Bigger house, bigger costs

Bigger house, bigger costs
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Five years ago, Christopher Charles sold his house in Kansas in the US and moved his family into a bigger, better home nearby.

The family was attracted to the idea of more space, newer construction and living in a better neighborhood close to school for their children, then aged 10 and 13. The new house was also valued at three times the price of his old home.

Before upsizing, Charles had budgeted for the increase in his mortgage payment, factoring in his salary and tax credits, but he hadn't considered other expenses: supplies and tools for repairs, furniture and appliances to fill the space, and costlier upgrades due to the bigger size.

Then there are the time costs, including gardening, cleaning and maintenance. "Sure, you can pay contractors to handle some of this sort of stuff, but that's just more money out of your pocket," said Charles, 35, who finds, among other things, that taking care of his new garden is more time consuming. "The yard is quite a bit bigger, and there is more pressure to keep it mowed, edged and weed-free because everyone in the neighborhood has such a nice yard."

In retrospect, Charles said he might have chosen a different house. "My advice is to not buy the biggest and nicest house you can afford," he said. "The money and time you save can be used on upgrades, contractors or even better - invested."

That said, plenty of people dream about a larger home. Of US adults, 43 per cent say they would prefer homes bigger than where they currently live, according to a survey by real estate site Trulia. And two-thirds of Britons hope to move into a larger home, according to Post Office Mortgage's Step-up report.

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