Renovate or Relocate? 3 Questions To Help
Does your current home no longer serve your needs?
If so, you may be torn between relocating to a new home or
renovating your existing one. This can be a difficult choice, and there’s a lot
to consider—including potential costs, long-term financial
implications, and quality of life.
A major remodel can be a major commitment. From hiring
contractors to selecting materials to managing a budget, it can take a
tremendous amount of time and energy—not to mention the ordeal of living
through construction or relocating to a temporary residence.
On the other hand, moving is notoriously taxing. In fact, in one survey, 40% of
respondents viewed buying a new home as ”the most stressful event in modern
So which is the better option for you? Let’s take a closer look at some of the
factors you should consider before you decide.
What Are Your Motivations for Making a Change?
It’s possible that some of the limitations of
your current home can be addressed with a renovation, but others may require a
Certain issues, like dated kitchens and bathrooms,
are fairly easy to remedy with a remodel—and the results can be dramatic. In
many cases, a relatively minor renovation can significantly increase your
enjoyment of your home.
Other shortcomings can be more challenging to
fix but are worth exploring so that you know your options. For example, if your
home feels cramped or it lacks certain rooms, you might be able to make changes
like installing an extra bathroom, adding a dedicated office, or finishing an
attic or basement. You may even be able to build an accessory dwelling unit or
extension to accommodate a multi-generational family.
In fact, many Americans have remodeled their
homes to meet changing needs since the start of the pandemic. According to the
National Association of the Remodeling Industry, 90% of their members reported
increased demand for renovations starting in 2020, and 60% reported that the
scale of remodeling projects has grown.2
However, the feasibility and cost of these
larger changes will depend on factors ranging from zoning and permitting to
your home’s current layout. Speaking with an architect or a contractor can help
you make an informed decision. Let us refer you to one of our trusted partners
to ensure you receive the best possible service.
Of course, sometimes, even rebuilding your
home from the ground up wouldn’t solve the problem. For example, moving may be
the only solution if you’ve switched jobs and now face a lengthy commute or if
you need to live closer to an aging family member.
Conversely, if the shift to remote work has
opened up your location options, you may wish to seize the opportunity to
relocate to a new locale. A 2022 study found that nearly five million Americans
had already moved since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic due to increased flexibility
from remote work, and nearly 19 million more were planning to move in the near
future for the same reasons.3
Moving may also be the best option, even when
you’re happy with your geographic location. A local move may make sense if
you’re looking for a larger backyard or significantly more space. Similarly,
some frustrations—like living on a busy street or a long way from a grocery
store—can’t be addressed with a renovation. We are well-versed in this area and can
help you determine whether another neighborhood might suit you and your family
Which Option Makes the Most Financial Sense?
Renovating and relocating both come with costs, and it’s
wise to explore the financial implications of each choice before you move
The costs of a renovation can vary widely, so it’s vital
to get several estimates from contractors upfront to understand what it might
take to achieve your dream home.
Be sure to consider all of the potential expenditures,
from materials and permits to updates to your electrical and plumbing systems.
It’s also prudent to add 10-20% to your total budget to account for unexpected
issues.4 If you plan to DIY
all or part of your renovation, don’t forget to factor in the value of your
Renovations can also come with hidden expenses. These
Additional home insurance
Short-term rental or hotel if you need to move out
during the renovation
Storage unit for possessions that need to be out of
Dining out, laundry service, and other essentials if
you can’t access appliances at home
Remodeling choices can also impact the long-term value of
your home. Some projects may increase your home’s value enough to outweigh your
investment, while others could actually hurt your home’s resale potential.
For example, although you may enjoy the additional living
space, garage conversions aren’t typically popular with buyers.5
Refinishing hardwood floors, on the other hand, brings an average return of
147% at resale.2 The specific
impact of a renovation will depend on a number of factors, including the
quality of work, choice of materials, and buyer preferences in your area. We
can help you assess how a planned project is likely to affect the value of your
The cost of a new home, of course, will vary
significantly depending on the features you’re seeking. However, you may find
cheaper to move to a home that has everything you want than it is to make major
changes to your existing one.
For example, adding a downstairs bedroom suite
or opening up a closed floor plan could cost you more than it would to buy a
home that already has those features. On the other hand, simpler changes and
updates probably won’t outweigh the expense of a relocation.
If you’re considering a move, speak with a
real estate agent early in the process. We can assess your current home’s value
and estimate the price of a new home that meets your needs. This will help you
set an appropriate budget and expectations.
It’s important to remember that the cost of
buying a new home doesn't end with the purchase price. You’ll also need to
account for additional expenditures, including closing and moving costs and the
fees involved with selling your current home. And don’t forget to compare
current mortgage rates to your existing one to understand how a different rate
could impact your monthly payment.
However, keep in mind that the interest rate
on a mortgage is typically lower than the rate on other loan types—so you could
pay less interest on a new home purchase than you would on remodel.6
We’re happy to refer you to a lending professional who can help you explore
your financing options.
Which Option Will Be the Least Disruptive to Your
A final—but critical—consideration is the time
and hassle involved with each option since both renovating and relocating
involve a significant amount of each.
Don’t underestimate the time and effort
involved in a large-scale renovation, even if you choose to hire a general
contractor. You will still need to consider and make a number of decisions. For
example, even a fairly basic kitchen remodel can involve a seemingly-endless
selection of cabinets, tile, countertops, paint colors, fixtures, hardware, and
And don’t assume that you will get out of
packing and unpacking if you stay in your current home. Most renovations—from
kitchens to bathrooms to flooring replacement—require you to remove your
belongings during the construction process.
The time frame for a remodel is another consideration.
High demand for contractors and ongoing material shortages can mean a long wait
to get started. And once the project is in progress, you can expect that it
will take a couple of weeks to several months to complete.7
Contemplate whether you will be able to live in your home
while it’s being renovated and how that would impact your routine. For example,
being without a functional kitchen for months can be frustrating, inconvenient,
and expensive (since you’ll need to purchase prepared food). Remember that
delays are inevitable with construction, and consider what additional
challenges they could present.
Of course, finding a new home and selling your current one
also takes a significant amount of time and energy. According to the National
Association of Realtors’ 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the average
buyer searched for 10 weeks and toured a median of five homes.8
However, in many cases, the timeline can still be shorter
than a major renovation. Once you find a home that works
for you, it typically takes between 30 and 60 days to close if you’re taking on
a mortgage—and the process is even faster if you’re paying with cash.9 Plus, you can look for your dream home
without the inconvenience of living in a construction zone.
However, a move comes with its own stress and disruptions.
If you’re selling your current home, you’ll need to prep it for the market and
keep it ready and available for showings. Once you’ve found a place, the
packing and moving process takes time and work, as does settling into a new
home—especially if it’s in a different neighborhood.
Fortunately, we are here to help make the moving process
as easy as possible, if you choose to pursue that route. We can help you find a
property that meets all your needs, sell your current one for top dollar, and
refer you to some excellent moving companies that can help pack and transport
YOU DECIDE, WE CAN HELP
The decision to renovate or relocate can be overwhelming—but
this choice also presents a powerful opportunity to improve your quality of
There’s a lot to consider, from how renovations could
impact your home’s resale value down the road to your neighborhood’s current
market dynamics. We’re happy to help you think through your options. Get in
touch for a free consultation!
above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, or
tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your