Bigger Home or Better Location?

Posted by Lee and Katherine Keadle on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 at 11:08am.

better location or bigger home

As real estate prices increase around the country, home buyers are having to make tough decisions regarding their needs and wants. As Realtors, we hear some of the same questions over and over when buyers discuss two different lifestyles. We’ve included below pros and cons of each lifestyle to help home buyers whittle down what is most important to them for their next purchase.

Upscale Home or Upscale Location?

When relocating to Charleston or any other city, it’s hard for buyers to know which are the best areas to live. The most sought after areas are always the most expensive due to the high demand for real estate. In Charleston, areas like Downtown, Mt. Pleasant, and James Island give the best possible proximity to historic sites, the beaches, and endless shopping and entertainment options. However, most buyers looking under $500K in these areas are going to find mostly options with vinyl siding, smaller yards, fewer upgrades, and fewer bathrooms. It’s simply the reality of our current prices. OR, buyers can look further inland and find homes that are fully decked out with brick, cement plank siding, 3+ bathrooms (all with granite counter tops), large lots, and gourmet kitchens.

These home buyers are often torn between living in an ideal location or owning a beautiful, fully upgraded home that’s located further out. There’s no right decision in this dilemma because all buyers have different priorities, needs, and financial situations. Hopefully these pros and cons will help you see which lifestyle better suits your long term goals for homeownership.

Pros and Cons of a Supreme Location

Location is the only aspect of a home that you can’t change after you buy it. Many buyers choose a home based on location knowing that they’ll renovate or expand it in the future. However, they might only have enough money to secure that home and are happy to live with a basic kitchen, slightly dated bathroom, or small master bedroom in the mean time. The pros of this lifestyle include:

  • Good Resale Value: Location is one of the most important factors in determining resale value. Especially as cities expand development outward, the small supply and big demand for homes with a great location drive prices up.
  • Shorter Commute Means More Time with Family and Friends: Depending on where you work, these great locations can drastically reduce your commute time and provide a better quality of life. In Charleston, the traffic congestion of commuters coming toward the city from suburbs like Summerville and Goose Creek makes commuting tough on our Interstate 26. Especially if you’re relocating to a new city, we recommend driving your commute route before choosing a home so that you have a realistic idea of how much time you’ll spend in the car everyday getting to and from work.
  • Endless Options for Shopping, Dining, and Entertainment: There’s something to be said for living in an area where all the action is. Being able to walk or drive to your favorite places is a lifestyle that’s hard to quantify with a price tag.

Speaking of prices, the main drawback to this lifestyle is price. In order to afford this location, most buyers have to make a trade off on the home itself. In the starter home price ranges, this might mean a condo or townhouse instead of a single family home. Or, buyers might have to settle for a vinyl siding home with only a 1 car garage. Or, they might choose an older, brick ranch style house knowing that renovations will have to come out of pocket in the future.

The Thrill of Buying Your Dream Home

tradeoffs of a good location

The buyers who choose to live further out or in a less sought after area can instead focus on the home itself. Since land is less expensive in these areas, you’ll tend to find more new construction homes that allow you to choose your lot, floor plan, upgrades, and colors so that you can build your dream home from the ground up. Whether you opt for a brand new or a pre-owned home, some of the advantages to this lifestyle include:

  • Fewer Out of Pocket Costs: When you don’t have to spend the time, money, and stress for renovating, you can instead enjoy your move-in ready home and your disposable income. Depending on the area, taxes and insurance might cost less, too.
  • A Bigger House Can Accommodate a Growing Family: By prioritizing your needs and wants, you can afford to look only at homes with the 4+ bedrooms that you need. The kids can all have their own bedrooms (and maybe bathrooms), or you can dedicate a flex room for a man cave, media outlet, or rec room.
  • The Comforts of Upgrades and Space: If you love to cook, then having a large kitchen with all the upgrades might make you feel like Rachel Ray. If you have kids, being able to designate a play room might help you keep your sanity. If you love gardening or outdoor projects, having a designated work shed or extended garage can keep your tools clean and accessible. The luxuries of having space and certain features in your home provide a different quality of life that a good location simply can’t compete with.

If you’re considering moving to a more affordable area in order to buy your dream home, be sure to talk with your Realtor about its pros and cons. He or she will be able to talk with you about resale, current market trends, commuting, schools, and neighborhoods so that you get a local perspective on which area will be the best fit for you!

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