Move or improve: should you renovate your home or buy somewhere new?

Making the right choice depends on factors such as market conditions, personal situations and finances

In today’s housing market, our clients frequently ask whether it’s better to move or improve their current home. This question typically comes up during significant life events such as welcoming a baby, needing more space for a growing family or downsizing after kids have moved out. Making the right choice depends on factors such as market conditions, personal situations and finances. If you’re facing this dilemma, here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of both options to help you make an informed decision.

Rising costs

Construction costs have steadily increased over the past few years, making home renovations a significant financial commitment for many. Quantity surveyor Patricia Power suggested that renovation costs start at €3,000 per square metre and can go as high as €7,000, depending on the desired level of specification and finish. Homeowners with substantial equity in their property might consider a home-equity loan to cover these costs. However, ensuring your investment aligns with the market value of homes in your neighbourhood is crucial. If renovated homes in your area typically sell for around €800,000, for example, reconsider your renovation plans if the costs exceed that threshold.

Cost of moving

Moving isn’t just about finding a new house – it can also mean getting a new mortgage, which may be difficult depending on your finances or age. Selling your current home includes expenses such as agent fees, moving costs and legal charges that quickly add up. On top of these, you might face the expense of renovating your new home unless you find one in move-in condition that perfectly suits your taste.

Even seemingly perfect homes often need tweaks to match your preferences. Keep in mind small changes, like custom wardrobes or redesigned kitchens, cost money. Also, hidden issues like poor insulation, soundproofing problems or old heating systems might arise after you’ve moved in – and fixing these will add to your expenses.


Emotional toll

Don’t forget about the emotional part of moving. Leaving a familiar neighbourhood can be hard, especially if it means switching schools or moving away from friends. These things matter a lot if you’re really connected to your current community.

If you love your area and hate the thought of leaving, renovating instead of moving might be the best option for you. Talk to professionals, get quotes for the work and ask an agent how much value the renovations might add. Comparing the new sale price with the renovation costs will make it easier to decide what to do.

Add value

Renovating can be a great investment if you do it the right way. Make sure your improvements work for you and add value to your home. Talk to professionals and get several quotes for the work. An estate agent with experience in your area can help you figure out how the changes might affect your home’s value so you can decide if the renovation costs are worth it.

We had clients who bought a house in a neighbourhood they loved before they had kids. After having three children, their home didn’t work for them any more, but they had grown even more attached to the area and wanted to renovate. However, because of the restrictions with the layout, which was long and narrow, the renovations would have cost a considerable amount of money and would not give them good return on their investment. So, for them, moving was the better solution.

Stick to budget

With homes in high demand, buyers often end up in bidding wars and spend more than they intended to. To avoid overpaying for a house that might not give you a good return on your investment, it’s important to have a clear budget and plan from the start. Get your finances and paperwork together before making any decisions. Being a ready-to-go buyer can make things a lot easier.

Also, think about getting a building survey and advice on possible renovations or extensions before you commit to your final offer. Check local planning permissions to see what changes you’re allowed to make and if there’s any construction planned nearby. A home might have an amazing view when you see it, but there could be big changes coming to the surrounding area that you should be aware of.

When considering whether to move or renovate, it’s essential to weigh different factors, both financial and emotional. Both options come with costs, but usually improving your current home is more affordable than moving. Examine your circumstances, the housing market and your long-term goals to make a decision that works best for your life and financial situation.