I bought a home, now what?

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A few months ago I wrote about how I bought a condo. Despite how much I prepared, there was no way for sure to tell what would happen after I closed. Well, some things went according to plan, but some other things came up that were a bit annoying.

As a money guy, it was easy for me to make sure we had budgeted enough for closing costs and furniture. We even had some extra money available just in case something came up (something did). But what I quickly found is that everyone seems to have an opinion about real estate. I’m not talking about real estate bulls or bears, I mean, literally everyone will say something about your purchasing decision and it won’t always be positive.

I bought a home

Prepare to be judged

From my personal experience, I found that I was judged about my decision to buy a home. I’ve already stated that it would have been cheaper if I remained a renter so I can’t help but laugh whenever someone tells me I got a deal since I paid less than $500K for a 2-bedroom condo. What? You think I got a deal? I don’t think I got a deal. I bought a box in the sky that was over $400,000!

On the flip side of things, I also had people judging me because I purchased a condo. How can you live without green space they ask? It’s too small, you have no locker, you have to pay maintenance fees. Some of those people also thought I paid too much for my condo or were concerned about how it won’t appreciate as much as a house.

I got news for you; I don’t care what you think. My wife and I purchased what fit our lifestyle, and we did it within budget. Nevermind the fact that My wife and I had a 50% down payment, and we have no serious money worries or debt.

Costs start to add up

Once we moved in, costs began to add up. We anticipated painting and new furniture so we put aside some money for it, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed spending all the cash. Here’s a look at some of the expenses we had to pay for when we moved in.

  • $1,000 – painter
  • $500 – dining table
  • $350 – dining table chairs
  • $2,600 – couch
  • $1,500 – new blinds
  • $300 – side table
  • $100 – new light bulbs
  • $500 – miscellaneous kitchen / bathroom stuff
  • $200 – supplies for minor repairs
  • $100 – cleaning supplies

All in, I spent about $6,250 to date which isn’t too bad, but I also still need to get a few more things that could cost me another $1,000. The good thing about living in a condo is that I’m not tempted to buy things for my home just for the sake of buying them. If I had a house, I imagine I would be want to furnish rooms I don’t even use. I’m not a minimalist, but I’m already seeing the advantages of having less stuff.

The above list doesn’t even include property tax ($1,500 for the remainder of the year) or my maintenance fees ($500 per month). Again these expenses were expected, but you can see how things can add up fast if you’re not prepared

What you can’t prepare for

Immediately after I moved in, I started to notice a few small things that annoyed me or needed repairs. My standup shower was leaking, the light bulbs were dim, and one of my door handles only opened when turned upwards.

I figured out that the shower just needed some new caulking. At first, I was hesitant to admit this because I was a bit intimidated by that kind of repair job. I quickly realized it was a simple job and easy to do on my own.

With the door handle, I thought it was installed wrong so I just took it apart but I then noticed it actually wasn’t working properly. Installing a new one was pretty painless.

The light bulbs annoyed me the most since they were dim and I prefer white light bulbs. I went out and bought new bulbs, but when I went to install them, I noticed that the fixtures were too big for standard size bulbs which is why there was dimmer bulbs in them to begin with. These seemed like a design flaw so I had to search multiple stores to find bulbs that were bright enough, the right temperature, and fit my fixtures.

Again, all of the above things were pretty minor, but you can see how it can be pretty time consuming. It required multiple trips to various stores, and I had to research and do the repairs on my own.

How my budget is looking

Fortunately, because I had such a large down payment, my monthly budget hasn’t changed much. My monthy living costs have gone up a touch so I did reduce my long-term savings a bit. I’ve always believed in experiences which is why I decided not to reduce any of my spending categories. Travel will still continue to be a big part of my life and for now, I want to keep my travel budget where it’s at.

Since my mortgage rate is just 2.39% fixed for 5 years, I’m also not putting much effort to paying down my mortgage fast. I did elect for advanced bi-weekly payments, and I’m making 15% extra payments every month, but I’ll probably avoid any yearly lump sum payments. I’m fairly confident that I can get a better return than 2.39% in the markets. More importantly, I much prefer to diversify my portfolio.

Moving forward, I’ll max out my TFSA (and my wife’s) every year like I normally do. If I have extra money saved, then I’ll consider making additional mortgage prepayments.

