There are few things quite as liberating as the feeling of moving into a bigger house, especially after being squeezed into something way too small for way too long. Striding the length of vast empty rooms, or shouting from one end of the house to the other to hear your own voices echo back, are just two of the small pleasures you might imaging enjoying once you have acquired all of that extra space.
However, there is a lot more effort and responsibility involved when you live in a bigger home, so before you take the step up, let’s run through some of the basics so you know what to consider when upsizing your home.
Why do you need more space?
Before you make any ‘big’ decisions, you should consider why you think you need more space and if a bigger house is really the solution. Be sure to think through all the factors that led up to this point. Many people come to the end of a long cold winter trapped inside and feel suffocated by their home, but a good spring clean and changing a few pieces of furniture can cure that sensation in no time.
If more people live with you now than when you moved in, then upsizing your home to something bigger is probably inevitable. However, many families get the timing wrong on this. If you are tired of big awkward teenagers clunking around the house, moving to something bigger may be too little too late. How long until they leave home? Are there other solutions such as adding an extension or having younger children share a room so older children can have their own space? Same applies if an elderly parent needs to move in – maybe a granny flat in the back yard is a better choice in the short term.
How Much Space Do You Actually Need?
If you still think upsizing your home is the right choice for you, then consider exactly how much space you might need. Going bigger doesn’t have to mean aiming for twice the size. A house of similar dimensions but slightly bigger can often be all that’s needed. One extra bedroom, or a larger more open plan living space can make a huge difference. Even upsizing from a 2nd floor townhouse to a place with its own outdoor space can be transformative.
Think about the needs of everyone who will live there and be clear about how the current issues can be solved in the simplest and most economical way. Remember if you move to something that is too big you may find your current supplies lacking and need to upgrade furniture, curtains, rugs and other household necessities. Bigger houses require much more effort to create a warm, inviting atmosphere so think practically about what space is needed and decide accordingly.
Can you afford the additional costs of a larger home?
Of course, a bigger house will have a higher purchase price but it also comes with a whole bunch of other costs that you may not have had in your previous property. Your first task is to be sure that your new larger mortgage is going to be manageable within your existing budget. If you were just getting by financially before, then upsizing your expenses is not the way to improve your quality of life. As well as the mortgage, there may also be increased costs on things such as insurance, rates, property tax, power, gas and water bills.
Larger homes can be glorious things but the costs of maintaining a bigger garden or repainting a larger house – especially a two storey one - every few years can certainly take the sheen off things. Repairing and taking care of things is essential so the property not only retains, but increases its value and this can become a costly exercise on a large demanding property. Unless you live in a tropical climate, it can be hard to justify the expense of managing a backyard swimming pool that you only use for a month or two each year. There will always be hidden costs you haven’t thought of too – such as paying someone to rescue possums out of your attic, or getting ivy clad walls dealt with so parts of your house don’t collapse. Talk to friends who have large homes and ask them what their gripes are so that if you still decide to go ahead, you are somewhat more prepared for the intricate needs and costs of a larger property.
Can you manage the upkeep of a bigger property?
One of the things that catches many homeowners by surprise is the amount of work involved in running a larger house. Obviously, there is more space to clean, so additional hours will be added to the time you usually spend doing housework. Maybe one extra bathroom is not so bad but if you’ve gained a whole extra floor, or a kitchen that’s three times the size, you might find that small amount of free time you used to have becomes a thing of the distant past.
Inside the house is just the beginning. Homes with gardens, pools, ponds, fountains, chickens, large deciduous trees, lush sweeping lawns are alluring and romantic in notion only. The novelty soon wears off when you realise most of your weekend is now spent sweeping, scooping, cutting, clearing, mulching and cleaning. If you have the time, it can be a wonderful way to keep fit and to keep busy as you get older. But if you have a busy young family, make sure you factor gardeners, groundsmen and caretakers into your budget and, if the numbers don’t work, you may be upsizing your mistakes instead of upsizing your home.