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Drawing design inspiration for my place

I need some serious design inspiration.

Ever since I moved to Vancouver, I’ve never had a place that I can truly call home. And because of that, I haven’t spent any time or money designing a unique space, or even buying any furniture. I’ve been saving the whole designing experience for my first home – and now that the time has come … I feel a bit overwhelmed! :) Over the past few days, I’ve been figuring out what kind of furniture I will need, where to put everything in my new space, and of course – paint colour! As a graphic designer, I feel like I have a bit of experience choosing complementary colours, textures and patterns. But nothing to the extent of an entire home.

So GMBMFB Readers, what websites do you use to draw inspiration from when looking to decorate your place?

So far I’m using Apartment Therapy and IKEA Hackers. Maybe also some websites that you can buy cool, funky, unique things from (that ship to Canada)? Because while I love the idea of buying second-hand and refinishing furniture to suit my style, I don’t have the time to do it and my slight OCD tendencies will end up driving me crazy. But also, part of me thinks I should just go the IKEA route, because 1) it’s cheap, 2) I most likely won’t have this furniture forever, and 3) it’s cheap.

My First Home: breaking down the numbers

I’m sure you guys are all wondering how much I paid for my townhouse, and also what my mortgage payments and budget will look like going forward. I’ve been careful in not mentioning any specific numbers until I knew the deal was final. But as of Friday, all conditions have been removed and the townhouse is officially mine with a possession date of May 4th. :)

Here is a spreadsheet that best illustrates my expenses each month:

The budget
This is a rough working budget based on my net monthly income, and I feel like I’ve accounted for everything. The income I based this budget on is guaranteed based on my FT job, PT job, solid ongoing contracts and does not fluctuate lower than this amount. This does not include any freelance or blogging income, which can sometimes be quite a lot per month. But because freelance/blogging income is somewhat irregular and not guaranteed, I chose not to include it in my monthly budget. Should I lose all my ongoing contracts and PT job, my FT job will still cover all expenses and allow me to save around $700-800/month. Which is absolutely ideal. Also, the budget I created is pretty comfortable, and can be trimmed by quite a lot if necessary. This budget breakdown also means that I’m putting away almost 50% of my income – more if I make any freelance/blog money during the month.

Cost of the townhouse:
The list price for the home was $265,900. We started by offering $251,000 and after 2 days of negotiations and 4 counter offers, I ended up paying $259,000.

For people who don’t live in Vancouver, this might seem like a lot to pay. But I think it’s a pretty fair price for a 1-bed townhouse in a good neighbourhood. To put this price in perspective, rent in the neighbourhood that I purchased in will run anywhere from $900-1,000 for a 1-bedroom apartment that isn’t a disgusting dump (I used to rent a place a few years ago close to this neighbourhood, and it was $725/month but it was seriously rodent infested and gross). The townhouse beside mine sold for $258,000 in October. Mine is a end-unit (more desirable – one less neighbour & more windows), and has 2 parking stalls instead of just 1. So I feel comfortable that I didn’t pay more than I should have.

The townhouse is located about a 30 min. drive from downtown Vancouver, and right in the middle of the Lower Mainland – in my #1 preferred neighbourhood. I am walking distance to everything that I need, and I’m across the street from my gym now! :) Plus, I now only have a 10-15 min. commute to work, which is pretty much amazing.

The down payment & financials
I had 20% for the down payment (just over $50,000). This still left approximately $10,000 in various other savings accounts, including my Emergency Fund.

But then I decided to make a huge financial decision. Because I am buying this place on my own, I decided to use part of my down payment to pay off my car loan (payments are currently $270 bi-weekly). I didn’t have to, and some might call me crazy for doing it, but I feel like it’s the best thing I could possibly do for myself. And although it doesn’t make the most sense financially (since I had a 0% interest loan on my car), it will make my life a whole lot easier in the long run to just have those payments eliminated. And I’m glad I had the cash to do it.

So, $17,500 went to pay off my car loan.

I used $25,900 as my down payment (10%) on the $259,000 mortgage. But because I didn’t have the 20% down payment, I had to pay an insurance premium of $5,128 for a total mortgage amount of $238,288. My mortgage is accelerated bi-weekly at an interest rate of 3.74% (5 year fixed). I plan on rounding up my payments each month, contributing a lump sum payment every year on the anniversary date, and putting any ‘found’ money towards the mortgage. Hopefully by being diligent with extra payments, I will be able to significantly soften the blow of having to pay that insurance premium.

The remaining $7,000+ is set aside to pay for my closing costs, moving expenses, very minor renovations (will need to hire someone), and a few items of furniture that I do not currently own and need – like a bed. Any money left over will go straight onto the mortgage or into the House Fund.

And there you have it! Every possible detail about my budget and home purchase you could ever want. :)

Thoughts, questions, comments?

A small hiccup in the buying process

Just when I was starting to relax and get excited about the thought of moving into my very first home at the end of next week, I was informed by my Mortgage Broker yesterday that the bank won’t be able to process my request until the first week of May because they are so busy and overrun with mortgage applications. So much for a quick possession!

There goes the perfect logistics of moving into my new place by the end of the month (since I need to be out of where I’m currently living by May 1st). My friend has insisted that I can stay with her and her husband as long as I need to. And as much as I hate to be a bother, I’m grateful that I can stay with them. So the only thing I’ll have to figure out is where to store my boxes and furniture. Perhaps ex-BF will let me keep my boxes at the house, since I don’t have much stuff, and it’s only a few extra days. But chances are I’ll have to rent a storage unit. Which is a pain. But it is what it is, right? It’s nobody’s fault that the bank is busy, and I just have to go with it and plan around this unexpected hiccup.

And if I’m being completely honest, I’m kind of glad that things didn’t necessarily go according to plan. How boring would it be if everything happened the way we wanted it to happen? I’m learning much more than I ever though I’d learn about buying a home, and I feel optimistic that things will eventually fall into place.

So, even though I have run into a few road blocks along the way with the buying process, the most important things still ring true – I got the home I wanted, at a good price, with a good interest rate.

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