For most, buying a home is the largest purchase in a lifetime. For that reason, when looking to buy, finding the perfect home will take a little effort and planning.

The first thing that should be considered will be your budget. A house payment should not be so high as to put any other debts in jeopardy. Making a list of all debt and the monthly payments, pay-off dates, etc, will help determine exactly what you can afford. Switching banks in Canada and other locations is key to managing your finances better. Revisit every aspect of your budget before making any changes. Remember to add some savings into the budget, no matter how small.

Renting may be a better temporary option while building a larger nest egg. When you are buying, you are responsible for needed repairs; when renting, the landlord bears that burden along with the property taxes and insurance. On the down-side, a property owner may decide to sell and leave you scrambling to find other accommodations.

Once the decision to buy has been made and a budget set, size of home needed and location can be determined. The number of family members and lifestyle must be considered. Do you have children, or plan to? If so, check out the schools in your chosen area, ask questions. Do you have outdoor pets? A nice fenced yard would be a priority for both pets and kids. Do you entertain often? Are you a do-it-yourself type? Often, reduced-price homes can be found that just need a little TLC.

When your ‘must have’ list is ready, find a qualified realtor who will work with you to find that perfect home within your budget. Purchasing a home can not only be exciting but frustrating as well; a good realtor will be a buffer between you and frustration. Be wary of owner-finance properties unless you have an attorney to go over all paperwork! Generally, sellers are honest but don’t really understand the real-estate selling process and the laws governing property transactions.

Owning a home is the North American dream. There is also a lot of responsibility attached to owning that home, so plan well and enjoy the fruits of your labour for many years to come.


  1. You raise a good point that sometimes renting is the right choice. We will be moving to another state when we retire, and plan to rent for 6 months before buying, to be sure we know what neighborhood we want to buy in.

    • @Jean – I’m working on a tentative plan to retire in 15 years and move to another state as well. We’ll probably rent for a few months, then buy. For now, we’re renting with a plan to buy in our area within 16 months.

  2. I think that a good requirement for buying a home is the intent to live there for at least 5-7 years. If you don’t plan to be there that long then all the extra fees that come along with purchasing a home will add up very very quickly. Closing costs, loan generation fees… Plus most people want to give a house a little time to appreciate before they sell it again to pay off some of those excess fees.

    • @Zee – Good point. We have a 10-15 year plan; buy a house late next year, then sit on it for 10-15 years. Homes in SoCal usually appreciate fairly well, so we’re counting on a little appreciation to move to a less expensive state at that time.

  3. Jon @ Money Smart Guides Reply

    After I bought my first house, I learned the importance of having a must have list when looking for a home. I actually already have a list now and don’t plan on moving for a few more years!

    • @Jon – We’re forming one, too. I’d really like to find a home that doesn’t need too much upgrading, so I’m putting together my “must have” list and can only hope I find something close!

  4. @Poor Student – My goal for owning something is to not have monthly mortgage or rent payments come retirement, which is still close to 20 years away. I think it’s a smart financial move when income decreases a bit.

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