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Tips for Finding Your Perfect Home as a First Time Home Buyer


Congrats on your home buying journey! It's such an exciting adventure (and stressful might I add) but with spring on the horizon, I'm here to share some secrets that will help make the process that much easier. My fiancee aka foodie partner-in-crime and I finally bought our dream house six months ago and we couldn't be happier.

Tips for Finding Your Perfect Home as a First Time Home Buyer

While I did a lot of research prior to us house hunting, some couples are so excited at the moment that they lose focus on reality, so today's blog is all about avoiding those hidden costs or unknowing information that could potentially creep up on you. And folks, if you haven't clued in - buying a home isn't easy or cheap. Buyers can be tapped out emotionally and financially before they can even call the home their own.

Best tip I got: Buy with your head, not your heart.

TIP #1: SET A BUDGET

I highly recommend evaluating your financial situation, ensuring you have set a budget to see how much you can afford and staying mindful of your budget. If you're looking for a mortgage and you have been pre-approved for an amount, know that you don't have to go all in. This is your safeguard as it definitely gives you an edge when buying your first home.

The ouch: Aim to save for 20 percent down payment.

TIP #2: THINK ABOUT YOUR LIFESTYLE

This will ultimately make or break if you can actually afford your dream house. Crunch the numbers yourself and see if you are able to make payments for the mortgage, utilities, gas, cable, internet, house tax, child care expenses, retirement savings and the cost of your lifestyle. Do you enjoy dining out? Do you enjoy drinks after work? Or indulge in a daily latte in the morning? So remember that even if the bank approves you for a $400,000 mortgage, that doesn’t mean you can actually afford it. You'll have to make sacrifices along the way. It's better to look at the numbers ahead of time to avoid any unsettling situations in the future.

TIP #3: PICK A GOOD REAL ESTATE AGENT

Find a good real estate agent that you will 'click' with. You are putting your lives so to speak in their hands to help you find your dream home, so make sure they communicate in the way you do, that they know your wants and dislikes, and that they have a good understanding of the market.

Psst.. our realtor was amazing! If you're in the Kingston area, I'd highly recommend Callie Warren! I live and breath social media so seeing a realtor so active and sharing listings through different channels was a big win.

TIP #4: GO BEYOND MLS

I'll admit I'm a millennial - I use Instagram and Facebook on a daily basis so don't limit your house hunt to MLS or real estate agent websites. Use social media to help you find a home and save time.

TIP #5: SPOT THE ISSUES WITH AN INSPECTOR

During your house tour, you may not notice underlying problems but that's where hiring a licensed home inspector will be your saviour and give you peace of mind that you’re avoiding any major issues before buying. But don't forget about checking common items such as opening windows, looking under couches or rugs for scratched floors, switching lights on and running the taps.

The ouch: ~ $450

TIP #6: THERE ARE CLOSING COSTS

Along with saving for your down payment when purchasing your dream home, you'll have to take into consideration the money required to close your mortgage. From home inspection fee, legal fees, property transfer tax, land transfer tax, title insurance and the list goes on! But don't worry as there are some great rebates for first-time homeowners at the time of the purchase and come tax season. So your lawyer and accountant will be a wealth of knowledge.

TIP #7: RESEARCH & PICK A MOVER EARLY

Moving was my least favourite part of buying a home because A) all the stuff you have to pack B) dealing with a pardon my language shitty a moving company. Do your research and request quotes from multiple movers, as the expense of getting your belongings into your new home can be quite costly based on the distance and the number of items you own.

The ouch: Starting at ~$400

TIP #8: SLOW AND STEADY ON THE NEW FURNITURE

Once you’ve saved for your down payment and budgeted for closing costs, don't forget to set aside a buffer to pay for what will go inside the house. If you're a couple, you'll be combining two lives into one space so communication will be your best friend to settle on a style that you both agree on.

Remember this is your fresh start, take your sweet time furnishing your home with quality pieces. Focus on basic items first rather than spending thousands of dollars buying new furniture. Also, why not try finding cute items on Facebook Marketplace or antiquing?

