The home buying process is expensive. There’s the down payment—which must be at least 5% of the home’s purchase price—as well as closing costs. If you’re buying a home in Toronto or Vancouver, you can expect these costs to be much higher than Halifax or Winnipeg.
But the costs don’t stop there. Many additional expenses will crop up after you’ve done your pre-purchase walkthrough, received your keys, and moved your last box of belongings into your home.
I bought a home at the end of July and I was caught off guard by a number of unexpected expenses that cropped up a few weeks after moving in. Here are four unexpected purchases I had to make during my first month of homeownership.
I had to purchase at least a dozen small items within the first week of living in my new home. Since I’d been a renter for almost a decade, many things that I’d taken for granted were now my responsibility. Things like outdoor garbage cans, a hose, rake, lawn mower, and plunger were all small purchases that added up quickly.
While my husband and I had our locks rekeyed when we moved into our home, there were other safety measures that we needed to take within the first month of homeownership.
For example, when the home inspector went through our home, he noted that the existing smoke detectors were at the end of their useful life. Since the home was heated with oil, my husband and I opted to purchase new smoke and carbon dioxide detectors for every level and sleeping space. This allowed us to rest easy knowing we were safe from fire and deadly gas leaks.
I also noticed that the previous owner took all of their fire extinguishers with them. Again, this was something that I took for granted as a renter. I opted to purchase new fire extinguishers and installed one on each floor of the home.
Finally, several of the motion sensor security lights installed around the outside of the home had burnt out and needed replacing. I purchased high-quality LED lighting that should last as long as I live there.
Our seller also took their curtains with them, which meant that all of the windows at the front of the home were uncovered and anyone could see right into my home. This was awkward and made me uncomfortable, and I could only live with it for a few weeks before purchasing inexpensive curtains, rods, and blinds.
As both a dog and cat owner, pet proofing my home is part of the standard operating procedure whenever I move into a new space, and my first house was no different. The previous owner didn’t have pets so I made a few changes to the home to ensure it was safe for my furry family members.
First, while the backyard was fenced, the small barrier between the house and the neighbours was high enough that my dog could fit under it. My husband and I fixed that by removing the fence and moving it down about six inches. That required the purchase of screws and outdoor caulking.
There were also several windows without adequate screening. I bought new screens for the windows so I could open them without our cats escaping. Finally, I purchased a shovel to dig up several plants that I knew were toxic to pets.
The bottom line
For many Canadians, the path to homeownership is an expensive one. To make sure you’re able to afford the unexpected costs associated with homeownership, save more than you think you’ll need, look for the best mortgage rates to minimize your monthly payments, and make sure to have an emergency fund in place before you buy.