Are you living in the wrong house?

Posted on Friday, January 20, 2023

While Christmas is traditionally a time for embracing your home and dressing it up to the nines to impress family and friends, once the decorations are down, feet can start to get itchy and so begins a period of evaluation and planning. As such, January tends to be the month that many homeowners find themselves questioning whether their property is meeting their current needs. 

Rachel Johnston of Stacks Property Search, explains: “Lives and priorities change, families move on, and finances change; but sometimes homeowners continue to stay in the same property more out of habit than because its ideal for their new circumstances.

“It’s not unusual to have slight niggles with a home, for instance, wanting it to be a bit bigger, have a slightly larger garden, have a different aspect or have more parking. But with moving costs so high, these may not be sufficient to warrant a move. There are however signs that you are probably living in the wrong house, and that a move is worth serious consideration.”

Experts from Stacks Property Search share their insight and reveal the red flags that could signal that you’re living in the wrong house:

1: Nothing but space, man

Bill Spreckley of Stacks Property Search, says: “For those living in houses that are too big for them, rising heating costs, costs of maintenance, and inflation will be the final straw. If you’re living in less than 50% of your space, or if your outside space represents an onerous responsibility rather than a joy, it’s time for a rethink. Heating and maintaining space that is rarely used makes no financial sense, it’s almost certainly time to downsize.

Rachel Johnston adds: “Conversely, if your children are growing up and have spread themselves into all your living spaces so there’s nowhere quiet apart from the kitchen for the adults to conduct zoom meetings or read a book in peace, you either need to reconfigure your space or upsize. The average family of four ideally needs more than two downstairs living spaces – trying to turn a spare bedroom into a reception room somehow just doesn’t work.”

2: Access all areas

“If parts of your property have become difficult to get to in later life, you should consider finding a property that’s more suitable from an access point of view. The later you leave it the harder the move will become.

3: Irrelevant advantages

“If you bought in the most expensive part of town to be in a catchment area, and your children have now left school, it may be the time to cash in by moving a couple of miles down the road.

4: Clever commuting

Nick Wooldridge comments: “Our commuting habits are changing. People are cycling to the station rather than driving; or commuting fewer times a week; If your location is based on your old habits and commuting requirements, reassess the situation. It may be possible to swap your old property for something in a more favourable location, and release capital at the same time.”

Sara Ransom adds: “Londoners are abandoning cars in their droves. If your bikes are important to your life but you’re constantly tripping over them because they reside in the hall, you need a property that has space for them and the associated paraphernalia. Swap your expensive location near a tube station for somewhere with room for a big bike shed.”

5: The great outdoors

Rachel Johnston says: “Millions of people discovered the joy of walking during the pandemic, and dog ownership has grown dramatically. If forest bathing and hiking have become your new leisure pursuit but you have to drive to suitable locations, consider a rural move.”

6: Way out

Sara Ransom explains: “The suburbs of London are full of people who didn’t have the courage when moving out of more central areas to cross the M25. Prices are high, but access to central London is still possible, and you get the feeling of greenery and space whilst still being able to walk to the shops. Areas such as Wimbledon and Richmond as well as Hampstead and Greenwich have ‘village’ high streets and plenty of space to walk the dog, as well as breathe some fresher air, particularly once the ULEZ zone is extended in August. These areas comprise large detached houses with lovely gardens although do expect to pay for it! Being further out doesn’t always mean it’s a lot less expensive”

7: Old habits

Rachel Johnston comments: “We can be inclined to hold on to a property for emotional reasons. No move, at any time of life, would ideally be a ‘step down’, but a clever move at a stagnant time can give you the opportunity for an overhaul that can re-invigorate your outlook. This can be particularly true in the empty-nest phase, when family memories and family can keep you in the same house or location, when in fact you could be more in control of what you want in later life. Moving at this point can herald a fresh start and a better outlook for the future.

8: Family

Bill Spreckley concludes: “Living close to family is a recurring reason for a move, for instance, grandparents wishing to be closer to their children and grandchildren. If you find that you are isolated from family and that being closer to them would improve your life, start cautiously looking at the options.”

Via @PropertyReporter