According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, about 4.5 million college diplomas are issued each year. If one of them is yours, congratulations! You’ve put in the time, effort, and dedication to get your degree and officially start your life.
You might have a career lined up, or at least a pathway toward what you really want to do. But, that’s only half the battle after you’ve graduated. You also need a place to stay. Moving into your first home, post-grad can be an exciting transition. It also might be the first time you’re officially out on your own and not in a dorm.
So, there are some things to consider.
Buying a home is a long-term investment. Thinking about the financial aspects as well as establishing a sense of permanency should be at the top of your priority list. Thankfully, the experience can be a positive one if you know a few tips about what to expect. Let’s cover a few.
Determine What You Want
The first step in buying (or renting) a home is to decide what you want. Consider things like:
● Type of home
If you have a job lined up already, consider yourself lucky – 45% of 2020 grads are still looking for work, but that’s largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe you’ve just been able to land a post-grad job for the first time and you’re looking for the right place to live. Finding a home near your place of work will make life much easier. If you don’t want to live too close to a city, you’ll at least want to make sure you have an easy commute.
Having goals when it comes to what you want will help you to stay focused throughout your home-buying experience. With that in mind, understand that it doesn’t need to be a “buying” experience at all. Whether you don’t have a job lined up or you’re not ready to commit to something permanent, you might want to consider renting.
Renting has become a popular option. Over 44 million people in the U.S. rent their homes. It’s a great way to save money without any long-term commitments. Plus, many rental agreements allow you to decorate the way you want, which can help turn any space into a real home – especially when you’re on a budget.
Figure Out Your Finances
The financial side of homeownership can be the most stressful. Many graduates are stacked with debt after college, which can make it hard to get a loan. Even if you’re approved, you have to make sure you can afford to live in a house. There’s more to factor in than just a mortgage payment, including:
● Homeowners insurance
You may want to take some time to save up for a house before deciding to make a purchase. Most mortgage companies will recommend having at least 20% to put down on a home. While there are exceptions, it’s a good idea to have at least some money “socked away” for your future home. Consider moving back home for a while to save money and establish credit.
There are plenty of ways you can save along the way. Cut back on dining out, get rid of some subscription services, or even sell a few belongings that you don’t want or need. Having a yard sale is an easy way to declutter and make some money to put into savings or to use while you’re searching for a job. If you’re too busy to set up a traditional sale, consider hosting one online to make your life easier. Get creative with your saving and budgeting techniques, and you’ll have your down payment in no time!
Make a Permanent and Professional Space
Once you’ve finally moved into your first post-grad home, there are still a few things to keep in mind. First, it’s important to make the space your own as soon as possible. This is a place of permanence, but also the first place where you’ll be starting a professional lifestyle. So, be sure to hang that diploma somewhere prominent in a quality frame and be proud of it!
It’s also important to feel comfortable in your new space. That’ll boost productivity and reduce stress levels, so your home can feel more like your own personal sanctuary. There are plenty of ways to make any house feel more like a home, including:
● Hanging artwork
● Keeping it clean
● Displaying items that bring you happiness
● Adding natural light
● Give it a “signature scent” with candles or plug-ins
It can take about six weeks to really feel “at home” in a new space. Adding personal touches everywhere will make that process easier on you. In just a few weeks, you’ll be able to look back on the entire post-grad home-buying/renting experience and feel even more excited for the next chapter of your life.
BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.