Remodel or Relocate? Questions to Help You Find Your Answer

Is it becoming clear that you’d really like a kitchen where two of you can cook at the same time, or a playroom that’s not the living room? Does it increasingly seem like there are too many people and not enough bathrooms? Or, perhaps you’re looking ahead and want your place to be safe and usable as you age. If you answered yes to these or similar circumstances, you’re probably ready to make home changes. The first thing to decide is whether to remodel or relocate.

There’s no one right answer for every situation. So before you look at houses for sale while also sketching out plans to redo your current master bath and expand your kitchen, take a look at which approach best suits your wants and cans. That way, you can decide the best option to pursue and focus your efforts toward that goal.

Answering these questions can help you sort it out:

How do you feel about your neighborhood? Do your friends and your kids’ friends live there, is your favorite park or coffee shop within walking distance, are the schools a great fit for your family? Or do you keep wishing you were closer to work, had more open space nearby, had shops within walking distance or a bigger or smaller yard?

How does your home compare in value to others in the neighborhood? Would your ideal remodel make your home the priciest on the street? If you’re thinking about ease and value of resale, it’s best not to have the most high-end home around. On the other hand, if you’re more concerned that your house be comfortable and convenient for you so that you can stay there a long time, relative value may not matter as much as other factors.

How long do you expect this change to suit you? If your house is feeling small because of kids, how old are they? How much longer do you expect them to be living there? Would converting the basement to a play room give you enough room to spread out? Does square footage per person seem totally inadequate?

Or, are you looking ahead to retirement? If so, will you want a smaller home, with less square footage to clean and maintain? Or are you happy with your current home’s size but would like it better configured and equipped for aging?

What is your tolerance for being under construction compared with the difficulties of a move? How many changes are on your remodeling “to do” list and how long and disruptive would the remodeling process be? Moving is costly. In addition to purchase price, there are costs for closing, fixing up your current house to sell and making the move. And once you do move, there may also be costs for fixing up the new house.

What’s the market for the type of home you want? How likely are you to find a place that you can afford with the features you’re seeking in a neighborhood of your choice? Check out real estate listings to get sense for what kinds of properties are available and how many choices you can expect to see in your range. 

Weighing these factors and that can help you decide if a move or a renovation project is most likely to get you what you want in a home.