A house is more than just a place to live, it’s where memories are made. It’s difficult to break the emotional ties you have to your home, which can make moving especially difficult. But what happens when your house stops meeting your needs? Do you remodel or relocate? Although it can be challenging to take the emotion out of the decision making process, once you asses the logistics you will likely find that the answer is more clear than you thought.
If you adore where your house is situated, from the friendly neighbors to the great schools, remodeling may make more sense than moving. Alternatively, if you don’t like your location, transforming your kitchen and master bath won’t fix the neighborhood.
There are many reasons that your current location can stop working for you. Maybe the subpar school district didn’t faze you before, but now you have two kids. Or perhaps you got a new job and your commute is now unbearable. You can loathe the location and still love the house, which is what makes the decision tricky. It can be difficult to take the emotion out of this situation, but at the end of the day your location should work for you and your family. If it no longer does, it’s probably time to move.
No matter how you slice it, both moving and remodeling are expensive undertakings. Remodels can get very pricey very quickly; kitchen remodels typically cost around $20,000, while adding a full bathroom can be anywhere from $7,000 to $25,000. There are many costs associated with relocating as well, from hiring moving companies to paying for the much-needed help from real estate professionals, and you’re most likely moving to a home that is more expensive than your previous one.
"The financial cost of moving can much higher, especially if the original cost of the old home was very low by current standards," said Missouri REALTOR® Steven Owen. "People will spend money to remodel that does not look like a wise investment because the overall cost is still lower than the move."
Take a hard look at your budget before making a decision. If the only thing you really want is another bathroom, talk to a contractor about the best way to add one. But if you want a new bathroom, a luxury kitchen and two more bedrooms, it probably makes more financial sense to move.
Not only do you have to consider the upfront cost, but you need to look at the long-term investment realities. Compare your home to others in the neighborhood to see if remodeling is a smart decision. If you make your house the most expensive on the block, it will be difficult to sell. People don’t want to purchase a pricey house if they can get a similar model for much cheaper. Alternatively, if your house is on the lower end of the spectrum, remodeling could be the perfect option. Be sure to keep renovations in line with your neighbors if you want to recoup the money you spent when you do decide to sell down the line.
“The biggest thing to deter major remodeling is over improving the home for its square footage or neighborhood,” said Missouri REALTOR® Sharon Keating. “If the focus is on the wisdom of the investment, many times moving is smarter.”
No two situations are the same. It’s important to seriously consider your personal wants and needs while making this decision. For example, you may have an old family home that you just can’t part with, even though it needs major renovations to make it work for you. In that case, maybe an expensive remodel is the right choice. Or perhaps you love your location, but feel your house is now too large for your current needs. If you want to downsize, it typically makes more sense to move.
Another thing to consider is the processes of moving and remodeling. Can you live in a construction zone for the next few months? Some people couldn’t bear to. For others, the thought of going through a move is enough to cause an anxiety attack. While neither option is ideal, if one would make you absolutely miserable, look into alternatives.
There is a lot to consider when making the decision to remodel or move, but once you come to a conclusion you are one step closer to living in your dream house. If you’ve been through this situation, share your experience in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!