Today, many people are not determining a home’s value based only on finishes and square footage. It’s now becoming much more common to look at homes from a holistic perspective, based on livability and connection to the community

Here are four ‘must haves’ in home design today:

1. Live-in value trumps resale value

Even though the housing market is on the mend, it still doesn’t mean that you can necessarily sell your home on a whim. Keeping that in mind, rather than searching for a home based only on its possible resale value, it’s also important to look for a home with a strong 'live-in' value

In terms of livability factors, you want to ask yourself these questions:

•  How long do I see myself living here?
•  Does this home meet my needs now and in the future?
•  Can I easily get to and from where the home is located?
•  Can I realistically afford to live here?
•  If I can’t sell in five years or so, will it still meet my needs?

2. Proximity trumps location

While we've all heard the mantra “location, location, location,” due to today’s tight economy, you might want to change it to "proximity, proximity, proximity.” With most people’s long to-do list these days, living in a community where everything you need is in one centralized locale is a definite plus

For instance, one of the easiest ways to combat fluctuating gas prices is to reduce the amount of gas you put in your car by driving fewer miles each day. Though we all know it’s as simple as that, it’s not always easy to do depending on where you live

Homes hold more value when they are connected to a public realm that’s within walking or biking distance. Thriving communities combine a mix of different activities such as recreation, shopping and working

A recent study by the Center for Neighborhood Technology found that people living in location-efficient neighborhoods, which means close to transit, jobs, gyms, grocery stores, yoga studios and so forth, save approximately $200 a month

Part of this savings is because they’re not as impacted by the price of gas compared to those who are inconveniently located in proximity to where they work and the other places they need to go to on a daily basis

So just as important as the cost of gas, you want to ask yourself how many waking hours do you really want to spend behind the wheel of a car?

When it comes right down to it, you want to not only consider finances but your quality of life, too

When considering where to buy (and if you don’t work from home), you want to figure out the required commute time getting back and forth to work, along with the other activities that you need to drive to. Then decide if it’s worth the added stress and amount of time that you’ll be spending in your car

3. All square feet are not created equal

If a home is well-planned, it only requires one-third the space as a poorly planned, larger home. Elements of a well-planned, smaller home include:

•  Multiple windows so that you have a visual connection to the outdoors, essentially “borrowing” space from outside which makes smaller homes feel larger and brighter

•  Reasonable ceiling heights; they don’t need to be double the height, but if they’re higher than eight feet, the home will look and feel more spacious

•  Open yet defined floor plans provide a connection between rooms but still allow privacy

•  Clutter control. Look for homes with enough storage space to accommodate your belongings

4. Connect to a community outside of Facebook

Online communities that link people worldwide are a wonderful innovation, but they still can’t replace communities where you can engage with others in person

Ultimately, when purchasing a home, for the highest amount of satisfaction, you want to look at both the design elements inside the house and the community outside your front door.