The dream is simple. To buy a house you like, to make it a home you love, and to live happily ever after…

First time buyers can sometimes fantasize a little too romantically about their first home purchase. (Learn even more about that in this article: 6 big fears of homebuyers).  Especially during that honeymoon period once you’re all moved in. But you need to prepare yourself for the reality.

Thought you could save by buying a fixer upper? It’s easy to walk around a house and point your finger at things suggesting all sorts of imaginative improvements that could be made. But, once you’ve actually bought the house, you’re probably not going to have the financial freedom that you previously dared to dream. At least not at the beginning. Don’t expect to carry out any kind of extreme renovation immediately, blowing your budget for the first year. Make realistic improvements when and where you can afford them, but not everything is going to look how you envisioned when you first viewed the property. If you plan on fixing up the place yourself, prepare for it to take a long time. You may be living in dust and debris for quite a while… Renovations often work out more expensive than you had initially estimated, and you’re going to want to save all the money you can in your first year.

During those first few months, the compulsion to make your home feel like home is going to be overwhelming. You’ll be desperate to add little personal touches here and there. You might even move things around every now and again trying to get things just right. Good. There is nothing wrong with that! The financial realities of home ownership may prevent you from completely upgrading your furniture and styling each room straight off of Pinterest, but until those things are possible, changing things around and splashing a bit of paint here and there is extremely satisfying. It will serve as a distraction from the fact that you’re dying to remodel the kitchen. (You can live with it looking like a page from a1970’s catalogue for a while.)

Even if the home you bought was picture-perfect from day one, expect the unexpected. Though you may not feel you need to make any cosmetic changes and improvements to the house, there is always a risk of unexpected expenses such as repairs and maintenance. Keep saving your money each month and build your emergency fund to dip into should you bump into any unfortunate surprises. You’ll thank yourself for the sigh of relief should your roof need fixing or your boiler need replacing. Everything you used to rely on your landlord from while renting? They’re your responsibilities now. So make sure you have some kind of plan for any foreseeable emergency that may crop up in future. This includes everything like changing all the locks on the doors, knowing where the main water valve is, and so on.

Some new home owners find it helps to stay organised with a list or spreadsheet detailing any renovation, home improvement and repairs projects that you need to or would like to carry out. Complete with estimated project completion times and budgets, staying organised this way can help with prioritising your projects and roughly scheduling when each project can be undertaken.

The biggest priority of all if you have young children is of course their happiness. Especially if this is their first move. Consider the impact that the move will have on your child, even if they’re not moving school and the new house is within walking distance of your old home.You should take stock of your school district & alternative school options It’s still a big change and your children will need to adapt. Therefore it’s important to involve your children as much as possible in the new house so that they feel as if they are part of the exciting process. Make them feel as if they’re moving, not being moved – there’s a difference. Your children’s bedrooms should be the first to get a makeover, or at least make their new bedroom feel like an upgrade from their old one.

Most importantly: don’t stress yourself over it! The hard part’s nearly over. You still have your “happily ever after” to look forward to.