When family dynamics change so can the housing needs; maybe there’s a new baby coming so more room is needed, the kids moved out and the house seems empty, someone is starting a work-from-home job and needs extra space, or the kitchen is simply too small. Regardless, when housing needs start to change homeowners may wonder if they should move or remodel. A lot goes into making the right decision and its not one to be taken lightly as either choice can be expensive.

The Neighborhood

Before deciding to move, consider the existing living situation. If the current neighborhood meets most or all of the community needs for the family than a remodel may be a good option. But, if the schools, traffic or neighbors are not meeting expectations, it might be time to move to an area better suited to the family’s needs.


Moving and remodeling both take time. Some houses can be ready to sell and be sold within six weeks, whereas others, may take six months or more, and a new bathroom or other updates could have been made during that time. A full home remodel can take several months and the homeowners should understand they’d be living in a construction zone during this time, which may mean a kitchen without appliances, cabinets or countertops, and lots of tarps, dust and noise. But, if a home sells quickly and the homeowner hasn’t found a new property yet, it could mean living in a rental or hotel during the interim.


Costs associated with moving can include the down payment, earnest money, closing costs, movers, repairs and other associated expenses that can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars. For this amount, a homeowner could make changes to their floor plan in ways that better suits their needs. However, for a successful renovation, realistic budgeting and an open conversation are necessary with the contractor. Its easy to say there’s $50,000 for a kitchen remodel, but those numbers can increase dramatically if the homeowner chooses different materials, flooring or utilities need moved or installed.

More room

A big reason many families choose to move is because they want more space or an open floor plan, but if the neighborhood and commute are perfect and the house seems too small, a reconfiguration of the layout could remedy the problem. Meeting with a residential architect or contractor may provide ideas to better use the existing space. If the neighborhood HOA, the city or the property has restrictions for additional square footage, buying a new home may be a better choice.

The Local Real Estate Market

Finally, before making a final decision, compare the home’s existing home value with recent sales in the neighborhood. If those homes are selling more than the house is currently worth, a remodel could bring the property value up, but if the home is already worth more than the surrounding homes, a remodel may not pay off.

Choosing between a remodel or move is a serious decision, and one worth considering if many of the family’s needs are already being met in the current home or neighborhood. Talk to a contractor to find out what can be done to add more space, storage or reconfigure the existing layout and to a realtor learn more about the local housing market.