From the cost of your mortgage to the routine maintenance that every home requires, being a home owner comes with multiple obligations, not to mention numerous expenses. Nevertheless, having a home you can call your own comes with plenty of advantages, both personal and financial.

Still, it pays to be prepared.

Here are some ways to ready yourself for the challenges, and rewards, of being a home owner.

Evaluate your needs

Before you look into buying a new home, consider your needs. Are you single or in a relationship? Are you planning on having children? How do you see yourself living for the next decade or so? Do you want a second floor or would you prefer to have a basement?

Purchasing a house is a lasting decision and one that should reflect your current needs and your anticipated needs in the near future. New home owners often get themselves into trouble by not understanding their needs. They either over-commit and land themselves in financial trouble, or under commit and live in near poverty for months.

Examine your income

Taking that next step to owning a home is usually accompanied by a whole sea change in livelihood. Maybe you’ve just landed that new job, are about to get married, or are expecting children.

Be sure you can pay for the expenses associated with home ownership, such as a mortgage, property taxes, and regular upkeep, while also being able to set aside enough for any unexpected breakdowns or expenses that might pop up from time to time. Also consider sharing the burden with a roommate, relative, or partner so you can pool resources in order to have a comfortable lifestyle.

Shop around

Finding the right home can be a long process. However, while it might be frustrating, it is well worth your time to carefully evaluate each and every home you come across. Being dissatisfied with your home can have disastrous consequences down the road.

Furthermore, some homes might have hidden negative features, such as being built on marshy ground or near a flood plain, something that might only be apparent after a closer inspection. Ask your realtor to show you multiple properties.

It’s important to make sure you know that your agent works for you and not the other way around.

Talk to a banker

Financing a new home requires a bit of shopping around as well. As you get ready to look for a home, it’s a good idea to consult with several banks or credit agencies to determine how much you can borrow.

Remember that high interest rates can add up over time. Depending on your credit rating and any assets you own, becoming a home owner might be something you’ll have to put on the back burner for some time.

Preparing for the cost of home ownership is not as difficult as many people imagine. From finding the best electrical contractor to mowing the lawn, home ownership has its challenges, but it also has its rewards.