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New Home Must-Haves: The Essentials And Non-Negotiables

Holly Shuffett7 minute read
March 11, 2022

Purchasing a home can be stressful but knowing what you want and don’t want can help make the process easier. When it comes to finding your dream home, consider which features can bring joy and which can be a nightmare.

There are many things to look for when buying a house, so having a list of absolute musts and must-nots can help you save time, energy and money in the long run. These new home must haves and have-nots are known as your nonnegotiables.

What Are Nonnegotiables?

As the name would suggest, when it comes to buying a home, your nonnegotiables are the things you will not be open to compromising on. You may or may not realize it, but nonnegotiables aren’t limited to real estate. They also pop up in many areas of your life – from the type of person you settle down with to the job you accept and the place you live. Nonnegotiables are personal preferences based on your values, principles, goals and lifestyle needs.

During the purchase process, your chosen nonnegotiables can be as concerning as a structural flaw or as trivial as a preferred layout or color aversion. Whatever your preferences, these are simply the features that you cannot live without, or cannot bear to live with.

The Nonnegotiables When Searching For A New Home 

Some of the most common non-negotiables when looking for a new home either revolve around the property itself or your plan for the future. Here are some standard nonnegotiables and questions to ask yourself when looking at a potential new home: 

  • Number of bedrooms: How many people will live in the home? Does your job require a home office? Do you plan on growing your family during the time you live in the home?
  • Layout: Do you prefer an open floor plan? Do you need an accessible home or one without stairs? It’s one thing to want a specific type of layout. It’s another to need one.
  • Type of driveway: Do you have more than one car? Are you living with someone with a completely different schedule? If so, a single-car driveway could be inconvenient.
  • Type of garage: If you need extra storage, have a boat or trailer or want to protect your car from the elements, you may want a home with a single-, two- or three-car garage.
  • Price: Be realistic when it comes to setting a budget for a home. Review your living expenses and see what type of monthly mortgage payment you can swing while still being able to afford your basic needs. 

New home must-haves for home buyers looking to settle down usually have more to do with location and what an area or neighborhood has to offer. Here are some other nonnegotiables to consider as you take this big step toward your future: 

  • Location: Are you a suburbanite or a city dweller? Do you want your home to be within walking distance of good restaurants, parks and other attractions? Do you prefer to reside in a remote area or don’t mind living on a busy road?
  • Commute: How far are you willing to drive to work every day? Along with the time you’re spending on the road, consider how much you’ll be spending in gas each week and how many miles you’ll be putting on your car, especially if it’s a lease.
  • School district: What type of education do you want your child to receive? How will you ensure their safety? Some schools are more advanced in technology or offer more after-school activities. All are important things to consider when looking at the type of school your kids will attend.

New Home Must-Haves Checklist

For many, the home buying process can already feel long and drawn-out, so save yourself some time by focusing your efforts on homes you’re more likely to love. Before you put in an offer – or perhaps even step foot in a potential new home – know your must-haves. Consider finding some inspiration online to better picture what you want your new home to look like.

Must-haves differ from nonnegotiables since they may not make or break a sale, but they can certainly help a new house feel more like a home. To get the gears turning, figure out exactly what you want in each room of your dream home and the essentials or work they’ll need to get there. 

Here’s our list of essential items for a new home that you can start thinking about today:

The Bedroom 

Natural plant and light filled spacious scandi bedroom interior with fireplace.

It’s common knowledge that we spend about one-third of our lives sleeping, so it’s not unreasonable to believe that your bedroom should be a space you enjoy spending time in. To ensure a comfortable space perfect for ending your evenings, make sure you have these home essentials accounted for:

  • A new mattress: Moving may be the perfect time to trade your old mattress in for a new one. Whether you want to upgrade to fancier sleep technology or simply do away with a sagging mattress, your rest is of the utmost importance. 
  • Dresser and/or nightstands: A new house may mean more space or at least, a different space than one you're used to. If you have pieces of furniture that have seen better days or a bedroom set that’s not sized well for your new home, check out some of 2022’s best furniture stores for all your home necessities. 
  • Carpet or rugs: The type of flooring your bedroom has can drastically change the feel of the space. Figure out what kind of floors work best for you. Do you have pets that could damage hardwood? What height carpeting appeals to you best? 
  • Sheets, bedspread and/or pillows: If you’re anything like me you constantly fantasize about your head hitting your pillow at nighttime, but what kind of bed dressings do you like best? Whether you’re in a colder climate and swear by flannel sheets or you love the texture of soft silk, a new home is a chance to breathe some life into your bed’s look and feel. 

