Budgeting, Homeownership, Lifestyle, Personal Finance

The Cost of Owning a Home | My Personal Experience

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Hi friends,

It’s been a while! I want to thank you all for the incredibly positive, warm and supportive feedback I received on my last post, How I Save Money on an Inconsistent Income. It means a lot to me to know that I’ve helped and inspired some of you with your own finances!

Today I’d like to share with you all the costs & expenses I’ve come across as a homeowner. Of course, everyone’s experience is different, so this is tailored to my personal expenses – after all, my house is no luxury beachfront villa; it’s a modest, free-standing house in a safe and sensibly priced suburb. I thought it would be interesting to share what I pay for now that I own a home vs. when I was renting, and hope it will be helpful to both other homeowners and future homeowners with my transparency.

What do you think of when you think of buying a house? Personally, I think it’s so easy to simply think of the purchase price and mortgage payments – plus mortgage protection if you want that peace of mind. I obviously knew there was going to be more, but now that it’s been two years, I truly have a fuller picture to share with you all.

But first, some background..

What did I pay as a renter?

Here are my rents over the years..

2011 | $180 per week for my bedroom in a two bedroom apartment on Upper Queen St, Auckland, including power & water. Somehow, we went without internet for a whole year (I did everything at uni). And yes, that’s right – you used to be able to rent a 2 bedroom inner city apartment for only $360 a week!

2012 | $140 per week all expenses included in a 3 bedroom apartment on Federal St, near the Sky Tower in Auckland City. I had to share a room, so even though the girls were lovely, fortunately I didn’t stay for long!

2013-2014 | $205 per week for my bedroom in a two bedroom apartment at Soho Apartments, Wellington Central, plus water, power, and internet. The prices were astronomical.

2015-2016 | $200 per week for my bedroom in a three bedroom house in central Takapuna, all expenses included. (Very generous!)

2016 | $160 per week + $20 expenses for my bedroom in a four bedroom house in central Takapuna. At the time, the $20/weekly or $40/fortnightly savings made a huge difference.

Then I bought my home and moved not too far away on the North Shore!

I now live in my own home with my partner and his best friend, so our household consists of 3 adults.

Now that we have some background, here is everything I pay for as a homeowner..

Home Insurance
What I pay: $32.51 per fortnight

Home Insurance

First: home insurance. I currently protect my biggest asset with Tower Insurance through Trade Me as members receive a 15% discount on premiums (20% at the moment during their birthday promotion). Along with my no claims bonus, good security (alarm), and no-frills policy, it’s very reasonably priced. It’s also a home only insurance policy. While it’s usually in your best interest to combine your home & contents for both price and simplicity, after my partner moved in,  fortunately I was protected under his contents policy – at the insurance company where he works and where we met – at 50% off!

Rates
What I pay: $73.48 per fortnight

Rates

As a homeowner, your rates help fund public transport, clean, green public parks, weekly rubbish & recycling, and running libraries & other community facilities – in Auckland Council’s words, ‘the things that make Auckland a great place to live and work’ (and I agree! I use my local libraries a lot; they’re absolutely brilliant). Luckily in the two years that I’ve lived in this home, my rates have reduced twice and keeps going down!

Water
What I pay: $40-50 per month

Watercare

I pay for water monthly, also to Auckland Council. Compared to my water bill when I was renting in Wellington, it’s very affordable (if you know Soho apartments in Wellington, you’ll know they cost a fortune for the central location and stylish, modern building). I’m not sure how it compares to other homes in Auckland, but would be curious to find out.

Power
What I pay: $50-60 per fortnight

Power

Of course, there’s also power. I’ve been very happy with Electric Kiwi’s service, and love that they’re an entirely digital independent New Zealand company – they got my power up and running in record time and have been reliable ever since. As I haven’t tried any other power company, I can’t be 100% sure how much of a difference it makes, but the daily ‘Hour of Power’ where our household enjoys free power is pretty sweet. I take advantage of this by charging my devices and turning on the dishwasher and washing machine at the same time every night.

Fibre Internet
What I pay: $85 per month

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We have unlimited Fibre internet through 2degrees because 1) it’s one of the few telecommunications companies I still trust, 2) I get a little discount for having my mobile plan with them. Hooray!

Transport
What I pay: $19 per week

You might be surprised to see transport here. Transport? Doesn’t that belong to everyday expenses? I decided to include this here because I once read a personal finance tip that really stuck with me. The house you choose to buy or rent is so much more than just the house and where you live. It determines the size of your mortgage, how much your insurance is (based on risk in the area), your rates, maintenance, other living costs, and of course, the time it takes you to get anywhere. Where you choose to live fixes the new minimum amount you can expect to pay for fuel or public transport. In my case, if I take two bus journeys a day at $1.90 each way, 5 days a week, I have to top up my AT Hop card by at least $19 per week.

Other fun things..

On top of these, there are other fun things to think about. I also pay for lawnmowing every 3 weeks, and maintenance every so often – such as replacing lightbulbs and minor fixes to things like shower heads and downpipes (definitely not due to my carelessness.. It wasn’t me!).

But the most actually fun thing you pay for as a homeowner? FURNITURE!

Lounge

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I started with the essentials. When I moved in, I had four brand new purchases: a fridge, microwave, TV, and washer dryer combo. I brought along my own sofa bed I’d bought when I was renting. Six months into my time at the house, one year into our relationship, my partner moved in and I sold my TV as we upgraded to the larger one he already had.

We then continued upgrading as we went along, one thing at the time – from a kauri wooden shelf to a more modern, chic white cube shelf, and from a wooden desk to a fantastic white, glossy desk-shelf combo that rotates. I absolutely love it.

A year after living in the house together, my partner and I invested in some wonderful, thick blockout + thermal curtains. We spent $260 on them at Curtain Studio during a sale and saved money on the installation service by installing them ourselves one long Sunday afternoon. And what a difference it makes! We used to have white curtains and I loved how the sun shone through them; but now, we can see the TV clearly even on a sunny day.

Because they are thermal curtains, they are also supposed to trap heat, so along with the insulation, help to reduce the power bill by keeping the house warm and dry in winter.

I chose to invest in quality brands for important things like appliances, but went for inexpensive when it came to the little things. Those cushions on my couch? I think they are gorgeous, and they were from The Warehouse. None of our furniture or home decor is particularly expensive or luxurious, but our home feels like a home because of the small touches: a glowing Himalayan salt lamp, gold gilded agate crystal coasters, large framed art prints from independent creative artists on Etsy and Society6, homemade scented candles, and refreshing greenery & indoor plants – we have several Peace Lilies that are easy to care for and look full all year round!

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Starting simple and upgrading as we go is one of the best things we did, and is much better than borrowing or going into debt in an attempt to make everything absolutely perfect. It’s been two years and it may be two years more, but our dream home is worth the wait.

But one day? I hope to live in an apartment again. It’s peaceful in the suburbs, but in my heart of hearts, I’m a city girl who loves bright lights, a good view, and minimalist living (the small space makes life simple.. Also why I want to try #vanlife). But apartments come with limitations – carparks, pets, Bodycorp fees – and are now costing as much if not more than actual houses, so who knows? I’ll make the most out of suburban life while I can.

I hope you found today’s post helpful! If you have any comments or questions, I’d love to read them. You can leave me a message here – from you, or anonymously.

Thank you to a kind reader for sending me this! x

Comment

Love,

Sophia

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