A little over two years my husband and I stood in our garden looking back on our home, discussing whether we should move house or not. We had quite different opinions. He very much wanted to stay, yet I, after 12 years in the same house, felt like a change.
To me, it felt like we had outgrown the space, and I was desperate for new surrounding and challenges. The house didn’t feel big enough. The girls were getting bigger and our needs as a family were changing. Our home, in its current form, just wasn’t working.
But for my husband, moving house just didn’t feel right. He wasn’t ready. Too much good stuff has happened in this house, and he’s connected to it in such a deep way that going somewhere else just wasn’t an option. Not right then anyway.
Of course, there was no pressing need to move other than the lack of space. There was no job move, or school requirement and we enjoy our community, so we had options open to us. If you follow the blog you’ll know that we actually decided to stay and renovate the house adding a loft conversion. In the near future, it’s possible that we’ll update it further and add a ground floor extension.
Slater & Gordon, a leading solicitor firm has conducted a survey revealing that 61% of their respondents would actually prefer to stay and renovate their home instead of move.
So should you move or improve? What are the factors to take into account when making your decision? I thought I’d piece together some of the elements we considered in the hope that it will help anyone else out there trying to make the same decision.
#1 Why do you want to move?
This really is the first thing to ask yourself. And be honest with the answer. If it’s just that you’re bored with your current home, you might find the whole stress and expense of moving a little too much. You do need to be fully invested in a move to get through the process.
If you have new job requirements or the kids need to get into a specific school then fair enough. And maybe it’s all part of your bigger life plan. If so, then go for it. But if, like us, you’re feeling you’ve just outgrown the space and want something bigger, consider how you could make your current home suit your needs.
#2 Can you stomach the moving process?
Buying and selling is a tough, stressful business. It takes a thick skin and the right approach. Don’t think it will all happen quickly; we all know moving house takes months and months and can often go drastically wrong. It’s definitely not for the faint hearted, so if you have plenty going on in your life and little capacity for much else, don’t think that moving house is the easy choice.
#3 Do you have the money to renovate?
Ok so you might not have £50k sitting in the bank to build a loft conversion, convert the basement or build an extension, but you were probably going to increase your mortgage if you moved, so why not put that towards renovating your current home. Yes, you’ll probably need a little cash of your own too, but you’d spend that on moving costs anyway, so put it to use on improving what you already have.
#4 Do you have the vision?
For many of us, it’s hard to visualise how our homes could look different and service our family in a new and exciting way. If you can’t see how to develop your current home, and even whether it’s possible, take a look around you. Walk around your neighbourhood and start looking at your neighbours’ homes. I bet lots of them have been done up to facilitate a growing family. It’s the quickest, easiest way to get some ideas on how your own home could look if you started a remodelling project. And I guarantee, if you knock on doors and politely ask if it’s possible to look around someone’s renovation, they’ll be only too happy and proud to show you. (I’ve done this on several occasions!).
#5 What are your new home options?
I’ll admit, at the time of discussions with my husband, I looked around our area for homes I might like to move to. I found a few that had already converted their attics and basements, and of course, were more expensive than ours. Much more expensive. In fact, they would have cost double what it cost for the attic conversion, and we would have still needed things like new windows.
The major aspect here is that, of all the potential new homes I looked at, nothing was perfect. It all required compromise. Whereas the renovation in our current home, gave us the option to create something that we really wanted. We could build the home according to our needs, fitting it to us, and not the other way round. That’s what made the decision for me. That’s why I chose to improve and not move.
And if all other things are equal, that’s what I’d recommend. Improve your home and make it the perfect home for you rather than moving into someone else’s design and having to put up with that. You’ll spend less money in the longer term too.