If you're searching for a new home, you'll often hear that you shouldn't expect to check every "must-have" feature off your list. And while it may be possible to find that dream home with everything you've always wanted, if you're on a limited budget or have your heart set on a specific neighborhood, you may need to learn to set priorities and focus on the items that are truly the most important to you.
It's a concept I'm more than familiar with. Back when I was spending every spare minute of every weekend looking at properties, I had my own list of "must-haves" that slowly but surely dwindled when I realized I'd never manage to get everything I wanted at the price point I was trying to stick to. Still, there were some items I absolutely would not budge on. Here's what they looked like.
1. A large kitchen with ample storage
Some people buy kitchen gadgets and never use them. I'm not one of those people. I cook a lot, both for fun and out of necessity, and sometimes, that means whipping out a specific food processor, chopper, or blender. As such, I needed a kitchen with lots of cabinet space, and I wouldn't back down until I got one. Having a larger kitchen doesn't just make my life easier, though; it's a feature I know makes my home more marketable, so if I decide to sell it, that's one thing it has going for it.
2. A master bathroom with double sinks
Nothing lends to marital harmony like a little extra bathroom space. My husband and I shared a smaller master bathroom in our first house, and after several years of banging elbows while teeth-brushing and fighting for countertop space, I'd had enough. That's why I insisted that our current home have a master bathroom with two separate sinks -- and enough countertop space to store our toiletries. It's made life more pleasant and prevented many an argument.
3. An attached garage
I live in the Northeast, where winters can be brutal and summers can be sweltering. As such, an attached garage was important to me when buying a home. Having one has spared me the hassle of having to scrape ice off of my windshield in the morning or enter what feels like a sauna in the thick of summer. And let's not forget rainy weather -- bringing groceries and a gaggle of kids indoors is much easier when you're doing so with a roofed structure over your head.
4. A basement
Though my husband and I didn't have children when we bought our current home, we knew we wanted them in the not-so-distant future -- and we also knew they'd come with their share of stuff. That's why we both insisted on buying a home with a basement. Having a place to store extra belongings was critical when our children were younger and constantly outgrowing clothing and gear. And once they got a bit older, we had the option to finish our basement, reserve some of it for storage, and convert a large chunk of it into a play area, thereby sparing the main areas of our home from the clutter of children's toys.
5. An upstairs laundry room
Anyone with kids will tell you that laundry can easily be a daily occurrence. And for me, having a laundry room upstairs has made a major difference. Rather than haul overflowing baskets up and down the stairs several times a week, I simply drag them down the hall, load up the machine, and call it a day. Having my laundry room on the same level as my bedrooms saves me time and sore arms, and so I'm glad I had the good sense to prioritize it even before kids came into the mix.
Let's face it: No home is absolutely perfect. If you're struggling to find the right one, come up with a list of your top five or 10 features you absolutely need to have, and focus on those more so than anything else. It's a good way to narrow down your choices while helping to ensure that you don't regret your decision after the fact.
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