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Managing your loan

The hidden costs of owning a home

Roisin Broderick, Content Specialist, Keystart

02 Apr 2019 • 3 min

Owning your own home is exciting. But you need to make sure you budget for some of the costs and bills, above and beyond the mortgage, that you probably weren’t paying when you were renting or living at home.

Here are some of the extra expenses you’ll need to budget for:

Home and contents insurance

Your home is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so it makes sense to insure it. And as a Keystart customer, it is a requirement for you to have it insured under your contract with us. You can insure your home against fire, floods, damage and destruction. Your possessions are also important, so it’s recommended you have them insured as well. Have a chat with your insurer about any special items, like jewellery, that you’d like to insure separately.

Council rates

Once a year you’ll receive a rates bill from your local council. Under the Local Government Act of 1995, a council is able to take possession of a property if the rates are left unpaid, so it is important to make sure you budget for them and pay on time. The amount you pay is based on the potential rental value of your home and covers the services and facilities provided by the council. You can call your council or visit their website to find out what the average rates for your suburb are. You can also contact your council to look at your payment options, so rather than one big bill you can pay in instalments.

Strata fees

If you buy an apartment or unit, it’s likely you’ll get sent strata fees every three months. Make sure you find out how much they are before you make an offer and budget to pay for them. The fees are placed into a trust account and used to pay for things like the running and maintenance of the any shared property, like gardens, lifts, and stairwells.

Water bill

Every two months you’ll receive a bill from the Water Corporation. It’s made up of two parts, a charge for providing you with water and drainage, and your water use charge. On the back of the bill you will find the breakdown of these two figures.


It is important to keep your home looking good so that you maximise its value over time. That includes everything from painting the inside and the outside of your home, cleaning, mowing the lawn, pruning trees and bushes and clearing your gutters. If you plan to do these tasks yourself, you’ll need all the necessary tools and equipment as well. If you plan to hire someone else to do the work you will need to factor this into your budget.


While maintenance tasks are predictable, when it comes to unexpected repairs the possibilities are endless. Repairs can be anything from fixing loose tiles in the shower or a leaking tap in the kitchen to repairing a broken door, or replacing or repairing household goods like fridges and washing machines. Ignoring these could impact the value of your home, so budgeting to put aside some money every month to cover maintenance and repairs may be a sensible way to protect the biggest asset you’ll ever own.

By taking into account all of these costs before you buy your new home you can help to make sure you don’t get hit with any nasty unexpected bills.

Keystart recommends that you seek your own independent financial advice prior to making any decisions about your financial needs. Any examples given in this post are provided for illustrative purposes only.