My banker said to expect to pay 2x your mortgage every month on “house” things. Ie your expected mortgage plus insurance and other bills/items for home maintenance (property tax, power, cable/internet, security system, natural gas, snow removal, lawn maintenance, etc). At my bank, they take that into account when approving a mortgage.
Our monthly bills end up being slightly less than our mortgage cost, and obviously it depends if you’re in a HCOL area (where this theory might not apply at all). To give example when I sum up everything we pay monthly for the house it ends up being ~ 70% of our mortgage.
Plus, you’ll want to buy new things for your house, we spent at least $30,000 on home decorating in the first year (furniture, light fixtures, decor, paint, window treatments). It really depends how tight your budget is…
So I would recommend you make a list of all of your current monthly expenses (plus seasonal such as lawn care and snow removal if applicable), include how much you contribute for retirement and other savings (I keep an emergency account for my house of $15,000), plus other savings you might want to be contributing to… then find out how much you would have leftover for a mortgage payment. Obviously you and your SO need to have the same priorities for this list too, if you are buying the house together.
im not saying live in a house with water damage/mold (although unless it’s a bank repo your realtor could prob help negotiate the seller taking off some of the sale price to deal with known issues that are observed during your buyer inspection), but I would also personally not risk being house poor either. There is probably a happy medium, and if this is your first house it doesn’t need to be your dream home the first house either (although everyone would prefer that I’m sure!!).
Also, one more thing in our situation I’m the “bread winner” of the family, if I was sick and couldn’t work we would not be able to afford our house. I have invested in disability insurance in the event I become sick and can’t work so we don’t have to sacrifice our house if I get sick (which also covers if we have a sick baby that needs time in the NICU… we are currently TTC and as you can see I’m definitely a “planning” type person!).