Around a third of all homebuyers are buying their first home in 2019, according to the National Association of Realtors. If you’re hoping to join them, you may be wondering if that first home should be more of a “starter” home, or your dream forever home.

While an increasing number of first-time buyers are going for larger homes they plan to grow into in the future, there’s not necessarily a straight “yes” or “no” answer. To help you make the best decision, consider these questions to determine which makes the most sense whether you’re looking for a house among Orlando real estate or anywhere else.

How much can you afford to spend?

Obviously the first thing to think about is whether you can afford your dream home. Maybe you’ve been putting off buying a home, socking money away for years and have managed to save enough for a hefty down payment. Or, perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones who have parents helping you out. At first glance, it might seem like you can afford that big place with a swimming pool, but beware that buying at the maximum of your budget limit can mean being “house poor.” Not only are you likely to have large monthly payments, but that dream home will need more furniture and will cost more to maintain too.

Ultimately, it really comes down to how much money you have saved and how much you can afford to spend on a monthly mortgage payment plus any of those extra costs you may not have considered.

Do you really plan to live in the same place for years or even decades?

While you might think that dream house is the perfect spot to live out the rest of your life, if you’re still in the early phases of your life, working for the same company that hired you out of college and haven’t made any plans for kids, you might be better off in a starter home. No one can predict the future, and as things inevitably can and do change, if you find yourself wanting or needing to move, it could put you in a financial pickle. A starter home, on the other hand, provides more wiggle room when life throws an unexpected curveball. Then, when you’re offered an exciting new position in another city or state that might help you advance your career, you won’t have to hesitate.

Is that dream home something you’ll want a decade for now?

Most of us change quite a bit over the years, which means our wants, desires and needs can change too. What you want now may be quite a bit different than what you’ll want a decade from now. And, what happens if you do go all out and buy what you think is your dream home only to discover that being a homeowner isn’t what you thought it would be? On top of the expenses, from property taxes to maintenance and repairs, you could end up spending your weekends doing yard work, when you’d rather spend them at the beach or in the mountains.

A starter home can help you understand what you really do what, what’s truly important and what isn’t.

— Featured photo by Flickr user David Sawyer