When you purchased your first home, it likely checked off all the boxes. But over time, perhaps your lifestyle has changed and your family has grown, and now you’ve started asking yourself, “Should I buy a bigger house?” Whether you’re looking for larger bedrooms, expanded family space or more storage solutions, buying a bigger home — or even just moving to a different layout or location — might be a change you’re ready to make.
Scott Bridges, Senior Managing Director of Consumer Direct Lending at Pennymac, says that upsizing happens frequently. He explains that a “healthy percentage of buyers are looking to buy up for space, neighborhood, school district and work proximity reasons. It’s a great pursuit and one of the more exciting chapters in one’s homeownership journey.”
Here’s how to figure out if you’ve outgrown your current home and how to determine how big a house you actually need.
The Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Home
While starting a new chapter in a bigger home may sound appealing, moving is a big decision that can come with a hefty price tag. How do you know if you’ve really outgrown your house? Bridges says the following are some of the most important items to consider.
One of the first things you’ll want to assess is the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you have versus the number you need. Bridges notes, “If your family is growing, if you have kids or parents moving in, you will need additional space for the new members of the household.”
Evolving household dynamics can also change your idea of an optimal home layout. If you currently have a one-story home, do you want to move to a two-story residence or vice versa? Do you want your children’s bedrooms on the same floor as yours? Do you need a separate entrance and living area for mom and dad or grandma and grandpa?
You'll also want to think about your outdoor space. Bridges recommends asking yourself how much space you’ll need. For example, will you want to entertain, maybe have a pool, how much yard would you like to manage? All things to consider when looking to buy a bigger house.
Even if you’re comfortable in your home right now, do you foresee life events on the horizon that may lead to things getting cramped? Think carefully about your future plans and determine if they align with your current living environment. Consider the following:
- Will you be having more children or expanding your family?
- How long will your kids be living in the house before they leave for college or work?
- Will you need a larger garage or driveway as your children get their driver's licenses?
- Do you envision an elderly parent moving in with you at some point?
Your answers to these questions will help you decide if moving to a bigger home is right for you.
Your home’s physical size may be the primary factor when deciding if you’ve outgrown it, but there are other lifestyle factors to consider as well. For example, do you have a short or a long commute from your current home? Bridges points out, “Most people don’t want to add significant time to their commute, even if it is for a larger home.” Others, however, may feel a longer commute is an adequate trade-off for increased space.
Or maybe you aren’t commuting as much because you work or attend school from home. Could a dedicated work area in a larger home reduce distractions?
Consider, too, the benefits and drawbacks of your present location. Even if you love your neighborhood, perhaps you want to move to a quiet, traffic-minimal cul-de-sac. Or maybe you’d like to be within walking distance of stores, restaurants or public transportation.
Quality of life is key. If your current home is causing you stress and not providing you the comfort you need, it may be time to upsize. Bridges urges, “Carefully think about how much better your day could potentially be with more space, a bigger kitchen, larger yard and more rooms.”
Considerations for Staying Put
There are many reasons why you may want or need to move to a bigger house. But that increase in square footage will likely increase your expenses and responsibilities. Here are a few reasons why staying put may be a better option for some homeowners.
Difficulty Finding a Home in Your Ideal Location
Depending on your desired location, a larger home in your price range may be difficult to find. If you want to remain in the same neighborhood or school district, you’ll have to decide whether moving away from your preferred area for a bigger space is worth the sacrifice.
Higher Costs Beyond the Mortgage
Even if you can comfortably afford your down payment and monthly mortgage payment, there are other expenses you’ll need to consider when moving to a bigger house. “If you live in an area with colder winters, understand your heating costs will go up," Bridges says. “In a warmer climate, think Arizona and Texas in the summer, AC costs can run very high electric bills in bigger homes.”
A larger home requires more interior and exterior upkeep. There’s more to clean, furnish, repair, landscape and maintain, which takes time, money and energy.
Not a Guaranteed Investment
If you’re purchasing a home based on an anticipated greater return on investment, keep in mind that real estate values can be unpredictable. There’s no guarantee that your larger home will increase in value when you’re ready to sell.
Housing costs are often less the further you move away from city centers, giving you more bang for your real estate buck. But if it takes you longer to get to your job, the added time, hassles and transportation expenses may not be worth it. Bridges notes, “If you’re extending your commute to live in a bigger house in the suburbs, the drive may be just too hard.”
Financial Tips for Buying a Larger Home on a Budget
Moving involves a considerable amount of expense, stress and time. Many people try to avoid it by buying a home that will meet their needs for many years to come. However, it’s also important not to buy a house bigger than what you really need. Maintenance requirements, increased utility bills and expensive mortgage payments can be significant burdens. When purchasing a home, how can you be prepared for a growing family without overstretching your budget? Here are a few tips.
Try your best to forecast the additional costs of a bigger home. “When you buy a larger home, you can easily anticipate your mortgage, taxes and insurance costs increasing, but many people don’t anticipate the additional costs of a larger home,” Bridges explains. “Your utilities will be more expensive, lawn and landscaping and amenities like pools will increase your monthly expenses as well. Lastly, repair costs can be much more expensive on bigger homes. Think of a roof replacement on a 2,000 square foot house versus a 4,000 square foot house.”
Consider Your Income and Employment Stability
While more space may support your plans, Bridges stresses that stability of income and employment must be part of the discussion when considering moving to a larger home. Your household income will need to cover the higher costs of owning a bigger house — now and in the days ahead.
Rent Out Your Original House for Income
It may make sense to sell your current home and use the proceeds for the down payment. But if you don’t have to do that, consider keeping it as a rental. Some homeowners move to a bigger home while renting out their old home, creating what can be a lucrative income stream in the future. Bridges advises, “Depending on how much you owe on your house, sometimes it makes sense to keep the original house and rent it out, as it can represent a good income source in the long run. Over time, real estate tends to appreciate and rents tend to rise, so holding the property as a rental can add to your overall wealth as the years go by.”
What to Look Out for When You’re Ready to Buy a Bigger House
Moving to a larger home is a significant change and takes careful thought. If you’re ready to upsize, think about how your prospective new home could adapt as your needs evolve. Bridges says that during the buying stage, homeowners with growing families often look for the following:
- Bedrooms on the same floor
- A bigger kitchen, a nursery or a media room
- Backyard space for kids and pets
- A better school district, which generally speaking, impacts home value stability
Want to start your new home search now? See how much your current home is worth, and then go beyond home affordability calculators to determine how much house you can actually afford.
Are You Ready to Move to a Larger Home?
So, should you move to a bigger home? “Every buyer has to make their own decision, as their circumstances vary,” Bridges says. Moving may be challenging, and selling is a process, but he adds, “At the end of the day, buying a bigger home might be one of the more memorable and enjoyable things you can do in your life, so don’t wait too long, if you can!”
Choosing a home that is the right size for your life today and tomorrow involves balancing both your family needs and your budget. If you’re ready to take the next step toward a larger home and are looking for expert guidance in the mortgage loan process, get a custom instant rate quote from Pennymac today.