Courtesy of Cheryl Lock.
- In 2015, Cheryl Lock and her husband started looking to buy a house in Denver, Colorado, for their growing family.
- The cost of living in Denver is high, and in 2016, they bought a three-bedroom, three-bathroom house in a suburb.
- Their house costs them about $2,254 to $2,374 a month, plus irregular expenses like pest control, landscaping needs and general maintenance and repairs.
As someone who has spent the majority of her adult life living in cities — first Manhattan, then Denver — I never really thought much about owning a home.
Then, I got pregnant.
Suddenly the funky apartment that my husband and I shared in the trendy LoDo neighborhood of Denver with the rooftop hot tub and fire pit overlooking the basement stadium seemed very … small.
And so began our search for a home to call our own. We started looking in October of 2015 and finally found our dream spot in a Denver suburb in April of 2016, just three short months before my due date. In case you haven’t heard, Denver real estate has really exploded over the past few years, and so 11 offers, one suck-up letter to the owners and $28,500 above asking price later, we had our house.
Two factors in particular worked in our favor when it came to buying our home:
- The fact that we had lived in cities before and were used to paying astronomical rents meant that our mortgage definitely never gave us sticker shock.
- The fact that we waited until we were somewhat older and a bit more established in our careers meant we had some savings to fall back on, and we were able to put down a full 20% for our down payment.
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Our three bed/three bath slice of heaven came with approximately 1,900 sq. feet of living space. This was unimaginably large in our city dwelling brains at the time, but has since become an absolute necessity since the birth of our first and then second daughters.
In the three years since we’ve lived here we’ve finished the basement and added a bathroom, updated the outdoor deck and thrown on a pergola, plus we’ve made countless other tiny changes throughout to put our own stamp on our humble abode.
We love raising our daughters here — taking them to the lake that’s two streets away, playing on the swings at the park that’s a five-minute walk or hitting any of the dozens of nearby trails. The fact that we only live 15 minutes from downtown Denver also helps when we get a little stir crazy being out in the suburbs.
Since we were able to put down a nice sum for the down payment and we lucked out and got a good deal on an interest rate for our mortgage loan, we’re lucky that our monthly payments aren’t too insane.
Still, every little bit adds up, and since we both live far from our families, we frequently have visitors who stay anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks or more. My husband is Australian, so his family travels far for those visits and likes to make the most of them! The basement that we finished off has more than paid for itself as a home-away-from home for anyone who comes to stay.
Here’s what our average housing expenses look like on any given month:
- Mortgage: $1,835.54 (30-year fixed, with an interest rate of 3.875%)
- Energy: Anywhere from $100 on up to $200+, depending on the month and number of guests we’ve had
- Water: Approx $80 to $200 paid every other month, again depending on the month and number of guests we’ve had
- Insurance (combined car and home): $143
- Cable/Internet: $92
- HOA: $80 paid four times a year
- Security system: $44.99 a month
Total budgeted monthly costs: About $2,254.54 to $2,374.54, depending on guests and including quarterly HOA fees and water payments every other month
Additional costs like pest control, landscaping needs and general maintenance and repairs crop up from time to time, but the above fees are what we can count on (and budget specifically for) every single month.
Making the move from renting an apartment to owning a home hasn’t shocked me financially as much as I thought it would, but perhaps that’s because I became a mom at right about the same time, which is basically all-consuming. There is a certain amount of effort that goes into keeping up with the Joneses, but even if we let something slip with regard to our curb appeal, our HOA will certainly remind us to spiffy things up.
I love living in a house, despite the added expenses, but at the same time, I’m glad we waited until we did to buy. Our place absolutely feels like home — at least for the foreseeable future — and for someone who has moved over a dozen times in her life, it’s nice to finally put down roots.
Now, if I could just rein in the buying of home goods, I’d be all set.
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