Are you wondering if you should move to a new home or remodel your current one? Most articles available on the subject suggest that you first weigh the pros and cons of each option. We believe that there is much more to this decision, and before you dive into way too many technical details and charts, you should first think about the bigger picture. Therefore, we have put together a list of essential questions you should ask yourself first to ensure you are making the right decision.
1. How do you feel about your current living situation?
2. Do you love your neighborhood and its accessibility?
It’s amazing how small things can have large impacts on our daily lives. Maybe your neighbors have changed recently, you don’t live close enough to shopping malls or restaurants, or your area is not family-friendly and there are fewer opportunities for your children to play with others and make lifelong friends. How long does it take you to drop your kids off at school? Finding yourself spending a lot of time in your car rather than at home could also affect your decision about whether to move or stay. Perhaps your neighborhood is wonderful, but your lifestyle has changed throughout the years and you are now seeking a less urban environment to live in.
If this is the case, even meeting with the “best designer in town” will not convince you to stay in your current house and renovate it because although you may be able to remodel and transform it into your dream home, the neighborhood remains the same and you will not find it more attractive. So, before you answer the big question regarding whether you should move or stay, you need to consider whether or not you still have any positive feelings toward your neighborhood and community. Above all, you should be able to live someplace you genuinely enjoy.
3. What is at the heart of the matter? An upgrade or downgrade?
The first step is letting go of the notion that upgrading is inherently good and downgrading is inherently bad. In some cases, downgrading your lifestyle can actually be more of an upgrade. For example, I really like my old-fashioned kitchen, but I don’t have much stuff to store in all the kitchen cabinets, so “downgrading” it by replacing it with a smaller kitchen with fewer cabinets and more open space wouldn’t feel like a downgrade to me at all. Another way to “downgrade” is to move into a smaller house. That could be an idea worth considering, especially if your children have left the nest and are independent. By downsizing, you can avoid the hassle of cleaning a huge house, enjoy lower bills, and spend more time doing the things you love. In another scenario, if you have the funds and you live in a desirable community, it may be worth considering renovations if the house can be upgraded to its full potential.
The main benefit of upgrading a house, aside from avoiding the high costs of buying and selling, is that you improve your quality of life by making your existing house more practical and suitable for your needs. For example, you may have a gorgeous balcony upstairs overlooking a beautiful park and a well-equipped kitchen downstairs, but you spend a fair amount of your time on that balcony, so going up and down all the time for some food and snacks can be quite a hassle, right? If you intend to renovate your house, adding a small kitchen on the same floor as your balcony will be very helpful and a more budget-friendly choice than moving. The goal is to make your house as functional as possible.
However, if you decide to relocate to a more convenient location, it’s nearly impossible to predict whether the new home will require renovations to tailor it to you and your family’s needs. Most people will have to spend a fair amount of time in their new house before they can make any decisions about how to customize it to their specific needs. So, before you get attached to the words “downgrade” or “upgrade,” make sure you consider your household’s bare necessities.
4. Cost: Is it cheaper to renovate or move?
Math is a beautiful thing. Once you know how much a project is going to cost, you can determine whether remodeling will be the more cost-effective choice or if you should consider buying a new home. Is it really that simple?
From our experience, when someone is leaning toward renovating a house, if things are not planned carefully in advance with the right professionals, new issues can easily pop up during the renovation. Then suddenly, what seemed more cost-effective before isn’t as appealing now, but you are already heavily involved in the process, so there is no turning back.
On the other hand, buying a house can also be quite tricky. Typically, when trying to buy a new house, there’s a sense of urgency since inventory in the market can change quickly, leading you to make a hasty purchase without enough time to evaluate all that comes with the new property, including the amount of remodeling work you’ll have to do.
As a result, many prospective homeowners don’t account for many less obvious expenses that go beyond their mortgage payment, and the unprepared home buyer can be shocked by these hidden costs.
Here are some examples:
- Kitchen: when purchasing a home, the kitchen is most likely one of the first projects to be tackled because the kitchen is the focal point of the home. Besides that, homeowners want to make a good first impression when they have guests over.
- Bathrooms: almost everyone starts and ends their day in the bathroom, thus homeowners tend to remodel and design it to suit their specific needs.
- Flooring: nowadays, many people prefer hardwood flooring over tile. If the house you have purchased is relatively old, a flooring update will be also higher on your to-do list than it would be for others.
- Windows and doors: updating windows and doors not only ensures a comfortable indoor temperature but can also enhance your home’s appearance.
- Closets: in order to have enough storage space in your bedrooms, most homeowners think about upgrading their closets as well.
- One must also consider water heaters, air conditioning, landscaping, irrigation, and the list goes on.
In any case, moving to a new home can be stressful, and there are many elements that may surface during the process that you were not aware of. Even if you’ve made your budget and put together a meticulous plan, try to consider the less obvious costs of renovating or moving.
5. Which would be faster, moving or remodeling?
In some ways, this question is like asking what the difference is between an apple and a soda. It’s incredibly difficult to compare the two. While some people will search for their dream home for 20 years and never find anything they like, others will find it in one week. On the other hand, one can renovate their home in one month and be completely satisfied with the results, whereas others will renovate their home for 20 years and still be unhappy with the end result, so they go and buy a new house instead.
For some reason, we also seem to find moving to a new home easier. However, in reality, packing and unpacking takes a considerable amount of effort and is really a task that varies from individual to individual. Some people need only two weeks to pack before they move out, while others begin packing a year in advance. The same applies for unpacking. While some people can unpack their last box shortly after moving, others may not unpack it until a year later.
What about staying put and remodeling? You’ll probably wonder how long it takes. Let’s answer this question by saying that the remodeling process requires patience and genuine trust in your contractor, especially if you’re planning on doing some major renovations. This doesn’t mean the process will take forever, but an excellent construction company should provide you with a schedule of when things will be ready. From our experience, every job is unique, as every house and homeowner is different. Some people want to spruce up their home by repainting it over the weekend and that would suffice for them, while others want to turn their home into a replica of Buckingham Palace and in that case, renovations can take quite some time. No two projects are alike and their duration is determined by the various stages and elements of the job. However, a skilled construction manager will break it down into individual tasks and milestones and provide the client with dates and deadlines.
In summary, both remodeling and moving are demanding tasks, and no matter what path you choose, make sure you are mentally prepared. As we discussed previously, renovations may take a while, and it really depends on the scope of the project and your contractor’s level of expertise. Also, moving house can be a stressful event that causes feelings of insecurity for some as an old home is stripped away and a new one starts to take shape.
So, What’s the Bottom Line?
Making life-changing decisions isn’t always easy, but it’s the only way to move forward. So, if you’ve made it this far, the most important piece of advice we can give you is to relax, take your time, trust yourself and ask yourself questions. For example, do I like my neighborhood? What can I do to improve the quality of my life? Which process would I be more at ease with? What is the best course of action for my family?
Because, in the end, it all comes down to what you find most important in life. Look toward the future and pursue that which truly makes you happy.
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