Someone will always have an opinion

No matter what you do with your home, someone will have an opinion. This is a major struggle for me because I’m the type of person to call things as they are. If someone is saying something to me that I know is wrong, then I’m going to call them out on it.

I find it difficult to bite my tongue when people criticize the decisions I make. I try not to judge people and expect the same back, but I know that’s not realistic.

To be honest, I’m not sure I even want to have a house condo warming party because the last thing I want is more people judging me. Then again, after reading this post, maybe people won’t want to come over. I’m okay with that too.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. eemusings on August 11, 2016 at 12:14 AM


    Anytime you move somewhere new – rented or owned – you always start noticing these niggly little things pretty soon. After renting for a decade I’m used to that, it’s inevitable! For me it’s the water pressure – surprisingly I thought the tiny bathroom would be what most got on my nerves but it’s not so bad. But the good thing is I can do whatever I want and fix whatever I want, the way I want.

    I think a lot of non NZ bloggers judged me, but they don’t understand the NZ market and context of renting vs buying here.

    • Barry Choi on August 11, 2016 at 1:32 AM

      NZ Muse,

      It’s true. After I had my new place painted, I was obsessed with every little scuff. I quickly realized it wasn’t worth the headaches. Also in the last 48 hours, I’ve realized there might be something wrong with freezer. Ugggh being a homeowner costs so much money!

  2. Jordann on August 11, 2016 at 8:16 AM

    People love judging about real estate! Although I haven’t had anyone say anything bad directly to my face about my new home purchase, I’m sure there are comments going around behind my back that I just haven’t heard yet.

    I agree that you have to do what is right for YOUR situation, and so what if it doesn’t suit other people? It’s not like you would ever put yourself in financial jeopardy, and beyond that, it’s no one’s business what you do with your money.

    Also, I hear you about finding many niggling things about your new home! I’ve been in my new house for about two weeks and I have a renovation list about a mile long! Most are small things, like take off all the 80 year old door handles, stripping them of the 18 coats of paint and re-installing, and others are much more significant, like renovating the attic into a master suite (next year). I have to keep reminding myself that it’ll all get done in good time.

    • Barry Choi on August 11, 2016 at 9:38 AM


      Yeah it always seems like everyone has an opinion about real estate. Since I’m in a condo, the only thing I have left to worry about is getting a new lighting fixture. Anything else that annoyed me has already been switched out.

  3. Sean Cooper, Financial Journalist on August 13, 2016 at 10:37 AM

    Congrats on buying your condo, Barry. There will always be naysayers and hater. Just ignore them. You made the right decision for your wife and you. As long as the maintenance fees aren’t jacked up, I think it’s a solid investment and more importantly a place to call home.

  4. Scott @ Couple of Sense on August 22, 2016 at 8:43 PM

    You’ll have to ignore the irony that I’m commenting on how everyone has an opinion…because I do as well. I agree that people will always have an opinion when it comes to real estate especially. Sometimes the same person will have an issue if you are renting, buying a condo, a townhouse, a semi or a detached – it is almost like some people are so eager to have conflict they’ll just disagree with anything you do regardless of logic. Also – I feel for you on those light bulbs, the specialty bulbs can be so pricey sometimes it is better to just replace the fixture.

    • Barry Choi on August 22, 2016 at 11:36 PM


      Yeah I’ve learned that haters gonna hate so I don’t really care.

  5. Jaymee on September 2, 2016 at 3:17 AM

    I’d come to your house warming and celebrate the fact that your home is 50% paid off! How many people can actually say that??!

    I’m so happy to hear you chose lifestyle over what “people think you should buy”. With a 50% down payment I can see why some people might think you wasted it on a condo when you could’ve paid for 25% of a single detached home.

    And your money situation after buying your condo sounds so “under control” like you’ve got it all together and you’ve got wiggle room in your budget. That’s what I’d like to feel like after we buy a house.

    Are you going to post pictures of your new home Barry? 😀

    • Barry Choi on September 2, 2016 at 8:50 AM


      It’s true I could have used my down payment as 25% of a detached house, but that would mean I would be borrowing $600K, and that wasn’t something we wanted to do. It’s unlikely I’ll post pictures of my new place, but I will definitely share pix of my travels since that’s where all my saved money goes.

