The beginning of the end of the house hunt
Our guiding principle was the "twenty year house," a house that we could stay in until the kids were done high school. That's not to say we have to stay, just that we wanted to be able to stay; we didn't want a house where we'd knew we'd have to move out in 10 years. The house had to be nice enough and big enough to last us 20 years, and with good schools all the way through to the end. We think we found that. We could have gone a lot cheaper, but for a 20 year house, we decided it was worth spending our budget. Go best or go cheap is a good rule. That's the gist of it; there will be more.