Should I Renovate or Buy a New House in Calgary?

March 25, 2024 - Michelle Murphy

With almost 50% of Torontonians choosing to renovate instead of relocate, it seems like more and more Canadians are skipping the house hunt to spruce up their current digs.

But is renovating the best option for you? For us Albertans living with average housing prices that are steadily increasing, it can be difficult to decide whether it’s best to stay put and give your place a facelift or buy a new house in Calgary—both being big decisions that affect your wallet and happiness for the foreseeable future.

We’re jumping into important considerations to help you figure out whether it’s time to check out real estate listings or start sifting through home renovation Pinterest boards.

Modern white kitchen renovation, Calgary kitchen renovation

5 Considerations for Renovating or Buying a New House in Calgary

The decision to renovate or move can get tricky. To make it easier, we’ve broken it down into five key things you should think about.

Calgary’s real estate market over the last few years has been a bit unpredictable, with rapid price escalations resulting in homes over $1 million making up nearly five percent of all sales last year. Currently, Calgary’s real estate market favours the seller.

Stats like this heavily influence the decision to renovate or move. Someone who reads that the average price for a detached home has increased by 14.4% year-over-year might be tempted to sell and upgrade if they have the means to do so. In times when the market is slow and prices are stable or even dropping, investing in renovations could increase your home’s value for a future sale, or simply make it a better place for you to live in the meantime. Timing plays a big role here.

Beyond just watching prices, consider how the availability of homes in your desired neighbourhoods matches your wishlist. If there’s a shortage of properties in areas you love, it could make sense to renovate your current home instead of waiting for the perfect house to appear.

For big decisions like this, understanding current trends can help you make a choice that you won’t regret when the market shifts one way or the other.

2. Location

Location, location, location. It’s a cliché for a reason. The right location can enhance your daily life, offer convenience, and even strengthen your investment over time.

Neighborhood Dynamics

Your neighbourhood sets the tone for your lifestyle. It’s where you might make lifelong friends, where your kids could play outside, and where you’ll spend many evenings and weekends. The dynamics of a neighbourhood, including its safety, community spirit, and the quality of local schools, significantly influence your living experience.

Proximity to Amenities

Living close to essential amenities like grocery stores, parks, and restaurants can make life easier and more enjoyable. Think about how your current location measures up in terms of convenience and whether a potential new neighbourhood in Calgary could offer an upgrade in lifestyle.

Property Value Over Time

Some neighbourhoods appreciate in value more significantly than others because of factors like development plans and the popularity of the area. Researching how different Calgary areas have evolved can shed some light on where your investment might grow the most.

If you love your current neck of the woods but crave a change, renovation might be the way to go. If you’re seeking different amenities, a new environment, or better investment potential, it might be time to explore new neighbourhoods in Calgary.

Home renovation in Calgary, home renovation in progress

3. Costs

When it comes down to renovating your current home or buying a new house in Calgary, the devil is in the details—or, more accurately, the dollars. Each path comes with its own set of costs, and some aren’t as obvious at first glance.

Renovation Costs

Renovating can feel like you’re opening a can of worms and it can be difficult to know where to start (we recommend starting by researching interior designer services!). Sometimes the price tag can come as a shock too. Even a small kitchen renovation can cost upwards of $50,000.

Beyond the expected costs for materials and labour, hidden costs aren’t uncommon. These can include unexpected structural repairs, the need for temporary accommodations if major areas of your home are unusable, and even the emotional toll of living in a construction zone. Budget overruns are more the rule than the exception, which is why it’s a good practice to set aside 10-20% of your total reno budget for surprises.

Don’t overlook these 7 factors when preparing your interior design budget!

Buying New Costs

Buying a new home seems straightforward until you account for all the extras. Moving expenses, legal fees, home inspections, and mortgage setup costs all add up. And that’s before you consider the potential need for new furniture or immediate renovations to make the new place feel like home. While the price tag of the house itself is fixed, these additional costs can add a significant amount to your overall expenditure.

So, both options come with their share of potential surprises. Renovations might uncover hidden problems that need fixing, while new homes might come with unexpected costs like higher property taxes or homeowners association fees.

4. Structure & Layout

Before you make a move or start knocking down walls, let’s explore why you should care about structure and layout when deciding reno or move.


Everyone’s heard someone say a house has “good bones”. It’s dad-speak for a place that’s solidly built. Think sturdy walls, a roof that doesn’t leak, plumbing that works, and heating that won’t leave you freezing in the middle of a Calgary winter. If a house has these basics down, then it’s got good bones and is a dream foundation for any type of renovation. Bad bones mean you might be pouring money into a bottomless pit.


Do you like having rooms that seamlessly open into each other, or are you more about having separation in your living space? A well-thought-out layout can enhance living comfort, improve functionality, and even increase the property’s resale value. When considering renovations, the potential to adapt your current home’s layout to better suit your lifestyle (without knocking down walls or undertaking extensive remodels) can make your home more livable.

When your current home ticks the boxes for good bones and a workable layout, the scales may tip in favour of renovation over relocation. It allows you to preserve the aspects of your home you love while updating and customizing it to better suit your evolving tastes and needs. If finding a new home with an ideal layout and no need for major structural work is achievable within your budget, it could offer a fresh start without the disruption of a renovation.

Dachshund in a moving box, dog popping out of a box

5. Stress

Did you know that 23% of people feel that renovating is less stressful than moving? But before you rush to your phone to call contractors, that same study found that 69% of respondents were stressed out during their renovation.

Moral of the story? Stress will be lingering around whether you choose to stay put and renovate or pack up and relocate.

Your daily life also plays a huge role in the decision to reno or buy a new house in Calgary. If you’ve got a demanding job, energetic kids, or both, adding a renovation project into the mix might seem like too much. The thought of moving and starting fresh might be just as daunting, depending on your threshold for change and chaos.

This is where support is everything. Whether you’re renovating or moving, having a solid network of family, friends, trusty contractors, and an expert interior designer (of course) can make all the difference.

Learn when (and how) to plan your home renovations in Calgary.

The Choice is Yours!

When considering renovating or buying new, it’s clear that each path offers its own set of challenges and rewards. Armed with insights and reflections on what truly matters to you, you’ll be able to make the best decision for you and your family.

Whether you choose to renovate your current space or buy a new house in Calgary, the journey is deeply personal and uniquely yours.

Good luck!

Need further insights to help you in your decision? Contact MMID or check out our eDesign services if you’re out of town!

Contact MMID