Buying a new home in the Florida panhandle isn’t an easy process for anyone, but people with disabilities might just have it the hardest. Due to the significant shortage of barrier-free homes on the market, seniors and people with disabilities can have a very difficult time finding an accessible home. To make the process easier for you, check out the tips below for help planning your move, setting your homebuying budget, and making modifications after moving in. You’ll be settling into your new accessible home before you know it!

Determine Your Homebuying Budget

Buying more home than you can afford is the single biggest mistake you can make in the Destin homebuying process. To avoid this, set a thorough homebuying budget. Keep in mind that the cost to buy a home is much higher than the final sale price. You have to account for closing costs, real estate agent fees, property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, utilities, and maintenance expenses. Remember to include room in your budget for accessibility modifications!

Your debt-to-income ratio will play an important role in your homebuying budget as well as your eligibility for a mortgage. SmartAsset explains that 43% is the highest debt-to-income ratio that mortgage lenders allow. A lower debt-to-income ratio means that you have a small amount of debt compared to your monthly income, so you are in a better position to take on a mortgage.

Search for Essential Features

Once you have a good idea of your homebuying budget and you know that you can get a loan, start looking for accessible homes. Unfortunately, you likely won’t be able to find a home with all of the accessibility features you need. Look for houses that meet your essential criteria and consider making additional modifications on your own after moving in. Consider limiting your search to homes with single-story designs, open floor plans, spacious bathrooms, wide doorways, and accessible outdoor living areas. Some bonus features to look out for include hard floors, zero-step entrances, and walk-in showers.

Make Your Own Modifications

Even if you find a home on the Emerald Coast that checks many of your boxes, you will likely have to make some upgrades yourself. For example, RISMedia recommends low-cost upgrades like installing grab bars in the bathroom and lever-style handles on all of the doors so you can navigate your new home more easily. If you use a wheelchair, consider replacing carpeting with hard flooring and installing a front entrance ramp. You may even want to lower your kitchen work surfaces, sinks, storage spaces, appliances, and light switches. Since many of these modifications can get pricey, focus on the upgrades that will have the greatest impact on your quality of life!

Plan Your Move Early

Navigating your move with a disability will be easier the earlier you start planning. Ensure your move goes as smoothly as possible by creating a moving to-do list at least two months out. Decluttering should be the first item on this list! Getting rid of unnecessary stuff will help you save stress and money during your move while guaranteeing that your new home feels organized and clutter-free.

If you’re moving long-distance, this is also a good time to plan your moving strategy. Long-distance moves can be expensive. Thankfully, you can save up to 40% on your moving costs by planning a hybrid move instead of hiring a traditional full-service moving company. According to HireAHelper, a hybrid move separates your move into three parts, using separate companies to load your moving truck, transport your stuff, and unload everything at your destination.

If you’re in the market for an accessible home on the Emerald Coast, start your search as soon as possible. It could take some time before you find a property that meets your needs and falls within your homebuying budget. In the meantime, start decluttering your possessions, planning the logistics of your move, and saving up for beneficial upgrades. This way, you’ll be ready to snatch up the perfect home and move into your new space as soon as possible!