Renovate or Relocate: How to Decide

Since the housing boom and the subsequent downturn in the economy, many of us have not been moving homes as much as we used to. Back in the late 90’s and early Noughties we saw house prices still rising healthily and so it made sense if you wanted to move your way up the housing ladder. I made tens of thousands on a small property in just two years during that period which allowed me to buy a much smaller mortgage, increasing the equity in our current home. Since the economic crash and the recession, it’s not easy to sell and move on, and of course, it’s really not easy to even get on the housing ladder these days. There’s no shame at all in renting, it’s a great solution, although that can come with its own problems.

Dickins & Jones Living room

So, if we’re not moving homes as much, many of us are choosing to renovate our current homes. I’ve lived in our current home for 13 years now, and with the family growing up fast, we are filling our space. We played with the idea of moving, but to stay in the same area so our girls could continue at the same schools, we needed to increase our mortgage by hundreds of thousands, and it just doesn’t make financial sense; we just don’t want that pressure. Instead, we’ve decided to renovate the house and convert the attic into another bedroom and bathroom. That will ease the pressure on the first floor that we are currently experiencing.

But how to do you decide what’s right for? I thought it might be useful to share the process we went through in the hope it helps others with their decision. Should you renovate or relocate?


Clearburn Double SidedOf course the decision can often come down to finances, and whether you an afford to move. Talk to an agent and have your house valued. You can also then do some research online, or talk to your bank about how much more you could borrow. At this point you’ve got a good idea of what you’re going to be able to afford. Don’t forget of course that you’ll need to pay stamp duty and moving costs, usually amounting to tens of thousands of pounds. Would this be better spend improving your current home?


Would you want to, or have to relocate and move areas? Does this affect your jobs, or the schooling for your children? If you stay in the same area, are there better houses available? Often you may not find what you’re looking for in the same area, and need to move further afield to find it. How will and your family cope, leaving your friends behind and starting afresh?

Make a List:

Riad Moroccan Mosaic Effect TilesSit down and really identify what you want from your home, either your current one or a new one. Do you need extra bathroom space? Is the kitchen too small? You want a spare bedroom perhaps? Whatever it is, write it down, and be realistic. That games room and indoor cinema might never happen. Then decide if you can renovate your own home. Could you convert an attic, build an extension or create a better space from the rooms you currently have? Ask a builder to come over and give you some idea of quotes, and go and look at neighbours’ homes to see how they’re using the space. This is often a great way to find inspiration and take a fresh look at your own home. Once you’ve done this, you should be able to see the answer. Of course, it might not be the answer you really want to hear, particularly if you want to follow your heart.

So, it’s a very personal decision, and might simply come down to a compromise between you and the family. In our case, I would have happily moved, but my husband wanted to stay put. The compromise was I get to choose how to decorate the converted attic – I can live with that!