To upgrade or renovate? Here’s what you need to consider.

By Julie Ryburn
In Home Loans

Home sweet home. It was perfect when you moved in three years ago, right?

But life rolls on, things change, the guest room has become an ideal nursery, and the useful ‘study nook’ is overcome with a jungle gym, highchair, and an unfathomable amount of nappies.

Or perhaps you’re working from home more, and the bed for the in-laws went on Gumtree a while back to create your dream home office? As for that study nook – turns out it’s just the right size for a treadmill.

All in all, things are feeling a little squished and now’s the time to decide whether you renovate your property, or move to pastures new.

It’s a big decision that warrants careful consideration. To help you decide where the greener grass lies, check out our pros (and the cons) for both options.

Team renovate

According to stats from CoreLogic RP Data, Australians are staying in their homes longer, averaging 10.5 years today compared with 6.8 years back in the mid-2000s. Here’s why renovating might be the answer for you.

It can add value

An extra bedroom here, a larger living space there – these are obvious ways to increase the value of your home while making an immediate impact on your family’s way of life, too. As for the big-ticket items (we’re talking kitchens and bathrooms), any upgrades here can make a huge difference to both your day-to-day happiness and future valuations. What’s more, there’s nothing quite like replacing fluorescent lighting and brown tiles with something a little less retro and a lot more modern.


Sure, adding value is a great move. But be sure to do your research before you reach for the sledgehammer as over-capitalising is a real risk. Get a professional valuation, so you know the present value of your home and go from there.

It eliminates moving costs

The prospect of a brand new start sure is tempting, but don’t forget the hidden costs of selling. Agent fees, conveyancing, marketing, stamp duty… combined these costs can quickly run into the tens of thousands.


Still, they could be costs worth incurring if you end up with a property that meets your exact needs both now and in the future. This is especially worth considering if you live in an older property that is likely to need ongoing work down the track – hello rising damp, dodgy wiring or rotting joists.

It means you can sit tight

Love the home you’re in? Perhaps it’s got a dream commute to work. The kids are zoned for great schools with best friends next door. And what about your morning coffee hit from the cafe on the corner? That right there’s a hard act to follow. Renovating your existing home means you can continue to enjoy the community around you while adding extra space where you need it most.


But a change is as good as a holiday, right? Could sitting tight be bad for the brain? Research has shown that moving home can be good for you. A UK study by the University of New Hampshire and Cardiff University found that the freshness of relocating to a new location can boost memory, break entrenched habits and promote positive change.


Team move

Australians love to move. In fact, stats from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal we’re one of the most mobile countries in the world. Between 2011 and 2016, 39 per cent of us changed address, compared to the global average of 21 per cent. Here’s why moving might be right for you.

It makes use of capital gains

If you’ve lived in your home long enough, you might have just built up a decent amount of equity that will come in handy when it comes to shopping for your dream home. With that in mind, now’s the time to get a valuation and research those refinancing options.


Of course, refinancing means negotiating a whole new rate – so be sure to do your market homework before taking the plunge. You’ll also need to be wary of timing too, since if you’re refinancing a fixed-rate loan, you may be faced with penalties in the form of ‘break’ costs.

It avoids living among renovations

Living with a half-functioning kitchen and a lounge room missing a wall isn’t fun – for you, the kids, or the cat. If you have family nearby you can lean on, that’s great. Otherwise, you could face adding the cost of a rental to an already-growing renovation budget. Moving house is your chance to avoid the mess, dust and upheaval of renos and instead sees you move directly to a house more fit-for-purpose.


Of course, packing boxes comes with its own kind of chaos. Make the packing process as seamless as possible by adopting a thorough labelling system and de-clutter as you go. As Marie Kondo says, if a particular household item or piece of clothing doesn’t spark joy, let it go.

It’s a chance for adventure

Moving house is a fresh start – an opportunity to form new friendships, discover new haunts, embrace new sights and ultimately end up in the home you’ve always wanted. Maybe you’ve always dreamt of living by the water, in the mountains, out bush, or simply just a suburb closer to your work, children’s school or favourite gallery. Whatever the case may be, happy surroundings equals happier people – and that’s something you can’t put a price on.


You’ll be hard-pressed finding a con for the thing that puts a smile on your dial. So ask yourself, are you truly, madly, deeply happy in your current abode? Could it work for you with a few renovation tweaks? If so, call your architect and get started on plans. If not, seize the day and make the move to pastures new.

Leave a Comment