Need vs. Want: How to Prioritise Essentials When Buying a Home

Buying a home is one of the most significant financial decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. For South Australians, this decision involves balancing essential needs against desirable wants. Prioritising these aspects correctly can lead to a more satisfying and financially sound home purchase. This article will guide you through distinguishing between needs and wants, helping you make informed choices that align with your budget and lifestyle.

Understanding Needs vs. Wants

Defining Needs

Needs are the essential elements that a home must have to support your daily life and well-being. These are non-negotiable features that directly impact your comfort, safety, and functionality. Examples include:

  • Location: Proximity to work, schools, public transport, and essential services.
  • Space: Sufficient number of bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate your family.
  • Safety: A secure neighbourhood and a structurally sound home.
  • Basic Amenities: Functional kitchen, bathrooms, heating, and cooling systems.

Identifying Wants

Wants are additional features that enhance comfort and luxury but are not essential for daily living. These features are often negotiable and can be added later. Examples include:

  • Luxury Amenities: Swimming pools, home gyms, and high-end appliances.
  • Aesthetic Preferences: Architectural style, landscaping, and interior design.
  • Additional Space: Extra rooms, large gardens, and spacious garages.

Why Prioritising Needs is Essential

Budget Management

Focusing on needs ensures that you stay within your budget and avoid unnecessary debt. By prioritising essentials, you allocate your financial resources to aspects that have the most significant impact on your daily life.

Long-term Satisfaction

A home that meets your essential needs will provide long-term satisfaction and stability. It ensures that you can comfortably live and grow within the space without needing immediate and costly renovations.

Resale Value

Homes that fulfill essential needs often have better resale value. They appeal to a broader range of buyers, making them easier to sell in the future.

Identifying Your Needs


Location is one of the most critical factors when buying a home. Consider the following:

  • Proximity to Work: A short commute can save time and reduce stress.
  • Schools: If you have children, living near good schools is essential.
  • Public Transport: Accessibility to public transport can be a significant convenience.
  • Essential Services: Proximity to hospitals, supermarkets, and other services is crucial for daily living.

Size and Layout

Ensure the home has enough space to accommodate your family comfortably:

  • Bedrooms and Bathrooms: Make sure there are enough rooms for everyone.
  • Living Spaces: Sufficient living areas to support your lifestyle.
  • Storage: Adequate storage space is essential for organisation.

Safety and Security

A safe home in a secure neighbourhood is non-negotiable:

  • Neighbourhood Safety: Research the crime rates and community feel.
  • Home Security: Check for security features like locks, alarms, and lighting.
  • Structural Integrity: Ensure the home is in good condition and free from significant defects.

Basic Amenities

Ensure the home has all necessary amenities in good working condition:

  • Functional Kitchen and Bathrooms: These are essential for daily living.
  • Heating and Cooling Systems: Proper climate control is crucial for comfort.
  • Plumbing and Electrical Systems: Ensure these systems are up to standard.

Common Wants and How to Evaluate Them

Luxury Amenities

While luxury amenities like swimming pools and home gyms are desirable, evaluate their necessity based on your lifestyle and budget. Consider if these can be added later or if they are worth the immediate investment.

Aesthetic Preferences

Aesthetic features like architectural style and landscaping can be secondary to functionality. While these enhance the visual appeal, they should not outweigh the importance of essential features.

Additional Space

Extra rooms and large gardens are nice to have but consider if they are necessary for your current situation. Evaluate if the additional space justifies the higher cost.

Balancing Needs and Wants

Create a List

Start by listing all your needs and wants. This visual representation helps you understand what is essential versus desirable.

Rank Priorities

Rank your needs and wants based on their importance. This will help you focus on what matters most during your home search.

Budget Allocation

Allocate your budget primarily to meet your needs. Any remaining funds can be used for wants. This ensures that you do not compromise on essential aspects.

Case Study: South Australian Homebuyers

Consider a typical South Australian family:

  • Needs: A three-bedroom home near Adelaide for proximity to work and schools, with basic amenities and safety features.
  • Wants: A home with a modern kitchen, a large backyard, and a swimming pool.

This family prioritizes buying a home in a safe neighbourhood with good schools and basic amenities. They may compromise on the swimming pool or large backyard if it means staying within budget.

Tips for South Australian Homebuyers

Research the Market

Understand the local real estate market to identify affordable neighbourhoods that meet your needs. Utilize resources like the Real Estate Institute of South Australia (REISA) and local real estate websites.

Work with a Real Estate Agent

An experienced agent can help you find homes that balance your needs and wants. They have the expertise to navigate the market efficiently.

Consider Future Growth

Look for homes in areas with potential for growth and development. This can enhance the long-term value of your investment.

Be Flexible

Be willing to adjust your expectations and compromise on certain wants to meet your essential needs. Flexibility can lead to more satisfying outcomes.


Prioritising needs over wants is crucial when buying a home in South Australia. By understanding the difference between the two, creating a list, ranking priorities, and sticking to your budget, you can make a smart and satisfying home purchase. Always remember, a home that meets your essential needs will provide the foundation for a comfortable and fulfilling life.

Suggested Reading

  1. The Comprehensive Guide to Real Estate and Property Management for Australians
  2. The Ultimate Homeowner’s Playbook: A Complete Guide To Unlocking A Winning Strategy For A Successful Sale
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