How to Know When it’s Time to Move to a Larger Home

couple walking in to front of their new house(shutterstock/WitthayaP)

Identifying when you’ve outgrown your starter home or first apartment is a challenge, to say the least. The good news is there are telltale signs you can be on the lookout for that’ll indicate you’re due for an upgraded living space and that it’s time to begin planning for an imminent change of scenery.

Unsure of where to begin evaluating how your current home suits your needs? Check out our tips and guidelines below:

Your house is overflowing

You’re playing Tetris with the Tupperware and cooking utensils, your closets are packed to the brim, and you’re already taking advantage of all the laundry room, workbench and under-the-bed storage space available to you. Despite all this, you’re still struggling to put home essentials away when you bring them back. If you’ve already Marie Kondo’d and still don’t have space to spare, then it’s time to start watching the housing market.

"Upgrading to a larger home isn't just about more storage as this can be managed with regular purging, it's about providing functional space for all the activities and tasks your family needs to perform both together and separately daily", said Jane Lockhart, principle of Jane Lockhart Design. "Analyzing this wide variety of needs can change your perception of your current home and help you understand what's needed for the future."

You’re growing your family

Having children is a huge step forward, but bringing a baby home also means preparing by stocking up on essentials for the baby and new parents. A bassinet, crib, changing table, safety gear, swing, playmat, stroller, diapers, wipes, clothes and more—these items soon dominate your living space.

“Beyond needing more space, there are many reasons why someone may wish to have a larger home,” said Bill Gasset, owner of Maximum Real Estate Exposure. “One of the more common reasons is having additional children. For example, if you live in a two-bedroom condo and already have one kid, your living situation may not work. A home with 3-4 bedrooms may be far more suitable.”

If you already have one little one and are bringing home a second bundle of joy, this can become even more apparent. This is especially true if your bedrooms are limited and you’d prefer your little tykes to have their own room. In that case, it’s time to plan for a future move.

You’ve added a pet, and you’re falling over each other
pet and owner(shutterstock/Nutnutchar NAV)

While bringing home that second dog or third cat may seem like a great idea on paper, it can highlight how small your home actually is. Maybe you’re tripping over your new furry friends at every turn and you can’t help but notice how their tail sweeps cups, coasters and paperwork off of every available surface. If your home is starting to feel more like a zoo than your castle then it’s official—the time has come to level up your living space.

Your job has changed

This may seem inconsequential from a home ownership perspective, but a changing job can mean a litany of life changes including a new commute and new income. A job switch could also result in a shift to remote work. “The number of people working from home is increasing, and many people are finding that their homes aren't big enough to separate their work and personal lives,” said Tony Alkau of My Pro Movers DC. “Having a home office that's too small may be an issue if you work from home.”

If you find yourself with extra money in the budget and a commute that isn’t quite what you bargained for, a change of scenery may be in order.

You’ve got extra breathing room in the budget

You’ve paid down your debts, and your budget has room to spare. But before you put down cash for an upgrade, consider taking your budget for a trial run and building in the cost of a larger home purchase. Don’t forget to set aside extra money to cover any increased utility fees, homeowners association fees or tax costs that a new home may require.

If you can comfortably live within your means on the new budget for several months, that’s a great sign that you’re ready for the leap into a larger home. What’s better, since it’s simply a trial run, you can set the excess money you didn’t spend aside for a downpayment, new furniture or moving truck rental.

You’re crushing your savings and retirement goals
Retirement Savings Money Jar.(shutterstock/Atomazul)

While it’s easy to dream of investing in a new property, it shouldn’t come at the expense of your future needs. If you’ve got a nice little nest egg saved up for a rainy day and you’re meeting your retirement goals, that’s a great financial sign you’re ready for the next step. Just make sure your nest egg won’t be drastically affected by putting down a down payment on a new home.

Your neighborhood isn’t the best fit anymore

Whether your neighborhood is on the decline due to a rise in crime or if it has a budding bar and nightlife scene you’re no longer taking advantage of, outgrowing your old stomping ground is a normal part of life. We constantly change throughout our lives and our needs change alongside us. Consider if you’re still taking advantage of all the amenities that your neighborhood has to offer. If you’re not, ask yourself why that is—it might be time for a change of scenery.

Your cost of living has gone up
Home expenses list(shutterstock/Minerva Studio)

Cost of living increases are an unfortunate reality. Promotions, pay raises and job changes can’t always close the gaps in a monthly budget. This is especially true in some of America’s larger cities where the cost of living is higher than average. If you find your budget is stretched thin and you’re having difficulty achieving harmony in your budget, it could be time to move to a lower cost of living area where you can get more bang for your buck, according to The Balance.

You’re moving in with a significant other

While that one-bedroom apartment or two-bedroom split-level may seem like a great fit for single life, it can quickly feel cramped when squeezing in a second person, their personal effects and any furry friends they may have. If you’re talking with your significant other about moving in together, consider a fresh start in a place that fits both of your needs.

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