When Is It Worth It Too Move?

Updated on February 06, 2015
L.D. asks from Chesapeake, VA
28 answers

My husband and I were gifted his grandmother's house when we married. It's a lovely, little 2bed\2bath home in a great neighborhood. We had planned to move out once we started having kids, but we got attached to the little house. Now it's been 16 years and we have 4 kids (12,10,7 and 5) and we just need more space. The kitchen is a tiny U-shape and it is impossible to fit two adults in it at the same time, our son's bedroom is an office space with glass doors that we out curtains on to make work for him, while the three girls share a very small room.

We both love the little house and can't imagine not living there. We have gone to a few open houses and poked around online and while there are nice houses in our area nothing stands out or seems truly better than the current house. At the same time we have six people in a 1,000sqf home and we all need more space. My husband and I would like our office back, the girls need to be split up and our son wants 'real doors'.

We know we need to move but it just doesn't seem worth it? We have enough savings plus selling the current home where we could afford to at least double the house size but then thinking about actually moving the stuff and kids and leaving our tiny home we talk ourselves right out of it. Advice please?

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answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia, L.!

Why can't you add on? Build a second story? Have you talked to an architect? If not? Why? If you haven't had a mortgage in 17 years? You should have a great savings account and obvious equity in the home.

Get the house evaluated/appraised.
Talk to an architect.
Find out if there are building codes that would prohibit you from building UP.

I think I would stay and make my own home grow. That's possible!

Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

It may be cheaper to just add a room (or two!) to the house you are in now. Have you guys looked at that?
My Aunt had a home in a neighborhood they loved but with 6 kids the 3 bedroom house was getting pretty small! They came into some money and rather then buy a new house they added a huge playroom, another bedroom, expanded the kitchen, added a bathroom, and expanded one other bedroom. Kids all stayed in the same school and it was drastically cheaper then buying a new house.
Just a thought.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Growing up as one of 5 kids, I definitely agree you need more room. I have no idea how you all are living in a small house for so long, especially if the 12 and 10 year olds are girls. I bet my 11 year old has almost 1000 square feet of stuff just of her own! (That is an exaggeration, just trying to make a point.)

So either add on or move. I don't see how you get around it. No way would I be able to deal with no space and that many people - but some people like it.

You could add on. Rent. Sell. Whatever - limitless options.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Las Vegas on

Hire a reputable contractor and add on to the little house!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Well, in 6 more years your oldest will be moving out for college.
If you get something bigger now, it's only a matter of time before the kids are grown and gone and you'll be looking to downsize.
If you were going to go for a bigger house, you should have done it before child #3 was born.
Since you've been there 16 years - 6 more years isn't very long.
The nice thing about a small house is - you can't fill it with a lot of stuff and it's easier to upkeep.
Plus - you've got no mortgage on it - it's free and clear except for annual taxes - that's a HUGE plus!
If your son wants real doors - switch out the glass doors with regular doors till he's done using the room - then you can switch them back.
You might want to consider an addition - an office/apartment/living space over a garage works well for a lot of people.
Your house is perfect for when your nest will be empty.
Just hang in there 6 more year and the space crunch will start to ease off.

In our area, they just moved a Mom with 11 kids into a 3 bedroom house.
It looks like having 4 people in a bedroom is not an issue here.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i can see why this is such a dilemma. i was very attached to our adorable little starter home, and it didn't even have the added panache of being a family heirloom. and there were only 4 of us.
i don't think it's the end of the world for kids to share space IF it's working. we are so spoiled with our huge homes in this country. in most parts of the world siblings double and triple and quadruple up without thinking, and with only minimal emphasis on gender factoring in. it's just life. but 3 girls in one tiny bedroom really is pushing it, isn't it? and a tiny kitchen is just an awful lot of work.
is adding on an option? that would be best, at least if doing so doesn't damage the charm.
the next thing i'd explore is renting it out. being a landlord isn't for everyone, but if you find good tenants you will not only make some money, but your beloved little home will be waiting for you when the kids move out.
if neither of those is an option, then upsizing might really be best. but you're in the fortunate position of loving where you are, so you can take the time to poke around (get a realtor) and find just the right spot.
i had the worst buyer's remorse when we bought this place. i spent the entire 2 months between closing on it and moving in wringing my hands. but since the morning of the move i've been in love. i still remember our little house with love, and drive by it now and then and blow it kisses, but this is home.
good luck! please post and let us know how it goes.
:) khairete

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Add on. Then you get the best of both worlds. You sound like you absolutely love your house. So stay. You obviously do not need 4000 sq feet to be happy.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I don't know the layout of your home, but I grew up in a house probably not much larger, but we did have 3 bedrooms. I am the youngest, but my brothers were 8 and 9 years older than I, so they moved out when I was 8 or 9....

