Selling your home after a separation can be complicated and emotionally difficult. When all is said and done, you may find yourself asking, what now?

You want to start your next chapter off right, and that means finding a living space that meets your needs and allows you to enjoy the lifestyle you desire. Of course, getting there is a bit of a journey—and you’re bound to encounter some challenges along the way. The good news is, knowing what to expect can help you make a more informed decision.

If you’re looking for a new home after a separation or divorce, here’s what you need to know…


Buy or lease?

It’s one of the first decisions you’ll have to make when you’re selling. Should you buy or lease your next living space? If you’re deciding whether to jump back into the real estate market after your divorce, here are a few things to think about.

First off, how long have you been separated? For many people, it takes time to get used to a major life change—and the costs involved. Depending on how you feel, it may make sense to put off any major purchase decisions until you’ve mentally and emotionally adjusted to the transition.

It’s also important to consider how the sale of the property you shared with your former spouse (also known as your “matrimonial home”) will impact your financial situation. If you own your home outright and you sell it for a sizeable profit—then split the money equitably with your former partner—you’ll be well-positioned to make a down payment on your next property. On the other hand, if buying a new living space will mean carrying two mortgages, you should think very carefully about whether you can afford it.

Lastly, are you ready for the commitment involved in becoming a homeowner again? Do you have a pretty good idea of what you want your life to look like for the next few years? If so, you may be ready to start your search in earnest! That said, if you’re not sure which path to take, you may want to consider leasing a home for a year before making a decision. Taking this step will give you the opportunity to try out a new neighbourhood and lifestyle (whether that’s condo living, or some other type of arrangement).

Knowing what you can afford

Whether you decide to lease or buy, budgeting carefully is critical. The first step is looking at your personal financial situation, and how it’s changed since your separation. There are two major things to consider:

Your income

After a separation, the amount of money you can spend on housing drops significantly. If your former spouse was employed while you lived together, your total household income is lower than it once was. If you were the sole breadwinner, your new expenses will still have an impact what you can afford.

New expenses

Will you be paying spousal or child support? If so, you’ll need to factor these new costs into your budget. Of course, many of your past family expenses will now be covered (fully or in part) by these support payments. So you’ll have to do the math to see the complete financial picture.

Once you’re ready to create your home-hunting budget, make sure you also take stock of any and all housing-related expenses. For example, if you’re planning to move into a condo after years spent in a single-family home, remember that you’ll be paying maintenance fees if you do.

Lastly, don’t forget to budget for new furniture and decor. You probably accumulated a lot of stuff with your former partner, and chances are good that they’ll be taking some it. For this reason, you should take inventory of your belongings. Figure out what you’ll need to purchase—and, while you’re at it, which items you want to toss or donate to charity.

Location, location

While compromise is a part of life, one of the more positive aspects of a divorce is that it can provide you with the personal freedom to make decisions for yourself. Maybe you’ve always wanted to live in a condo downtown, but your former spouse was more interested in a house in the suburbs. Now you can choose the living space you want, in the neighbourhood you desire. Unless, of course, you have children.

Your kids change everything. While a parental separation is bound to impact them, you can take steps to minimize the disruption it causes in their lives. If your little ones will be living with you, you’ll probably want to factor in proximity to school and friends. If they’ll be living with your former partner, sticking close to their home may make visitation easier. It’s also important to note that your separation agreement may stipulate how far away you can live from your kids. Whether you have full or partial custody—or visitation—be sure you understand your legal obligations, and how they’ll affect where you can relocate.

Selling your home after a separation or divorce is a big step, but your work isn’t done once the “For Sale” sign comes down. Before you decide where to live next, there are a few important questions you’ll need to answer. Fortunately, if you’re thinking of buying, an experienced real estate agent can provide you with any information you’ll need—and help you find the perfect place to live your best life!

Going through a divorce or separation? Looking for a new home? Reach out to learn how I can help you navigate the process for a successful outcome!

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