When it’s finally time to get off the starting blocks and buy a new home, one of the questions people ask: How much do you need to in order to get a place—and how much do you need in order to keep it?
People tend to focus an awful lot on the towering down payment. Then they carefully calculate their closing costs and monthly mortgage payments. Maybe they’ll even factor in the cost of a plush new sofa, and a hot new SUV to park in the driveway. But before they settle into sweet domestic bliss, they really need to come to grips with something else, too: the true costs of homeownership.
Because they aren’t aways so obvious.
Property taxes, leaky roofs, home insurance, and termites — oh my. Truth be told, there are all sorts of hidden costs that could turn your bargain basement deal into a den of financial horrors. Unless, that is, you go in with eyes open wide. The data team at realtor.com® ran the numbers to figure out the cities with the highest hidden costs of homeownership, all in the interest of helping fend off major coronary episodes once the bills come in.
Before you panic and renew your lease, remember that in most places, buying still beats renting in the long run—even with all the costs of ownership included. You’re building equity, remember?
The bottom line is: Be prepared for all the costs of ownership. Financial adviser Jenna Rogers with Mission Wealth Management often advises first-time home buyers to make a list of all the expenses that are expected for at least the first year.
“Open a new savings account, and designate it as the ‘home account,'” Rogers says. “Send the necessary amount to this home account every month. That way, when you have to pay property taxes, for example, you’ve already had the cash build up.”
Still, those costs can vary dramatically, depending on where you live. We ranked the 100 largest metropolitan areas by the following criteria:
- Property tax rates
- Home insurance premiums
- Remodeling costs
- Maintenance and repair costs
- Hourly rate of housekeepers, home cleaners, gardeners, and landscapers
- Pest control costs
- Electricity, heating oil, and natural gas bills
- Household goods, like a 40-inch flat-screen TV, laundry detergent, and toilet paper.