Decision dilemma: should I stay or should I go?

PUBLISHED: 14:37 06 June 2014 | UPDATED: 14:37 06 June 2014

Decision advisor Roni Jay

Decision advisor Roni Jay


Can’t decide whether to sell the house or extend it? Devon decision advisor Roni Jay looks at how to weigh up the alternatives.

When you need more space, there are two basic ways to go about getting it. Add to the space you already have, or sell your house and buy one that gives you the extra room you need. So how do you decide which is the better option?

It’s a good idea to start by drawing up a list of all the things that you want from a house. This is a wish list, so don’t start compromising – yet. However, be realistic (no point describing a 20 bedroom mansion… unless you can really afford it). So your list might include a big family kitchen, a dedicated study, at least 5 bedrooms or whatever. And don’t forget location: do you want to be in town, on the edge of a village, near a railway station?

Now organise these things into three categories: A,B and C (OK it’s not original but it’s easy to remember). Category A is for the criteria that you absolutely aren’t prepared to be without. Group B are the things you’d really like to have, but there’s some scope for compromise and you’d be happy if you could achieve, say, 80 percent of these. And Group C is for factors you’d regard as a real bonus, but they wouldn’t be deal-breakers.

The next stage is to see how your existing house measures up to this wish list at the moment. How many criteria does it fall short on, especially in your A and B categories? By definition, if your house can’t meet any one of your non-negotiable A list criteria, then moving makes more sense (if you’re certain you’ve put those factors into the right category).

So, can you extend or improve the house to meet the criteria in category A, and most of those in your B list? Be creative about the options here, including such things as a separate building in the garden, or reassigning the use of the rooms you already have. The next stage is to cost this up. There might be different options, depending on whether you just extend the kitchen or whether you also convert the loft, for example.

Now you know whether staying is possible, and what it will cost. The next thing to do is find out what the cost of moving to a house that ticks the right boxes would cost you. So research the market and see what’s out there and, crucially, whether there are affordable properties around that tick more boxes than staying put and extending your house would.

Right. Now you’ve got everything you need to make a sound choice over whether to stay or go. Just a moment though; choosing where to live isn’t a purely practical, financial decision. Yes, you’ve listed all the things that matter to you but even so, don’t ignore your gut feeling. Do you relish a fresh start? Will you miss this house desperately for reasons that are more emotional than practical? And remember to factor in the effort of moving, or the stress of having the builders in.

In the end, the most important thing is to have all the information you need so that once you make your decision, you feel fully confident that you’re doing the right thing. That confidence will get you through whichever option you choose.

Roni Jay is a Devon-based decision consultant

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