Having more space is always a good thing, right? Well, not exactly. What you gain in square footage when buying a bigger house comes along with a number of hidden costs that you might not have considered. And while it’s certainly true that many people simply outgrow their homes as their families expand (including the rising number of Americans who are living in multigenerational households), if you’re thinking of moving to a bigger house just because it seems like an attractive thing to do, it’s worth putting in some additional thought before taking the plunge.
Buying a bigger house doesn’t just mean having more space for all of your stuff. Here are six reasons why you should think twice before making the move to a larger home.
- It’s Not Just the Mortgage That’s More Expensive
Everything is bigger when you buy a bigger house, including not just the size of the rooms but the costs that go into maintaining them. While you would already expect that your mortgage would be larger since larger homes come with higher price tags, it’s not just your monthly premium that’s going to rise. Buying a bigger house means:
- Higher closing costs
- Higher furnishing costs
- Higher property taxes
- Higher homeowners insurance costs
- Higher utility costs
- Higher repair and maintenance costs
- Higher energy costs
- Higher renovation costs
All of these costs add up fast—both on their own and in conjunction with one another. And even if you have the money to spend now, you need to think about your financial future. Before buying a bigger house, talk with a financial advisor to be sure that these higher premiums are in line with your long-term financial goals, including children and retirement.
- A Bigger House Isn’t a Guaranteed Better Investment
A house is one of the biggest investments that you’ll ever make. So while you certainly want to buy a home that you love, you also need to consider the return, just like you would with any other investment. Real estate market trends can change rapidly, as evidenced by the rise and fall of the McMansion. Many of today’s young buyers aren’t interested in purchasing large homes, meaning what was once a sound investment can now be a major loss.
There is no way to totally predict what will and will not be a good investment, especially when it comes to homes. A lot can change over time, including the makeup of neighborhoods and nearby amenities, all of which impact home prices. But if current trends are telling us anything, it’s that big homes aren’t attractive to buyers the way that they were before—and that means a smaller pool of potential purchasers when you’re ready to sell.
- Ego Shouldn’t Be a Key Driver in Home Buying
When it comes to the priorities that homebuyers take into account on their search, there is a lot that should rank higher on the list than ego. While certainly we’ve imbued some status into buying a bigger house, impressing your friends, family, and neighbors is simply not a good reason to fork over an exponentially larger share of your resources. Some factors that should hold more weight than ego in the home buying decision include:
- Financial solvency
- Lifestyle goals
- Environmental impact
- Home condition
Of course, all buyers are different, and this list might look a little bit different for you. But what shouldn’t change from buyer to buyer is that the cost of satisfying your ego is not going to be worth buying more house than you can reasonably afford.
- More Space Doesn’t Always Mean More Usable Space
When it comes to getting as much use as possible out of your home, think functionality, not square feet. Do you really have a need for two living rooms? Are you buying a bigger house with more bedrooms just to have them sit empty? Does the layout of the floor plan leave a lot to be desired? There’s no point in owning a bigger home if all of that extra space is just going to be wasted. When attending showings at larger homes, instead of just asking if you can see yourself living there ask what exactly you’ll utilize each of those rooms for. And as a general rule, never buy more space than you can actually use.
- You Might Have to Sacrifice on Location
Home prices can vary widely from zip code to zip code, and an unattainably expensive large house in one area might be a whole lot more affordable in a less desirable area. Is it really worth the sacrifice though? Probably not. Location is almost always the key determining factor when buying a house, and if you allow yourself to justify sacrificing on location just to purchase a larger home, then there’s a strong chance you’ll come to regret it later on.
- Bigger Homes Mean Bigger Responsibilities
Being a homeowner is a lot of work. From maintaining your yard to overseeing preventative repairs to dealing with big stuff like leaking roofs and broken furnaces, there’s a whole lot that goes into keeping your home in a good and livable condition. Buying a bigger house means that these responsibilities are amplified, with not just more things to do on a regular basis but more things that can go wrong. You can offload these responsibilities to professionals, but it’s going to come with a bigger price tag. So before buying a bigger house, think about how you want to spend your time and your discretionary income. The smaller your home, the less time and money you’ll have to spend cleaning, maintaining, and repairing it.
How Much Home Can You Afford?
When it comes to making a smart investment with your home purchase, put less stress on size and more on budget. Most mortgage lenders will approve you for significantly more money than you should actually be spending, and you can’t necessarily rely on your realtor to steer you in the direction of the home that’s the best fit for your finances now and later. If you’re really set on more square feet, use a calculator to give you an estimate of how much home you can afford (SmartAsset has a good one) and then see how you can maximize square footage within that limit.
The hidden costs of buying a bigger house aren’t always apparent right away. It’s important that you consider not just your current needs but your needs—and the needs of your family—in the future before you sign on to buy a big house. Bigger isn’t always better, and in fact, if current market trends hold then it’s likely that a bigger home is actually going to be a liability later on.