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How Buying a Home Might Impact Your Career

By Maurie Backman - Jan 26, 2019 at 8:04PM

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Homeownership can be a smart financial move -- but it's not always the best career move.

Homeownership has long been synonymous with the American Dream, and while it does have its drawbacks, there are plenty of benefits to owning a home. First, you get to build equity in a place of your own, as opposed to throwing money away on rent. You also get an opportunity to capitalize on certain tax breaks that can save you money in different ways.

But even if you determine that buying a home is a smart move from a financial perspective, it's not necessarily the best move from a career-related standpoint. Here are a few ways becoming a homeowner might affect your employment prospects.

Yellow house with white picket fence.


1. You're tied to a specific location

It's a lot easier to break a lease or work around one than it is to sell a home. If you're offered the opportunity to take a job in another part of the country, owning a home might ultimately hold you back, since you might need to sell your property before taking on housing expenses elsewhere. If you're in a steady job and don't expect to leave for quite some time, then buying a home isn't particularly risky from a career perspective. But if you're fairly new to the workforce or aren't necessarily established in your field, owning a home might limit your chances to really land your dream job.

2. You need a more reliable stream of income

Though renting does mean paying someone else's mortgage and not your own, the good part about renting is that your housing costs are fixed on a monthly basis for the term of your lease. This means that if you agree to pay $1,000 a month in rent, your housing costs are capped at that. When you own a home, you're on the hook for not just your mortgage payment but also property taxes (which can go up year after year), maintenance, and repairs. As such, you'll really need a reliable source of income to ensure that you're able to cover those costs, which might rule out freelancing as a viable option for you.

3. You need some flexibility

Owning a home means subjecting yourself to a world of unpleasant surprises. Heating systems can break. Roofs can spring leaks. And unless you're super handy, chances are, you'll need to hire your share of professionals to address the issues that inevitably arise. As such, you'll need a job that offers a degree of flexibility so that you're able to be home to tend to such issues as needed. The good news is that many jobs today do allow employees to work from home on an as-needed basis. But if you're new to your company or work for a business that's big on face time, you might struggle to tend to maintenance and repair problems for your home -- items that often need to be tackled during the week and can't always wait until the weekend.

Owning a home is a move that could work out well for you financially. And money aside, having your own place means getting to live by your own rules as opposed to a landlord's. Just be aware of the job-related limitations you might face as a result of becoming a homeowner, and perhaps wait until your career is in a good place before taking the leap.

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