Deciding what your ‘dream home’ looks like

I’d love an indoor pool, tennis courts and dedicated mancave but it’s not going to happen. So by dream home, I mean a place that fulfils all genuine needs and as many wants as possible. It took us bloody ages to decide what we were after but from this convoluted and misguided process, we learnt that the right way to do it would be as follows.

#1 | What might the future hold?

Pretty big question to start off with but it’s so important to confront it as it will define what you need from your home. If you’re single and just want to get on the ladder, it might be that you just want a place to crash every night that’s within a 20 min walk of work with a living room big enough for a ring of fire sesh. If you’re looking to settle down and start a family, then today’s needs are very different from those of 5-years-older you so you may want to factor in number of bedrooms, outdoor space and even being near good schools. It’s obvious stuff but easily overlooked so don’t forget to think about future you. We agreed that our first place needed to be at least 5-year-proof, which meant having min. 3 bedrooms and some outdoor space were musts.

#2 | View loads of places, even before you’re in a position to buy

Some people think it’s cheeky, estate agents definitely hate it, but viewing houses to work out what’s important to you before you’re actually in a position to buy a house is MASSIVELY helpful. There’s no substitute for getting out there and seeing places. It may sound daft but we started viewing houses about 18 months before we could buy! Other than it being quite a fun hobby, it allowed us to be specific about what we needed, wanted, didn’t want, and definitely wanted to avoid. For example, the first place we viewed had very little natural light and no off-street parking, both of which we realised were really important to us. Then the next house had a big ol’ open plan living/kitchen area which we loved, so that became a big want.

Over the next few months, we viewed a dozen or so properties and ended up with 4 different lists which described 1) must haves, 2) likes, 3) dislikes, and 4) must not haves. It’s a very simple thing to do but it saved us a massive amount of time when it came to the real search and made being indecisive pretty much impossible. Put as few things possible on the ‘must have’ and ‘must not have’ lists as the more sensible compromises you can make, the quicker you’ll find the place you’re after. Don’t be putting stuff on your must haves like ‘medieval moat surrounding property’ and things on your must not have such as ‘neighbours within 12 mile radius’.

Our ‘must haves’ and ‘likes’
Our ‘must not haves’ and ‘dislikes’

#3 | Spend hours on Rightmove & Zoopla

Rather than defaulting to Candy Crush or mindless Insta scrolling, make Rightmove searches your go-to boredom quencher. Scanning through photos and floorplans gives you a good feel for what’s important to have/not have. By doing this we realised that for some unjustified reason we have a deep-seated hatred of conservatories which meant that this went onto the ‘would like to not have’ list. Online browsing is no replacement for seeing places in person, but it’s far better than doing bugger all.

None of it’s rocket science, but asking yourself questions & doing these things will really help you focus on exactly what you’re after. It worked well for us as 2 weeks after Haz and I moved up to York, a house came up on Rightmove in our number 1 area that, on paper, seemed like our dream home (other than the price…) We viewed it the next day, and exactly 3 months later we moved in 🙂 No doubt there was some luck involved, but knowing what we were looking was massively helpful so I can’t recommend using the 4 list thing enough.

If you want to know what happened in the 3 months between having our offer accepted and crossing the threshold, you can have a nosey here.

For help with deciding where to live, I’ve done some tips here.

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