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When It's Time to Move On: 5 Signs You've Outgrown Your Home

Updated: Jun 10

Hey everyone! Some of you may be inching closer to that pivotal decision, and asking the question is now the right time to move? For that matter, when is the right time? While there's almost never a perfect time, it's easy to question if you are ready yet, and if all of the work and effort is worth it right now, or is it better just to wait a bit longer? Today, we're going to look at 5 sure fire signs that you're ready to make a move.

Sign #1: When the Mortgage Feels Like a Straightjacket

Our first sign that it might be time to consider a new place: that mortgage payment feels tighter than an old suit three sizes too small. Is it something you can still confortably afford, or is the price no longer worth it?

Your home should be your sanctuary, a place of comfort and security. But if you find yourself tossing and turning at night because you're worried about making those mortgage payments, it's a red flag. Homeownership shouldn't be a source of financial stress. If the mortgage has you counting loonies and toonies every month, it might be time to explore options like refinancing or a more affordable housing situation. Keep in mind that refinancing and seeking a more affordable home are big decisions and shouldn't be taken lightly. You'll want to be careful to weigh the pros and cons of both before making such a big change.

For example, refinancing can bring in some breathing room by reducing the cost of your monthly mortgage payments, but it usually means increasing the term of your loan, or reducing the amount you're paying toward your principal. Both options mean that you'll be paying your mortgage for longer, and paying more in interest over time.

Alternatively, you may be in a place where your housing situation is no longer affordable. This is an unfortunate circumstance to be sure, and while selling or downsizing may be necessary in some circustances, for most people it's best to treat this as a last resort. However, let's take two different scenarios to demonstrate the importance of life circumstance.

  • Scenario 1, you're a young family, you've owned your home for a few years, and now you're approaching a massive rise in your mortgage payments when your mortgage renews later this year.

  • Scenario 2, you're semi-retired, and you've been thinking about downsizing from your big house for some time now. The kids have all moved out and it's a lot of work to keep things up. However, if you were to sell and downsize you would pay off your mortgage and no longer have to work part-time to make ends meet.

Obviously these are vastly different circumstances. In the first scenario, having to sell your home could be a huge step backwards, especially if you ultimately want to own your own home in the long-term. In this case, it's going to cost you a lot of money to sell, you could be selling at or below the price you purchased at which means you'll probably be losing money on the sale, and it's going to cost you more money if you aim to buy again in the future. This is not to mention the fact that you may lose out on future home appreciation and equity while your out of the market. A few years out of the market can mean that the price of housing has gotten away from you, and now it's way more expensive to purchase the exact same home. In the case of this young family, they should probably exhaust every available option before pursuing the last resort of selling (i.e. budgeting, getting a second job, refinancing, getting help from family, etc.).

Now, the second option is a bit different. This one is more life circumstances driven than finance driven. Sure the opportunity to sell has the benefit of paying off your mortgage and making life more affordable, but in this case you've wanted to downsize for sometime anyway. Downsizing could just make sense, since it makes your life a whole lot easier, and you've been wanting to move into something smaller anyways. It will simplify your life and allow you to prioritize enjoying your retirement and spending more time with your kids, grandkids, family, and friends.

No matter what your life circumstances are, it's important to get the facts and expert advice before making any big decisions. A realtor can bring you up to speed on the process and costs of selling or buying. Whereas, a mortgage professional can advise you on the ins and outs of financing options including adjusting your existing mortgage, refinancing, and the financial penalties that may arise if you sell early.

Sign #2: The Pitter-Patter of Little Feet

Now, picture this: you've just discovered you're expecting a bundle of joy, or you're planning to expand your family. Your one-bedroom condo, while cozy now, might start feeling like a game of Tetris with baby gear.

Kids need space to grow and play. If you're tripping over strollers and baby toys more often, it's a strong signal that you've outgrown your current dwelling. For many people it is time to look for a home with more bedrooms and a backyard for your little ones to explore.

Here's the thing, when you're a young couple you can get by with so much less. When I was first married we lived in a 500 square foot studio! The neighborhood and lifestyle at the time was great, albeit we had an unwritten rule that we couldn't fight in the apartment (it was just too small!). However, fastforward a few years, and even our 2 bedroom condo felt a little cramped as we were contemplating starting a family. Then when we had our son in our 4 bedroom town house we were astounded by just how much stuff seemed to accumulate for such a tiny person!

If you know you want to start a family eventually, do yourself a favour. Try getting into the market sooner than later. Even if it's not your forever home (like our previous 2 bedroom condo), being in the market will go a long way to helping you to pay for that future family home. In our case, a measley $15k downpayment on a $310k condo, turned into $150k when we sold that condo for $455k a couple years later!

