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How to buy cheap and live big

By Claire Briggs

In a world of rising real estate prices, it can be hard to maintain the lifestyle you’re used to as well as afford a nice house. Fortunately, there could be a way you can achieve both. Of course, there’s no gain without pain and some sacrifices will have to be made. Choosing where to splash out and when can mean a better long term outcome without sacrificing too much in the way of lifestyle now.

Buy bigger than you need

It probably seems very counter-intuitive, but when looking at houses for sale, consider an extra bedroom to reduce cost. Yes – reduce cost. If you would ideally like a modern three-bedroom, two-bathroom free-standing house, why not look at an older three- or four-bedroom house with one bathroom?
Depending on the layout, a 70s bungalow with an extra bedroom, study or formal living area could be renovated in time to be a modern three-bedroom, two-bathroom house. Pushing a bedroom into an adjoining room will give ample space to build a brand new ensuite and walk-in-robe.
Although this means you can’t have the house of your dreams right now, you can have a lot of space, with the potential for a great house in time and have more disposable income left over after mortgage payments every month.
You could further assist your lifestyle by renting one or two rooms out. This is ideal for young couples who will want a bigger house for a family one day, but can live with just one or two bedrooms now. This may mean sharing a kitchen and bathroom for a couple years, but the rent you bring in could pay off the renovations to create your dream home.

Buy smaller than you need

No, we’re not trying to confuse you – this really is a great strategy too. For very young families or couples starting out, a small house with room to extend in the future could be just the ticket. As long as you have enough land to build another room or two onto your house, buying a one- or two-bedroom house that needs a bit of TLC isn’t a bad idea.
If you can convince the family to get a bit cosier for a couple years, or perhaps store some stuff in the garage and park the car outside, you could refinance in a couple years time to extend the house into the home you desire.
The benefits of this are that there are no moving costs, the kids won’t need to go to a new school or make new friends and you can change the house to suit your own style. It’s the next best thing after buying land and building new, for making sure you can customise your home to your lifestyle.
While you are putting money away for your additions and renovations, you can take the opportunity to do a little DIY around the place. Insulating, painting and garden work don’t require much effort and can make the house much more enjoyable to live in in the meantime.
If you’re super handy or are close friends with a couple builders, you may be able to increase the value of your home by adding a carport or a deck at very little cost. Changes like these will be useful when you apply to refinance in a couple years to extend.

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