shelf
Do you know how much counter space a microwave takes up?! More space than a chopping board that’s for sure. I have a friend who physically has to pull her microwave out from her kitchen cabinet and place on top of her counter and plug it in to use it because there’s no recess. If you lead a busy lifestyle and have a small kitchen, a microwave recess is a must. Mine is finally mounted onto the wall and it’s made a massive difference to the functionality of my kitchen. I swear less when preparing food (‘I f**king HATE this kitchen!’ was a daily affirmation), looks less cluttered and makes me feel mentally happier when I’m in there.
3. Garden plants
If there are gardens on your prospective home, take note of the plants that are growing. If you’re a green thumb and love gardening, the it’ll probably be no problem looking after them. But if you’re like me and have the ability to kill lucky bamboo, have a look at whether you’ll be able to maintain the garden. Nothing is as depressing as dead plants, so if you can, investigate what is growing in your garden. Take pictures if need be to properly identify them. Check if there’s a sprinkler system of some sort. Native plants and succulents are quite low maintenance, but if you see mint in your garden, run for the hills. That plant will take over everything and you’ll be battling it for a long time (I’m in my 4th year!).
4. Natural Lighting
Ok, this one might be mentioned on other blogs, but natural lighting will save you on electricity costs. It’s very strange having to turn on a light at 2pm in the afternoon, or all day when it’s overcast. Or every time you go into the bathroom. Taking photos becomes a problem, as well as studying, writing a blog post or reading a book. It also gives a warped perception of the time of day when it’s dark. So, make sure at the bare minimum that natural lighting touches the entertaining areas and bathroom. Nothing worse than wanting to take a selfie because you’re looking cute today, only to find that the lighting is shite.
5. Water pressure and quality
The last thing you want is to jump into the shower and find that water is trickling out. Water pressure can make for a more satisfying shower, so make sure you’re able to check it out, or even try before you buy. Otherwise, you’ll have to spend some money to get it working properly.
Another thing to be mindful of is the water quality. Unfortunately for me, I live in an area with older piping which leeches calcium into the water. It’s frustrating because it makes my hair slimy, and I spend way more on hair products because of the mineral build-up. And not just on my hair and body – it sits on the showerhead and taps in the house, so they need to be cleaned more frequently to reduce the calcium build-up. I mean, seriously? Who has time to clean that much? I sure as hell don’t! So, if you can, get the water tested and if you find there are minerals in the water, get a plan in place to tackle increasing the water quality.
If I had my time again, I’d focus more on these things, as they do contribute towards being comfortable and also maintaining a mentally positive mindset. A lot of them can be easily remedied by throwing money at them, but it’s not a fun surprise when you’ve just bought your first home. So, why not bring these things to the forefront in addition to all the other words of wisdom I’m sure you’ll get during your first home search.
Have you got any tips on what to look for when looking for a new home that isn’t mainstream?
I’d love to hear them! And let me know in the comments below if you’d like me to do a Part 2 :).