When you’re in house-buying mode, you’re often inundated with options. You’ve no doubt poured over countless listings, done drive-bys of neighborhoods with “for sale” signs, spent far too many hours watching video tours of homes, and done more than your fair share of open houses. With all these potential properties on the table, how do you know if a house is “the one”—the forever one (if you’re at a point in your military life where this is your last move) or the perfect-for-right-now home if you’re still in the PCS cycle?
In the spirit of February, the month of love, we’re looking at how the Five Love Languages can help you decide if the home you’re considering is the right home for you.
Words of Affirmation – What are the words you and your family use to describe the house? Do you “just love the way the light comes in through the kitchen window”? “Worry about how small the bathroom is”? “Have a great idea for how to use that spare bedroom”? Of course, no house will check off all the boxes, particularly if there is more than one person in your family with a checklist; but are the words you use to describe the house more positive or negative? Is the language you use the same as your partner, or are you not sharing the same vocabulary? Be attentive to how you speak about the house. If it’s helpful to you, put those words down on paper in the form of a pros and cons list that includes input from all parties who have a voice in the matter. See if your words affirm that this is a good fit for your family.
Quality Time – Houses serve different purposes for different people. If you’re a person who sees a house as more than the place where everyone crashes at the end of a long day, then the “right” house for you will be one where you enjoy time at home. Can you visualize yourself not just living in this space, but choosing to spend time in it? Can you imagine your family gathered within its walls for the holidays? See your kids playing in the backyard or inviting their friends over to hang out? Could you feel settled and comfortable and content in the space until if/when the military sends you elsewhere?
Receiving Gifts – Sure, a house isn’t going to buy you jewelry or that golf set you wanted. But think about the kinds of things you like to receive. Do you love flowers? Perhaps the right home for you has gorgeous landscaping or a garden plot ready for you to plant. Do you like getting power tools? Maybe that garage with the built-in workspace is right up your alley. Are you a collector of fine wines or an amateur beer brewer? You might find a home with a built-in bar or wine storage that appeals to you. You can find the essence of the things you enjoy receiving in a home that’s a good fit for you.
Acts of Service – Military families are known for their gift for giving back to others and their communities. If this is an important value in your family as well, then considering the community is even more important for you when deciding if a house is a good fit. If you like to be an active and contributing member of a church, mosque, or synagogue, then you’ll want to assess what the faith community looks like where you’re house hunting. If you actively volunteer on base/post, then ask yourself if the home you’re considering is close enough to make your commute feasible. Maybe your family derives pleasure from working together at a local food bank or soup kitchen or giving your time to a nonprofit in the area. Think about how you most like to perform acts of service and see if your potential new home provides opportunities for you to do so in a fulfilling way.
Sidebar: Acts of service don’t have to be grand gestures, either. Maybe your idea of giving back is being the official supplier of food at every unit event. If that’s the case, then a spacious kitchen with modern appliances may be all a house needs for you to be of service in a way that brings you joy!
Physical Touch – Frame this love language as a sensory one. How does the house engage your senses? When you walk through the front door, does it feel welcoming or uncomfortable? Do you find the color choices calming or chaotic? Do the spaces feel open or crammed? Are the floors quiet when you walk on them? Is the carpeting soft under your feet? The right house for you should delight your senses. It should feel like a warm hug.
You may not find all the things you love in a prospective home. Obviously, there are other variables at play when you’re at the mercy of going wherever the military sends you. There may be financial limitations, a shortage of great options, geography issues with school and work, any number of other variables that are perhaps outside of your control. But to the extent you can, let what you love inform your decision.