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Champagne living or a beer budget?

Posted by Rona Fischman July 20, 2009 02:53 PM

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Sam Schneiderman, Broker-owner of Greater Boston Home Team continues his Monday series.

I was recently talking with an economist about helping him buy his next home. As we were discussing his wants and needs, of course the subject turned to price.

This gentleman, who we will call George (not his real name) has been around the real estate block a few times. He has lived in several cities and is now retired. We spoke about homes he has lived in over the years and he reminisced about his first apartment, a suburban single family home that worked well as he was raising children and the condo he is in now. Now that his children are grown, we discussed his desire to spend his retirement years in an urban condo where he can walk to most amenities.

As we discussed his targeted price range and condo fees, George shared his philosophy about home buying.

George told me that he has always explained to people that choosing one’s home is a lot like choosing hotels when traveling. You can choose a budget motel on the outskirts or stay at a luxury hotel in the middle of it all. The quality and location of the accommodations will obviously influence the experience. Not quite rocket science, but surprising to hear from an economist because most people that I know that work in the financial world place more emphasis on budget than lifestyle.

Obviously George has budget limitations like anyone else, but his experience in suburbia in an earlier home located in an area chosen more to meet his budget than satisfy his soul has influenced his current decision.

Several days later, I was at an open house in a vibrant urban area. A young couple was admiring the property and seemed interested in the home. They asked questions and volunteered that they had purchased a really great home in suburbia and he felt trapped in a community that did not meet his needs. It was “too far out”. He wanted to walk or bike, not drive 5 minutes just to get a cup of coffee.

The scenario that I am describing is not uncommon. I often talk with people that don’t like where they live but bought for some reason that had not been well thought out. The point is that after you decide to move it’s important to get your lifestyle priorities in order before looking at homes to buy. Before you step into your first open house, you also need to know which you are less likely to compromise on; budget or lifestyle.

So, what’s most important to you?
It would be great to get advice for our first time buyer readers from those who’s homes aren’t quite living up to their expectations.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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