The Hidden Costs of Owning a Home

December 2nd, 2022

You’ve spent a looong time asking all the right questions like “how much can I afford to borrow?”, “how much do I need to save for a home deposit” and “what are the monthly repayments if I borrow $XX”. And now the time has finally come for you to splash some cash into your future.

Buying a home is a big deal (like a BIG deal), and the adrenaline can really start surging when you’ve hit your deposit target, inked the sale contract and picked up the keys to your very own castle.

But before you start posting those #instahome pics, take a closer look at the true cost of home ownership.  There’s a lot more to owning a home than keeping the mortgage ticking over each month. 

There is nothing worse than a nasty little (or big) financial surprise, so we’re here to give you the deets on those extra costs that your advisor/family/agent may not have warned you about.

But don’t stress! The good news is that once you know the costs involved, it’s a lot easier to plan ahead and budget for your home’s expenses. 

Annual costs of owning a home 

At Nimble, we like to be realistic and we also like to keep you informed.

In this article, we look at the hidden costs of home ownership, plus tips on how to trim the tab.

Moving Costs

Once you’ve picked up the keys to your new home, you need to get settled in. That means doing everyone’s least favourite job – moving furniture.

If you have a mate with a ute, you may get away with the task for the cost of a slab of cold ones. But if you’re looking to hire  professionals, expect to pay between $100 and $300-plus per hour1. 

You can cut the cost by doing as much of the packing yourself. Moving house is a good excuse to have a clean out, so you’re not lugging dust collectors from one home to another. Scheduling your move for mid-week will also help you avoid a removalist’s higher weekend rates. 

Also, look around in advance for boxes. It can cost an arm and a leg for fresh new boxes, and whilst they look nice and pretty, most second-hand boxes are just as functional (we say most, because you definitely don’t want that flimsy one that your neighbour used 15 years ago and stored in the not-so waterproof garage). 

And you know that junk mail or newspaper that gets delivered each week and has a permanent home in your recycling bin? Hang on to that too, because it may just save you some extra pennies on bubble wrap for some of your beloved antique teapots Aunt Mary gifted you way back (when she was going through that “phase”). 

Did you know that we have a checklist to help you move house?

Pre-Settlement Inspection

So before you even take ownership of a property, you will need to factor in the cost of a home inspection. A home inspection plays an important role in the purchase of a home as it brings to light any issues that you can’t see yourself. 

If any problems appear during the inspection, the valuable information could save you thousands of dollars and you may be able to drive the asking price down based on the evidence found in the inspection. 

A building inspection could set you back between $200-$10002 depending on the type of inspection, type of house, size of house or the location. Of course, you should get a quote to make sure you are not being over charged.

Unfortunately, you may feel like you spent the money for nothing if the inspection doesn’t find any issues that can save you money. But it’s better to be safe than sorry in this case.

New Furniture 

Oops… that sinking feeling when the old sofa just won’t squeeze through your new front door. One of the hidden costs of buying a new home is the near certainty that you’re going to need some new furniture. 

It’s not just about dimensions. That much-loved floor rug you picked up from Gran may have given character to your old place, but it can end up looking a bit tatty in your new home. 

Or perhaps that old fridge that has been passed down a generation and is on its last leg is wayyy too small (and we mean half the size) of the gap in the new house. It’s times like these where you will be craving an upgrade for aesthetic and practical reasons. Plus, you’ll definitely need an inbuilt ice cube machine!

A simple solution is a Nimble Small Personal Loan. It could let you kit out your new home in style, so you’re living the dream from day one.


Like new furniture, it is likely that when you move into your new home, you will want to make it your own. 

Many of us buy a home that has already been loved and lived in, so before moving in you may want to consider fresh carpets or perhaps resealing showers.

Renovations can add instant value to your property, but they also may come with a hefty price tag.

If you need to cover some up-front renovations to your new home, a renovation loan could see you sprucing up your kitchen or upgrading your bathroom. 

Property Taxes 

When you buy a home, chances are you’ll pay stamp duty. But the tax take doesn’t end there. Sorry!

