3 Strategies I Used to Buy My First Home and Start My Own Business
- I was born and raised in Toronto, which is known for its breathtaking real estate prices.
- I wanted my own accommodation, so I looked for much cheaper places and protected my money from risk.
- The lower cost of living and lifestyle changes even helped me start my own business.
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I grew up poring over interior design magazines when most kids played with dolls and toy cars. I dreamed of my future home and fantasized about floor plans down to the smallest detail. As an older millennial, I’m part of the generation that assumed we would have the same opportunities in life as our parents, namely owning property and having children.
I was born and raised in Toronto, which is making international headlines for its out of control real estate market. In my late twenties, it became clear that I might never be able to afford to buy a house in my hometown.
After years of living abroad, my husband and I moved back to Toronto in 2014. We worked hard to save, knowing we could only afford a small condo in town, even with our two incomes. .
We were on the road to home ownership when my husband passed away very suddenly and these projects, like so many others in my life, were put on hold indefinitely.
With so much of the future that we had planned together now out of reach for me, I put my head down and put all my energy into my work and healing from the loss. I finally found my way back to my dream of owning my own home, even though nothing in my life was like what I thought. These 3 financial decisions helped me reach my goal of home ownership.
1. I got my money right away
The unexpected death of my husband forced me to learn how to manage my finances, and fast. I worked with an independent financial advisor to help me invest my money wisely and develop a structure that suited my new single salary. I slowly started working towards my goal of home ownership.
About a year before I started looking for a house, I moved almost all of my investments out of the markets into savings accounts to hedge against market fluctuations and to make the funds available to me on down payment. .
I also created and funded an emergency savings account and a home repair fund. I would use the latter in its entirety within the first year of purchasing my century home.
2. Location, location, location
I had been pushed out of Toronto’s booming real estate market years ago. I couldn’t even afford to buy a condo within an hour’s drive of town. When the pandemic hit, my nonprofit work moved away completely, and I had one less reason to stay in a city that was effectively pushing me away.
I set my sights on growing housing markets outside of the city, but still within reasonable commuting distance. I ultimately chose my location strategically, focusing on transport links, its proximity to three major cities, stable tourist markets and booming areas.
Although I love my house, it’s also my biggest investment and it has to earn a living — so to speak. When I went for the last visit before closing the sale with my real estate agent, she casually mentioned that I couldn’t afford to buy this house on the market today.
So it was a good thing I bought when I did – only two months earlier!
3. Lower cost of living and lifestyle changes are helping me start my business
A few months after living in my new home, it became clear to me that I was ready for a new adventure in my career. At the time, I had been in permanent, salaried employment with a nonprofit for over five years and was ready for change.
I also had our eventual return to the Toronto office hanging over my head, which worried me about my new commute. I was happy to work from home.
My new life in a small town, with a mortgage that was about half of what I paid in rent each month to live in the big city, meant that I could strike out on my own and become fully independent – another of my dreams.
The lower cost of living in my new home allowed me to take the financial risk of quitting my full-time job, starting my own business, and effectively eliminating the need to travel to town.
Against all odds, I was able to achieve my dream of home ownership by being creative and focusing on the financial steps that would help me get there.