What do you look for in a home?

After my first few rentals in college, I had experienced some of the worst: a basement apartment with a leaky ceiling, terribly uneven (and expensive!) electric heat, and an awful little galley kitchen in which the refrigerator actually went into the bedroom closet, where it was fully visible and noisy every time I went to select my clothes. So it didn't take very long for me to come up with a list of must- or really-would-like-to-haves.

At that time, my list was actually pretty short:

  • Window in the bathroom
  • Window above the kitchen sink
  • White kitchen cupboards
  • Hardwood floors
  • Fireplace
Our apartment in Zurich had everything but the window in the bathroom and I really loved and appreciated all of those other items so much. When we first came to Spokane, we went around with a realtor and looked at houses. There were so many houses that I got really excited about based on how cute they were from the outside, and then when we went inside and my heart sank! House after house had been "improved" with hideous, generic mosaic tile and pedestrian cabinets and fixtures from Home Depot. Or worse yet, they went for the "high end" stuff and made it look like some sort of faux Tuscan villa. It makes me want to cry thinking of the beautiful original kitchens that were torn out in order to replace them with that crap. 

Nowadays my list is pretty much the same, but I would add:
  • A dishwasher
  • Bathtub (not just a shower)
  • Radiator heat
  • Washer and dryer, or W/D hookups
  • Patio, balcony or outdoor space
But I have learned that I prefer a smaller apartment in an urban setting with parks and outdoor space within walking distance to a larger place with more space and even a yard or patio. And last week, I was having kind of a bad day and then J and I made a fire and sat down to have our nightly fireside chat and I said to him, "You know, all I really care about is having a fireplace anymore" and we both got a good chuckle out of that, because it's true. Having a fireplace is better than having your own washer and dryer, or a balcony or patio, or any of it! 

What do you look for in a home? What is an absolute deal breaker for you?


  1. I have never had a fireplace but it is a wishlist item for sure. Your lists are pretty similar to mine actually. My deal breaker is that I NEED good light/windows. I lived in a basement suite once during university and my happiness plunged, so sunny and bright is my first item. I also refuse to live without w/d hookups available now. Laundry is a huge task with a family and being able to put it on and forget about it in my own home makes such difference. Every apartment in Europe has a washer practically and I don't see why in North America the preference seems to be for extra kitchen cupboard space or extra closets.

    Another top item on my list is also laundry related. I love a laundry line or space outside to put a rack. One of my absurd pleasures is to hang laundry up outside. I find it so soothing and I love how the laundry smells when dried in fresh air!

    Walkable neighbourhood is also a must. Like you, I would rather live somewhere small (so much less to clean!) and near things like parks and restaurants and shops.

    1. Huge YES to the light/windows. Living in a basement apartment was one of those "never again" experiences for me, too. ;)

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  3. That's so funny. My number one thing when looking for our house was a decent sized kitchen. We were in a tight rental market and didn't have a lot of options. We ended up buying a trilevel (which I detest but our town is flooded with) and a tiny galley kitchen. We do have a fireplace and south facing windows, which I love, but no bathroom window which I hate. The market here is climbing and so we'll probably be in this house for awhile which I'm trying to be grateful for.


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