Should I Move or Remodel?

The needs for our home change over time, and we’re faced with the decision to stay or go.

The avatar of Rachel Polant

Rachel Polant

Aug 22

Getting the Heck Out of Dodge, or Making the Home We Love More Lovable

We make a lot of our decisions regarding our homes with our hearts rather than our heads. It’s where we make memories and plan our futures. We forge friendships with our neighbors and invest our time and efforts into our community. But, it’s important to remain clear-headed and logical when it comes to our home. The wrong choice made with our heart and not our head can be a very costly one.

The needs for our home change over time, and we’re faced with the decision to stay or go. It’s hard to find an unbiased opinion. Realtors have a stake in getting you to move and contractors have a stake in getting you to stay.

Things to think about when making the decision to stay or go

Consider your needs: did you swear up and down that you were done having kids to only get the surprise of your life and a new baby joining your family, are your kids growing into teens who require more space and privacy, or are you empty nesters who anticipate caring for elderly family members in your home? These may not be reasons to move but rather a situation where a remodel of your current home to meet these new needs is the better option.

If you live in a great neighborhood that is, in general, considered desirable, and by remodeling, you’d be bringing up the value of your home to the neighborhood standard, then a home remodel is probably a safe bet. If, however, your home is already the biggest, best, and most expensive house in the area, then adding to it will not generate more appeal; in fact, you’re probably doing yourself a disservice.

You won’t get your money back in resale and, for example, a homebuyer working with a budget of $300,000 will not be willing to spend that much on a home in an area of houses valued at only $150,000. You will have a hard time selling and could find yourself upside-down in your house.

Keep potential future scenarios in mind

If you truly love your home and don’t plan on moving from your grandest house on the block, then it’s not a problem, but if you suffer a layoff or are transferred to a job out-of-state, your dream remodel can cause a financial crisis when you’re unable to sell your house for the amount of money you’ve put into it.

Taking that into consideration, if your home has room to grow as far as neighborhood values go, then a remodel may trump a move because moving is an undiluted expense. Once you add the cost of movers, commissions, financing charges, utility deposits, and other miscellaneous fees that always seem to come down hard on your bank account, you’ve spent a lot of money that had nothing to do with an investment. While it’s true a remodel can be costly, depending on the changes you make, you will probably still come out ahead or at the very least break even.

Also, staying on your land and improving upon the property could mean substantial tax savings as opposed to moving where you could be hit by a sizable increase in your new home’s taxable value.

But, if you have maxed out your home’s usefulness to you and it’s at the top of the market value in your neighborhood, then a move might be the best idea. Especially if what you really want is a certain type of view or natural feature. Or, if you want a pool or sunroom type of addition, which typically only pays 60 cents or worse in value for every dollar spent on the initial remodel cost. A cost vs. value guide is helpful when trying to decide if that remodel project is worth your money, aggravation, and time beyond whatever simple enjoyment you’d receive out of it.

How to get the most for your remodel money

To get the most out of your home’s worth, regular home maintenance and minor updates to your home’s exterior and bathrooms will return more than 80 cents in value for every dollar spent. So, you don’t even need to make major changes to your home. Consistent, unobtrusive updates work nicely too.

If you do decide to remodel your home and stay in your beloved house and neighborhood, you could very well see your home’s value appreciate by $100,000 or more.

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And, though moving might be a slightly faster solution, it isn’t by much. You need to pack and unpack, and there are still all the finishing touches and tweaks that need to go into your new home to make it feel like your own.

Plus, moving is hardly a private affair. Strangers are constantly traipsing through your home and snooping through your drawers, cabinets, and closets while commenting and critiquing your decor and taste. And this too can go on for an indefinite amount of time until your home is sold.

Really, a home is an investment of the heart first. If it makes you happy once remodeled then that’s the most important consideration. If your home is just not working for you no matter the remodel solution you come up with, well then, maybe it is time to pack up, move, and enjoy a new view. But, if you love your neighborhood, neighbors, schools, and the basics of what your home has to offer you, then maybe that finished basement with in-law suite, or better yet, your remodeled dream kitchen with shiny granite countertops and custom cabinets will leave you smiling and happy in your home for years to come. 

Make a list of Must Haves and Can Do Withouts

Sit down and assess your needs for your home and how feasible they are. Decide what features of your home are most important to you and categorize and prioritize them between what can be fixed with a home remodel or if you must move to obtain them. Use your head in this situation, and enjoy as you watch your plan come to life when you fall in love with your home all over again—from the jacuzzi tub of your freshly remodeled gleaming master bathroom. Or, from your seat on the floor of your new home in a sea of boxes and packing popcorn.

Find and hire the best home remodel experts near you. Get a free remodel quote today to make your home the house you’ve been dreaming about!