Renovation DIY & How To

Should You Renovate or Move? A New Study Weighs the Costs

Apartment dwellers, listen up.

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You’ve checked off all the adulting boxes: You’ve bought your own home and set up automatic deposits into your savings account. You’ve spent a few years getting to know the place’s quirks and building a solid nest egg. Finally, you’re ready to do something about your not-quite-updated kitchen…and maybe your bathrooms, too. But is renovating actually worth it? According to a new study by Sweeten and Streeteasy, maybe not. Perhaps it’s just time to move.

Before you start packing your bags, there are a few things to keep in mind. This study looks at a pretty niche demographic: homeowners in New York City, a place where prices are already pretty high compared to smaller cities and towns around the country. The study found that New Yorkers spend an average of $60,000 (!) when selling their homes and relocating, while a full renovation, on the other hand, costs about $18,000 more than that. But a remodel takes less time than a move—on average, it will take four months to do a renovation versus five months to move.

What it comes down to is what you’re willing to spend: time or cash.

If you’re torn, consider what you like about your current home and what you don’t. A smaller bathroom renovation will set you back less, about $24,000, and take three to six weeks, whereas a more involved, full apartment renovation will cost about $78,000, and take eight to 16 weeks. 

“We always encourage homeowners deciding between renovating and moving to consider the long-term plan,” says Randi MacColl, CMO of Sweeten. “Think about what you love most about your space and what your family will need from it down the road. If you know this is not your forever home, invest in the types of remodels that will bring you a strong return on your spend.”

Think big picture: If the end result is your dream home, the investment is bound to be worth it.

See renovation inspiration: 7 Renovation Steps to Take Before Swinging the Sledgehammer You Don’t Have to Spend a Fortune on a Stunning Concrete Fireplace—We Did It for $215 Calling All Renovators-to-Be: The Average Kitchen Remodel Cost Just Spiked

Rebecca Deczynski


Rebecca is most often found digging through troves of vintage treasures, both in-person and online. Ask her to recommend a good book to read or an obscure Instagram account to follow, and you won’t be disappointed.