Moving to a New House: Upsizing or dowsizing...what's Your Experience?

Updated on April 24, 2012
L.T. asks from Houston, TX
13 answers

We have lived in our house for almost 18 years. Truthfully, I never thought we would be here this long! My husband and I have talked off and on about moving to a bigger house but cannot agree on where, size, etc. We currently live in about a 2200 sq. ft. house with two elementary aged kids (which, rationally, I know is a pretty good sized house compared to most parts of the country).

Thankfully we can afford to move (real estate in TX is relatively cheap compared to other parts of the country) but I don't want to be house poor and spending all our time maintaining too big of a home. But as my kids get older I would like to have some extra space for them to have friends over (among other things). So my question is if you have moved to a bigger home would you do it again? And if you have moved to a smaller home, would you do it again or do you have any regrets.

We have made some upgrades to our home over the years (new carpet, new kitchen counters, etc.) but I think what I am wanting is just something DIFFERENT. Is this common? We had this house built shortly after we were marrid in our early twenties and finances and taste were different then...naturally! I would like to do some more upgrades if we stay here but my husband insists on doing most of the work himself and it takes forever b/c we have so much going on (work, kids activities, etc.) He does not trust contractors and is skeptical of the quality of their work and thinks he can do a better job--always--so that is frustrating too!

Any advice from those that have been there, done that?

EDITED TO ADD: My husband wants to move to an acreage development and neighbors not so close. I am very social as are my kids and even though the houses are closer, I like having neighbors close by and friends around the corner so to speak. We also really like our public schools so our options are somewhat limited b/c we want to stay in that zone. Makes it more difficult!

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answers from Dallas on

We also live in Texas. 12 years ago we moved from a 2100 sq. ft. home in a subdivision that had a decent size yard to a 1900 sq. ft. home on several acres. We love it! Our farmhouse is unique. It has huge front and back porches, and the layout of the house is such that we don't miss the square footage at all. We wanted land, so this is perfect for us.

You capitalized different, so I suggest you decide what different means to you. For us, it was having land. Talk to your husband, and make a list of things you really want in a home. Then go from there.

Have fun; this is an exciting time!

ETA: 1900 sq. ft. is fine for us with our 2 boys ages 8 and 14, and I don't think we'll have too much room when the boys move out.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I totally understand wanting something "new". My only concern for you with upsizing is that in 15 years when the kids are away in college and y'all have an empty nest ..... will you have too much room? I only ask b/c my parents are now in their 60s and are planning on making a "final move" for their lives. They still have the 4-bedroom 2900 sq feet house with the pool and have NO need for all that. They plan to downsize just a little on the sq footage, but get rid of the pool, huge yard, and the two stories.

So my thought is, think LONG term. Do you plan to live in house #2 for the rest of your life or just till the kids are done with college? Do you have guests over a lot to spend the night? Is your house the 'party house' where you'd need room for Thanksgiving meal with guests. Are your kids going to be the type to have big sleepovers, etc?

Your husband is the same as mine - Mr. Fixit, not wanting someone else to do it wrong when he could do it right (in HIS time though). Can be frustrating I know. Maybe you need to build your own house your own way?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Are you a change-a-holic? That is my wifes word, she is always wanting to do something different. We bought our home in Aug '11 and have set a 6 yr 'plan' before we may downsize, lol.
We often dream of living in a 1 or 2 bedroom apt once the kids are gone. But who knows, we really like this house....
If you have any inclination of moving, update wisely. Kitchen, baths, adding square footage, landscaping, 'green' improvements, all have good returns on investment.
p.s we looked in Sugarland before landing in Katy (cinco ranch)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

We moved last year into a house with the same square footage as the one we left- about 1950 sp feet. The floor plan of our old house just didn't work for us any more as a family. Lots of stairs, small bedrooms, small yard, etc.
Our current house is a custom built house that has the same footage, but larger bedrooms, and 1 floor (open floor plan), and a 1 1/2 acre yard.
I did not want a larger house- with two small kids and a full time job, I don't have time to be house maid. And I want all rooms lived in. Otherwise, junk tends to accumulate in the unused rooms. I am very happy with our decision and we love the house and the huge yard!
Oh and we just built a wonderful deck. We have a handyman/builder that we trust and does great work. I might suggest the same for you. Get referrals from friends.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I suggest, prior to planning to move, that you consider rearranging your living spaces.

