To move or improve?

Moving house is an exciting prospect, but often the costs involved can stack up fast. Before you decide to move, could a refurbishment suffice instead?

Moving house often has many of us dreaming of grand garden landscapes and extra bedrooms. But excitement aside, the reality of moving is costly. Stamp duty, exit fees, removal costs and valuation fees are just some of the costs you’ll face when considering a move. And then there’s the possibility you may not find your dream home.

A less-considered but potentially cost-effective option could be to renovate your current property. Be it an interior decoration project or a bigger extension to add more space, remodelling your current home could be a refreshing change that could add value without the added stress of relocating.

Whatever your reasons for moving home - downsizing, upsizing or a change of location - here are a few things to consider that could help you decide between calling in the builders or finding a buyer.

Ask yourself, why?

This is an important question to consider. Think about why you want to move and what motivated you to take on this new, and possibly bigger commitment. The rippling effect of moving home may be felt in everything from a potential inheritance tax situation (depending on the value of the property and your estate) to your mortgage liability.

Before taking the leap, take time to think about what you could do to your current home that would make you want to stay. Could you add extra rooms? Could certain improvements give your home a new lease of life? If the answer is no, then moving may be the right option for you.

Consider what you’re willing to spend

With home improvements you can often control the costs: you choose what you want to do, and how much you want to spend. Unless major renovation work is needed to fix structural defects, renovating can be both an enjoyable and cost-effective way to create a ‘new’ home. You can customise your home to your exact specifications, as well as remain in the same neighbourhood if you like the area. But, if you’re keen to move into a new build or want to change location altogether, then a move may be your preferred option.


Often, a move is based on a new home’s proximity to good schools, transport links and shopping/other amenities. If your home is ideally situated but you’re considering a move, refurbishing could mean you don’t have to compromise on location benefits. If downsizing is the reason for your move, renting out spare rooms could be an option worth exploring. If you need more space for your family, an extension could prevent uprooting your children from one school to another. This one is difficult as over time neighbourhoods can change. If you need a change of scene, however, then moving might be worthwhile.

Moving costs

The average cost of moving house in the UK is an estimated £8,885.661, so it’s important to think about how you want to structure your spending. When moving house, you’ll need to account for the following costs, which could end up totalling much more than a refurbishment project:

  • Stamp duty – the average house price in the UK is £226,7982, which will attract a 2% - or £4535.96 - stamp duty tax charge
  • Mortgage, booking and arrangement fees (mainly first-time buyers)
  • Estate agent fees (paid by the seller, not buyer)
  • Surveyor fee
  • Conveyancing fees
  • Land registry fee
  • Removal costs (post-completion)

Weighing up the pros and cons of moving house versus improving your home will not only take time but will require you to dig deeper into the areas covered above. Eliminating stress from the process should be as important as finding the right house – however you choose to go about it.

To more or improve isn't an easy task either way, but sound financial advice could help you reach the right decision.

It is recommended that you seek advice before proceeding with any additional significant financial commitments.


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