Should I stay, or should I go? It’s not only a famous rock song but also a question many homeowners find themselves pondering when their current home no longer feels fit for purpose.
We all have a vision of our dream home. You know the exact configuration of your perfect kitchen, the ideal number of bedrooms, the double vanity in your ensuite bedroom so that you and your partner no longer fight for time at the sink. If you had a magic wand, you’d wave it with a renovation here, a minor upgrade there, and voila, the perfect home for your growing family.
If it were that easy, we’d all be living in our dream home. But, with the rising cost of materials, the time-consuming nature of DIY projects, and the expense of hiring professionals, renovating your home is not always the easy answer to upgrading your living situation.
On the flip side, you may feel like moving is more favourable than renovating. But with the price of real estate at an all-time high in many local markets across Canada, it’s not an easy decision. While at a national level, housing prices climbed 10.9% in 2021, in many urban areas, that number soared as high as 30.7%. Considering the market’s competitive nature for home buyers and all the legal and real estate fees involved, it makes the choice even more formidable.
So, should you stay, or should you go? Here are some essential considerations when you’re deciding between moving and renovating as a pathway to your dream home.
Thinking back to when you originally bought your home, something made you fall in love with it. But as the years change, so do your needs. The house may have worked for you seven years ago, but as your lifestyle evolves and your family grows, it may no longer feel like the best fit.
Ask yourself if you still love your neighbourhood, lot size, and community. Moving may be the right option if you can’t say yes to those factors. But, if it’s just your home that needs changing, a renovation, remodel, or addition can address those issues.
Your life changes, but unfortunately, your home doesn’t magically change with it. Perhaps you’ve tried to declutter and reorganize, taking inspiration from an expert of “tidying-up”, Marie Kondo. It helped, but it didn’t give you back the space you needed. Growing families or shifting to working from home may require a total reconfiguration of your space. You may have a dedicated area for a home office, a main floor powder room, and a mudroom that houses the ever-sprawling collection of boots, mittens, and snow pants.
Renovation projects are all about reconfiguring your footprint to get the most out of your space. When your home requires multiple renovations on multiple floors, even if you go DIY, it will cost you a hefty sum. Does that mean you should move? Not so fast. Do your homework, get quotes, and budget. How do those costs stack up against the cost of moving? Remember, the money you put into your home will build the home’s value and can pay off whenever you decide to sell.
If reconfiguring your space won’t give you the functionality you need out of the square footage you are working with, it may be time to add more. There are options for increasing your living space, but you should be prepared to stretch your budget. An addition is akin to building a new home. You have all the same considerations, from a foundation and framing to plumbing and electrical.
If you love your location, lot size, and community, staying put and adding the living space you need may be the answer. But doing this type of project requires one essential consideration: you must want to stay in your home for the long term.
Financing becomes even more of a consideration with an addition. You may be eligible for a home equity line of credit or construction draw financing to help cover the costs. Financing may require you to provide plans to the financial institution, show them all your quotes, and you may only get access to the funds during specific points in the construction process.
There is also the fear of the unknown that creeps in. Once you start digging or opening your home, you may uncover issues that can require expensive replacement or remediation, like knob and tube wiring, asbestos, or lead paint.
You’ve considered a renovation or addition and understand the costs and risks associated with each. Have you thought about the pain points that come with moving? It’s been so long since you moved that you may have forgotten or blocked them out of your memory.
If you find yourself in a ’seller’s market, it’s great for selling your existing home, but you may have to over-bid to get into the house that checks all your boxes. Even smaller cities and towns that historically offered great value now see record-high prices.
Then there are all the practical questions about moving. Is moving during the school year the right time? Will you have time to stage your home correctly, address any repairs or renovations necessary to get the best sale value, or do you even have the energy to pack and move with a toddler running around? Though these issues may feel small compared to budgeting factors, they shouldn’t be ignored.
Finally, there are all the costs of paying a real estate agent, the closing costs, and the legal fees. Add these additional costs, and they may level up with the cost of the renovations you needed to love your home again.
Deciding between moving or staying comes down to cost. It is critical for most people when deciding if they should renovate their current home or pack boxes and find somewhere new to love. Which option is going to cost more, and can you afford it?
If you’re genuinely grappling between these two options, your first and most crucial step should be creating a detailed budget. This will give you an accurate idea of what you can realistically afford to do right now and how much you’ll need to borrow to create or find the home of your dreams. You don’t have to do this alone. Talk to a financial advisor, other industry professionals, as well as friends or family who may have recently moved or renovated.
The decision to renovate or move is significant, probably one of the biggest decisions of your lifetime. But take comfort in the fact that there ’isn’t a right or wrong answer. Take the time to weigh what works best for you and your family. Because what makes your dream home is the people you share it with.