There are lots of reasons for moving, and what makes sense to one person might seem foolish to others. The benefits of moving have to outweigh the costs, and that's where each of us will assign different values to each side of the equation.
You also shouldn't be surprised if your reasons for moving change over the years. For my corporate career, moving (and lots of travel) was part of our lifestyle. We moved from New York to California, back to New York by way of Connecticut. Our big move was a three year assignment in Tokyo, then home to California. Yes, we've moved more than a few times although only our last three moves were done for personal reasons, versus job changes.
So I thought it would be fun to explore the most common (and not so common) reasons for moving.
Reasons for Moving When Your House Doesn't Fit Your Needs
Lots of people buy one house and live there for there forever (I'm not one of them). Many homeowners find that as their lifestyle changes, there are reasons for moving to accommodate changes in family size and makeup. And sometimes you find that your house simply isn't big enough, or maybe it's too big and you no longer want to spend your free time on home maintenance.
Realtor Debbie Reynolds recently wrote an article titled, New Cookie Sheets Started the Home Search. Don't you love the title, and want to learn more? It's a great story about how one small thing can push you to re-evaluate your home, and whether it fits your lifestyle.
Debbie's story is about a woman who loves to cook and bake. She has a great collection of cooking utensils, along with the requisite pots, pans and bakeware. When she gets some lovely new cookie sheets as a gift, she washes them and hunts for somewhere to store them … and that's where the problem lies. Her kitchen is small, and there's no room for her new cookie sheets.
This lack of storage caused the homeowner to evaluate what was lacking in her current home. This started a conversation about remodeling to build on and make the needed improvements, and these homeowners did their homework! They made a list of all the updates needed, along with projected costs for a house that was eleven years old. When they combined the cost of their wish list, and the normal renovations every house needs between 15 to 25 years, they decided that selling and moving was a better solution … but I'll let you read Debbie's version to learn what happened all because there wasn't room for her new cookie sheets.
So what do you think are the most common reasons for moving, for selling one house – buying another – and making the move?
- House is too small, a common problem with starter homes when children arrive.
- House is too big, which is often the case after your children move out and you're dealing with an empty nest. You ought to allow some time though, as they tend to come home at least once before flying solo successfully.
- House doesn't have features you really need or want, and it makes more sense to move versus remodeling. This can often happen with your first home, as you rarely know exactly what you want when buying your first house.
- Combining households/families can sometimes involve buying a new house for space, or simply a fresh start as a couple.
- Divorce is another reason for moving because one/both parties can't afford the big house alone, from a cost and/or upkeep perspective.
- For those who have deferred maintenance for too many years, it might be easier to move and let someone else handle all the renovations that are needed between 15 and 25 years. (Read: How to Plan for Exterior Home Updates and Budgeting and Replacing Interior Home Systems)
- Neighborhoods change, so the perfect family neighborhood when your kids where younger might not retain the warm, friendly community you started with. Alternatively some communities, often gated or condos, may vote to change to 55+, which you might not like (we were in our 40's when the condo we bought for our in-laws did this).
Reasons to Move That Aren't About Your House
The most common reasons for moving long distance are job transfers, military moves and returning to be closer to family. But like the cookie sheet story, my husband and I moved from New Hampshire to Arizona for clear skies and astronomy. It's true that our most common reasons for moving have been job transfers but as we get closer to retirement, my husband's love for dark skies meant finding someplace where he could build an observatory in the backyard.
We've been in Fountain Hills for one month. Here's my husband talking to Annette McGovern, owner/designer of Giardinello Landscape & Design. We first met with a pool/concrete professional and quickly realized the grand plan was outside our budget. Now we're looking for a more budget conscious solution, to make our new backyard telescope friendly.
So what motivates homeowners to sell their home, buy a new house and move?
- Job transfers drive a lot of real estate transactions, especially when companies pay the costs for selling and moving.
- Retirement often means moving south to escape long, cold winters. It can also mean moving to an active adult community with lots of activities to keep you young and healthy after you stop working.
- Sometimes health reasons make moving a requirement. Maybe you can't handle stairs any longer? Or you might need round-the-clock assistance which means moving into an assisted living community.
- Maybe you're looking to change your lifestyle? You might want to cash in your equity, move to a smaller house and spend part of each year traveling, visiting grandchildren or like my husband, follow the stars.
- Families are great, but they can also create reasons for moving. Sometimes people move to get closer to family. Other times, family might live too close and you'll move for the freedom to live your lifestyle apart from other family members.
Regardless of why you're thinking about moving (or you wouldn't have read this far), we hope you'll use our resources when researching and making the best decisions for you and your family.
Good luck and please share your homeowner journey via comments (below) or a homeowner story with our readers (don't worry, we write it for you).
As a long-time resident of the Southwest, I noticed when I first moved here others came for a fresh start. These days it’s more often to discover a new place to live as empty-nesters. Finally, some of my mother’s friends find themselves moving back to colder climates to receive the support of family as they age, or to be closer to grandchildren. So many reasons, and so much work!
Maria, I’ve moved so often & always for work until the last 2 moves. You’re right that moving is a lot of work on both ends but my husband is … over the moon, with his ability to go out most nights (more rain this winter than we expected) and look at the dark skies from our yard.
Happiness is always a great reason to move!
Enjoyed writing this article because I’m enjoying the benefits, and solving the problems that occur with even the best planned move. That being said, can’t really say this was a planned move as we went from starting our “where do we want to live” search in July, closed on a house in September, the movers did their thing in December and we arrived in January … yikes!