Hitched and housed – how to do both in 2017
Marriage is one of the biggest commitments you can make and so is buying a first home with the one you love, so imagine doing both in one year. We show Aussie couples how you can have your cake… and live in it too!
Planning a wedding and saving for a home deposit in the same year? That’s commitment! But it may not be as challenging as you think. We spoke to one couple from Sydney about how they did exactly that and bought their first home right after they got married.
A real-life fairy tale?
As Pip and Josh planned for their upcoming wedding, they decided that a little sacrifice and discipline could have a big impact on their future together. Like most young couples, they wanted to celebrate their big day in style, but didn’t want to use up all their hard-earned savings.
By planning a celebration in Pip’s parents’ garden, they hoped they’d still have enough in their savings to start thinking about buying their first home together. In the Sydney market, they knew that was always going to be a challenge.
Not long after they were married, Pip and Josh visited the Central Coast, north of Sydney and fell in love with the area. “We just hoped our plans would come together and our savings might just stretch enough for a deposit to buy a little patch of the sleepy beachside suburb we’d fallen in love with,” says Pip.
And their hopes and disciplined approach were rewarded. Soon enough they found the home they had been dreaming of. Looking back now, the couple believe that saying “I do” and buying a house in the same year was the best thing they’ve done so far. And they think it’s possible for other couples, too.
How much should your wedding cost?
Barefoot on the beach or a lavish reception for hundreds? Everyone has different ideas of the perfect way to say “I do”. And everyone, of course, has different budgets at their disposal.
Recent research revealed that the average amount spent on weddings in Australia is a dazzling $36,200. No wonder the cost of getting married often takes a bit of sacrifice. Some couples opt to save by moving in with parents, selling their car or putting their social life on hold. Or you could choose to have a more affordable wedding.
Pip and Josh were practical about their wedding plans from the beginning. They decided on a garden party in Pip’s parents’ house. With no venue fees, that was a big saving right away. They also called in favours from talented friends, in exchange for “wine and a nice dinner”. That took care of the florist, DJ and photographer.
Even though they were practical about their plans, Pip cautions that they still managed to spend 10-20 per cent more than they originally planned with their modest budget.
How much will your first home cost?
Just as everyone’s dreams and expectations for their wedding day are different, so too are expectations of what their first home will cost. It depends on the type of home you’re looking for and, of course, the areas you’re considering. Whatever home you’re thinking about, a good rule of thumb is that the bigger your deposit, the better.
A deposit of 20% of the purchase price is usually enough to cover costs, but don’t forget about what you may need to budget for after the purchase – moving fees, furniture, insurance costs, council rates, regular bills and your costs of living.
When Pip and Josh started their house hunting, they calculated their savings as a 20% deposit, which helped them hone their property search to homes they could afford. Sensibly, they also budgeted an extra 10-20% cushion on top of their deposit. “If you plan for it, it’s less daunting. Planning a big expense to your absolute limit, without leaving yourself any room, sets you up for a stressful process,” says Pip.
Saying “I do” and saying “I won’t”
Being able to get married and buy a home soon after obviously requires savings. Pip and Josh count themselves lucky but also recognise that it took sacrifice and planning. It’s estimated that the average Australian couple takes more than four years to save for their first-home deposit, with Sydney topping the list at a staggering eight years.
How much you’re prepared to compromise – on your wedding or your first home – is entirely an individual choice. You may also be in the fortunate position where your family will help with wedding costs. Thinking about what you both want from life after your wedding may mean a little stretching and compromise, but it may all be worthwhile if it helps you buy your first home.
While a practical approach is essential, it’s equally important not to sacrifice everything that’s important to you. Pip and Josh agreed on a few ‘non-negotiables’ that could still work within their budget. For their wedding, they had to have nice wines. And for their home, they wanted a house with an indoor-outdoor configuration on a flat block of land in walking distance of the beach. Because of their practical approach to do things within their means, they managed to get both.
Words of advice from Mum and Dad
The best financial advice our Sydney couple received about buying a house and saying “I do”, was from their parents. They wisely advised them to add a little extra cushioning to their budget. “They were adamant that you always spend more than you plan to. By being aware that exceeding our budget was a reality, we didn’t plan to spend every last cent we had in the penny jar.”
Pip is a Project Manager by trade, so she found spreadsheets for budgeting really useful. “Sharing budgets and documents over Google Drive meant we had joint visibility of where everything was at any given point in time, even wedding confetti,” says Pip.
Three things that could help you succeed.
There are a few things to remember that could make or break your wedding or first home-buying plans. Our newlyweds made these recommendations, and we tend to agree with them.
1. Be patient: House-hunting takes time. Don’t sweat it if you need to move back in with your parents for a few months. Also, wait till you know you have enough in the bank—an extra few months of savings can make a big difference.
2. Focus on the future: Keeping the end goal in mind makes it easier to resist taking that extra holiday or to excessively indulge. Also, this may mean having a simpler wedding, if buying your first-home in the same year is your goal.
3. Be aligned with your goals: It takes two to get married, and usually it takes at least two to buy a first-home. Make sure you’re aligned on what you want. This means making decisions that are mutual and exciting for both of you.
The best way to start a new chapter.
If you’re dreaming of tying the knot and buying a first home together, just like Pip and Josh, you could enjoy a ‘happy ever after’ ending, too. Your local Aussie broker would be pleased to talk about your plans and show you how we can help make your dreams come true.
As you plan your journey ahead, here’s some more articles from Aussie you might find useful: