Hidden Expenses for Homeowners

There are plenty of expenses associated with owning a home. Unfortunately, many of those expenses don’t become obvious until after you’ve bought your first house or condo. That why it’s important to take into account the true cost of owning a home before making the decision to buy. Here are a few hidden expenses to consider.

If you’ve never owned a home before…

You’ll most likely to get hit with hidden expenses if this is your first time owning a home, because up until now someone else has probably paid for the majority of the things that “come up” where you live. Typically, people forget about things like landscaping, lawn care (and the tools that go with that), trash removal, recycling, a much larger water bill, HOA fees (and special assessments), homeowner’s insurance, and the costs associated with all the things that can go wrong with a house.

For example, when you rent, if your garbage disposal stops working, you call the landlord. But when you own, it’s up to you to pay for the costs of repairs or replacement. That goes for things like your washer & dryer, dishwasher, fridge, stove, air conditioner, hot water heater, regular heater, plumbing, electrical, and roof too. And if you have a basement, you’ve got to think about the possibility of that flooding. Granted, most houses are not money pits where everything is constantly going wrong, but things do wear out — more often than anyone would like. And when they do, you’ll have to pay to have them fixed or to fix them yourself.

Moving up in house

If you’re thinking of moving to a larger house, there’ll almost certainly be some increased expenses to go along with the larger size. Your heating and cooling bill will likely increase (unless you lived in a particularly poorly insulated place before, which can happen.) You’ll probably want more furniture to fill up the larger space, and you may have more windows to cover. Your insurance bills will likely increase too, since you’ll probably be paying for coverage on a more expensive place. Basically, with a larger house come larger bills. It pays to get as much information about the increased costs as you can before buying so that you can be prepared.

Where you live matters too

In all cases, where you choose to buy makes a difference too, because some areas are much more prone to natural disasters than others. If you’ll be buying in an area that gets tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, volcano eruptions, or wild fires, well, you’re going to want to insure both your house and its contents against those things. And every little insurance rider increases the amount you’ll pay. The better your coverage, the higher your cost. Of course, there will also be deductibles to pay if something does go wrong, and items to replace that may not be covered.

There are some areas I wouldn’t even consider buying a house, unless I could afford to just throw up my hands and say “oh well, no big deal” if it were destroyed — simply because the insurance costs would be outrageous if I could get it.

It’s not all doom and gloom

I don’t mean to imply that owning a home is all doom and gloom. My homeowner experiences have all been great, and there are many benefits to homeownership. But there are hidden expenses to prepare for before you buy. Better to know what you’re getting into ahead of time than to stretch to buy a home, only to find out after the fact that there were a lot of costs you hadn’t even thought about. So definitely consider the associated costs if you’ve never owned a home before, are thinking of moving to a larger house, or are thinking of moving to an area that is prone to natural disasters.

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10 comments

  • We have owned our home since 2010, and it’s been great. We have an emergency fund for anything that may come up, so I don’t have to worry about these “unexpected expenses” at all :) But it’s definitely good to plan for things to break, because it happens.

    We had our water heater go out a month ago, and all it took was $500 and a Saturday to get up and going again. I think that in addition to an emergency fund, a little know how, some basic tools and the internet will go a long way and SAVE YOU THOUSANDS in the long run.

  • I know the home we are having built now will have double to triple the property taxes and home owner’s insurance. The utilities will actually only increase by 20% though. I think our lawn care service and definitely our biweekly housekeeper will need more money too…

  • Excellent advice. Too many times people only think about the money it takes to get into a house, not what it takes to keep it up. Buying a new or relatively new home will give you longer until things start to break down, but it still happens.

  • I live in Florida and hurricanes are a problem here. It is worth the higher insurance to us to be three blocks from the beach :)

  • Great reminders for both people looking to purchase a house as well as those who already own. Having an “emergency fund” definitely can ease the unforeseen situations that can arise and is a MUST.

    Another thing for both those looking to buy and those who already have purchased – SHOP AROUND for utilities, services and insurances. Saving on those items will only help your bottom line and the additional money can help fuel the emergency fund!