Expat Magazine

Buying Your First House? 9 Tips for a Stress-Free Move

By Mint Mocha Musings @nicoledwebb

Buying a house

I don’t take a lot of guest posts on MMM but when I do, I want to know that they’re going to be interesting for you, my lovely readers. This particular one from freelance writer Allison Hail piqued my interest, given we were in a similar position not all that long ago. If you’re about to jump into the housing market and buy your own home, this one’s for you.


You might be wondering what’s the easiest way to move out of your rental property. There’s definitely a lot to consider, but if you follow a few key guidelines you’ll save yourself a truck load of stress!

  1. Don’t rush things

Yes, if you’re anything like me, the first house you view might seem like ‘the one’ (take it from me, I had my heart set on every one we saw) but don’t buy it on a whim just because you’re so excited to finally stop renting and have you’re own pad! Finding a worthy space is bound to take a while, so give yourself plenty of time for planning sessions, researching the market and area you want to live in. Commit yourself to the process and be in it for the long haul.

Treat each viewing as if you are a potential landlord critiquing it, investigating assets and features such as accessibility, distance from your workplace and necessary amenities, house structure, and positioning for sunlight. (This one’s a biggie because you’ll regret not knowing which way is north facing when you feel like you’re living in a dungeon!)

Noting all the potential negatives as well as the things you love will ensure you aren’t looking at outwardly appealing properties with rose-tinted lenses – after all, you’ll be the one living in the home and responsible for fixing any problems that arise, like that pesky mould issue or the aircon that doesn’t work in summer.

  1. Budget for your mortgage

You might be up for paying more for your mortgage than you are for rent, or you might be looking at a similar figure – but make sure you budget well for your payments. A mortgage isn’t as easy to back out of as a rental contract. If you can, regularly put aside money as a safety net, which will help you to feel secure and ensure that you don’t fall behind in payments if something adverse happens in your life. Even if you’re choosing to pay ‘interest only’ on the mortgage for a period of time, make sure you still have the full amount put away, if necessary.

Purchasing a new house

  1. Stay organised

Naturally, buying a home requires a great deal of paperwork, so it helps to be organised and to know what to expect. There will come a time when you’re hightailing it into the city to get a cheque for 20 grand, and you’ll need all your ducks in a row.

Carefully research your obligations as a unit owner, and make sure you are prepared to meet them before signing a contract. Some people choose to invest in an agent who will take care of all of this for you, but it comes at a hefty price and unless you’re out of the country, I don’t recommend it. 

And if you are moving from overseas… here are a few tips for repatriation. 

  1. Remember your landlord

So, you’ve finally found a place you want to buy! Don’t get so caught up in the elation that you neglect to consider your current place of residence.

Remember to check the notice period for your rental property so you can offer your landlord advanced notice. It’s all in the timing. You don’t want to be forced to pay a month’s rent for a place you won’t be living in, and it’s good to consider all parties involved – ending a contract or agreement on good terms is always a wise move.

  1. Plan your move

How are you planning on transporting your belongings? If your new place isn’t too far from your current residence, you may be able to recruit your friends (with the promise of a six pack and a pizza) to help you pack and move your furniture. (My tip: Start collecting those boxes early.)

However, if you’re moving house across cities or internationally, hiring professional movers will save you so much hassle. Just make sure you keep out all of those things you’ll need sooner rather than later, because (especially if you’re coming from overseas) shipping can take weeks if not months.

International moves can be exceptionally stressful, as you will be separated from your belongings. You might like to consider renting a shipping container – built for durability, shipping containers are large enough to hold a decent amount of furniture and can be insured for peace of mind.

Also, think about whether you’ll be transporting all of your current furniture to your new home. If you won’t need all of it or are planning to redecorate (aka serious retail therapy), lighten your load now by donating, selling or even swapping your furniture for pieces you will soon need. Gumtree is a good one to get started on, just be prepared for lots of knocks on the door and potential buyers who suddenly back out.

  1. Make yourself a toolbox

When renting, you most likely had someone available to fix your fridge or a leak in the ceiling soon after you reported a problem. In your own home, any issues are your responsibility, so be prepared! Buy the necessary tools for repairs and ongoing maintenance. FYI, Ikea does a great mini drill! 

Buying a house

  1. Consider the furniture a new home will require

Often, having been a renter means you haven’t had to worry about purchasing every single piece of furniture needed for a home. Don’t let yourself be caught out – make a list of the new furniture and appliances you’ll need, and arrange for them to be ready either before or as soon as possible after your move date. Sometimes things take time to be delivered and you don’t want to be caught short without a couch or TV for several months.

You’ll also want to consider getting things like the internet and cable TV sorted before the big move.

  1. Meet your new neighbourhood

Before you move, get yourself acquainted with your new neighbourhood’s amenities. You’ll feel much more at home when you move in, if you already have a feel for the area and know where you can pick up food or petrol on a whim. If you’ve got children, of course schools are going to be a priority. Make sure you’re in the right catchment for the school you’ve got your heart set on. Sometimes the same street can be split right down the middle and you’re just a few houses out.

  1. Enjoy the experience

You’re finally paying your own mortgage instead of somebody else’s! If you follow your plan and treat the experience as exciting rather than terrifying, you’re sure to love the freedom that owning your place will give you. Moving to your first home is always rewarding – happy nesting!  

packing up your house

Allison Hail is a freelance writer residing in the North Island port city of Wellington, New Zealand. She especially enjoys discussing anything related to home living, travel, and lifestyle. To read more of her articles or simply say hello, visit Allison’s Perspective. 


Psst…If you’re planning on staying in the renting game a little longer you might want to check out this post on the most affordable cities to rent in, in the world. 

Oh, and (shameless self promotion alert) if you haven’t voted for Mint Mocha Musings in the 2018 Asian Expat Blog awards, it would be super appreciated by yours truly (Nicole). It’s easy, just click the link and vote for me. 


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