Tips for Success

Should I Move or Fix Up the House?
By Sharon Teitelbaum, MA, MCC,

Life transitions can catalyze home transitions. A new job in another state requires you to sell your house and buy another. Having that 3rd child settles it – you need a house with a 4th bedroom – and a guest room would be nice! Other life transitions have more subtle impacts on your house-needs.

The house I’ve lived in for 26 years was the perfect house for my husband and me to raise our children in. But now that our kids are largely on their own – is it the right house for us to stay in? I don’t really know yet. But I’m surprised how challenging the dilemma is. I thought I would stay in this house "forever." It’s big enough to be flexible: two of our 7 rooms have become home offices as my husband and I each became solopreneurs. It’s small enough to be affordable and manageable, classic enough that rooms can easily be modified for new functions, and "charming" enough that it retains some character no matter what we do to it.

I’m craving openness and expansiveness at this stage in my life, and my house really has neither. A 100-year-old New England colonial, it has relatively small rooms and small doorways. As we’ve refurbished several key areas of the house in the last 2 years, we’ve consistently bumped up against this. The way to create a more expansive feel in the house is to start knocking down walls, and that raises the practical question: do local property values justify that kind of investment? And since the answer seems to be "no," a next set of questions appears. Are we committed enough to staying here to make those renovations anyway? And is that a responsible investment for us?

And then there’s the issue of location. While I used to treasure our proximity to Boston, the convenience of just going up the block to pick up a gallon of milk, and the ease of arranging get-togethers with people nearby, I am now lusting after a more secluded setting. I’m irritated by the sound of traffic during the summer months when the windows are open. I want to look out my windows and see open space rather than my neighbors’ homes, though I really do like my neighbors!

I'm longing to live in a quieter, less developed environment surrounded by more open land and water. Same for my husband. Will we sell our house and relocate to another one? I don't know if I'm really willing to give up all of what I still appreciate about living here. I have roots in this town, people I've known for 25 years. It's not that I have such a huge social life based here; I actually see my local friends pretty infrequently, but I do love seeing them, and it's easy to do. Geri called me yesterday, asking if I had time for a walk. I'll go out to lunch next week with Jeanne Marie, to celebrate our birthdays. Some friends invited me to join their early morning Chi Qong class. My massage therapist is a dear friend I've known since our 21-year-olds were toddlers. I treasure these connections and don't want to lose them.



Give yourself the space and time to look inside yourself and see what your current needs are for a home. Write down your thoughts and ideas. Harvest as many of your needs, desires, musings, and insights as you can over a period of weeks. Then go back over the whole list and circle your top 3 absolute must-haves. Put a check next to your 3 second-tier needs. Put an asterisk next to your top 3 desires. These 9 items can become your blueprint for your home-search.

One friend bought a house on a big piece of land in the Berkshires; she’ll live there full time when she retires in 5 years. Now it is her weekend home. She sold her in-town house, and rented a small apartment, where she lives during the week, convenient to her job. I know a family with young children who decided to buy a less expensive home than they could afford so they would not be locked into the high stress, high paying jobs they currently work; they bought themselves a home and career leeway at the same time. An empty nest couple I know recently sold their in-town house and moved to a smaller, more beautiful house about 20 miles west of here, in rolling countryside.

THE MORE YOU KNOW ABOUT YOUR UNIQUE, PERSONAL NEEDS FOR A HOME, the more likely you are to satisfy those needs.

Need some help sorting it all out? CONTACT ME: Sharon Teitelbaum,, 617-926-8393 for an initial consultation at no charge.

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Copyright 2002-2008 by Sharon Teitelbaum, all rights reserved.

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Sharon Teitelbaum, MA, MCC - Life Coach: Career, Success and Midlife Coaching
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