struggling between cost and scope
struggling between cost and scope

Many families, businesses and institutions face the big question of Moving vs. Staying and improving. Nearly one in nine Americans changed residences between 2018 and 2019, according to recent data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Business lifetimes are on average- only 10 years according to the Sante Fe institute. While the majority of these moves didn’t involve crossing state lines, or even changing cities, nearly 10 percent of all U.S. residents have expressed a desire to live somewhere else. So what’s keeping Americans from longer moves?  Many wonder about staying and building vs. moving…Take the Should You Move? quiz here.

Take this quick 5-questions quiz and answer these questions honestly,  some of which may take some legwork.

What would Yoda Do?
What would Yoda Do?

Hell yes=3 points, Yes=1, Maybe=0, No=-1, Hell No=-3.

Get a score of 6 or above : you stay and build, score -4 or below and you move.  Score 3 to -3, please talk to several long-term friends and trusted advisers , do some research and read this

  1. Are the improvements less trouble than moving?  (short term and more importantly long-term effort, i.e. commuting)
  2. Do you like your current location?
  3. Can you recreate your current situation? and relationships?
  4. Is the project construction cost less than the cost of moving? (remember to include brokers fees, tax implications, moving costs, down-time etc)
  5. Can your long term goals be more easily accomplished by doing the construction project?
  6. Are there any regulations or other impediments that prevent the improvements from happening? or Does the future location allow you to do what you want to do?  (research and due diligence!)
path with many choices
The number one oversight is that many customers rely too heavily on the immediate construction cost paradigm and fail to look ahead as to the use and related long-term cost.  Will they consider working from home? What is the likelihood of a long term guest, maybe an aging parent staying with them?

The Clash’s famous lyrics “Should I Stay or Should I Go” may come to mind when deciding about whether to move or stay in your current home.  Maybe you’re renting and have a great deal but want the equity that homeownership provides.  And if you already own, maybe you’re feeling cramped, hating your commute, or finding your noisy neighbors too much to take?

What’s the best choice — stay or go?

Moving can be a hard decision, both financially and personally, so determine if you’re truly ready for it. Here’s what to consider before you start packing:

When Moving Makes Sense

Home Equity. You can use the equity in your home to move up to something bigger. If you have owned your home for five or more years, then you could have enough equity to help you get a larger home for similar monthly payments. This could be a great way to get more without paying more!

Healthy Financial Outlook. Your employment is steady, your income is improving, and your entire financial situation looks good now and down the road. Yeah! This means three things: 1) You will get approved for a mortgage; and 2) you can afford higher mortgage payments and possibly could use the higher deductions; and 3) you can own a more expensive, larger home.

Low Interest Rates. With rates so low right now, moving can be very affordable especially if you plan to buy a larger, more expensive home. Rates just dipped to their lowest levels since July—and jumbo mortgage rates are even lower than conventional, so even more bang for your buck! On the flip side, low rates will attract buyers to the home you need to sell.

Location, Location, Location.  When you bought your current home, it probably felt like the perfect location for you … but maybe not now. So many variables go into what makes a good neighborhood for you and your family at this specific time. It might not be a kid-friendly neighborhood and you want a better school district, or you changed jobs and now spend more time in the car, or maybe the neighborhood itself has changed. Maybe your quiet street is now too busy or you’ve seen crime increase.  Perhaps you want a stronger community feel or a more walkable neighborhood. Or you want a larger yard and more space between neighbors. It all comes down to what you want now and where you picture yourself living.

Space Invaders. You want to upgrade since your family is growing OR you want to downsize since your kids are gone. Whatever the direction, you’ve realized the size and space of your home doesn’t work for you and your family anymore. You want space for toys (yours and theirs!) and to say good-bye to cluttered, cramped rooms.  Or, you don’t need four bedrooms anymore and want a more manageable home. Space needs can change dramatically in a short period of time and moving can solve them.

Life Changes.  Where you live affects your life and vice versa … your life will affect where you should live. If you’re a growing family, a newly single mom, or empty nesters, you want a home that reflects you and your new needs. Sometimes you can anticipate life changes that will happen in the next few years. It’s good to be prepared and perhaps plan an earlier move, especially if the housing market is good and rates are low. Timing can make or break the affordability of certain homes!


When Staying Makes Sense

Maybe you dream about more space, a bigger yard, or better schools, but sometimes moving is not the best decision.

You love your current neighborhood.  Having more space is great but remember where you live affects your day-to-day life in so many ways. If you love your neighborhood, your friends or have family nearby, you might not get that in your new neighborhood.  Really think about your family’s life doing a 180, and if a new home outweighs that right now. Some people are eager for a new adventure and life changes, others aren’t. If the space issue is temporary, then consider the options of making your current home work in the meantime.

The costs are much greater than the benefits. There are expenses involved with both a purchase and a sale and would those funds be better spent improving your current home?

Your criteria for a new home is not a good match for the market. Perhaps you can’t find or get what you want elsewhere in another home, especially when you want to limit your search to your current neighborhood or your budget isn’t large enough.

Financial outlook is brighter on the horizon. If your financial picture will change in a few years, it’s better to wait and not jump into something you may regret later.

Want more advice on how to make the best decision for your particular situation?  Check out why “Knowing Thyself” is the best place to start

Please feel free to call Steve to discuss your specific situation 914 674 2950.

Article by Steven Secon