One thing we did was convert the garage into a bedroom. That really helped!

If you really like the neighborhood, what about putting on an addition? Even adding one room could really help.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Do you have to sell the house in order to move? If it's so charming (and it sounds like it is), can you rent it to a young family or older couple who are downsizing, and use that income to help meet your mortgage on a new home? That would keep the house "in the family" and it would be available to you a dozen years from now when the 3 oldest kids are in college or their own apartments, and the 4th is getting close.

I don't blame your kids for wanting some of their own space. Moreover, as your kids become teens, you will want to keep tabs on their friends and activities even though you are not attending all their activities. One of the best ways to do this is to have a "magnet" home where other kids want to congregate to watch movies, play air hockey, hang out.

If only one person can fit in the kitchen, you're not going to be able to teach your kids any kind of self sufficiency or "survival skills", so they will grow up and go off on their own without understanding how to manage meals, either alone or with a partner.

Yes, a small home requires you to be incredibly organized and prevents you from accumulating endless amounts of unnecessary stuff. So that ability to organize will help you in moving. The kids can be put to work helping to do that. You can get a storage unit on the premises very short term (PODS is one) to hold boxes for the last month before you move, gradually adding as you need to. Then it can be moved to the new location and unloaded there - you'll need a smaller moving truck for the last remaining things and furniture.

So you've got 6 people in 2 bedrooms and a converted office. If you can afford to move (and it sounds like you can), you really need to expand your view of what a perfect house would look like. Teens stifled with a younger sibling or two in the room, kids with no sense of privacy, parents lacking an office they really need…these are all factors. Sometimes it's easier to say that the misery you know is preferable to the fear of the unknown - but there are ways to allow yourselves to feel hopeful and expansive. You might even talk to a life coach who will help you identify why you feel so stuck. For example, is it really this particular house that is holding you there (for sentimental family reasons) or is it that you don't like to make bigger decisions? Knowing the cause of your reticence will help you figure out how to proceed.

Another option, depending on how much property you have, is to consult an architect about putting on an addition that preserves the character of the small house you love but offers you 2 additional bedrooms and maybe a large great room. But be open to different things - indicate your needs but not what it would look like, and let a fresh set of eyes help you imagine the possibilities.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

You've already had suggestions and options, but I wanted to clarify one thing mentioned below. There is not an Ohio state law about homeowners having their own 3 kids share one bedroom.

There a law in regards to foster parenting that limits 4 same-gender kids to one bed room. Rental properties may also have their own people-per-bedroom conditions, which is often 2, but that is not a state law.

You may want to check your city/county ordinances though, or neighborhood bylaws if you have an HOA just so you know if there might be an actual issue.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm with B. You love your house. It's fantastic for your finances. And two of your kids are already more than halfway to leaving for college (scary to think of it that way I know, but it's true). Is there a different way to make your current house work better for you? A renovation of some kind that adds a room and redesigns your kitchen? If you have a basement, could you finish it? Or a garage that you can put a room over? Or turn an integrated garage into a room, and put a separate garage outside if you have the land? I'd get a company that specializes in renovations and have them come give you ideas.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

If you're happy there, then you only move if 1) It's financially wise and 2) you find a house you love better.

No need to hurry and try to set a deadline if there's not another house you love. Keep looking, and if one pops up that you love: You pounce. Kudos to you for being in such good financial shape! Your squeezing together in the little house has paid off!!

You've got 6 years until the oldest of FOUR leaves. That's worth it to move for sure in the next couple of years if you find a home that's a little bigger AND a better value to you if you turn around and sell it. When you retire, you want a bigger, more expensive home to sell right?

So there you go. Take your time. Wait 'til you love something. If it's a good investment, buy it. You really can't stay in the little home as all the kids hit their teens, so make the commitment to bless the house, thank it for it's purpose, and let it go.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

How about building an addition? Can you build another floor, or add on a section to the main floor? My house is 1100 sq ft and there are 6 of us and the only way we have survived is that we finished parts of the basement to create a playroom and another bedroom, so the square footage that we use is actually closer to 1600.

