or relocate

Renovate or relocate? That depends on a few things


In the neighbourhood to renovate?

There are lots of renovations happening in my uptown Waterloo neighbourhood, renovations and additions and a couple of tear down – rebuilds. Renos are happening here and there in other neighbourhoods too: Mary Allen, the East Ward, Central Frederick, where new people are moving in and neighbourhoods are changing with the new demographics.

With shifting demographics, schools and infrastructure changes. Just look at the Frasier Institute year after year and see which schools are consistently improving. Just look at our network of trails and our attitudes toward walkability. If you buy into or already live in an improving neighbourhood the question to renovate or relocate is almost always to renovate.

 To renovate or relocate, that is the question.

Adding value to any property is always less expensive than moving. Not only do you get the years of enjoyment out of a bathroom or kitchen renovation, but you will get financial return on investment when you eventually sell.

Home maintenance must also be done and if you can add a wow factor to that, you will again be financially rewarded when it comes time to sell.

Although money is often the most important indicator when choosing between relocation and renovation, it is not the only factor. A long-term perspective is the only way to consider your options when it comes to housing. Health is long term. Employment is long term. Overall livability is long term.

Age and health

Here is the scenario. The kids are grown and moved away. You are living alone, rattling around in a four bedroom house in beautiful Beechwood. You’ve converted one of the bedrooms into an office and another into an upstairs TV room. You putter around in the garden and sometimes go down to the basement. Everything is immaculate (the most overused word in real estate) but at least 15 years out of date. Do you renovate or relocate?

If we money out of the equation (because you are richer than you think), if you are still healthy, then maybe you should just stay put. Sure the house is too big for you, but moving into a condo high-rise is going to be too small (and you are going to hate paying the condo fees). This is too much of a lifestyle change for most empty nesters.

In this scenario, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to renovate either though. Who are you trying to impress?

In another scenario, you are middle aged or just starting out. Like at the beginning of this post, you’re in an old neighbourhood that is seeing a ‘changing of the guard’. Modern families need more space. Modern families like open concept living and enough bathrooms for everyone. Renovate.

Pros and cons

It cost money to relocate. Real estate commissions, lawyer fees, land transfer taxes, other municipal taxes…it all adds up. There is also the stress of buying and selling and the move itself.  But moving closer to work or into a great neighbourhood for you will balance out the costs.

Renovating is no picnic either. It is dusty and disruptive. It will always go over budget. You will have to deal with the city for permits  and inspectors and contractors will be coming and going at inconvenient times. You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.