A new home often feels like a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to put your stamp on a new property, engage with a new community, and improve your family’s quality of life. The decision-making process can also be a huge amount of pressure.

A home is a big investment and you naturally want to make decisions that are smart financially, practically, and emotionally. It’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation or the logistics. So, let’s take a look at a few ways you can make things a little easier along your journey to find a new home.

Finding the right characteristics

One of the reasons that choosing a new home can be quite overwhelming is that people put a lot of pressure on themselves to find the “perfect” space. Not only is this a lot of pressure, but it also tends to be a bit vague. A more practical approach is to work with your family on breaking down this ideal home concept into what characteristics you would like to prioritize. You can then use these to guide your search.

Some of the characteristics to discuss might include the following.

Location

Discuss what’s important to your family in terms of location. Is it more important to be close to work in the city or have access to nature? If you want the best of both worlds, you could look for homes that balance city and outdoor environments. This involves considering what outdoor activities you love and finding cities that are close to relevant amenities. For instance, skiers could choose cities near mountains, such as Denver. Another approach is to explore areas that incorporate natural amenities into the city. A good example of this is Washington, D.C., due to its range of parks.

Young couple moving into a new home

Features

Beyond the location, another aspect to break down is the types of features your family would like the home to have. If you have kids and pets, a large yard could be one of the priorities you look for. For those working from home or starting a business, having a spare room as a home office might be a key feature. Or, you could put health-related considerations first and foremost, such as the factors that affect a home’s water quality, including pH level and the presence of chemicals.

Once you have a list of these characteristics, you can further condense them into categories of “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” This reflects your needs and preferences with room to be flexible.

Creating your budget

Part of the weight of choosing a new home is often financial in nature. This may come from not being entirely certain whether you’re able to afford a home both in terms of an initial down payment and paying the mortgage in the future. It’s important to take an informed approach to your budget.

Start by taking an honest look at your household income. Generally speaking, it’s not advisable to pay more than 28% of your monthly household income on a mortgage payment. If you haven’t been doing so already, take stock of your typical utility bills, loan or credit card repayments and food expenses. You should also take into account the moving related expenses. This gives you more nuanced insights into what regular repayments you’ll be able to afford and still have a little breathing room.

With a good idea of what you can realistically buy, you can choose a home that fits your means. This can give you peace of mind that you’re not putting yourself at risk of missing payments on leaner months. Having more financial wiggle room also means you are likely to have some funds to enjoy being in your new home, making occasional upgrades and enhancing your lifestyle rather than just owning an expensive property.

Reducing the mental load

Choosing a new home is a huge step with a lot of considerations and concerns. This can put a huge cognitive load on buyers, making the prospect of moving among the top stressors a person can experience. These daytime pressures can even manifest as sleep disruption due to stress dreams, which can have a negative impact on your mental and physical wellness.

Falling and being chased in dreams are common with feelings of being overwhelmed. There are direct ways to cope with stress dreams, such as creating a relaxing bedtime routine or deep breathing. Yet, it’s also wise to tackle the root cause by reducing your mental load during your homebuying process.

Some steps here can include:

  • Keep communicating: Share the anxieties or concerns you have about buying a home with people you trust. Even if they can’t offer practical solutions to the challenges you face, talking about your feelings can release a lot of tension.
  • Make lists: There’s a lot of information and tasks to juggle when buying a new home. Trying to just keep these in your head is a recipe for stress and confusion. Making lists of tasks for each week and spreading them across each day with what you can realistically manage is key here. It gets the tasks out of your head and a roadmap for you to move forward.
  • Commit to self-care: Amidst the chaos of viewing homes and arranging mortgages, take time for yourself. Keep a regular hygiene routine, enjoy your hobbies, and spend time relaxing with friends. These simple measures are valuable breaks from the pressures of home buying.

Reducing the mental load is really about being kind to yourself. As a family, you may have to nudge one another to remember to do this occasionally. This helps you maintain the cognitive bandwidth to make the right decisions and also enjoy the process of finding an exciting new space to live in.

Finding a new home should be a balance of careful planning and excitement, rather than just overwhelmingly stressful. This requires a mindful approach, ensuring your needs to drive your search while taking time for self-care. Remember, too, that the perfect home isn’t necessarily just the property you move into, but what you do to put your stamp on it in the years you spend there.

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