According to Qualtrics, work-life balance involves the minimization of work-related stress, as well as establishing a stable and sustainable way to work while maintaining health and general well-being in your regular life. While it is true that absolute perfect balance and boundaries within your personal and professional lives at all times may be unattainable, it is important to note that buying the right home may impact this balance more than you may realize.
From a purely financial perspective, it is important to keep in mind what kind of monetary commitment you are undertaking when you purchase your home. Aside from the mortgage payment that includes taxes and interest, what are the other costs of owning your home? What kind of utility bills will you have to heat and cool your space? Will the age or condition of the home require frequent repairs or maintenance? Are there HOA fees, landscaping fees, or other bills that you aren’t considering?
In addition to the obvious costs, be sure you are budgeting accurately. Most experts recommend not going above 28% of your monthly gross income for homeownership expenses. If you go over that number by a lot, you might be placing undue stress or pressure on yourself to work more and generate more income to have breathing room in your monthly bills. Money stress is one of the highest predictors of high-level relationship troubles which can all lead to more work stress as well.
In addition to considering how your personal finances impact the amount of peace and calm you have in your work-life balance, it’s also important to consider your time when buying the right home. What are the time costs of owning a particular home? Will you need to spend your weekends mowing the lawn or pressure washing the siding? What about the commute time to and from work? How much of your day are you willing to give away to driving or riding on public transit by living in a particular neighborhood?
While yard work and commute times aren’t necessarily professionally work related, they are factors in determining how much free time you have outside of your job. Military families in particular are already sensitive to the many demands of a service career. Don’t let your house be another demand on your valuable time at home.
Finally, when considering a home purchase it is wise to evaluate all of the spaces in a potential house. The obvious priorities for most people include checking the boxes for an appropriate number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Consider living spaces as well when you are contemplating work-life balance. Think of the home and its “away spaces,” as in– where can you get away in the house to recharge?
Is there a great screened porch for breezy afternoon naps? Do you have teens and need separate living areas for when they have their friends over? What about space for the hobbies and interests that recharge your batteries? Is there room in the bedroom to roll out a yoga mat? Do you have a dedicated space for that trendy stationary bicycle? Do you love to cook? What about a perfect chef’s kitchen? If you are working remotely, do you have an office space where you can close a door for necessary quiet and privacy to get on your next Zoom call? No matter what your personal needs, be sure your home offers the space to accommodate it.
If you are in pursuit of a more centered approach to your work-life balance, consider the financial and time costs as well as the footprint of a home to ensure you are keeping your peace.