As a homeowner, the local council is going to hit you up for annual rates, which are a type of property tax.

Rates differ between councils. Households in South Australia pay an average of $29 per week3, or about $1,500 annually.  In NSW, some regional councils charges less than $500 in annual rates, while home owners in other areas pay $1,500 each year4. In Victoria, you could be looking at rates of about $1,800 annually5.

Long story short, contact your council to know what you’ll be up for in rates. If their response leaves you weak at the knees, bear in mind you can pay off the balance in four equal instalments.

And once you know, start putting aside the funds so that the next time the bill comes around you are good to go. 

Body Corporate Fees Or Strata Levies 

If you live in a unit, townhouse or villa, you’ll likely be asked to pay strata levies. 

Strata levies are paid to the owners’ corporation (or body corporate), with the funds used to maintain the shared areas of the property like gardens, pools, gyms, lifts and lobbies.

All up, you could be looking at strata levies equal to about 0.3% of your property’s value or as much as 1.2% annually6. Though how much you pay depends on the facilities available to residents. After all, it costs a lot less to maintain a humble two-up/two-down unit block than a luxury complex with all the bells and whistles like spas, saunas and barbecue areas. 

The fees are legally required to be disclosed at the time of contracting so, hopefully, no nasty surprises.


At a minimum you should consider building insurance for your new home. Not only does this protect you financially if your place is badly damaged in, say a storm or fire, your home loan lender may make it a condition of the loan that you have building insurance in place.

Don’t overlook the need to insure your belongings too. Contents cover7 provides protection if your home is burgled or if your valuables are damaged because of freak weather. 

You may score a discount on premiums if you bundle home and contents together in a single policy. On average, Aussie home owners pay $137 per month on home and contents cover. That’s about $1,644 annually. If cash is tight, some  insurers give you the option to pay monthly, though this can mean paying slightly more than handing over one annual premium.

Make sure you’re not too modest when it comes to adding up your valuables. If you’re giving a rough estimate, be sure to think about how much your belongings are worth (don’t forget that patio you installed out the back for your furry friends, every dollar counts)!

Heating, Ventilation and Aircon 

One of the best parts of owning a home is the freedom to set it up just to your liking. Part of that is getting the heating, ventilation and air con right.

The sky’s the limit here. You could choose to install a few ceiling fans, which can set you back upwards of $200 per fan8 plus the cost of a sparkie to do the electrical work. Or you could go for full-blown ducted air conditioning, which can have a price tag of up to $30,0009. It’s all about the price you put on comfort.

Quality heating, cooling and ventilation can all boost your home’s value, so it’s worth doing the job right. A Nimble Personal Loan could help you make your home comfy. 

Also keep in mind the long term running costs of whichever you choose. Whilst one option might be cheaper to install, it may be expensive to run all year round. So consider adding up the upfront cost plus running costs to decide which is the best option for your family. 


It’s always a good idea to have a property inspected for pests as part of your pre-purchase inspections. But an all-clear when you buy the place doesn’t mean pesky creepy crawlies won’t invade your home at some point in the future.

That’s why experts recommend having your home inspected for pests at least every 12 months – more frequently if there’s been a previous pest problem.10

You’ll need to allow $150 to $300 for an annual inspection 11. When you consider that a hungry termite colony can munch its way through thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to your home, it’s a pretty good investment.

And if termites are not a problem, take a moment to consider how you feel about adopting the friendly neighbourhood spider, Frank. I mean, he has lived at the front door since way back and he only spins his web at night time (while the humans are sleeping) so during the day… Do you see where we are going with this??

I bet that pest inspection is looking good… Sorry Frank!

Garden and Landscaping 

If ‘home’ is an apartment, some outdoor furniture, a few terracotta pots and maybe a bit of outdoor art will be all you need to spruce up your al fresco space. If you’ve got a backyard, you can take your time and take a DIY approach to landscaping, or engage a landscape architect to give the garden a professional makeover. 

