MARCH 15, 2017
The Australian dream used to be a house with a white picket fence. Is it now a two storey mansion with security cameras and a 30 metre lap pool? Sometimes upsizing is a necessary move. It can act as a natural part of growing your capital and planning for your future. However, there are aspects and downsides of upsizing that you should consider. With them in mind, they may lead you towards choosing an alternative for you and your family.
As a recent study from Princeton revealed, there is a point in our pursuit for income growth where our daily happiness plateaus. This is because as we grow in our wealth we often grow in our daily responsibilities towards the sources of our incomes (our jobs). In other words, there comes a point where some things a just…enough. Beyond that, we start to pull our hair out. And this goes for our homes just as it does for our income. The more space we have, the more we feel we need to fill that space. The more rooms in our home, the greater the time necessary to maintain the cleanliness and structural upkeep of these rooms.
Because of the rise in costs that come with a larger house (water costs, electricity, maintenance), consider ways to mitigate against these when purchasing. Look for homes that include cost saving measures in their build. These include sustainable construction techniques, double glazing, intelligent design to monopolise on natural light, solar panelling, water management (the recycling of grey water). Remember that you can include these sorts of cost-saving measures in a renovation if not an upsize.
Consider the effects of a larger home on your family. Do your children really need a room to themselves or, if it suits your financial situation better, can they benefit from sharing for a few more years? There are always the risks that expanding your home can have on the closeness of your family. It’s harder to convince the kids to go for a walk with the dog after dinner when they have a home cinema calling. Assess your personal goals as a family as they should influence your financial goals and consider unforeseen results of providing the family with a larger home.
Will the costs of upsizing require you to invest in an area with less potential growth? Even if it would be nice to have the pool, is the entire purchase a strong investment? Consider the sort of homes people may want to purchase in the next 10-15 years and through talking to professionals and doing your research, ascertain whether your property will be a desirable purchase when you need to sell again.
Consider how much disposable income will be locked into the costs that come with your upsized investment. Beyond the pressures of paying for increased rates, mortgage and maintenance, will you have the money to maintain a happy and healthy day-to-day existence? If so, great! But if things will be a stretch, be sure that it is an investment that will pay off rather than keep you financially constrained.
The most obvious alternative to upsizing is renovating. The greatest benefit of renovating is that you get exactly what you require. Just as there is the risk of overcapitalising when renovating (spending more than what the renovation will drive in capital growth), this also applies to upsizing. One of the largest downsides of upsizing is when buying more than you need, and as such overextending yourself financially. Renovating also allows you to incorporate money-saving technologies into a build that meets your exact requirements.
Consider other alternatives to both renovating and upsizing. One of these could be investing in a small property (1-2 bedroom apartment) within a high growth inner-city area. Your kids may tolerate smaller living arrangements for a few more years if they know that when they reach a certain age they will have an inner-city apartment to rent while studying, leaving you with the perfect sized home once they leave, rather than needing to downsize again.
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