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Moving Up: How To Determine Your Wants vs. Needs

Posted on Feb 21, 2017 by Earl Raatz

moving-up-how-determine-your-needs-vs-wants-checklist-featured-image.pngIt's important to be practical when you're looking for a new home. You don't want to get so caught up in the little things that you miss the big picture of what your family will require to live happily and comfortably!

In that respect, here are just a few common home features and how to determine if they're a "need" or a "want."


This is probably one of the first things you'll look at when considering new homes. How much space do you need? What kind of square footage are you considering? If you're upgrading your lifestyle, you're probably looking for a bigger home than your current one but keep in mind that raw numbers aren't nearly as important as how efficiently space is being used.

An open concept floor plan has advantages you might be okay with only a few more square feet if the layout of the property is open and airy. The "need" here is elbow room, so if you can find a home that gives it to you, don't get caught up in the "want" of a particular size.

Rooms and Spaces

Think about bedrooms, bathrooms, attics, basements, garages and the overall number of levels. Think about factors like kids moving out for college and in-laws coming to stay with you. The key is to think about how you'll be able to remodel or re-purpose your home down the line.

If you aren't craving a sun room right this minute, there's no reason to spend extra on a home that has one when you can make it an add-on a few years from now. The "need" is what your family will require to live and grow in the immediate future, and the "want" is any non-vital extra that can wait.

Bathroom Layout

Is your sweet little princess a bathroom hog? You might want to up the number of bathrooms in your new home. Having multiple spaces for morning routines can be a real lifesaver, especially as your kids get older and require more privacy.

Just don't get caught up in unnecessary features that play no part in how the bathroom actually functions. The "need" is a place where everyone can brush their teeth before heading off to school, and the "want" is adjustable, lion-shaped chrome taps on every sink.

Backyard Amenities

Maybe your kids need a place to burn off energy before dinnertime, so a swing set would keep both of you from going crazy. Maybe your spouse stays in shape with a daily swim, so a backyard pool would save you gym membership costs.

It can be difficult to draw the line between necessities and luxuries when it comes to backyard features, so try to put everything under the lens of long-term value. If it offers something more than fun, it's probably a "need." If its only purpose is entertainment, it's probably a "want."

Kitchen Utilities

Your kitchen is one of the most important areas of your home, so you should definitely be careful with your checklist here. What do you need for a safe, clean and functional cooking area? What can be written off as an indulgence?

Your "need" might be countertop space while your "want" is special granite countertops. Your "need" might be multiple electrical outlets for kitchen appliances while your "want" is built-in appliances made of shining stainless steel.

Customization Options

You want a house that you can make your own, and this ranges from little things like paint colour to big things like adding a nursery when you least expect it. The trick is finding a home with customization potential. If it's a mess of wires and water lines, you'll probably run into problems when you try to change things.

If it's a brand-new property where nothing is outdated or dangerous, you'll enjoy a lot more freedom to experiment. The "need" here is a modern building, and the "want" would be something ultra-modern that doesn't affect the home's remodelling potential, like marble columns in the entryway.

Storage Space

This is a particular concern if you're looking for a forever home. Where will you stash all of your baby pictures and holiday decorations after you've been living there for a decade? You'll have to make sure that your new home can accommodate a lifetime of memories, but you'll also need to balance your long-term requirements with your short-term finances.

The "need" is a good amount of closets, but the "want" is walk-in closets on every floor. The "need" is an attic where grandma's quilt chest can be stored, but the "want" is an insulated attic with hardwood floors that you never end up using. Think about ways to maximize your storage space so you don't go overboard.


Last but certainly not least, think about the neighbourhood where you're about to set up camp. Your "needs" are things like good schools, high safety ratings and plenty of access to banks and grocery stores. Your "wants" would be things like nearby playgrounds and summer block parties.

While you can certainly look for the latter, don't let them become deal-breakers. Your priority is finding a good, solid community where you can raise your family right, so don't get bogged down by small details.

These are just a few things to consider as you look for your new home. At the end of the day, the most important thing is feeling confident about your choices. When considering wants versus needs, be practical but listen to your instincts. After all, you know your family best.

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