  6. Harry on September 7, 2016 at 9:10 AM

    I like your thought process and I think you made a good decision, one that fits your lifestyle as you say. The condo purchase is within your means and doesn’t financially compromise your hobbies & interests (travel). You considered the size of the down payment and even considered the alternative cost of opportunity (market returns greater than the 2.39% interest rate). You are doing great! Congratulations and welcome to the Homeowners’ Club!

    • Barry Choi on September 7, 2016 at 9:20 AM

      Thanks Harry!

      Yes, this home purchase was the right fit for my wife and I. Before I bought a home, I was worried that there would be a lifestyle change, but I’m glad that hasn’t happened. 2.39% is stupid cheap for a mortgage.

  7. Farhan on September 7, 2016 at 9:47 AM

    Sir, Found you via the Globe link. if you are going to play at beaing a personal finance expert, at least consider looking at condo prices and maintenance in terms of $ per square foot. $500K for a 2 bedroom is meaningless vs $750 per square foot. By the way you can buy an older condo for less per square foot, renovate it and you got yourself a bargain. Particularly if its an older building with good bones.
    Also dropping 50% down when 5 year money is as low as 2.39% is a bad personal finance choice. You should be able to earn more after tax and come out ahead. Good luck though and congrats on convincing people and yourself that you are an expert.
    Also, if you put yourself out there, grow some thicker skin.
    Some thoughts from a non-expert.
    One last thought, consider African Safari or Great Barrier Reef as vacation spots.

    • Barry Choi on September 7, 2016 at 9:59 AM


      I actually purposely bought an older condo where the per square foot cost was less than $500. I’m well aware that 2.39% is ridiculously low for borrowing money which, but the 50% down was for peace of mind and allowed me to increase my monthly cash flow. As stated in the article, I have no intention of rushing to pay down my mortgage.

      Thank you for sharing your comments and your perspective is exactly what the title of the post is all about.

  8. sherylsmolkin on September 7, 2016 at 4:26 PM

    Congratulations Barry, Buying a home is an emotional as well as a financial decision. We have been homeowners for all 40 years of our marriage (3 houses) and I would not have had it any other way. It just feels different to live in our OWN place, not have to worry about moving unless we want to and decorating to our own taste. Also having $1million in equity is also a prettycool part of our retirement plan!

  9. Jing Jing (@superziajing) on October 6, 2016 at 10:08 PM

    This is so smart! I remember the time when I decided to invest in a condo and I also heard a lot of bad things regarding my decision. I know I did the right thing.

  10. Thomas on February 12, 2017 at 7:36 PM

    Re: Leaking showers, doorknobs, etc. I believe that 90% of home maintenance tasks can be done by any homeowner capable of reading instructions. And the more one does those maintenance tasks the easier they become as one builds a knowledge base / skill set. It surprises me how many people feel they can’t change out a light switch or repair or install a kitchen faucet. I guess not knowing keeps the handyman employed. I also understand some people have no interest in such tasks, but if you are a home / condo owner and want to talk about keeping the “money you have”, basic home maintenance skills go a long way.

  11. Piggy on March 25, 2017 at 7:17 PM

    You do you! I’m so glad you and your wife found a home that fits YOUR needs. It can be frustrating to put up with opinions from people who aren’t in your situation and don’t understand your lifestyle. My parents have looked on in horror at my home-buying and renovating process because “What about the resale value?!” Meanwhile we’re making this house a home that works for US, not for the people who might eventually live here.
    Anyway you’ll get no judgment from me. Congratulations. 😀

  12. Amanda on October 27, 2017 at 1:53 PM

    Duplicate of me. My husband and i went throught exactly the same thing

  13. Amanda on October 27, 2017 at 1:54 PM

    do you find it easier to pay bi-weekly?

    • Barry Choi on October 27, 2017 at 2:59 PM


      We always intended to pay bi-weekly so it wasn’t easier if you know what I mean. For us, it was the only realistic option since it reduced our mortgage by 7 years.

  14. […] my wife and I went house hunting, we were approved for a million dollars, but we ended up buying a condo for less than half of that amount. I imagine that our lifestyle would be quite different if we […]

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