Should you move or renovate?

Deciding whether to move or renovate is one of the toughest choices a homeowner can face. Moving can be less of a hassle, but it could mean a longer commute to work or, if you have children, a transition to new schools. Renovating will enable you to stay where you are, but the cost involved and inconvenience of having to temporarily move out or put up with a team of noisy contractors tramping through your house may be too much to bear.

Whichever option you choose, the end result should be that you get the home you want at a price you can afford. The following quiz should help point you in the right direction.

Describe your family situation.
a. No kids or pre-school-age children.
b. One or more teenagers.
c. Children in primary or elementary school.

How secure are your finances?
a. Unpredictable. I make ends meet, but sometimes it’s a struggle.
b. Decent. I earn a steady income, but would have trouble if I was suddenly hit with large, unexpected costs.
c. Solid. I have substantial savings set aside.

How long do you plan to stay in your current home if you renovate?
a. Less than five years.
b. Five to ten years.
c. Ten years or longer.

Which of the following best describes your local housing market?
Seller’s market: More buyers than sellers.
b. Steady seller-to-buyer ratio.
c. Buyer’s market: More sellers than buyers.

How much would the renovations you are considering increase your home’s value in relation to other homes in your neighborhood?
Significantly. My home would become the largest or most expensive on the block.
b. Somewhat. My home would be improved but still comparable to others nearby.
c. Very little. My home’s value would still be less than my neighbors’ properties.

How much of a renovation would your current home require for it to meet your needs?
a. Extensive: Additional floor or wing; multiple extra bedrooms and/or bathrooms; garage.
b. Moderate: Adjustments to room size and layout; one extra bathroom; finished basement.
c. Minimal: Mostly just cosmetic changes.

How easily would you handle the mess, inconvenience and possible relocation involved in a major renovation?
Not well. Any major disruptions in my daily routine would be a considerable hassle.
b. I’d manage. I would prefer not to uproot my family from the house for an extended period of time, but would cope if the payoff was worth it.
c. Very easily. I’m willing to put up with whatever it takes to get the job done.

How much more time would you be willing to add on to your commute to work?
a. 30 minutes to an hour.
b. Up to 30 minutes.
c. None.

How attached are you to your current neighborhood?
a. I feel little or no attachment to the neighborhood.
b. I like where I am now, but I’d be willing to move if the circumstances were right.
c. I love my current neighborhood and would have a hard time leaving it behind.

See how you scored:

Mostly A’s: You may be better off moving to a new home. If you live in the city and were considering a renovation because you need more space, you may even be able to purchase a larger home further out of town for a price comparable to your present home. Keep in mind, however, that a move out of town could significantly increase the amount of time it takes you to commute to work.

Mostly B’s: Either option could be a good fit for you. Weigh your specific needs -- proximity to good schools or extended family, distance to highways or public transit, desirability of the neighborhood, etc. -- to decide whether moving or renovating makes the most sense for your particular situation. Be careful if you’re thinking of renovating just to increase the resale value of your home. While most renovations do add value, the increase may not be enough to offset the cost of the renovation itself.

Mostly C’s: Renovating your current home may be your best option. Check to make sure the renovations you are planning meet with your local zoning laws. The mess, possible delays and unexpected costs of a renovation can sometimes be stressful, but at the end of it all, you’ll have the home you want right where you want it to be.


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