Are there rooms you aren't using at all?

Do you have a kid in a huge upstairs space that could be moved to a smaller space so the bigger space can be used for entertaining?

I had my boys in the huge attic room. It's about 14x20...a HUGE space! And they were making a MESS of it! We decided to move them downstairs into a small, not often used room...and to move my fiancee and I up there! We're still working on it....but it makes SO much more sense! There's also a sitting area up there that I'm looking forward to utilizing. :-)

Just a thought....can you think of inventive ways to use the space you have? You could use the money you save....for retirement!



answers from San Antonio on

Stay where you are and build on what you have.



answers from San Antonio on

We were in the same predicament 5 years ago. Only we had horrible neighbors (a 7 yr old firebug!), so we definitely wanted land AWAY from people.

We went from 1750 SF to 4200 SF, and I would do it again in a heartbeat! The key is to find the right floor plan for you. It took a lot of looking on our part - we ended up buying a home that had been custom designed for the original owners. Meaning it has an unusual layout, but none of the features we didn't need (like a formal dining or living area, which we'd never use). Every inch of our house is used. Don't settle for a floor plan with wasted space, that will definitely make your life more difficult.

As for size, the upkeep is actually LESS than at our old house! With the new house, it's not as old (7 yrs vs 25 yrs), and it's better built, so there's less dust and cobwebs. With more space, I find that we also use the rooms a lot less - in the old house, the kids could play in the living room or their room - that's it. In the new place, they divide their time between the living room, gameroom, their rooms, my craft room, and a computer nook we set up. It just doesn't seem to get as messy since they're not spending ALL DAY in one room. I would have to clean the old place 2-3 times weekly to get it presentable, with the bigger house, I can easily let it go every 2 weeks and it still looks fine.

If you do get acreage, it doesn't mean isolation. You can get a decent sized lot - 1-3 acres - which isn't bad to maintain and you still have neighbors close by. Our neighborhood is all 1-5 acre lots and there are tons of kids around. Sometimes you have to drive to their house, but it's also nice that way - you always know who your child is playing with, not the "bad seed" of the neighborhood! We ended up with 3 acres that are completely fenced in. I love that I can open my door (front or back!) and tell the kids to go play and know they're completely safe out there. They're both boys, so the "exploring" the natural terrain has been a blast. We only maintain about 1 acre of the property and let the rest remain wild, so the upkeep is actually less than at our old house (which would get you a citation if your grass got too long, so you always had to mow weekly; last year, when we had that drought, we only had to mow ONCE at the new house!).

I agree with the others who said look around. Check out what the neighborhoods offer, ask other moms at school if you're curious about a certain area, they'll usually tell you the truth. But don't commit until you've found the perfect layout for your family.



answers from Memphis on

The part that caught my attention was the "acreage development"! We just moved from a neighborhood that was spaced out and it was difficult for my kids to play with other kids (no sidewalks, wooded area, long way to go). Now we live in a "regular" neighborhood and my children have loved the sense of community and ease of just going outside and playing with 5-10 kids in sight of our home. I wouldn't trade that for anything! Just my opinion! Also, we moved into a similar square footage but got a pool:)
Good luck with your decision!


answers from Chicago on

Sometimes it is not just square footage that matters, but utilization of the space. Do you have a separate family room where your kids and their pals can hang out? I am guessing that in TX you don't have a basement, but that is always a great option for kids. Do you have room in your backyard to build a clubhouse/playhouse that could be wired for electric/cable?

My husband's uncle bought a HUGE home a few years ago, when his kids were in high school. Now all their kids are in college and have moved out, and his house just feels so vacant. They are kicking themselves for overbuying.