Your girls are very quickly going to hit ages where having 3 of them in 1 room is insane. They need room for clothes, shoes, grooming and studying. With your family (which is the flip of mine, we have 3 boys and 1 girl) you really need 4 bedrooms - 1 for your son, 1 for one of your girls and another for the other two girls. The oldest girl should get her own room so that she has a modicum of privacy during adolescence and the younger ones will have their own rooms when the older ones move out.

If you don't want to give up the house, would you be able to buy another home and keep this small house as a rental property? Then in 10-15 years when the kids are gone and you're ready to downsize, you can unload the larger house and move back into the small home you love.

If you can't add on and can't do a rental situation and keep the small house, then you're just going to have to bite the bullet and move. I can assure you that having a house almost the same size and four kids that in another year or two, it's going to be a nightmare to be in your house. In a couple of years, your oldest will be 14 and 12 year olds who are the size of adults and just moving around the house, sitting down to eat dinner or watch TV, etc. will feel very, very cramped. Their clothes get bigger, their shoes get bigger, they get more stuff and need more space. Why put everyone through that stress if you can afford a home that gives everyone the space they need to live comfortably?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Either do an addition to the house or keep it and move, but rent it out.

Renting it requires going in with your eyes open. You'll be a landlord. Depending on the tenants, that could be just fine or could be very difficult. There will be taxes to pay on the property each year and other records to keep up with, as well as maintenance on two properties. But it would allow you to keep the house and then move back into it when your kids are out of the home and you and your husband downsize. (But by then you might love your new home.)

Adding on can be great but could mean you have to rent a place yourselves for a time as the addition is built. Do not depend on thinking that "We can stay in the house while the addition's put on." That might or might not happen. I know folks who were out of their homes for 18 months for a renovation (after being told it would only be a few months--the architect and builder were idiots) and I also know folks who did stay put during a renovation. You have to be very picky about your contractor and architect and tough with them, including keeping an eye on day to day progress. But it's doable. Just do your research.

I say those things as a reality check, not to discourage you from making a change. You do need a change!

From your post, I would say you do need to move or renovate and need to do it soon. Three girls in one tiny bedroom might work at their ages now, but very soon they are going to be larger physically -- they literally won't fit in there. And they need some space where they can get away from each other and have a little privacy as they get older. You also need space to feed your family together!

I know you're sentimentally attached to this house, but the reality is -- that attachment will get very dented in a few years as the kids are just too close for comfort with each other and start to argue and carp at each other as they get older. Remember, you're loving this house partly because it was your first home after you married, but your reality has changed a lot with four kids, and the priority now has to be finding enough space. Three in one bedroom is not going to work much longer. You'll end up refereeing all through their teen years.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Well you've made it this long... You love the house, in 6 short years, your children will begin to transition out of the house which will lend more room to those left at home.

I would think, financially, it is easier for you now to not have a mortgage and just be responsible for property taxes and routine upkeep on the home.

It sounds like you have a home with a lot of character!

If you think about it.... YEARS ago, as I was growing up, it was completely normal for a family of 4+ in a home that was 1000 SF or so and share a bathroom.

Think about when all of the children are gone.

Example.. we have a very nice custom home and our daughter had the entire upstairs to herself while growing up. She is 20 now and lives in her own 2 bedroom condo which is about the size of my upstairs... 1500SF . So what do I have now?? An empty 1500 SF upstairs. Hubby moved his office up there and I might go upstairs once a week. If we have guests, they have the area to themselves.

We've considered downsizing but we would never find a lot like we have now. We have a rare lot, especially for our area which gives us privacy from neighbors. MOST of the homes around here are zero lot lines or so close that you are on top of your neighbors all the time. I hate that.. if I want to I can go out back naked and no one knows because we back up to a huge nature area that will never be utilized for homes or anything other than nature preserve.

We hate no privacy so that is a major factor for us staying here plus, I love the wildlife and if we were to downsize, we'd end up paying more than we do now which is nothing for something 1/2 or less the size. We keep a small mortgage for investment and tax reasons but more than likely, our house will be gifted to our daughter because when she is at a point to purchase a house, it will be very difficult. Our condo is in a prime area and already gone up significantly since we bought it and we have no mortgage on it. However, the traffic in that area is brutal. It does work well for our daughter for now though and it will end up being an investment property if she ever decides to move out... she LOVES it.

There are many factors to consider and I believe if you love where you are, you find a way to make it work.

As for the glass doors, go install solid wood doors (probably less than $1000 installed) and bam... private room!

