Should You Remodel or Move?

Have you outgrown your home? Are you thinking about adding a bedroom or a family room?  Is the kitchen too small or just worn out?  Are the bathrooms in need of a facelift?  Everyone has had to face the challenge of deciding whether to live with their home as is, remodel, or pack up and move ... and it is a tough call.


The number of variables you must consider to make a good decision is almost limitless. Still, the situation isn't impossible; with enough research and analysis, you can wade through your options and make the right "Remodel Or Move" decision.

The many reasons to remodel or move boil down to 3 major categories – financial, practical, and emotional. Let's take a look at each.

Financial Reasons to Remodel or Move

• Property taxes: Property taxes can vary considerably from home to home. And unlike other costs, property taxes need to paid over and over again.

• Cost of selling your house: Costs to prepare your home to sell can be as much as 5 or 10 percent of your home's value, together with another 2-5 % in closing costs.

• Cost to move into your new home: Consider the cost of the move itself (moving service or vehicle rental, packing supplies, temporary storage if necessary, etc.) plus any modifications you need to make to your new home.

• Cost to remodel: Remodeling costs vary a great deal. Be sure you are using a good estimate when making your decision. Your home may increase in value when you remodel, so deduct that amount from the cost to remodel. Then add any rise in property tax that may occur.

Practical Reasons to Remodel or Move

• Size: Has your family increased since you last moved? Have you outgrown your current residence? Or, on the other hand, you may now  need less space and be ready to downsize.

• Commuting time: How close is your home to your workplace (if you plan to stay in your present job long term)? If you prefer not to drive, is there convenient public transportation nearby?

• Schools and childcare: Are there good schools and childcare options in your district? Is this relevant to you? 

Emotional Reasons to Remodel or Move

• What you like (and dislike) about your current home vs what a move may offer: A beautiful yard and a lovely, warm neighborhood are hard -- maybe impossible -- to replace. But if you aren’t that attached to your present location, and your commute to work is too long, that weighs heavily in favor of moving.

• How you feel about remodeling: Some homeowners love remodeling, and others hate it. Regardless of how you feel about remodeling, it is a lot of work, even if you avoid DIY projects and hire a remodeling contractor. And that is also true of finding a new house and moving. Neither task is easy; don’t underestimate the time and effort involved, but DO consider your emotional preference for either one.

Along with considering your reasons to do anything, you should also clearly understand your goal. Is your goal to live in your dream home regardless of cost? Maybe your goal is to just be comfortable in your home at a reasonable price? Or are you planning to remodel your home for a profit?

To remodel or move is a big decision, but careful consideration will help you find the best answer for yourself.

Dan Fritschen wrote this article for He is a real estate and remodeling expert in San Francisco. His book is "Remodel or Move?"

Updated November 6, 2018.

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