The Living Room 

Group of twenty something friends watching t.v. together in living room.

Whether you want to have the perfect space to entertain guests or you just want a haven to kick back for your latest binge-watch, here are a few essential items to keep in mind to make the most of your living room:

  • A new couch: The perfect couch can make a world of difference when it comes to your living room. Sectionals are great for those of us who want something to sink into after a long day, while settees or loveseats can make the most of a smaller space. You should also consider whether storage sofas or a sleeper couch could benefit you down the road.
  • TV with stand and/or mount: For most of us the living room is synonymous with movie nights or watching the big game, so consider sprucing up your new home with an attractive entertainment center.
  • Coffee table: It seems like just yesterday that the internet was losing it over the Sobro minifridge and coffee table hybrid that went viral on TikTok. While you may not consider such a splurge an essential, an attractive coffee table is certainly a functional must-have for your new home. 

The Bathroom 

Stylish vessel sink on light countertop in minimalist spa like bathroom with plants.

Bathrooms are perhaps some of the most important rooms in a new home, so remember to have these essentials at the ready:

  • A mirror or vanity: The mirror above your bathroom sink is one of the main focal points of the whole bathroom, so be sure to have one that is the right size and design.
  • Shower curtain: If you have a full bath which requires a shower curtain, look into different colors and textiles that can complement your shower, tiles and walls. 
  • Bath and hand towels: Something as small as coordinating the color of your hand towels with your bathroom walls or tile is a simple but charming way to make a house feel more like a home. 
  • Shelves and organization: Not only can over-the-toilet shelves or designated baskets serve as great ways to stay tidy, but they can also serve as cute displays for on-theme trinkets, candles or potpourri. 

The Kitchen

Kitchen Must Haves

You may have heard the saying that the kitchen is the heart of a home, and for good reason. Don’t forget these kitchen must-haves to transform your new house into a home with heart:

  • Updated appliances: Whether it’s something as small as a new coffee maker or a brand-new refrigerator, a new appliance is sure to satisfy. 
  • New countertops: If your new home’s countertops just aren’t doing it for you, explore your options. From butcher’s block to granite to resin, you’re sure to find a look that fits into your budget
  • Dinnerware and glassware: Supposedly, you are what you eat, which would make what you eat off of pretty important, right? Spruce up your cabinets and mealtimes with matching sets of plates and utensils. 

You know your dream home.

We’ll help you find it.

Other Essential Items For Your Home

When it comes to the essential items for a home things like cookware and furniture are no-brainers. And while these items may not necessarily be imperative to a smooth-running household, they can certainly make your life easier. 

Security System 

Making the leap from home buyer to homeowner is a big step and likely, the biggest financial commitment you’ll make in your lifetime. It only makes sense that you’d want to protect such a commitment, not to mention, yourself, your loved ones and your belongings. A security system is a great way to do just that. 

According to HomeAdvisor, the cost of a home security system can range from $279 – $1,104, depending on factors like your location and what security features you want for your home. 

Smart Home Technology 

Disney was really onto something with its 1999 movie, “Smart House” – today, smart home technology isn’t an out-there concept but a relatively common way to make your home more energy efficient and relieve some of the chores of homeownership.

Smart technology includes upgrades like doorbell cameras, smart lighting and thermostats you can control from your phone, and possibly even smart floors. If you have the means and are interested in outfitting your home with some convenient features, this technology could be a seriously – wait for it – smart investment. 

Tools

Unless you’re a regular DIY champ, you may feel like tools aren’t a huge must-have for a new home. But being prepared for an emergency or to handle small upkeep and maintenance around the house is a crucial part of being a homeowner. Here are some tools and other essentials to make sure you have ready to go: 

  • Flashlight
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Screwdrivers – both flathead and Phillips 
  • Wrench set
  • Level
  • Spare lightbulbs
  • First aid kit 
  • Utility knife
  • Stud finder
  • Clamps
  • Wire cutter
  • Extension cords
  • Plunger
  • Power drill/driver

The Bottom Line

Understanding both your non-negotiables and your must-haves for a new home can save you time, energy and maybe even money. So, come up with your own checklist of nonnegotiable items and must-haves before embarking on your search for a new home.

If you’re interested in reading more tips on buying a new house or homeownership, check out the Rocket HomesSM Homeowner Guide

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Holly Shuffett

Holly Shuffett is a staff writer who writes with a focus on homeownership and personal finance. She has a B.A. in public relations from Oakland University and enjoys creative writing and reading in her free time.