Starter Home vs. a Forever Home

When you’re out house-hunting for the first time, you might be swooning over that four-bedroom Colonial-style home that you’re ready to call home forever. Let’s take a step back, though: Sure, it’s tempting to buy the home right then and there when you think about all of its beautiful features and the chance to put down some permanent roots, but your lifestyle (and bank account) may beg to differ. 

It’s easy to fall in love with a property that’s outside of our purchasing power or comfort zone, but it’s important to set that aside and ask yourself, “Can I afford a forever home?” Take an objective look at your situation and lifestyle and consider the financial strain a purchase like this could put on you. 

Are you willing to give up your vacations, traveling, or weekend brunches with friends? If you have kids, are you prepared to sacrifice some of the summer events or programs they’re in? These are questions you’ll need to answer if you know your finances will be stretched thin due to your mortgage. 

Next, consider whether you’re adequately settled down and have enough stability to invest in a forever home. I can speak from experience because, when I moved into my second home, I was sure it was my forever home. Five years later, I sold it and moved into my third home. 

If you’re trying to get further down your career path or you have yet to make plans with regard to having children, you might still be in your starter phase, which probably means a three-, four-, or five-year home is a better option for you. Think of a starter home as a way to begin building wealth and a stepping stone toward that forever home.  

You also need to think about whether you actually know what you want in a home. Talk to any homeowner who realized their dream of building a forever home—most will tell you there’s something they would have done differently. So if you’ve never owned a home, it’s likely that you have unrealistic ideas about what you want and need. 

The bottom line is if you’re still in your starter phase or you’re fairly new to homeownership, don’t stress about your forever home plans just yet. For now, be smart about your investments and work within your budget to create an enjoyable quality of life for you and your family. Doing that now will help you lay the groundwork for moving into your forever home later. 

If you have any real estate-related questions or would like more information, please let me know. I’d be happy to help however I can! 

Brooke Keeling