Sign #3: The Dining Room Turned Home Office

2020 gave us a valuable lesson: home offices are not just for the self-employed. Suppose your once-elegant dining room has slowly transformed into a maze of paperwork, tangled cords, and the never-ending hum of video conferences. In that case, it might be time to re-evaluate your space.

With remote work becoming the norm, having a dedicated home office is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Your work-life balance deserves a space that's free from distractions. So, consider upgrading your home if you long for a separate office.

This may seem like a splurge, but it's one of the better places you can spend money. Think about the concept of good debt vs. bad debt. Student loans being an example of good debt since post-secondary school develops skills that help you earn more money, and credit card debt being an example of bad debt since you're often borrowing money to buy things you don't need! Similar to a student loan, many people consider a mortgage to be a form of good debt. Sure, you're still borrowing money and paying interest on that loan, but unlike consumer debt, owning a home stands to make you money in the long-term. You benefit from building equity each month as you pay down the principle on your mortgage, and you benefit from appreciation as the value of your home rises overtime. If you own a business you may also benefit from tax write offs for the cost of using part of your home as a home office.

So, if you're starting to feel cramped in your home, moving up into a bigger place is not just a matter of comfort and luxury. It can also be a sound financial move.

Sign #4: Your Neighbors' Dog is Your Unofficial Alarm Clock

Let's talk neighbors. We love them, but sometimes, their dogs can be louder than your ugly Hawaiian shirt that your wife keeps “misplacing.” If you're frequently annoyed by the noise from next door or feel like you've lost your privacy because you can't enjoy your backyard without feeling watched, it's another sign that you've outgrown your current residence.

Let's be honest: apartment-style living can get old after a while. Especially if you have to lug your laundry downstairs to a shared laundry room every time you want to do the wash. It's particularly grating if your walls or ceilings are paper-thin. At one point, I had next-door neighbors who would blast music all night, making it impossible to sleep. At another time, I had neighbors above who would once a month drop something that could only be described as a bowling ball. I would here *THUD *, "F#$K!" *Roll, Roll, Roll *. I couldn't help but wonder what kind of life choices were involved in this recurring bowling ball-themed predicament.

Peace is essential for a harmonious life. If you're craving some tranquility and privacy, it is time to explore a new neighborhood with more space and quiet.

Sign #5: Those "For Sale" Signs are Your Daydream Triggers

Imagine this scenario: you're taking your evening stroll, and suddenly, you find yourself taking detours to gaze at those "For Sale" signs on that picturesque street you've always admired. Your mind starts wandering, and you wonder what it would be like to call that place home.

While there are lots of practical reasons to own a home, it ultimately has to be something that's driven by the desire of your heart. It's entirely possible to make cold calculating decisions when buying a property, real estate investors do this all of the time. However, for most people, buying or selling a home is highly personal (i.e. up-sizing, downsizing, moving to a new city). It's about finding what works best for you, and when you're ready to make a change.

When you start daydreaming about new homes more often than you think about the weekend. Your dream home might be closer than you think. It indicates it's time to consider a change, explore new possibilities, and make that daydream a reality.

Bonus Note: Mortgage Matters

Before you consider making a move, you’ll want to make sure you take account of your financial situation. What you can afford is a given, but more specifically, consider how a move will impact your mortgage situation. If you have a locked-in, low fixed rate with a few years remaining, you may want to sit tight a little longer to continue benefitting from that low mortgage payment and high principal contribution. Alternatively, if you’re holding a variable rate that’s gone sky high it might not matter as much. Before you make a move make sure you talk to the professionals so you can count the cost and understand the process. A mortgage professional can help you better understand the opportunity and costs when it comes to financing your purchase, and a realtor can help you understand the process and cost when buying or selling a home.

The Final Whistle: Time for a Change?

And there you have it, my friends. If your mortgage feels like a financial straightjacket, your family is growing, your dining room is now your office, your neighbors' dog is your unofficial alarm clock, and you can't resist those "For Sale" signs, it might be time to explore your options.

It is a vast land with diverse home options, and finding the right place to hang your hat is a journey worth taking. So, let's embark on this exciting adventure together. Until next time, stay warm and keep well!

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I am a Victoria-based local realtor with eXp Realty. My commitment to honesty, integrity, loyalty, and hard work have been essential pillars for me because they drive a high standard of excellent service for my clients. Helping you realize your dream is my goal!

I service Vancouver Island, but my focus is on Victoria, Sooke, Saanich, Malahat, Shawnigan Lake, Cobble Hill, Duncan, and the rest of the Cowichan Valley.



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