TIP #9: LET'S PROTECT YOUR HOME

 Before you sign on the dotted sign, know that home insurance is a required step before you can even get your keys. It mitigates risk for the property and down the road protects you from potential risks that could happen such as fire or theft.

The ouch: Starting at ~ $500 per year

TIP #10: SAY HELLO TO PROPERTY TAXES

When you become a homeowner, one of the least exciting things you'll have to deal with is property tax. But hey, the upside is that it allows your city to deal with snow removal, garbage pickup and the list goes on.

Thankfully the city I live in has a monthly payment option rather than having homeowners fork out a large sum twice a year.

The ouch: Starting at ~ $1000 per year

I hope this will help you in your journey to finding your dream home!
Rosalyn Gambhir
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How to Spend a Girls Getaway in Prince Edward County


If you haven’t been to or heard of Prince Edward County yet, don't worry you don't live under a rock just quite, but seriously pull up your Instagram app and look up the hashtag. You won't regret it - with picturesque landscapes, wineries and vineyards to eateries, The County as the locals call it, is the perfect spot to celebrate any occasion.

Today I bring you my favourite spots in The County that you and your closest gal pals will love for the ultimate girls getaway. This is your chance to escape the city to reset, relax and remember what it's like to have a little fun away from all those darn responsibilities.

So get your whole crew together, leave the office a bit early and hop in the car for an awesome road trip filled with amazing food, great tunes from our yesteryears and look forward to new sweet memories.

How to Spend a Girls Getaway in Prince Edward County

Here are my go-to spots in the County to have a blast with the gals:

THE JUNE MOTEL

A true girls weekend in the County starts by booking a stay at the gorgeous June motel.

NORMAN HARDIE WINERY

A visit to the County isn't complete without stopping by Norman Hardie - enjoy a glass of their signature Riesling (my personal fav) paired with a wood-oven pizza.

THE DRAKE DEVONSHIRE

If you're familiar with The Drake in Toronto, the Drake Devonshire is the more laid back version that borders the picturesque Lake Ontario. It is here that you will find dishes using homegrown ingredients with a flavourful rustic twist.

A post shared by Mel Kay (@polished_in_pjs) on

THE COURAGE

Looking for a unique weekend brunch spot? Look no further. The pork belly eggs benny with lavender hollandaise sounds ah-mazing! Or perhaps some pre-dinner appetizers and bubbly - the Rosehall Run sparkling rosé is delightful.

BLOOMFIELD BEAUTY CO.

Pamper yourself and the ladies to a luxurious and tranquil spa day. From pedicures to services like botox, there's a little something for everyone. But also can we take a moment to admire how freakin' cute the decor is!

Book your spa date now.

ROSEHALL RUN VINEYARD

Located in Hillier, Rosehall Run offers an intimate tasting experience - stop by to sample a wide selection of superb wines and perhaps catch a local food truck onsite.

HINTERLAND WINE COMPANY

The go-to spot in the County for premium sparkling wine!

COUNTY YUM CLUB

Home to the County's best Shawarma, stop in for a delectable local bite and leave with a big smile.

Shawarma poutine anyone? And if you have some beer lovers with you, stop by Barley Days Brewery just across the road.

SLICKERS

Got a sweet tooth? Then you're at the right location. I'll have to say their campfire flavoured ice cream is by far my favourite and a two scoop cone is always worth it.


p.s. don't want to drive? 

Give County Sips a ring for a personalized guided tour of the County!
Rosalyn Gambhir
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[name=Rosalyn Gambhir] [img=http://i1139.photobucket.com/albums/n543/Rosalyn_Gambhir/Rosalyn_1.jpg] [description=Rosalyn Gambhir is the gal behind the blog The Staycationer. Whether its exploring the local food scene with her foodie partner-in-crime or taking in the view from her favourite cafe, Rosalyn is always a tourist, looking for the next exciting adventure. The Staycationer allows you to rediscover hidden gems in your very own backyard.] (facebook=https://www.facebook.com/thestaycationer) (twitter=https://twitter.com/rosalyngambhir) (instagram=https://www.instagram.com/rosalyngambhir/)

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