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Are you a minimalist? If you’ve heard this question recently, you may be wondering just what it means and how does it affect you. It is NOT a set of rules.It is NOT about how much you own.
It is NOT about how much money you earn.
It is NOT about buying specific items or giving up certain things.
It is NOT about being frugal.
It is NOT throwing out all your belongings and sleeping in a yurt (unless that makes you happy).
It is NOT about living in a tiny house (although it can be for you).
It IS about quality over quantity; peace over disorder; satisfaction over extravagance.
Minimalism is a mindset about what we require to be happy and what only clutters up our homes and our lives. It is about getting rid of the unnecessary things that take up space, consume time, and contribute to frustration and exhaustion. You can be a true minimalist in a mansion, a townhome, an apartment, or a houseboat as long as what fills your space contributes to contentment and order rather than stress and chaos.
When it comes to buying a home, minimalists look for spaces that reflect their personality rather than the latest trend. A minimalist is a different type of homebuyer. Becoming minimalist might be right up your alley if you hate the over-stuffed closet or messy junk drawer, find yourself irritated by clutter and uncomfortable with a hodgepodge of decorative items you subconsciously think of as “dust collectors.”
While a form of minimalism is an architectural style commonly seen in Japanese design with an aesthetic toward simplicity and clean lines, most homes do not fit into this category. Does that mean you can’t have a minimalist lifestyle? Of course not. Just adopt minimalist concepts to fit into any living space.
One way to accomplish this is to reduce the amount of furniture you have in each room. Opt for the pieces that everyone uses and give away ones that only fill up space. Reduce window coverings to a minimum rather than the multi-layered blind-sheer-drape-valance style. Organize the items that you keep so that each has a home. Reduce clutter by highlighting one or two items of a collection and rotating special pieces instead of displaying them all at once.
Simplify in other ways by installing native grasses and plants, thereby reducing the need for lawn care and gardening. Add interest to your yard with hardscaping: rock gardens or paver stones in decorative patterns.
When seeking a new home visualize what makes you most happy as you walk through model homes and open houses letting your imagination discard what doesn’t fit. Help your real estate professional know about your aesthetic to have the best chance of finding your minimalist home.
Build or buy is the age-old question humanity has asked ourselves since the dawn of time, or since real estate became a thing. So which should you choose, and why? Ask yourself the following questions to help simplify the decision for you and your family.
How long do you want to wait?
Buying a finished house has the advantage of almost immediate occupancy. It only takes the drafting of a contract of sale and its signing by you and the seller in the presence of your attorneys for you to become a homeowner. Constructing your own home can take a fair bit of time, depending on the availability of funds and the complexity of the design.
How much do you have?
At first, it might seem more economical to build your own home, but that is almost always not the case. Studies have shown that constructing your own home could cost 30% more than if you bought a similar ready-made structure.
The opposite might also be true, mainly if you bought a house that has been standing for a few decades and doesn’t have the newest construction. The cost of sprucing up and maintaining an old house might be quite high as some fixtures may have outlived their usefulness while a newly built home requires little to no maintenance.
How ‘you’ is the house?
A ready-to-occupy house will have some features and design decisions that you probably don’t suit your aesthetic. You might have chosen to buy it anyway because it was the next best thing to your dream house, and its mortgage repayments were manageable. Moreover, with the squeeze that saving for the house’s deposit and the monthly repayments put on your budget, you might not be in a position to change those features immediately.
Building your home gives you the luxury of dictating where every last screw will go. You can pick the color scheme that reflects your personality and the tile design that makes you feel most at home.
How long for that dream garden?
Another downside to constructing from scratch is that you might have to wait a couple of years for your dream garden to take shape. That pretty rock garden you saw in that house available for sale took months and months of tender loving care to look that way. Moreover, it probably contributed a fair bit to that asking price.
Still not sure of the best choice for you? Take your answers to these questions and sit down with your real estate agent to review your purchase and building options.
Buying a new home is something to which a lot of people look forward. Although it involves a lot of planning, stress and negotiating, the sense of fulfillment that comes when you finally move in is always an extraordinary feeling. However, at the same time, buying a new home is more than just signing some papers and moving in. If you plan to stay in your new home for a long time, then you want to be sure about it.
