Credit: Courtesy

Q:  Marsha, we bought our house six years ago. It was perfect at that time, and we still love many of the home’s features.  But now, two babies later, we are feeling somewhat cramped. How do you know when it’s time to upsize? Is it better to purchase a larger house or remodel your current one?

A:  There are two questions here. I’ll start by answering your first one. What are the telltale signs a family needs a larger house? There are quite a few signals that more space is needed. I’ll give you a few and you decide if these fit your situation. The first and most relevant to you is that your family has grown. A house that felt spacious with two adults feels like a fishbowl with two children added in. It’s not just two more humans; it’s everything that goes with having kids. They have lots of toys, books, clothes, art projects, and friends. Children often bring non-humans such as cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds into a household. 

Another clue you need more room could be your outdoor living space now feels like a postage stamp. Is your lawn large enough for soccer, baseball, and outdoor birthday parties? Consider dedicated space for new hobbies and interests that come with children. Expanding families means more furniture and simply stuff galore.

In conjunction with the growing family, you and your spouse also need adult space away from the rugrats. Is there an area in your home where you can retreat and enjoy adult time?

Then there’s grandparents, relatives, and friends. If they live out of your area, they’ll want to visit often. Do you have space for extended overnight guests? I’m sure you realize that just by asking the question about size, it’s time to consider a larger house. 

To answer your second question, is it better to remodel or purchase a more spacious home? Here are some ideas to consider when making that decision. You bought your home before you had children. Was school district a factor in your purchase? What is the quality of life in your neighborhood and is it child-friendly? Look around and decide if the area is evolving. What is the amount of traffic on your street? How is the walkability in your location? Being able to walk to parks and amenities is important when you have children. What’s your current commute time to work? With your added responsibilities, you may want a shorter drive time. 

Remodeling can take months. If you plan on staying in the house, be prepared for dust, noise, and strangers in your house. Expansion and improvements are always costlier than expected. Moving to a larger house can also be stressful. You’ll need to prepare your existing house for sale. And then there’s the house hunting in today’s overly hot market for the larger home. 

Both remodeling and a new purchase have pluses and minuses. Your decision should be based on economics, lifestyle choices, and your family’s tolerance for disruptive events. Analyze these circumstances and decide what the best choice is for you and your family.

Marsha Gray, DRE #012102130, NMLS#1982164, has been a real estate broker in Santa Barbara for more than 20 years. She works at Allyn & Associates, real estate services and lending. To read more Q&A articles, visit She will research and answer all questions submitted. Contact Marsha at (805) 252-7093 or


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.