One month ago we finally moved to our first home. We had been renting for the last five years of living together and had been looking for our first home during that time. We started saving and investing with a home purchase in mind during the last two years. When we finally found a home that had everything we could have hoped for, we decided to go for it.
Saving and investing for the down payment
We first started talking about buying a house together after living together for a couple of years. I had been working in IT for a few years already after graduating from college and was playing around with ideas on how to save some more money on living expenses. Also, the idea of renting for the rest of my life didn’t seem very appealing. I wanted to be able to have an impact on my surroundings if I wanted to call it home.
My wife had just started her studies and was working only part-time when we first discussed buying our first home together. That had an impact on our financials as we planned to buy our first home and even split. We didn’t make any hard financial plans on how much to save or invest with the home purchase in mind but did make financial decisions with the home-buying in mind going forward on a daily and monthly basis.
It was only later down the road that we realistically started dreaming about home buying as a choice for us. As my wife had been focusing on her studies for most of the time and saving some money on the side and I had been mostly focusing on just investing my money, we started to get a sense that we would like to move from our current place at the time being.
We had started discussing our home-buying choices with different banks already to get a realistic picture of what kinds of options we have. We didn’t have too much support coming from our parents or relatives and were mostly relying on our savings and investments when it came to the down payment. In Finland, which is where we live, as a first-time home buyer, you only need to pay 5 percent yourself (as of writing this post) for the total price of the home. The rest of the price can be covered with debt.
By knowing that we would need the amount of five percent for the down payment, we could look for houses in a specific price range. When we would find the right place, I would be able to cash out the investments I had at the time as well as combine both of our savings.
Thinking about our lives in the long term
When we started to seriously consider buying our first home we found quite quickly some common elements with my wife which both of us were looking for. We would be looking for a certain amount of privacy, peace, and quiet where we would not be disturbed by random strangers and neighbors. This meant that we were looking for a place quite realistically outside of the city since finding a private enough place inside the city would be out of our price range.
I had been working remotely before already, but as the 2020 pandemic hit and I went into a full-remote mode I could already tell that my work life would take serious change afterward and that I could with complete ease of mind look for a place where I wouldn’t need to be at the office in a short notice. My wife is an entrepreneur so she could bring her business with her as well. This meant that geographically speaking we were looking for a place from almost anywhere in Finland since we didn’t have that many close friends and relatives in our current city.
For a long time, we were seriously considering moving to the North since we really love the landscape and the wilderness over there but it turned out to be too early for us to move there. We did find a nice place from way up North but never found the time to go on an exhibit there. While we were thinking about moving way up North we realized that we didn’t want to move to a too remote place meaning that we would like to be close to a city within let’s say half an hour’s drive proximity. This was also because if we would get children in the future they would also have the possibility to attend school without traveling hours every day.
As the location part of the home dreaming was somewhat realized, we attended some exhibits around different cities within a 300-kilometer radius of where we lived at the time. After about a year of seriously looking for a place, we sort of accidentally found a place we loved and started to think about our future there.
Lakeside view of our new home taken by a drone. We fell in love with the natural forest plot immediately.
Price and mortgage discussions
On our way back home from the exhibit we talked about the place and I told my wife that I think we just found our new home. My wife didn’t have too strong opinions about the place at the time but she didn’t have anything bad to say either. I decided to call the broker immediately and tell him that we are interested and would like to discuss more. We had no previous experience of ever returning to the broker so we were not sure what we should be doing once we were seriously thinking about buying the place. Our broker was nice enough to promise he would reserve the place for us for the next week or so so that we could figure our stuff out. We had also been honest with our broker and told him that we don’t know anything about the whole home buying process so that he would be more understanding.
I contacted the local bank the next day to tell them about our plans to possibly move into the neighborhood. In Finland, at least all bank negotiations are done in different cities instead of on a national level. We would get our initial offer for a mortgage with the information we had provided for the bank and proceed back to our broker to tell them that our financing was initially ok and that we would like to make an offer. We made an offer quite well below the asking price for the broker by phone who forwarded our offer to the sellers. We didn’t have too much time to realize when we hung up what we had just done after the broker called us that the sellers had made a counteroffer somewhat above our offer. We made yet another counter offer which was then accepted by the sellers. We had just agreed on the price.
The offer we made had two conditions: 1. that there would be no surprises when we would conduct a standardized quality check to all aspects of the property (paid by the sellers) 2. we would get a mortgage.
We drove back and forth between our new upcoming home and our current rental home a few times during the next few weeks. We continued our mortgage discussions further with our new bank and started preparing for the move. There were not that many surprises along the way and our moving day was getting closer and closer.
Our new home has three buildings: the main house, garage and lakeside sauna
Finally moving into our new home
We had signed all the paperwork well beforehand and had agreed on a moving date with the sellers. At this point, the bank and the broker had already continued with their businesses and we were only dealing with the sellers directly. We agreed on some details outside the sale such as some furniture which they could leave behind if they liked. We were moving from 250 kilometers away and didn’t have that much stuff to begin with so we were really happy about some of the things they left behind for us.
We had agreed to move into our new home on the day of my wife’s birthday. We managed to drive one van full of furniture and belongings once before the official moving day to just drive in with our stuff waiting there already. We sold some stuff at some local yard sales and threw away some old furniture.
On our moving day, I had taken a day off from work. It was Friday and our landlord came to check our place in the morning and get the keys from us for our old place. Landlord immediately returned us our two-month deposit which we had paid for the place when we had moved in. Everything was set and we started our final drive towards our new place. The sellers had already given us a single key beforehand and had left the rest of the keys inside our new home.
Life after a month of living
It has now been one month since we moved to our new home. Everything has been great and we still can’t believe that we are living in such a wonderful place. My wife has her business running in the new city nearby and my remote working goes as before with no surprises. We are enjoying our new share of privacy and our only neighbouring couple seems very nice.
Lakeside sauna with jacuzzi.
Sauna building also has a small guest house.
There is a big yard for some outdoor games and for dog to play around.
Main house first floor dining room has a direct view for the lake and a large oven.
Second floor living room has also a great view to the lake. plus a fireplace.
Kitchen was just renovated before we moved in.
Our dog loves the big yard and the peace from other neighbouring dogs although he probably misses some old friends from our last city. We have been doing a lot of yard work as we now have a 2000 square meter plot to take care of but that is something we are enjoying so far. It is nice after sitting in front of my computer all day to go outside and get my mind off things by doing some gardening or just staring at the lake or doing some fishing. We have also been going ice swimming every day. Looking forward to summer and how our new home and yard blossom its trees and flowers.