Renovate or Move - What's the Best Option? News & Opinion

Renovate or Move – What’s the Best Option?

Consider hidden costs and gains when deciding whether to renovate or move.

For one reason or another (or many), your home no longer meets your needs. Should you renovate or move? The short answer is that there are a lot of factors in play and there are times when both are appropriate.

Quick Decision Guide

It’s Time to Renovate When…

  • You have a strong emotional attachment to your current home
  • The neighborhood and/or schools are great
  • Reconfiguring your space or adding on can give you the extra space you need
  • The home is outdated but structurally sound
  • Working with a custom design for your space sounds appealing

It’s Time to Move When…

  • It shortens your commute
  • You’re looking for better schools or neighborhoods
  • You need more square footage
  • The neighbors drive you nuts
  • You want to cut down on lawn care and landscaping
  • Your financial picture is changing


Should I Renovate or Move? 9 Reasons to Consider

Emotional Attachment

Many couples have an emotional attachment to the first home they bought together or to a home they inherited after one spouse’s parents pass on. No matter what the reason, if you or your spouse have a strong emotional attachment to the home, consider renovating it to meet your needs.

If it’s a matter of maintaining ownership rather than living in it, renting it out to people you trust can be a way to offset the cost of keeping it while you move into a different home.

Schools and Neighborhoods

This one’s pretty simple. If the neighborhood you’re in is dangerous or you can provide a better education for your children by moving, start packing.

On the other hand, perfect neighborhoods and great schools are tough to come by. If you’re in a good place, think about remodeling or expanding your current home.

You Need More Space

You can gain space by moving into a new home, adding on to your current home, or sometimes by just reconfiguring the space you have. Buying a new to you home is exciting, stressful, and fun, but it’s not always the best option.

If it’s simply a matter of square footage, get out your calculator and consider how much it will cost to renovate or move. Don’t forget about interest rates and starting over with a new mortgage. That interest adds up over 30 years!

The ’80s Called… They Want Their House Back

There’s a time in every general contractor’s life when you look back and hope no one remembers you built houses with styles from decades gone by. If you’re living in one of those houses, style doesn’t have to drive you out.

Ancient tile jobs are relatively easy to demo and replace with modern looks. You can update kitchens and floors. You can repaint the interior and exterior, put modern architectural shingles up, and give your home a completely modern look… if it’s structurally sound.

Also, consider working on the curb appeal with a landscaping makeover.

As a bonus, giving a modern update to an older home will really improve its value if you decide to sell later on. On the other hand, you might just fall back in love with it and stay for another 20 years.

Remodeling Ideas And Home Improvement Projects: What Pays Off?

If You Could Just Customize That Space…

When the square footage is good, but the space just isn’t configured just right, renovating can give you what you want while leaving the rest of what you love alone.

When you consider whether to renovate or move, remember walls and doors can move, too. It’s just drywall, studs, electric, and plumbing. Okay, so that might be oversimplifying it, but for a qualified contractor, customizing an area of the house isn’t as scary as it sounds.

Why is the Carpet All Wet, Todd? I Don’t Know Margo!

Whether your neighbors have a noisy dog, a used car lot on the lawn, or send an ice javelin formed by their gutter through your window, their behavior can make your life miserable.

While there are often codes that you can report to alleviate some of the frustration, moving is the only guarantee you have to get away from them.

Oh, and give us a shout if you get the movie quote, cousin Eddie!


Better Things to do on Saturday

I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t want to spend all day Saturday working on the yard and I don’t want to pay someone to do it, either. So I completely understand when it’s time pull back on the lawn care and go for a smaller lawn. It may be that work is just too crazy or you’re just getting far enough in age that it’s tough to keep up. Either way, moving is your best bet unless you find some disposable income to hire it out.

Finances Are Changing

As we move up in our careers, a pay raise comes with it along with the opportunity to move into a different house in a different neighborhood. Sometimes layoffs, retirement, or unexpected emergencies drain your financial ability to keep up and downsizing is the way to go.

If you’re on the upswing of your career, remodeling, adding on, and moving are all viable options. If you’re looking at less or fixed income, moving might be your best bet. However, refinancing might be an option depending on how much equity you have in your home.

$%&*#@! Traffic!

You can’t make a 25-hour day, but shortening your commute can literally add hours to your day in some cases. Sitting down to dinner at 6:00 sure beats sitting in traffic at the same time. This one obviously requires a move.

Parting Thoughts

Whether you renovate or move, it’s a big decision and one that you shouldn’t take lightly. Planning ahead and talking with a trusted financial advisor can make the path more clear.

One thing to keep in mind – if you ask for an estimate from a contractor for remodeling work, expect to pay him or her for their time. The time they’re spending with you is time they’re not building and they have families to feed as well. On the upside, many contractors will credit you the cost of the estimate if you choose their company to do the work.


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I’m not wild about my current house and it’s on a road a little too busy for my liking, but my commute is <10 minutes and I can ride a bike in decent weather in <20 minutes with very little effort. I never knew how valuable that time would be to me until I had it. After commuting 50 miles each way to undergrad, delivering pizza for many years, and driving about 50 minutes each way for my jobs out of grad school, spending so much of the day in the car just seemed normal. The thought of a nicer… Read more »

Matt Bock

Both, renovate to move

Mark Griffin

Do you hate your neighbors? Do they hate you? Do other people have more of your property than you do now? These are the real questions that you ask when it comes to moving 😂😂😂