Looking for your first home can be a challenging, stressful time. Put your normal wish list of amenities on top of a "needs" list for an accessible home and you've got quite the obstacles to get around! My husband and I bought our first home last August. We've been here almost 8 months now and we LOVE it! But it did take a LOT of planning and a LOT of patience to find a home to work for us.
We had been renting a very, very (did I say very?) small 1 bedroom apartment with carpeting throughout. Not the most wheelchair-friendly flooring to say the least. Some of the things that were on our wish list when we were house hunting were: large bathrooms, wide doorways into all the rooms, no carpeting in the main living spaces and that all rooms be on one level – no basement or upstairs.
We found an awesome realtor who was so patient with us all the way, suggesting how we could make the homes he was showing us work for our needs.
Here's how we found our home:
We looked at between 5 and 8 homes in the neighborhood we were interested in. We found that newer style homes were more likely to be one level than older homes with basements and several floors. We kept our options wide open and looked at single family homes, condos, townhomes, new builds, you name it! Ultimately our dream would be to custom build our home, but for our first home, we found a perfect 2 bedroom condo in a quiet neighborhood. In fact, the other residents in the condos near us are elderly which makes for a very friendly and quiet neighborhood!
We have not had to make too many adjustments in order to move right in. The two car garage is has a flat entrance so we can wheel right into the house. Although the living room and hallways came covered in pristine white carpet, we got a pair of custom made runners made from carpet remnants to protect the carpet until we replace it eventually with hardwood floors. The bathtub in the bathroom is great for me (less worry about slipping getting in and out of the shower) while the 2nd bathroom has a shower that the hubby prefers and uses a shower stool to transfer in and out.
Keeping an open mind saved our sanity during the house buying process! Although an investment, buying a home has been a freeing and empowering experience. Owning a home can allow people with disabilities to adapt their living environment to their needs and customize their living space to fit their lifestyle. As many of us know, making any sort of adaptation or customization is extremely limited in rentals or apartments. The freedom to park in our garage, rather than shovel the cars out of snow banks to go to work each morning or the simple act of rolling the garbage can to the end of the driveway rather than hauling it down an elevator in an apartment building and out to a dumpster are just some of the things I am grateful for that buying our home has afforded us.
What did you look for when looking for a home to fit your needs? How have you made your home work for you? Share in the comments!