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5 Tips Every First-time Homebuyer Needs to Know

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5 Tips Every First-time Homebuyer Needs to Know

There are few things as nerve wracking as buying your first home. Deep down, you know that you will be living there for quite a few years, and that knowledge makes anyone nervous. Here is the ultimate guide of things to consider as you purchase the first home.

1. A Safe Neighborhood

A lot of people think this won’t be a big deal. It will be. There are neighborhoods all over America where homes are robbed every day and people don’t feel safe in their own home. Oftentimes just a few blocks from these neighborhoods are nice, safe, friendly communities that cost just a little more to live in. When you look at homes be sure to walk around the block and get a feel for the neighborhood. Are there kids playing in the streets? Is there a feeling of ease or distress in the air? You will be able to sense pretty quickly if people feel safe in the neighborhood.

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2. The Wear and Tear

When looking at each home take a close look at the water heater, furnace, A/C, and shingles. These things tend to wear out on every home at some point, and there is nothing worse than purchasing a home and being forced to replace an expensive appliances in the same year. If you do not have a lot saved up, it may be a good idea to get a home warranty for your first year to cover major repairs, at least until you can rebuild your savings.

3. Utilities

Many people that go from renting to owning do not realize what a significant increase in utilities can come from the change. Some couples are astounded to find out that utilities that were once $200 are suddenly $700 or $800 a month, well above the range they can afford. Cities charge differently for utilities. Some newer cities have recently built their entire infrastructure and are paying off the debt, making utility prices much higher in these places. Other cities charge a lot more for utilities because of expensive taxes, etc. Be sure to get a good idea of what the average utility costs are for your size of home, before locking yourself into a potentially awful situation. There are dozens of online calculators that can help you get an idea of what your utilities will cost.

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4. Lawn Maintenance

You may go and look at a home and admire how beautiful the yard and lawn look. Do not forget that good yards come with a price, and that is both hard work and money. You will need to buy a lawnmower and a weed eater at a minimum. If there are flower beds, you will probably have to invest a lot of time weeding. If your neighbors have weeds, you will also come to realize that it is going to be a long battle fighting those weeds off from your own yard.

Another big thing to look for here is for a sprinkling system. Keeping a lawn green in most areas requires watering at least every other day. If the home does not have a sprinkling system, you may quickly discover that you do not have the time to deal with sprinklers in the middle of all the chaos of settling in the new house, and your lawn will quickly dry up.

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5. Don’t Rush

Many new buyers feel the need to rush into buying their first home. This is not necessary. Spend time getting to know the different markets that you are interested in. As you look you will begin to develop a much better idea of what you really are interested in. If nothing comes up in a few months, you can know that you are probably looking for features that are out of your price range, but until then, take your time and find a home you can really be proud of.

Featured photo credit: Cathy Yeulet via 123rf.com

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Last Updated on January 13, 2022

10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

1. Camping

A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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2. Staycation

You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

3. Island Getaway

People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

4. Fancy Resort

Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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5. Road Trip

The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

6. Charter a Boat

If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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8. Themed Retreats

There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

9. Working Honeymoon

Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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