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Move or Maintain?

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  • Move or Maintain?

    Feel somewhat silly for asking this question, but since I have only purchased one home (my current one) in my lifetime, I am curious of others' thoughts on the topic.

    If not yet in your 'forever home', how do you determine if it's best to stay where you are and put in significant maintenance costs, or just move?

    While we are currently not in our forever home, we aren't in a place that would likely ever force us to move. Though my 2 kids are young, we have enough bedrooms (4), space (2400sqft), etc. and live in a safe suburbia neighborhood (300-400s). Have a great elementary academy nearby, with adequate middle/high schools.

    Issue is, our house is about 25 years old. Original roof. Two original AC units. In-ground Pool is 15+ years old with original pump/filter/pebbletec. We haven't yet had any major maintenance issues, but have had 1-2 roof leaks in the last few years and a Roofer told us we eventually need to start thinking about replacing.

    After being here about 5 years we currently have about $100k in equity, but in looking at realtor/selling/transaction fees that have been commonly talked about here, my guess is we'd really only walk with ~$50k if we were to move. Combine that with the housing market being so inflated right now that I am unsure if we could afford much "better" at a similar cost. We don't have much wiggle room (or desire) to increase our mortgage or housing costs much beyond where we are now.

    Basically, I am wondering if it serves us to stay put and "save on selling costs", if it means putting on a new roof ($15k), two new AC units ($10k), etc. Are these just typical things everyone must be prepared to do in any home they live, or should we be trying to get out now since we know this isn't ideally where we would like to be 10-15 years from now?

  • #2
    Stay. Every home has those issues. And if you sell, those upcoming maintenance items will be factored into the buyers' offers.

    Maintaining will probably cost as much as realtor fees. Then you get to save on moving (costs & headaches).

    Why isn't your current home your "forever home"? What does it lack?

    What ever move you may "have" to make in the future, do it then. You are happy "enough" now. You dream location might be a terrible place to live in 10-15 years. (So could your current home, but that involves no selling/relocation costs.)

    For perspective, my home was put up in the 1940's. I love it here. If I die in this structure (probably gonna happen...) I wouldn't be upset. Some of the work I did I factored into my purchase offer. Some things I know I'll have to spend on. No home (unless I meet that rich single female that exists somewhere) will be cheaper than the one I am in now. I made it up the way I wanted. Its small, but its good enough for me. I'll move if compelled, but otherwise I like the frugality of my current home way more than what I **think** I would want in a "nicer" house.


    • #3
      I definitely wouldn't moved based on what you posted. If you are really worried about the cost you could spend $500 on a home warranty each year to cover the new ac and roof. But those are very normal home maintenance issues that every house has, even brand new homes have problems. This house sounds perfect, what is it lacking? Personally I don't believe in the concept of a forever home because I can't think of any house that would suit me perfectly at every stage of life. So take my perspective into account:-) we also live in a 1940s fixer that I adore so old houses don't scare me at all and is more of a bonus in my mind, rather than a drawback. But I know that will vary person to person.


      • #4
        Good points and perspective.

        A few of the things we don't love about the house:
        • Very small yard, with the pool taking up most of it. Would like a bit more land/space for the dog and kids and outdoor hosting/events.
        • Can't even use the small outdoor space we have as much as we would like, as we have a neighbor who waters their jungle/botanical garden 3 times a day and is a breeding ground for mosquitos!
        • We have a single story and are surrounded by two stories, so not much privacy
        • As mentioned above, we have a great elementary school close by, but much better High schools are located in other parts of town compared to our feeder schools here. Works for us now, but will be something we care more about when kids get to be that age (~10 years)
        After writing it all out, you're right, it doesn't make our current place sound "that bad". And it, isn't, it just also isn't the place we see ourselves staying for 10/20 years. But maybe that changes...


        • #5
          •You started with maintenance costs.
          •You concluded that you really didn’t want to sink more into housing funds for an “upgrade”.
          •You do know neighbor problems could be worse.
          •Bigger yard and bigger house typically equate to bigger problems (cost more to fix).
          •Now tell me again why you want to move when you don’t need to move from a financial perspective.
          The point is you will be trading one set of problems for another set and paying cash for the privilege. You have what sounds like a living situation that is comfortable and safe with typical issues that a move would be change for changes sake.


          • #6
            The reasons why you "should"move are unrelated to the original reasons you mentioned.

            Move for lifestyle (yard high school, privacy), if you can afford it & want to.

            Maintenance has nothing to do with it. Your dream house will need a new roof at some point.

            I still vote stay, at least for now.


            • #7
              We lived in a 500 square foot 2 1/2 room apartment when I was a resident. It was a block from the hospital. We were just as happy in life then as we are now in our oversized 6 bedroom house where we only use half the space most months, but my better half is happy living in this too large house. I’m certainly quite happy as well, I would say just as happy as I was back in the days of 500 square feet. My favorite thing about this house is the convenient location, the nice neighbors, and the peace and comfort when I come home. My least favorite thing about this house is the high property tax bill. Fortunately the utility costs are quite reasonable as the house is super insulated with ultra high efficiency radiant heat.

              My close colleague lives in a 2 million dollar 2 bedroom apartment in one of the most prized locations in the city with a family of 5. They do, however, have a country house where they spread out on the weekends. Somehow they have figured out how to make it all work and they seem quite happy living in their very small space.

              I think housing works when you make it work. If I had good schools for my kids, a comfortable place to lay my head, and a reasonably short distance to work to allow me to spend more time doing the things I value, I would likely be fine staying put. If you really want that upgrade, just remember that once you get over all the work, expense and hassle of selling and moving, you will have a few extra amenities, but you will likely end up similarly happy in the new home as you are in the current one. As I get older and hopefully wiser, my perspective on all of this has evolved.


              • #8
                Everything you mentioned is basically maintenance costs for your house. You're going to get those with every house. That wouldn't be my reason for moving.


                • #9
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                  • #10
                    Thank you all for the replies. It sounds as though we should view expenses - even these large ones - as typical costs of home ownership and shouldn't make a determination on whether to stay or go simply because they will likely need to be paid for during our time here (and probably sooner than later!).

                    And WBD, I hear you. I, too, think I would be just as happy in a 500sqft apartment or back in the 800sqft SFH we lived in for grad school. On one hand it's a liberating feeling, yet on the other makes me feel each day like I am over-consuming even by living where I do! But, just to be clear, we likely wouldn't be 'upgrading' much with a home move (whenever that occurs), but rather seeking out different amenities that we didn't know were important to us the first time around. My SO and I agree that given our financial goals and current income/lifestyle, a significant increase in the price of our home isn't ideal for us.



                    • #11
                      Thanks, helpful thread. I'd like to eventually move way out in to the country, but I think we've finally come to a point where we don't begrudge the work we are doing on the house. In fact when you DIY some of it, then you 'own' it more. I think it's overall unhealthy to not be settled in, mentally, in your home. That's what a home is for.
                      Last edited by legobikes; 12-09-2019, 04:38 PM.


                      • #12
                        Welcome to home ownership....


                        • #13
                          Stay. A roof and AC is small potatoes compared to moving and affording a more expensive house you do not need yet for 10 extra years. Maybe by then you would not move at all.