Do you entertain often? Do you envision your kids moving out and never returning at 18? Do you want a home where you can have your kids and grandkids come visit and stay with you? Do you want your next move to be your last move? I think you might need to think very long term, as our housing market is no longer as fluid as it once was.

Good luck!



answers from College Station on

I have upsized. The upkeep is a lot, but the kids have chores to help out. We have a 4/3/2 and the boys keep up their own bathrooms and help keep the common areas clean so it doesn't all fall on me.

I would drive around the neighborhood and see what is available. Then call a realtor and set up some tours. Be upfront that you are just looking at what is on the market to see if you want to move.

We are on 7 acres and it is pretty lonely out here. My boys are active at school but we do have playdates and not so much extracurriculars.



answers from Victoria on

I am also located in Texas. The home my husband bought when he was a batchelor was fine for that. But currently its not fitting our needs. Huge open plan. 80' model home. What I am looking for is better use of the space. Our house is about the same size as yours but a good twenty feet is wasted between the dinning area and the living space. Its just no mans land. I would rather have a ten by ten small room for office/storage area. Its all about useage of space. Even our yard is screwy. The front door yard space is super small. The side yard is much bigger and in the back yard you have to walk around the house to get any space. Three feet from the patio is the privicy fence. Its all screwy. So were looking at school distrects, usage of space, ( I do not need an entry way/mud room/ formal dinning / formal living room and seprate den). Figure out what it is you really dont care for in your house. Then shoot for those must haves in your new home.

I agree with your husband about contractors. They dont do a very good job and we have yet to find one that really completes the job they did do. We did finally find a plumber that knows what they are doing and fixes everything when they arrive!!! Wish we could find a great contractor/ handy man.



answers from Houston on

We moved from 2300 to 3400 and I'd never do it again. The rooms are bigger and we added a study and game room. I'd dump the dining room and formal living in a heartbeat - we NEVER use them. Our formal dining room has NEVER been used (we've lived here for 18 years) except for puzzles!! Wasted space in my opinion. I have enjoyed the kids having their own playroom - before all their toys were in the familyroom.

Our youngest is heading to college this fall and we've purchased 10 acres and are building a 2500 sq. ft. house on it. I'm very social and he's not - I'll just have to find an outlet for my serving.....which never seems to be a problem regardless of where you live. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania on a farm in the middle of nowhere - nearest neighbors were my grandparents 1/4 mile down the road. It's still possible to be neigbhorly - there's always the car or a bike or my legs (can use the excersise).


answers from San Francisco on

We moved from a very small house in the city to a much larger house on a much larger property in the suburbs at one point. Our reasons were similar to yours - more space to entertain, more room for the kids to run around, a little more breathing room. My husband loved it. I hated it. I had to hire cleaning ladies because the place was just too dang big for me to clean on my own, the yard was such a chore (it was half an acre, lots of lawn, more than 300 feet of flower borders, several big trees to pick up after). The heating and cooling bill was a shocker. The wild animals that would make their way into our yard were a surprise (our property backed up to a lake, so there were a lot of animals, not all of them desirable!).

I'd rather live in a smaller home and be right in the middle of it all (the world is my playground), whereas my husband likes to have everything he needs within his own home (his home is his castle). I think it really comes down to personality. Currently, we've compromised and live in a medium-sized house on a very small lot, close to the city but not right in the middle of all the insanity. This works well for us, because the yard is small enough that we're able to maintain it without spending the whole weekend on it, and the house is of a size where we can keep it clean, but aren't all on top of each other. I'm close enough to the action to be happy, but my husband is happy also because we don't have to fight for parking or slog through traffic just to go to the grocery store.

I would just look at your lifestyle and try to determine if you *really* want to spend all your time maintaining a huge home and property, or if you could be happy with a home that is a bit bigger than what you have, maybe with a yard that's a bit bigger, but not acres and acres - or maybe a huge horse property is what your family would be happiest with. It really depends upon what you like and how much time you want to spend maintaining your home, I think.

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