From Apartment to House: Six Unexpected Costs

apartment vs house

With a downpayment, closing costs, and moving expenses, homeownership can be rather expensive from the get go. For a first time homeowner who has rented an apartment their whole life, it can be even more money than expected. That’s because there are a few extra costs that you may not think about when you first move from an apartment to a house. You’ll learn these quickly, believe me. Because not only did we learn a few things about buying a home the hard way, we also learned a few things about moving from an apartment to a house.

For the first few months, it seemed like we were spending a ton of money on the house – and we were. Every time we needed to fix something or a bill came in, it seemed as though our already-drained savings was dwindling even more. Why? Because there were a number of costs we didn’t think about when we moved. We were so focused on the upfront costs of moving, we didn’t see into the near future or take into consideration the differences of owning a home vs. renting an apartment. Here are six costs you should consider when going from renting to owning.

ONE: More Space Needs More Stuff

We went from a two-bedroom apartment to a four bedroom house complete with a basement and a four-seasons room. We only had furniture and decor for a two-bedroom apartment with a living room and very small dining area. We had two extra bedrooms, an extra room, and a new dining space to fill with stuff we didn’t have. So we had to go out and buy some furniture. We still don’t have anything for our home office, which is so bare right now, I use it as my own private yoga studio. 

TWO: Property Taxes are a Real Thing

I have lived in an apartment my whole adult life so I never took into consideration property taxes, nor did I know they were thousands of dollars – and that you have to pay them twice a year! Keep this in mind so these don’t sneak up on you. I suggest looking up the property tax info on the home and the area. Zillow.com usually shows the tax history of the home you are thinking of buying.

THREE: Home Maintenance Depends on You

This one is a big one. Apartment renters are spoiled when it comes to home maintenance. When I lived in an apartment, fixing any broken appliance only required a call to the maintenance man. Not only did he fix it, my landlord paid for it! Now, we either have to pay someone to fix the problem or do it ourselves, which also costs money because we have to pay for the parts needed to fix it. And if you have a big appliance break? There goes one paycheck.

Not only that, but you also need to have the tools handy to fix things. Since my husband and I were apartment dwellers, we never needed power tools or other complicated (and expensive) tools. All we had when we moved in were a few screwdrivers, a monkey wrench, a hammer, and some pliers. Needless to say, we’ve become regulars at the local hardware store.

FOUR: You have an Outdoor Space Now Too

On the same note, when we lived in an apartment, we never had a yard, and any grass and sidewalk issues were dealt with by the maintenance staff and landlords. So when we had our first big snow storm (we live in Michigan), we had to spend money on snow shovels and de-icer. Then, come spring time, we had to buy such expensive lawn and garden supplies as a lawnmower, leaf blower, weed whacker, and hedge trimmers. On top of that, we also had to purchase mulch and flowers to make sure our home looked at least a little presentable.

FIVE: More Utilities and Higher Bills

Before I bought a home, I never had to pay for water. Oh how I miss the days I could take 20+ minute showers without thinking twice. The first time I got our water bill, I swear, I took two-minute showers and refused to do more than one load of laundry per week. When it comes to buying a house, you don’t just own the home, you own all of the utility bills that come with it. All of them. And that can get pretty costly. Not only do you have more bills, they are usually higher if the home is bigger than your apartment or has drafts or hardwood floors, etc.

SIX: Homeowner’s Insurance

So necessary, but so expensive – and required by most lenders if you get a mortgage. But honestly, who wouldn’t want homeowner’s insurance? If your home is broken into, there is a fire, or a storm causes damage to your home, it’s good to know you have it to help you recover your loss.

While there are some additional costs, you can actually save money from owning a home as well. For one, you can get money back on taxes from the interest you’ve paid on your mortgage all year. Also, you could end up paying less on your mortgage than you do on rent depending on how much you put down, how much you borrowed, and what your interest rate it. Our mortgage is about the same as our rent payment because we no longer have to pay a pet fee for our dog. And while the utilities were higher in the beginning, we’ve found some ways to make them lower. I am sure you’ll find these tricks on this blog in the near future! And, honestly, it is all worth it to be able to paint our walls however we want, have our TV up loud, live somewhere our dog is allowed, and not have to deal with shady landlords.

What is (or was) your favorite thing about apartment living? What is your favorite thing about homeownership?

2 thoughts on “From Apartment to House: Six Unexpected Costs

  1. Lauren – first, thanks for writing this, it’s super helpful! I am considering purchasing my first home, and have been thinking about all of these factors when weighing my decision. At the end of the day, would you say it is significantly more expensive to own than rent? I’m trying to determine if it makes sense for me right now, and initially it seemed like yes, but when factoring in all of these other costs, it seems like it may not be as good of an investment as initially thought….Just wondering your take on it!

    1. Hey Laura! First, thanks for reading! I am glad you found this helpful. It is a little hard to answer this because everyone’s situation is different, and every home is different! Some homes may need more work than others. For us, the first year has been more expensive than renting, just because of the costs I mentioned in this post (and homeowners insurance too!). If you are questioning it, you may want to save some more money. I wish we would have saved a little more before we bought the house. I don’t want to deter anyone from buying a home, but make sure you are comfortable with your financial situation to be able to put down a few thousand dollars and then have to spend a couple hundred to a couple thousand more on expenses like those mentioned in the post. If you decide to wait a bit longer to save money, enjoy looking at homes online in the meantime. You’ll learn more of what you want and definitely don’t want in a home to help in your search when you are ready! Make sure to keep your eyes on interest rates and home prices, too. Right now, interest rates are apparently at their lowest and home values continue to rise, so, it is a good time to buy – but only if you’re ready. I hope this helped! I also have a new post today that can answer a little more too. ☺ Take a look!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *