Written By Taryn Williford | 11.29.18

Do you dream of a future with a yard and a white picket fence? One where you’re not writing away 30 percent of your salary to your landlord every month? Being able to buy a home is a big part of what we’re sold as “The American Dream,” but it’s not for everyone.

Renting an apartment forever is absolutely an option, and a damn good one. But still, many people every year decide to give up the rental life for home ownership (32 percent of home sales were to first-time buyers in 2016). Wondering if you should be one of them? Here are nine signs you’re ready.

This isn’t a checklist, and these things certainly aren’t requirements for your first foray into real estate. But if you can say “yes” to more than a few items on the list, it’s a good indicator that buying might be a solid next step for you.

1. You’re out of debt.

2. You have an emergency fund saved up.

3. You have a down payment saved up.

The minimum for an FHA loan is 3.5 percent of the purchase price. More than 5 percent will get you into a fixed-rate conventional loan (where you pay private mortgage insurance monthly). And if you can manage 20 percent, you’re in the very best shape to avoid fees altogether.

4. You have good credit.

5. You own a basic set of tools and know how to make small repairs.

6. Your current apartment doesn’t fit your needs.

Here are some ways to know.

7. Buying is a better deal for you where you live.

The New York Times has a great tool on weighing your buying vs. renting options.

8. You love your city, and know you’ll stay there for at least 5 years.

Selling a home is sometimes just as costly as buying one.