Jenny Mendez Isenburg's Blog
More and more communities are creating spaces for both individual homes and multifamily townhomes. Both styles offer lots of space, comfortable living and access to a neighborhood's amenities -- but there are some key differences that might make one style more suitable for you than another. Learning more about the differences between these styles of home can help you make the best possible decision for your family and needs.
Luxury Townhomes vs. Single Family Homes -- What's the Difference?
When luxury homes and townhomes are in the same neighborhood, they often have similar design styles, interiors and access to amenities, but there are some key differences to be aware of. Consider the following when you choose your next home.
Your family size: How much space do you need, both now and in the future? A growing family may find that a bedroom is needed for each child and that more living space is better -- or will be in the future. Singles or retirees may need a guestroom and space to entertain, but not a lot of extra bedrooms or living space, so a smaller, more compact townhome may be the best bet.
How much maintenance will you do? Do you love to garden, enjoy caring for the yard and the exterior of your home? If so, then a single family home will give you the space you need without being burdensome when it comes to maintenance. If you prefer to enjoy landscaping, hardscaping and even external maintenance and features that are cared for by someone else, then a townhome is likely a better option.
How do you feel about stairs? It may not matter now, but there may be a day in the future that a single level home serves you better than a home with stairs. Many, but not all townhomes are multilevel, so be sure you are comfortable with steps (or have space to make accommodations later). SIngle family homes are often (but not always) on a single level, making the entire home accessible.
Will you resell the home? If you expect to move again in a few years, then consider the resale value of the property. Your realtor is the best source of information here and can help you determine if one type of home moves more swiftly in your current location. Some markets can't keep up with demand for low-maintenance townhomes, while others have a huge demand for family homes. Knowing the preferences in your own area can help you determine how easy it will be to sell if you need to.
Which Home is Right for You?
Consider both your current needs and any potential future changes when you choose between these models. If you know you will have kids and want a big yard in the future, then a single family home is likely your best bet, even if you are not expecting right now. If you are enjoying your golden years, there may come a time that a big property and the care it needs may be too much for you -- investing in a stunning and comfortable townhome now will ensure you are comfortable later.
A lot changes when you move into a new home. For the first few weeks you’ll most likely be focused on getting everything arranged and put away in their proper locations. You’ll be adjusting to your new work commute, meeting the neighbors, finding out where to shop, and so on.
It’s easy to forget about updating your budget during the first couple of months in your new home. However, if you want to be mindful of your spending and gauge the true cost of living in your new home, it’s essential to start tracking expenses and creating your budget as soon as possible.
In this article, we’re going to show you how to make a new budget for your new home so that you can start accurately planning your long term finances. That way, you and your family can rest assured that you aren’t living above your means in your new home and can stop stressing about spending.
Cost of living changes
When most of us move we think about the change of our mortgage payments, property taxes, and home insurance. However, there are several smaller changes that will occur in your day-to-day spending habits that you might not think to update in your budget.
First off, make a note of how much you’re spending on transportation (whether it’s train fare or gas for your car) in your new home and adjust this on your budget. This is hard to predict before you move since you can’t be sure of the traffic patterns until your first trip to the office.
Next, make a list of your monthly services, including utilities. We’re talking about internet, cable, trash and recycling, heating and electricity, and so on. At the end of the first month, add each of those to your budget and decide if you want to spend less on any of them.
One surprise expense that many people have when they move is the cost of internet. Your old plan at your former residence might not cut it if you move to an area with different coverage.
Furnishing your new home
Even if you’re moving with most of your furniture and appliances, there will likely still be expenses that you’ll need to plan for in your new home.
It might be tempting to make all of these purchases at once so that you can feel like your move is “complete.” However, the best course of action is to include these items into your monthly budget so that you are prepared for emergency expenses.
Decide which items you need the most in your new home, and prioritize purchasing those on the first month. You’ll likely realize after just the first couple of nights in your new house which items you need now and which can wait.
Budgeting apps and tools
Everyone has their own preferred method of record-keeping. Some people keep their budget in a notebook or planner, whereas others like to use an app that they can access on their phone or laptop.
There are dedicated budgeting apps and web applications that link to your bank account and tell you how much left you can spend that month and if there is an issue with your budget. Several such apps are available for free in both Android and Apple app stores.
For a simpler budget, you can simply use the spreadsheet application of your choice (Excel, Numbers, and Google Sheets are all sufficient).
Regardless of what tool you use, make sure you check in on your budget frequently to ensure you’re sticking to it and making adjustments as needed.
Construction of affordable starter homes is failing to keep pace with the number of first-time house hunters. At the same time, more homeowners are resisting the siren song of selling to these potential buyers in order to move up or downsize. It's a trend called "rising tenure length."
Owners are staying put. There’s no single reason why and there’s no single age group increasing home tenure. However, early in December 2019, a HousingWire (HW) headline shouted that Baby Boomers — born from 1946 to 1964 — are “likely to gridlock” home sales in 2020. HW cited the leveling out of home prices and economic unpredictability as central factors keeping older homeowners in place.
Move ‘Em On, Head ‘Em Up
Well whoa! HW should maybe also consider that moving down can be almost as expensive as moving up, affordable homes styled for retirement are in short supply in many markets, and a lot of older homeowners want to age in place where services and neighbors are familiar.
HW’s headline might stir the theme song of the cowboy TV series Rawhide (1959-1965) in Boomer brains. The show featured a lot of cattle drives, Clint Eastwood as a tough cowhand and lyrics like “Move ‘em on, head ’em up.” Many Boomers might also feel like channeling Eastwood in Gran Torino by growling, “Get off my lawn.”