Either way, you’re gonna want to keep your outdoor areas in tip-top shape. From replacing plants each spring to having your lawn mowed each week (allow $50 a mow12) garden maintenance could set you back around $2,600 annually. 

Roof Fixes

It’s a no-brainer to say your roof matters. A leaky roof can cause a whole lot of damage inside your home, from ruined carpets to hidden mould. Make a diary date to check your roof each quarter to stop minor issues becoming major repair jobs. 

Nipping problems in the bud can mean a repair as little as $300. Leave it too late, and replacing a roof can lighten your wallet by over $35,00013. Ouch!


Your home’s plumbing does plenty of important work behind the scenes. Neglect it, and things can go horribly wrong. 

A little known-secret of home plumbing is that not all the pipes in your home are made from durable copper or PVC. Some, like the pipes used in toilets, are made of braided flexi hose, which can break down over time. As these pipes are under constant water pressure, a burst pipe can see thousands of litres of water wash through your home. It’s a problem behind around 30,000 home insurance claims annually14.

So, check under the kitchen sink, behind the loo and laundry tub to be sure your hoses are holding up. If you see a leak, a visit from the plumber can cost $60-$120 to fix the problem.


Uh-oh… you’ve found mould. Amber alert. This is NOT good. Mould is not only hard to remove, it can be a serious health hazard. It can also be a sign of an underlying problem like leaky pipes, so getting rid of mould is often a job for professionals.

Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with mould and mildew, but if you do spot the tell-tale signs, get onto the issue quickly. A mould inspection fee can be around $150 to $300. Leave the problem to fester, and the cost of removing mould in just a small room can be up to $2,00015.

If you need any more convincing, check out our article ‘Dealing with Damp’ for all the info on problems caused by leaks and moisture in the home.


Everyone wants to feel safe in their own home. 

If you are buying a home, the chances are that you have scoped out the neighbourhood. There are lots of solutions to ensure your home feels safe. However, like other things, they have costs which you need to consider when owning a home. 

From simply upgrading your locks, installing a camera or getting a high-tech alarm system, one way or another, you are likely to be spending some cash to feel  secure. 

Utility costs

If you have been renting and you have an amazing deal with the real estate agent, you may have forgotten about some of the average bills that homeowners may be sent periodically through the year.

Utilities cover your electricity, gas and water. Unfortunately, these are costs that you cannot avoid, unless you are moving into a teepee and living from the earth (then by all means, skip ahead). 

How much you spend will depend on the size of your property and the amount of personal energy consumed. Remember when your parents used to follow you around the house, turning lights off as you exited the room? Well, that’s now you!

If you are worried about electricity bills being excessive in your new home, be sure to read our tips to ensure you save money from day one. 

Internet Connection

A mere 20 years ago, the internet wasn’t a part of our daily lives. Fast forward to the present and we can’t live without it. Seriously!

From your phone to the TV (most of us are streaming the newest seasons of our fav shows), the internet is essential and it comes with a little price tag that we sometimes forget. You may even be paying for a phone line and/or cable to maintain your digital speed.

On its own, the average internet bill (we are basing it off NBN because it’s the benchmark for internet speed currently) could set you back $71 per month which is a total of $852 annually. 

We are pretty sure that this will be an essential in your household budget, so try to factor it in from the start so that you can always keep connected.

The Essentials

After you have gone ahead and made any changes to the house, upgraded your furniture and moved in, you still may need to buy some essentials.

You may find yourself needing to do the groceries or in need of some new clothes. 

Whilst most lenders factor this into your borrowing power, many homeowners don’t. So ensure you leave yourself enough money to cover the little things in life.

What happens when these hidden costs arise? 

Keeping your home in great shape doesn’t just make it a great place to live. It can also enhance your property’s value, and spare you the hip pocket pain of major repair or damage bills.

As a homeowner, there are times when cash can be tight, but it’s not worth scrimping on the costs of home ownership.

Nimble’s got your back with a variety of quick ways to add new furniture or cover the cost of repairs. Check out our Personal Loans and AnyTime Virtual MasterCard to apply for the cash you need today to keep your home looking good for tomorrow.