What home is right for your life?

By Mike Aquino for Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Finding the right home for your needs requires that you juggle several interrelated factors: cost, location, floor area, and home configuration (condo, townhouse, or single-detached). There are no clear-cut answers or formulae, even if the stakes are somewhat high.

“It’s crucial, especially for a first-time home buyer, to make the right choice,” says real estate agent Cecilio A. Sanchez, Jr. “It can spell the difference between having the house of your dreams and having the house that you will hate, or worse, wasting your money on a home that will never be finished.”

For starters, your needs will depend largely on what stage of your life you occupy.

Young professional: You’re an ambitious young executive on the make, and how can you telegraph that better than having your own apartment? Your needs at this point are straightforward: you need to stay close to the office, and more than likely you’ll want housing that’s relatively light on the pocket. Condos are your best bet.

Therein lies your dilemma: housing in Metro Manila’s corporate centers tends to be expensive (PHP 250,000-PHP 280,000 per square meter in Legaspi Village, Makati; PHP 120,000-PHP 180,000 per square meter in Ortigas Center, as of press time).

At this point, it would be more practical to rent instead of own. Renters enjoy the ability to quickly dispose of their residence if changing life situations demand it, and the lack of any maintenance responsibilities. Both these factors can hang heavy on the young property owner who buys without knowing what she was in for.

Families with kids: At this point, you’ll want to step away from the office and closer to the institutions that support family life. That means a Makati studio unit’s not as hot as a two-bedroom condo unit or townhouse in Quezon City, or a subdivision unit in a new development in Santa Rosa, Laguna.

A growing supply of new residential units can help you here—about 107,300 new residential condominium units have been constructed in the past five years, triple that of 1999. Business growth has also boomed outside the traditional corporate hotspots of Ortigas, Makati and Fort Bonifacio—so breadwinners can expect to work at a BPO in Santa Rosa, for instance, and live in a development just minutes away from the office.

Jones Lang LaSalle research manager Sharon Saclolo counts “18 emerging urban districts in Metro Manila […that] offer a community comprising retail, office and residential projects, which are attractive to both occupiers and developers.”

Empty nesters: Now that the kids have flown the coop, how about moving to more relaxed environments elsewhere? No longer is Manila the only place where you can get quality healthcare, recreation, and housing. Resort-like residential developments in Cebu and Davao and retirement communities in Bukidnon, for instance, allow older couples to enjoy their free time in more leisurely surroundings.

Of course, if you’re living solely on pensions, you’ll want to make sure you can pay enough to maintain your home and your lifestyle. You have a better chance outside expensive Manila; elsewhere, your money goes further, and your standard of living can be quite pleasant even on a fixed income.

Savvy Living asks: What other things do you consider when looking for the right home for yourself and/or your family?

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