Hate our house. Should we move?

We are hoping to hear wisdom from community.

We have never liked our house. The minute we bought the house, we had a huge buyer’s remorse. The things we dislike are difficult or impossible to change — size and shape of the lot, the internal layout, direction of the house, surrounding buildings, the particular street where the house is, easement, etc. We made a mistake... a terribly expensive mistake.

We have been here for 3.5 years, and we really tried to like the house. We added a bathroom and remodeled kitchen. We landscaped, painted, and decorated. I still dislike the house. It needs a bit more space and light and I really want a house that faces Southeast and not northwest. 

I would love to move from Oakland to Pleasant Hill or Concord where we can get a bigger house with trees,  a nice flat yard and a pool at the same price point. Spouse desires the same. 

Even before the pandemic, our family outings and hang-outs were to drive to Walnut Creek or Concord.  

the problem is kids love this house. They want to stay. We asked them if they wanted to stay even if the new house was twice as big with a big play room, swimming pool, hot tub, and swing set. They say they still want to stay here in this cozy house and close to friends. With the pandemic, we wonder if the familiarity and stability are more important for kids than daily comfort for us adults. 

Parent in me thinks we should stay here and weather the pandemic to provide as much stability to kids as possible. But, I desire a bigger space and my own office instead of a make shift office in the hallway next to kids bathroom. It would be nice for kids to be able to bike around the house instead of us having to drive kids to a place where they can bike and run around. 

We feel our neighborhood is too urban, and we thought we were urban people but are learning that we are really suburban people who like the option of being able to get to the city within 30-40 min. like to live in a quiet house with a lot of trees and flat grassy lawn and not next to a bunch of boxy apartment buildings where new people are constantly moving in and out.

Sometimes I wonder if we stay here long enough, kids will grow up and they will think this house is cool  because it’s in an area that seems popular to young people (lakeshore/grand lake). 

Parent Replies

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The parent in me is sympathetic to the idea of doing what your kids prefer, but even though I'm pretty mushy about stuff like this I would say follow your and your husband's heart and just move to where you want to be. You don't say how old your kids are, but they will adjust -- and you have given it a real shot to try to stay. For a little context, my third grader is in a new school this year, which has especially sucked for making new friends with remote learning, but they will survive. I think any moving around, at least before middle school years, ends up being no big deal for most kids.

You should move, no doubt about it.  This is about your happiness and mental health!

The kids will get over it.  They never want to leave what they know.  If you go house hunting with them and they can see the pool/outdoor space/etc for themselves, they will get plenty excited.  Seriously, this is about you and your needs, and they will be happy in the end.

Well, it is definitely "cooler" to live in Lake Shore over Concord or Pleasant Hill! ;) That said, you are the head of your family and your happiness matters. It doesn't sound like you are happy where you are and that may continue to chip away at your well being over time. Factor in your kids preferences but ultimately make the decision that makes the most sense for you and your family long term. You can keep working on your kids to get them more on board. It might help to explore the new neighborhoods with your kids and include them in looking at open houses. They might start warming up to the idea.

I'm not sure how old your kids are but, generally speaking, kids hate change. Ask them if you can throw away that 5 year old toy they haven't touched once in 4 years and they will scream and cry and say they NEED it. Yet, kids are so much more adaptable than even we are. They adjust to new childcare situations and new schools (usually) pretty darn easily.

For what it's worth, I think happy parents = happy home. They may just not be able to imagine the benefits of suburbia right now but, more than likely, they will adapt and love it. And meanwhile, if you and your husband are much happier, that'll flow down to them too. I think all of us parents have stressed so much about providing stability during this pandemic, but really having joy and happiness is equally or more important. And change can be a really great thing - you just have to reassure them they can still see their friends and the new house will be even better than the cozy one!

I think you should move. It sounds like you are both really unhappy, and the sooner you move the easier it will be for your (younger) kids to make new friends and adjust. 

One thing you haven't mentioned is whether you can afford to move. Every time you buy/sell a house you lose 3-6% of the house's value to realtor costs, plus all the costs of the move, renovations, and repairs. A bigger house in the suburbs might also cost more, and the market is kind of crazy right now with everyone trying get more space. But if you can afford to move--go ahead and move! I have friends who love renovating and flipping houses, and they move every few years. It's expensive but not unusual. You are also not the first one who has faced buyers remorse with their house. You shouldn't base your decision on what your children want. Your children are too young to understand all the factors in this decision, and they are also not the ones spending the money. Kids also love familiarity, so it is completely understandable that they wouldn't want to move. I would stop asking your children if they want to move because it would just frustrate them if you ask for their opinion and then seemingly ignore it by moving. Instead, find the house you really want and make it really exciting for the kids, and work with them if they are sad and miss their old house. That said, the fact that you are posting on this forum and asking your kids to make the decision for you suggests that you are really conflicted about moving. Shop around and see what's out there, and make sure this is something YOU want to do, not something your kids want you to do, before you buy your next house. Good luck!

