dinnerDo you entertain a lot? Are you planning on starting a family? Do you already have kids? Where is their school? Is the local high school important? Do you travel a lot? Where will you be in 5 years?

These questions can all play a part in helping you select an area to live in.

If you plan on entertaining a lot, you may want a home with a larger gathering space, whether that be a family room or a living room. The kitchen may play a more important part as well, if you are preparing food. Having the kitchen open to the gathering space or dining space is desirable as well, so that you can still converse with the guests while you are preparing the food.

If you are planning on starting a family, consider how many bedrooms you'll need for future kids. When they are little, most kids will be in a crib, possibly in the master bedroom. As they get older, they will need their own rooms. Also consider a play space that is away from the public space, like a lower level family room. This keeps the toys away from the public areas.

Monthly Budget

There are a number of differences in computing a monthly budget when shopping for a single family home versus an association maintained property (condo or townhouse). The differences are that association dues takes care of a number of different items. The main differences are listed in this table below.

Single Family


PITI (principal, interest, taxes, insurance) PITI
n/a Association Dues
Heating (Heating - may be included in dues)
Electric Electric
Water/Sewer (Water/Sewer - usually included in dues)
Trash (Trash - may be included in dues)
Cable (Cable - may be included in dues)
Internet (Internet - may be included in dues)
Phone Phone
Yard Maintenance / Snow Removal (Yard / Snow - usually included in dues)
Savings for Big Ticket Repairs (such as roof, deck, furnace) (Savings for Big Ticket Repairs - included in dues)
Misc Repairs Misc Repairs
(Insurance - usually included in PITI) HO-6 Insurance (much lower cost, usually included in PITI)
(Taxes - usually included in PITI) (Taxes - usually included in PITI)

For instance, many times a condo complex will include the items listed as "may be included in association dues" while a townhouse may not include those items. Typical condo association dues are around $350-600 with some being higher. Typical townhouse association dues are $250-$400 with some being higher.

Additional Resources:

Home Buying 101: Single Family vs Condo vs Townhouse By The Numbers

Home Buying 101: Types Of Homes

Home Buying 101: The Ideal Neighborhood

How To Become Homeowner Ready

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