05.24.2023 Buying Tips

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Move?

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Move?

Moving house is a lot of work, and it’s often cited as one of life’s most stressful events.

But if you need more space (or less) or want to live in a new neighbourhood, or you’re buying your first home, chances are it’s worth the effort. We take a look at how to know whether it’s time to move.

There’s no denying that moving house is a big undertaking. In fact, 79% of respondents in a 2021 Australian survey said they found moving stressful. But, of course, at the end of all the hard work that moving entails is the excitement and fresh start of a new home. So, how do you know when it’s time to take the plunge and move house?

Why people move

There are plenty of reasons why people move house, but, at its heart, moving is about the desire to create a better life.

  • New location. Many of us move because we want to live in a different neighbourhood. Some people move to be closer to family or friends or a new job. Others want their children to attend a particular school, so they move to make sure they’re in the relevant school catchment area or within a handy distance of their preferred private school. Other times people move to a new location because their current area has changed and is no longer the right fit, or they’re after a new lifestyle their present neighbourhood doesn’t offer.
  • Upsizing. Moving to a bigger home is a common theme and one we saw explode during the pandemic. As we all spent more time at home than ever before, the desire for more space saw larger apartments, townhouses and houses in high demand from buyers. Even though lockdowns are now behind us, seeking more space will always be one of the main reasons people choose to move. Growing families will always need more room, and as many of us embrace hybrid working in the long term, homes with dedicated workspaces (whether an office, studio or study nook) remain very popular with buyers.
  • Downsizing. The appeal of moving to a smaller home in our area has become so popular that downsizers have become one of the most dominant forces in the eastern suburbs property market in recent years. While some people move houses in search of more space, others move houses to reduce the size of their living quarters. Most of them are retirees or people approaching retirement, but we also see families, couples and singles looking for a lower maintenance, lock up and leave lifestyle and seeking out smaller homes.
  • Upgrading. Moving to a better home with more features is another popular reason for moving and also one that grew during the pandemic. Lifestyle and prestige homes exploded in popularity as the way we spend our time at home took on a new significance. But moving house to upgrade your home is more than just a lockdown-inspired flash in the pan. Where previous generations might have been able to buy a house in their 20s that they then lived in for the rest of their lives, rising property prices mean that today people tend to climb the property ladder incrementally. That means moving to upgrade is probably more common today than in our parents’ or grandparents’ day.
  • Buying your first home. Government data shows that in the 12 months to May 2022, 138,400 mortgages were issued to first-home buyers in Australia, an almost 70% increase from just five years earlier. Whether you’re moving out of the family home or leaving the rental market, buying your first home is an exciting (and maybe slightly nerve-wracking) reason to move house.

How often do Australians move house?

A 2021 survey by Budget Direct revealed that 20% of Australians had moved house in the previous 12 months. That’s up on the 15% who had moved house in the preceding year, according to the 2016 Census. The 2021 study found that renters, younger people and city dwellers were all more likely to have moved recently.

So how often are homeowners selling up and moving on? The latest data from CoreLogic shows that last year’s property market conditions prompted us to hold onto our homes for longer. Numbers from the December 2022 quarter reveal that the median hold period for homes sold across Australia was 9.9 years, compared to 9.2 years in the September quarter. Over that 9.9-year median hold period, national home values have risen around 59.7%.

In Sydney, the median hold period for houses has jumped from 5.3 years in December 2002 to 10 years in December 2022, while the median hold period for units has risen from 4.3 years to 8.3 years.

Here in the eastern suburbs, the median hold period for profit-making property sales is longer still than the national or city averages. In the City of Sydney LGA, the median hold period for the 86.9% of the property sales that made a gross profit in the December quarter was 10.7 years. That figure jumps to 10.8 years in the Waverley LGA for the 95.2% of home sales that generated a profit. In the Randwick LGA, 95.5% of sales made a profit, and the median hold period for those homes was 11.1 years. Woollahra LGA had the longest hold period of all our neighbourhoods, with the median hold period for the 92% of house sales that made a profit sitting at 12 years.

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Should you move, or should you renovate?

Upgraders and upsizers might be tossing up whether to renovate or move. There’s no one set answer; for some, renovation might deliver the home of their dreams, while for others, finding a new home is the only way.

Part of deciding which path to take is weighing up the costs. Renovation costs have spiked in the last two years, recording an annual growth rate of 10.2% in March 2023. Meanwhile, while changeover costs like stamp duty, legal fees, and moving costs can make moving prohibitively expensive when property prices are riding high, flatter property market conditions, like those we’re experiencing now, can present a golden opportunity to sell up and move on.

Of course, for downsizers or those looking to change their location, moving is the only answer.

Moving house checklist

Moving house is an incredibly busy time. An Origin Energy study from 2016 estimates that moving eats up 16 working days’ worth of time. Here are some of the tasks you’ll need to tackle.

  • Clear out the clutter. 74% of respondents in the Budget Direct survey said they had too many possessions when they moved. There’s no point in packing what you don’t need – do yourself a favour and have a big clean-out before you move.
  • Take stock of the move. Take a rough estimate of how much you have to move and how you’re going to transport it. How many boxes are you likely to need? Are there any awkward or special items that will need extra care? Will your furniture fit through the front door at your new home, or will it need to be taken in another way?
  • Get packing. Check the weight limits on your packing boxes to make sure you don’t overload them. Spread out your workload by packing infrequently used items well in advance of moving day. Make sure your fragile items are well-padded.
  • Organise your utilities. Your gas, water, electricity and internet will need to be disconnected at your current home and reconnected at your new place. This can be organised once you know your move date.
  • Check your insurance. Does your home and contents policy cover your belongings while they’re in transit? If not, you might want to take out transit insurance. Your removalist might also offer insurance for an extra fee.
  • Sort out your life admin. You’ll need to update your address details with everyone from your bank to the Electoral Commission, Service NSW, and your children’s school. Redirecting your mail with Australia Post is always a good idea to catch any letters you miss. Don’t forget to redirect any regular deliveries, too, like groceries, newspapers and other subscriptions.

Trying to decide whether to move house in the eastern suburbs? We can help. Get in touch with our team today.