With all the stress of planning a wedding, including a spectacular honeymoon, you probably haven't spent much time discussing your living arrangements after you get back. Often, couples will simply move into one person's apartment or the other for practical purposes. But how do you get your "Happily Ever After" if only one of you feels like you're home?
The answer is simple. Find a place of your own together. While the answer is deceptively easy, the execution may not be. Here are some tips to help you find the right space for both of you and how to make it feel like a home.
1. Decide Where You Want to Live
Maybe it's a house in the suburbs or an apartment in the city. If you're in the SoCal area and want a condo on the beach, check out the market for real estate in Del Mar, a lovely waterfront community in San Diego County.
Other items to take into consideration when making your decision:
- Schools (if kids are in the picture or near future)
- Work commute
- Space needed
- Personal preferences
2. Figure Out How Much Can You Afford
This is probably the most important thing you can do before looking for a home. It is vital that you both remain realistic. The last thing you want to do is to go house hunting above your price range. This can only lead to heartache and disappointment (we've seen it on Property Brothers). Talk to a reputable lender and get preapproved for a mortgage amount so you know what you're working with. This will strengthen your negotiating position with a seller as well.
Consider your current and future income levels as well. If one of you is expected to make significantly more or less money down the road, take that into account. If you hope to live on one income after kids come along, for example, make sure your mortgage payment is something you can handle once that time comes.
3. Find the Perfect Place
Now that you know where you want to live and how much you can afford, it's time to make a list of the features you need and want in a new home. Needs are the absolute deal breakers when it comes to picking a home. These items are different for each person but typically include things like number of bedrooms and bathrooms, house style (colonial, ranch, handicapped accessibility), parking and outdoor space. Wants, on the other hand, are the things that would be nice to have but maybe you could live without. Things like fireplaces, hardwood flooring, pools and a first-floor laundry.
Once you have these items narrowed down, contact a professional realtor to help you find just what you're looking for. Real estate agents are there to protect your interests in the sale and negotiation process. They also have access to the most up-to-date home listings. This will be especially helpful if this is your first time buying a home.
4. Make a House Your Home
Congratulations! If you've made it through the first three steps, you should be ready to move into your new house. Now it's time to make it a home. While you may both have furnishings from previous houses, now is the time to make sure only pieces you BOTH want end up in your home. One person's living room set might be awesome...to that person, and the partner may just hate it. This is where marriage gets complicated. It doesn't mean the honeymoon is over, it just means you now need to communicate your feelings and learn to compromise to reach a amicable conclusion.
Once you have agreed on the big pieces, it's time to add the finishing touches, together. Pick out things like designer blankets and throw pillows to add a pop of color and homey vibe. Other items to consider include bedding, lamps, curtains, and towels. These can bring a space together and help make your new house feel like home...to both of you.