We all need to live somewhere. However, where and what we live in usually comes down to personal choice and there is a wide array of things to consider when making that selection. This will be different for everyone, but here are some things to consider when you’re choosing where to live:
In Western societies, houses seem to be getting bigger and bigger, while the number of people living in them seems to be getting smaller and smaller.
Whenever I have been looking for a place to live, my family always insist I need three bedrooms. I moved in with Poopsie six weeks ago but prior to this, I have always lived alone. Why on earth would one person need three bedrooms?
It seems my family were falling victim to the just-in-case mentality of bigger is better. They wanted me to pay for extra bedrooms because occasionally, I might get visitors. The difference in rent between a two bedroom and a three bedroom place can be quite significant. I would be paying for that extra bedroom every single week even though for the majority of the year it would sit empty.
Bigger is not always better. But bigger is almost always more expensive. Be sure that you’re only renting or buying as much house as you need.
For anyone reading who is a MMM fan, you know he despises long commutes and insists everyone live within walking and biking distance to work. I am not as quite as extreme as this, mainly due to my own personal circumstances.
Poopsie and I work next door to an airport. This airport is not very close to Newcastle city, as most people don’t want to live close to aircraft noise. However, most of our non-work lives are spent in Newcastle city. It didn’t make sense to either of us to live close to a very noisy workplace but have to commute for everything else, including groceries. Yes, we would save money in commuting costs, but our lifestyle would take a hit.
So we compromise. We live in the centre of where our non-work lives take place. That means a daily commute to work but we work in the same place, so we do this together which eases the burden. We also don’t have to listen to aircraft noise very often and love the city/beach lifestyle we have.
When deciding where you live, if your work and your non-work life are not in the same place, then pick one to live near. That way, you’ll save on either workday commuting or commuting for everything else you want to do. It’s all about a balance (just don’t tell MMM).
3. Rent vs. Buy
This is a very location specific question. In Australia, it is usually cheaper to rent, but it isn’t significantly more expensive to buy, which is how most people justify purchasing a property. “The mortgage will only be $150 more per week than my rent, so I may as well pay for something I own.”
It’s hard for me to provide any advice in this area, as it truly does matter what your individual circumstances are. Renting is great for flexibility and often for living in a home or suburb that you otherwise would not be able to afford. You also don’t need to worry about any household maintenance.
However, the place is not your own. Buying gives you a bricks and mortar asset that, you would hope, will see some capital gain in the future. You can do what you like in terms of painting, flooring and gardening. You can do renovations and you know that, aside from the interest, the mortgage you are paying is helping you rather than helping your landlord.
Whichever you decide, do your research and don’t financially over-commit yourself to too large a mortgage or too high a weekly rent.
How do you save money on housing?