While lenders, real estate professionals, websites, and others can provide you with the generic calculations that show you what they think you can afford, it is ultimately your decision. These calculators should only be used as guidelines and not as requirements. Only you know the spending patterns of your family. Perhaps you enjoy frequent vacations, getting a new car every year, or entertaining. You should not burden yourself with such a large housing debt that you cannot continue doing what you enjoy.
You should not take on so much debt that an unforeseen bill or problem will immediately affect your ability to pay the mortgage. Experts caution that in this economy of downsizing and outsourcing jobs, everyone should have sufficient funds set aside so that they can survive for three months without being forced into bankruptcy or losing their home. In every life there are unexpected expenses, an unexpected baby, a car accident, an illness. Do not tie yourself to such a large housing debt that you cannot weather these financial hits.
A word of caution here, it is easy to get caught up in looking for a home. You want the best for your family and the bigger, more expensive house is just what the family is asking for. The real estate agent and the mortgage lender are so helpful and encouraging. They do the calculations that show that with your salary, you can afford the mortgage payment. They say that it may be a stretch, but your salary will increase. Stop. Make sure that you feel comfortable with spending that amount of money every month before you take on the debt. While the lenders and the real estate professionals may be correct on paper, they will not be there when you suddenly realize that the cherished family vacation or that Sunday brunch your family loves will need to go because you need to save money for the mortgage payment.