Savings Tips / Buying a Home

The 6 Most Overlooked Costs of Owning Your First Home

Words by Abbie Dyer on Aug 5, 2015 11:00:00 AM

You've gone over your budget, looked at potential places and selected the one that you can see yourself in for years to come. So it's finally time to buy your first home. Congratulations! It's exciting to have a place to call your own, but after you sign the dotted line and walk into your new space you might discover that there were a few things you glazed over on your move-in checklist.

You did all the hard work to find your home and get a mortgage, so you want to make sure you can actually enjoy the space when it's time to move in. You don't want to get to your new home only to realize that you can't afford the additional costs that come with homeownership. Here are a few ideas of what to budget for after you buy a house.


Does your new home have appliances or are the sellers planning to take them? Most people leave these bulky items behind but you might need to leave a little wiggle room in your budget to purchase your own appliances. If everything is left in the house, check the age of each piece. If the units are more than 10-15 years old, think about upgrading your appliances to lower your energy and water bills. It could prove to be more cost-effective in the long run. 

Tools and Hardware

In the world of homeownership, you'll quickly find that doing your own maintenance and repairs can save a ton of money. If you weren't responsible for maintenance at your last residence, you might be surprised at the number of tools and pieces of hardware needed to do even the smallest projects. If you're doing a big project, like refinishing a floor, see if you can rent the necessary equipment or check with family and friends to see if they have what you need. 

Decorations and Paint

Nothing says home sweet home like your individual style. When you buy a house, you want it to feel like your own. Changing the paint colors and adding decorations is a simple way to add your personal touch. Set room in your budget for a few cans of paint, brushes, rollers and drop cloths.  

Though a splash of color helps, no one wants to look at bare walls. You'll probably have a lot more wall space to cover than you did in your apartment, so save some money to put toward adding a personality to each room. If you're feeling bold, buy some blank canvases and use up the extra wall paint to create something of your own.

Lawn Equipment

Many first-time homebuyers forget about the lawn because they've never had to take care of an outdoor space. So if you don't want to lose the kids and the dog in the backyard, invest in some lawn care equipment. A lawn mower, hedge trimmers, a weed whacker, rakes, and shovels are necessities for any yard. The good news is that you can purchase most of these items used at garage sales or secondhand stores at a decent price.


The three-piece dining set that fit in your apartment might not work in a larger home where you'll have more guests over. While it's nice to spread out with more space in a house, that also means that you have more rooms to furnish. Ask your friends and family if they have any items they'd be willing to part with. You'd be surprised how many people have extra furniture stored in their basements that they've been meaning to give away. Another way to save is to check your local "for sale" ads for pieces that you can refinish or recover to make your own. 

General Upkeep

To keep your new home running smoothly, you'll need to keep up on routine maintenance. Buying things like furnace filters and water softener salt can come as a shock to people who previously dwelled in an apartment or condo. But if you don't keep up on these things you could put a lot of strain on your furnace or stain your bathtub with rusty water. Other maintenance items will creep up over time and you want to be prepared.

The cost of owning a home might seem overwhelming, but it's always worth it in the end. Ask friends and relatives for help on repairs and put your DIY skills to use by making your own decorations. Don't be afraid of secondhand items and remember that you can always upgrade your stuff down the road. Create a budget to figure out how much home you can afford, but don't forget to save a little extra so you can live there too. 

What are some things you forgot to budget for when you bought your first home?

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