How to find the perfect home

It isn't the one that has everything. It's the one with more of what you want and less of what you don't. This system can guide you to it.

YOUR DOLLARS WILL GO FARTHER IF YOU DO TOO
Use a list like the one below to determine whether moving farther out is worth the sacrifice.
  CLOSER
HOUSE
FARTHER
HOUSE
Listing price    
Length of commute    
Gas price    
Cost of commute    
Cost of child care    
Nearest hospital    
Nearest supermarket    
Nearest pharmacy    
Nearest airport    
Good schools?    
Weigh the price of convenience
Cities offer great job and cultural opportunities, but they generally come with high real estate costs. To get more house for your money, you might look along the edge of a hot neighborhood or in a smaller town nearby.

But will you miss the pace? Will you end up with a longer, pricier commute than you'd prefer? Will family and friends ever visit?

To determine whether moving farther out is worth the sacrifice, look at a house in the area you like and a similar one 15 to 30 minutes away. Then consider the factors in the worksheet to the right.
Alison Rogers is the author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."
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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.