But according to a December 2019 article in MarketWatch, anyone who can hang in there long enough will have access to a market influx of about 1.17 million boomer homes a year between 2027 and 2037. They call this projected event the “Silver Tsunami.”
Millennials Staying Put Too
To be fair, it’s essential to note that many younger homeowners also are staying put. Favoring a buy-once-and-stay approach, many have lived with parents longer than expected to save for down payments on bigger homes.
In a December 2019 article predicting a tough housing market in 2020, CNBC interviewed realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu, who said supply will be a greater problem than price this coming year. Ratiu stated that waiting longer to buy homes has caused Millennials to buy up at the outset of homeownership.
Avoiding Migrating Near or Far
CNBC also noted analysis of U.S. Census data by the national real estate brokerage Redfin showing that property owners today generally remain in a home for 13 years, and that this statistic is an 8-year increase over 2010.
Writing at the science news website Phys.org, migration researcher Thomas Cooke echoed Ratiu’s point about millennials buying homes they can grow into. Cooke added that many millennials are finding it difficult to move up due to a complex array of reasons, including carrying a heavier debt load than previous generations.
Furthermore, Cooke said, long distance moves are complicated by the fact that most millennial couples have dual incomes. Major relocation needs to accommodate both their jobs.
Cooke concluded that avoiding migration and putting down roots in one location is becoming the norm. It’s a choice with beneficial outcomes, he asserted, such as deeper social and community connectedness. So, forget that other famous lyric from Rawhide about “rollin’, rollin’, rollin’.” Homeowners of many ages are now stayin’, stayin’, stayin’.
Moving to a new neighborhood brings with it, well, the new neighbors. Although you may be an exceptionally private person — others, by nature, are naturally curious. They want to know who’s moved in next door. This is particularly true when your house is just a few feet or a few inches away from their house. Sometimes, your window looks right out on their window — and vice versa. When it comes to nosy neighbors, follow these tips.
Introduce yourself and satisfy their curiosity about your basic information. Without getting too personal, let them know who is living in the house with you and if you moved into the neighborhood for a specific reason.
Many neighborhoods have a neighborhood watch. If this is the case, meet the people that look out for strangers so that they know who you are. Ask them questions too so that you know what kinds of things trigger a response from the watch or from other neighbors. If your neighborhood has an association, ask about it and meet the officers.
People that live in one place for an exceptionally long time may fear change. Let them know you hope to love the neighborhood as much as they do. If their questions bother you, deflect and redirect the conversation.
Builders don’t always pay attention to how one house aligns with another. If your neighbor’s dining room overlooks your bathroom, cover your bathroom windows with a frosted or stained-glass overlay. It’s a simple fix that lets daylight shine in your bathroom without the neighbors peering in, even accidentally. If it’s a bedroom window, cellular blinds let light in but give full coverage.
When the opportunity arises, invite your neighbor for a cup of tea or simply to share a conversation while you weed the flowerbed. Friendliness goes a long way toward increasing everyone’s comfort level as new neighbors. Moving into a new neighborhood is a time of adjustment for both the old neighbors and the new.
If you’re proactive, prepared, courteous, inventive and friendly, you’ll soon move from being merely neighbors to being friends. Your real estate professional is a great resource on learning about your neighborhood too, so ask them what they know.
The idea of a tight-knit neighborhood seems like an artifact of a simpler time in our country. And, in many ways, it is. Improvements in transportation and technology make it easier than ever to be connected with friends and family across the country and around the world.
However, there are still many good reasons to get to know your neighbors, aside from as a common courtesy. In this article, we’ll break down those reasons for you.
A watchful eye
If you plan on going for an extended vacation, it’s good to know at least one neighbor who you can trust to watch over your home while you’re away. That can include reporting any suspicious behavior and bringing in your mail so that it isn't obvious that your home is empty.
If you have kids, your neighbors are a good way to find out about any neighborhood news and safety concerns you should be aware of, which brings us to our next reason to get to know your neighbor.
Learning about the neighborhood
When you move into a new community, there often aren’t many ways to learn about the local events and places of interest. Introducing yourself to your new neighbors is a good way to learn about the place you moved to. It’s also a way to ask about any concerns you may have, such as traffic, noise level, or road safety if you have children who will be playing outside.
A helping hand
Like we mentioned before, it’s good to have trustworthy neighbors while you’re on vacation for home security reasons. However, it’s also a good opportunity to have neighborhood kids lend a hand while you’re away. You can pay them to mow your lawn, water the grass or flowers, and feed your pets. This makes your life easier and teaches them a lesson in work and reward.
Lending tools and services
It’s good to know a few neighbors with tools that you don’t have so that you can let one another borrow seldom-used tools rather than buying or renting them just for the occasional use.
Similarly, if you have an elderly neighbor, it’s a rewarding gesture to help them out when you see they need help with groceries, shoveling, or other physically demanding tasks. Those small gestures can also go a long way when it comes to gaining a friend in the neighborhood who you can count on for the local news.
No ill-will between good neighbors
Let’s face it, neighbors can be a source of annoyance at times. If it’s late on a school night and your neighbors are being noisy while you and your children are trying to sleep, you’ll have a lot better chance of getting them to quiet down if you have an established, friendly relationship.
Similarly, if you have a family cookout and need to park cars in front of their lawn, they’re more likely to not mind if you’ve helped them out in the past.
So, for these five reasons, and for many others, it pays to get to know your neighbors.