What Makes a Home Affordable?
Deciding where to live can be hard. You are probably thinking about proximity to work, to family, friends or significant others, as well as food options, climate, travel accessibility, crime rate, education, culture and of course — affordability. We all know that living within our means is important to maintaining good financial health, but figuring how to do that is not easy.
It’s important to figure out how much home you can realistically afford with your personal financial circumstances and consider the 30% rule. Generally speaking, experts advise not shelling out more than a third of your total income for shelter. And location affordability goes much further than the negotiated price a homebuyer agrees to pay the seller. It’s a good idea to take a holistic approach to find the most affordable housing markets in the country. Check out the factors that define housing affordability and vary by location below.
Closing costs are the fees charged by the lender and third-party service providers to make a home sale official. Homebuyers pay lender and origination charges, settlement services, escrow and more to make the process legally documented. These are the last costs you incur before you get the keys. Most advisers estimate the costs to fall between 2% and 5% of the home’s value.
Property taxes are your annual offering to the local government for your home or property in exchange for public works and education. These vary greatly by jurisdiction, but you can compare how good the schools are, how safe the area is with the tax cost to see if you are willing to pay the taxes for what you get.
Homeowner’s insurance can actually be a demanding portion of your budget. Your mortgage lender will require that you purchase homeowner’s insurance. As there are several different policy options, it’s a good idea to ask your insurance provider the right questions to be sure you are properly covered.
The amount you pay toward a home loan each month is not just tied to the value of your home. Your credit score, the length of the loan, your down payment, the interest rate and loan type will all factor in to what you pay. You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see how they affect your mortgage payment.
Cost of Living
From price of milk in the grocery store and the cost of a night on the town to average wage and the unemployment rate, every town, city or rural area has a different cost of living. When figuring out where to live, it’s important to consider the monthly costs outside of mortgage payments to accurately decide if a certain location is affordable for you.
Before you pick up and move, it’s important to make sure your housing costs won’t max you out from feeding and clothing yourself — or saving for retirement and reaching other important financial, social and career goals.
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AJ Smith is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of experience in television, radio, newspapers, magazines and online content. She currently serves as the managing editor for SmartAsset. AJ has a passion for meeting new people, sharing stories and helping others. She has degrees from Princeton University and Mississippi State University. AJ and her husband also write and illustrate educational children’s books. More by AJ Smith