- First of all, the location is essential. You want to be sure that the house you pick is in a neighborhood that you will be comfortable living in. If you would rather live in a quiet community with gated houses and the works, then it means you have to avoid great homes in super urban places because it might not work for you. Or if you are an outdoor person, living in an apartment block close to the center of the city may not be for you. So before you make any decision, you might want to check out other streets around you and see the kind of vibe you sense. Drive around the neighborhood at different times of the day to discover how it changes throughout the day.
- Check for any potential risks that could prove dangerous for you and your loved ones. Some homes are built in areas that are prone to floods, wildfires, or even earthquakes. You want to be informed and aware so that even if you decide to move, you would have taken the necessary precautions. Is the house prone to a termite infestation? Are there lots of snakes or bears around? These are questions you shouldn’t forget to ask.
- Finally, learn to trust your guts about any home that you go to see. Pay attention to your first impressions as they are often quite correct. And not just first impressions but lasting impressions also. I am an advocate of coming back to check up the house again to be certain that you still feel the same way when you see it again. Homes are like shoes sometimes, and they may not just be the right fit for you. Learn to trust your intuitions and inner feelings about a piece of property; they are often entirely accurate.
When searching for your new home, it’s easy to get caught up looking for a house with all your ideal features. While you should try to find something with the number of rooms, lot size, garage, and basement space you desire, don’t let yourself forget how important your home’s location is. After you move in and experience daily life in your new house, the pros and cons of your location become very important to the ongoing ease and enjoyment of your life. Do yourself a favor and bring your home’s location front and center when you start your home search.
What’s your biggest need?
Not every buyer will have the same needs and desires when it comes to location. Consider these aspects of life in your new home to find the best place for you.
- Neighborhood safety. Are you moving to a neighborhood that will be safe and comfortable for your family? If you’re moving to a new part of town—or a new city entirely—take the crime ratings and types into consideration. While you may want to increase your living space, don’t forego safety for the additional living room or basement den. Make sure you will feel comfortable letting your children play out front or leaving your home empty for a long weekend. While every neighborhood has something to be wary of, it is worth doing your diligence and taking into consideration what aspects of an area and community make you feel safe. Is there a neighborhood watch? Are the streets well-lit? Is there a tight community of neighbors that look out for one another?
- Commute to work. Your daily commute may not seem as relevant when you’re looking at the size or acreage of your new home, but your ability to enjoy your new living space is affected by the amount of time you get to spend in it. Is your commute so long that you have to leave too early to take your kids to school? Will you get home so late that it’s already dark and you’re so tired you never watch the sunset from the gazebo you were so excited about when you purchased the home? Will you miss out on neighborhood activities that happen while you’re driving home? Consider what you want to get out of your new home and how your new commute will affect your ability to get it.
- Can your children continue at the same school? If moving to a new school, is the caliber of education better than where your kids attend now? Children experience more adjustment pains when moving to a new home than adults do. Minimize difficult transitions by finding a house close enough for your children to continue attending the same school. If your child wants to change schools, or if you must transition your child to a new school, is it a positive change or negative one? Does the school have good activities for your child’s participation? Will they have a long commute for baseball games or debate club? As they progress through school will the higher-level schools have opportunities for college and career advancement?
- Neighborhood and community activities. Will your new community provide the recreation you want? If you enjoy urban activities like walking around downtown, catching a show, or going to the city park, moving to a rural community to have a larger home may adversely affect your daily life enjoyment. On the other hand, if you currently live in town or a suburban neighborhood but genuinely love the outdoors, moving out of the city to a more substantial property near hiking trails or a nearby lake might be the right choice for you. Do you long to live in a close-knit neighborhood with lots of homes and neighbors to plan activities with for holidays and community events, or do you prefer a smaller area with larger properties allowing for more privacy? Don’t forget to take your preferred lifestyle into account when looking for your new home.
Think about what you want from your home's location and speak with your local real estate professional to learn which communities might be right for you.