Best wishes to you. I know it is hard to make decisions like that. We love our home and do not plan to downsize and settle for less than what we love.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

You sound like me with my house except I lucked into having a larger home from the beginning. We have four kids as well though two are adults now so not really an issue, heck we have a guest room again!

It is just I can't imagine living anywhere else. We want more land but the only way I can imagine it is like an apocalypse type all our neighbors suddenly were further away from our home. Not sure there is an actual natural disaster that creates distance between homes mind you.

We have the perfect location, perfect neighbors, perfect everything, well except land and I really want to update my kitchen.

I know this isn't helpful to how to get you out of the house but I figured I would tell you that you not the only one in that boat.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I totally understand!

Hubby and I have been looking for a new home for a very long time, but at the end of the day, I love our small little house! We were even under contract on another house at one point, but we walked away.

I really don't have any advice. I want to just do an addition. Hubby wants to move. We are at an impasse. If you love your house and were you are, call an architect and see if you can't do what you need to to make your house more livable.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Addition? (Out always cheaper than up, if it's possible!)
Basement remodel?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Find out what it will do to your taxes to sell this house. You need to know before making a decision. It is different than if you bought it because you inherited it.

I don't know if you could do a renovation and make this house bigger, but that would be awesome.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

Wondering if you could gift it to another family member just to keep it "with family"??? You know you guys need to move but emotionally it's hard for several reasons. It has served you guys well but you really need to move on. I seriously doubt you'd ever regret it.

We recently downsized and I struggled with it for years. Best thing we ever did....Needs change...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Well, are you able to expand the home? Is it brick so you can either expand or even build a second floor? We are 7 people in 896 sq ft (got stuck with the housing market collapse) and we are tight. We defintely plan to sell and move once we get enough equity to do it. But if we could get things done and things changed, we could make 2 rooms in the basement so we have an option to expand a bit. Several homes in my area are one floor plus basement and since they are brick, they have built on a second floor. Others--bungalow style--had the second floor expanded so there is no low slant to the roof, giving more room.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Sometimes when we are given a gift, it's not always exactly what would suit our needs but we live with it because it's easy, it was a gift, it means something to us, etc.

We've been in the same boat before. And my sister has a cottage that was left to her, but it's not what they would have purchased had they been the ones to buy it. They would have liked to be on another lake closer to their friends, but it has sentimental value to their family.

I guess you have to figure out what means more to you - to relocate and have exactly (or more close to) what you want or need for space requirements, or possibly renovate your existing home so it better suits you.

You didn't mention if you had looked into that, but I agree with the others here - worth checking into.

My parents renovated our house growing up - it had been too small and we had a large family. They added on an addition (mostly bedrooms) and it was worth it to them. Wonderful location.

We moved our family out of our starter home to something larger. It was a wise decision in our case, because we also moved to a nicer neighborhood. If you love your schools, your area, have friends nearby etc. those are all things to consider when you move. As well as others have mentioned taxes, etc.

Good luck. Sounds like you definitely have to do something - they are only going to get bigger and want more privacy/space of their own.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

Is there any way to add onto your current home? Does it have attic or basement that can be converted into legal living space or expanded up or out?

If not then its time to start looking for a larger home. Remodels are a pain but most often worth it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Bring in a professional interior designer to discuss how to reconfigure the space to utilize it better. That's where I'd start. If nothing that the designer comes up with solves your space problems, THEN start searching for a new home in earnest.



answers from unknown city on

We are going through this right now but we love our home and we'd never find anything similar with privacy in our school district. But we need a room for baby #2 and I really want a guest bedroom. So we have been saving up and we are now finishing the basement. It's much cheaper for us in the long run and the construction doesn't even present a hastle for us since its downstairs.



answers from San Francisco on

There is a family of five I'm thinking of who live quite happily in a very small house. Maybe a sixth person would be the tipping point. I recently saw a show called something like Very Small Houses, where families moved from larger houses into places that were like 400 sq. ft.

People all over the world manage to live in very small quarters. If you really love your house, and don't want to move, your kids will survive. Love and happiness are the qualities of a good household, not size. They can get their own rooms and 'real doors' later.

Also, time flies. In the blink of an eye, the kids will be out, and you will have your beloved house.

Or, if you really feel it's intolerable, you can move. But the kids will be fine either way. They don't have to have everything they want in order to be happy and healthy. They are learning to sacrifice and to share.



answers from Boston on

I say definitely move.



answers from Cleveland on

You have to get a larger house, in Ohio it is actually against the law to have more then 3 kids in the same room and they can not have opposite sex kids in the same room.

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