How old are your kids?  I would humbly suggest that kids have a very narrow view, and is based on what they can see right in front of them, whereas part of our job as parent is to see the bigger picture.  We moved our kids at 7 and 10 halfway around the world (literally).  When we told them we were moving, they cried.  A lot.  I spent many sleepless nights wondering if we were making the right decision - taking them so drastically away from the only home and environment and culture they'd ever know.  The first few months had some really low moments but only a couple that I still remember three years later.  Little people are much more resilient then we usually give them credit for.  And you're only talking about 20 miles - they can still meet their super duper close friends.  I vote move - parents need to be happy too.

Suburban (West Contra Costa) parent to 4.5 and 1.5 here -- we have a bit more space than it sounds like y'all do, both indoors and out, and our starting situation was different (we bought our home intending for it to be our ForeverHomeTM). But in some ways, I still feel like I could have written your post. Over the last year, as plans for our family have evolved, we have come to the conclusion that it's very likely we will "outgrow" our house.

We've decided to basically wait on thinking seriously about any changes until things have settled down a bit more with the COVID situation. We're self-aware enough to know that it's hard for us to weight "normally" the pros and cons of our neighborhood -- we've got a great community, lots of friends for us and kids within walking distance, and the fact that we haven't played with them AT ALL in months or socialized "normally" in almost a year is definitely skewing our thoughts on the matter. Our working plan right now is to ride things out here for at least another year or so and then assess. FWIW, if we moved, it'd likely be a "big move" (out of the Bay at minimum, at least 50/50 out of state), so things might feel less momentous if we were "just" looking to move to a different part of the Bay.

Hi. You didn't mention how old your kids are, but in general, I would say, "Yes, definitely move!" The kids will be upset at first, but they will adapt and they will probably love having a house with a bigger yard, possibly a pool, ability to bike the neighborhood, etc. We moved from SF to Berkeley 3.5 years ago largely for the same reasons -- bigger house, yard, better weather. Kids were 6 and 8 at the time. The kids didn't want to and said they missed SF at first. But now they love it -- they have more freedom here, more space, a yard. We even got a dog. If you parents think you'll be happier there, then go for it. Your happiness matters to the whole family, and the kids will adjust. (I would be a little more hesitant if the kids were in middle and high school since peer groups are so important at that age, but since you mentioned a play room and swingsets, they are probably not.) Good luck!!!

I grew up in San Francisco, have always lived in urban areas and couldn't imagine that I would like living in suburbia as much as I do now. Oakland was a great place before we had kids. We lived in a small house in Oakland for 10 years, even added an extra room to have some breathing room with 2 small kids but it just never felt right. After years of hesitation, we finally pulled the trigger and moved to walnut creek last year, no regrets. We have a large yard, safe and quiet residential streets where kids can ride their bikes without adult supervision. There are so many open spaces and playgrounds near by. My kids were reluctant to move but they both agree now that they like the new house more than the old house. We do miss our friends back in Oakland but it's not that far to drive for visits.

This seems like a no-brainer to me.  You're the parents, the adults.  You should make the decision, and not base it on the desires of children.  This statement comes with the understanding that yes, children do have a say in family matters, and children like stability and don't necessarily like change, and they don't want to leave what's familiar, and their friends, etc.  BUT, if you and your partner are unhappy with the house and the street and the town, and you can afford to move, you should MOVE!  Go!  Life's too short to live in a house that you've tried so hard to love, but don't!  Your children are probably picking up on your unhappiness, and if you stay unhappy, that will hurt them in the long run!  The kids will adapt.  It may be uncomfortable for a while, but they will find new friends, and learn to love their new town.  You obviously care about what your kids think, and you will find a new home that works for everyone.  GO!  Find happiness!  

If the kids are still in elementary school, I'd say go for it. If they are in middle or high school, suck it up for a few more years and once they graduate high school go where you want.

Move.  The parent in you should also consider the difference in the quality of the schools, politics, and crime rates.  Your kids will adapt and make new friends and can keep the old ones.  If you and your spouse are unhappy where you live it will affect your relationship in the long term.  We made the move years ago with our kids and have no regrets.  I still receive tweets about what’s going on in the City of Oakland and almost every day there is a shooting, issues with the schools or some other violent crime.  My spouse was just in Oakland visiting friend, and the car window was smashed.  Glad to have left all of that behind.

Give it some thought.  Once we found a house in Contra Costa County it took us less than 15 minutes to decide.  Took just a few days for our kids adjust and make new friends.  Ironically a couple of their good friends families made the move few years latter and they were re-united with their friends. 

Give it some thought.  There is no wrong answer.  And remember you can always move back.