Getting married debt-free was one of the best decisions of our lives. We knew we wanted to buy a house, but we weren’t sure about the route we wanted to take to accomplish that goal. My husband and I unfortunately didn’t have the resources to afford a big wedding let alone a home on top of that. Our parents weren’t in any position to gift us money for both our wedding and a home. This left us with a tough decision. I’ll walk through our thought process to our final decision and hopefully provide you with some insight into your situation.
Everything you’ve heard leads you to believe that you should purchase a house as soon as possible rather than “throw your money away” on rent. A house is your biggest investment and the basis for long-term wealth building. While I agree, this does not mean that you should purchase your first home as soon as you return from the honeymoon (or even before your wedding).
Planning a wedding is often an incredibly stressful event for most couples. If you add the process of buying a house on top of that, the pressure can be overwhelming. Now if you don’t have enough money for a down payment—and we didn’t—buying a home will have to come later. Renting was the only option we had. But we did have a few great things going for us for when we were ready to buy a home.
We went with a small wedding, only 32 people including our wedding party. We financed our wedding ourselves and saved for two years paying off things along the way. After our wedding we had no debt and could save our coins instead of paying off debt. Your chances of securing the loan amount you need for your dream home increases when you have little to no debt.
If you are committed to purchasing a home with your partner, the chances of qualifying for a mortgage loan increase when you both have good credit histories—and we did! During the three years of dating before we got engaged, we paid down debt, paid all bills on time, and used credit responsibly. All of these steps had a profound impact on our credit. If you discover that one of you has bad credit relatively close to your wedding or after it, a good option is to wait to purchase a home until after you’ve been married for a few years and the person with bad credit has time to boost their financial score.
My husband and I took the time to really think at length about where we wanted to live. While most couples take the time to evaluate their finances, many do not properly contemplate the permanency that comes with buying a house. Generally, you’ll need to stay in your house for at least two to five years in order to make the costs work out. Here are some questions we asked ourselves that you should consider:
- Will our careers keep us in this general area?
- Is this an area where we’d like to raise our children?
- Is this the school district we want to send our children?
- Is this neighborhood up-and-coming and do other young couples live here?
- Are we an appropriate distance from our mothers-in-law!?!
- Are the property taxes affordable?
If you take a solid year to let your marriage mature, you’ll have much better answers to these questions.
We knew we had the rest of our lives to live and buying a home isn’t something anyone should rush into. We took our time saving our money and after three and a half years we began the pre-approval process. This would be the first time anyone in my family had purchased a home and I wanted to be as prepared as possible. Plus, there is something to be said for renting and remaining free of the responsibilities of mowing, maintenance, painting, etc., so you can just enjoy your new spouse and focus on your new life together.
Overall, one thing we’ve learned about making our decision to rent instead of buying a home right after marriage was that it’s better to take your time when making a decision to buy a home and get it right instead of rushing into it unprepared. If you make the wrong decisions it can take YEARS to get back to par, especially as newlyweds.