A divorce is one of the most stressful things a person can go through, and it can affect all areas of your life. Once the flurry of activity between lawyers and documents has settled, chances are you’ll be more than ready to move into the next chapter of your life, even if it feels uncertain. One of the biggest changes after divorce is likely to be your living situation, so here are some things to consider before buying a house.
5 Things to Consider Before Purchasing a New Home
1. Your Finances
Unless you and your spouse kept your finances completely separate during your marriage, your finances are going to be looking a little different. It’s important not to make any big purchases until you know what your new financial status is, otherwise you could wind up buying a property you can’t afford, or you’ll try to get a loan for a property and not qualify. Plus, many divorcees either have to make payments or receive payments, which can impact your budget substantially.
If you’re trying to put some distance between you and your former spouse, a relocation may mean a new job, which will have an effect on your life as well. Some people like to throw themselves into a big project after divorce, but others don’t have the energy. Both are valid responses, but you’ll need to know what you’re feeling up to when it comes to buying a move-in-ready house or a home that needs serious work. You may not be able to afford the perfect, newly built home you had your eye on but also be unwilling to take on all the projects required for a historic home.
2. Your Tastes
This is a great time to buy that home you’ve always wanted or make the renovations your former spouse always put off. Turn your basement into a home theater, or turn that guest bedroom into a home office. Buy the kitchen appliances you need to become a better chef or turn your backyard into an enviable entertainment space. Search for “pool builders near me” and put in a custom pool. Starting over can be scary, but this is also an opportunity to start building the lifestyle you want. Many people need time to recover after a divorce, so what better way to heal than on a float or in your brand new home library? Paint that accent wall pink and take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.
Location is a huge factor when it comes to buying a house, especially if you’re a parent. If you and your ex are going to share custody, you’ll probably want to stay roughly in the same area so you won’t need to drive for hours every other weekend. While the shorter distance is easier for you to drive, it can also be good for your kids to have easy access to both sides of their family. Plus, you never know when you’ll have an emergency and need an extra set of hands.
Location can make a huge difference when it comes to school districts, and you may have to decide between having your kids switch schools or stay where they are. This is also a great opportunity to move closer to your interests or hobbies. You can move closer to hiking trails or the museums in the city. If there’s somewhere you’ve always wanted to live and moving there is feasible, this may be the time to make a bold move with no strings attached.
4. Real Estate Experts
Though it can be embarrassing trying to talk to someone about your situation, it’s more relatable than you would think, and having an expert on your side who understands what you’re going through can be a big benefit. Speaking with realtors, lenders, or any other people who can relate to what you’re going through emotionally can make the process go more smoothly. For example, a realtor who doesn’t have experience with divorce may not understand what kind of home you need or may encourage you to buy when your finances aren’t settled yet.
5. Take Your Time
While you may feel like you need to rush into this next chapter and get everything finalized, you may not be ready yet, either. A home is a big purchase, so rushing in isn’t exactly ideal. Divorce proceedings can drag on, making it hard for you to deal with your emotions in the way you need to. This is the time to lean on your support network and plan your next move. Stay with your parents or a friend, or even rent for a little while as you navigate the housing market and decide what you really want in a new home.
Divorce can be a catastrophic life event, but there is life on the other side, too. This is your opportunity to build the life you want on your own terms, and with a little planning, you can find a new home that perfectly suits this new chapter.