When you’re looking for a new home, it kind of takes over your thoughts, doesn’t it? I often think of the steady beat of the U2 song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

Sometimes all we can think about is what we don’t like about where we live right now. So it feels pretty good to dream about what we want: more space, a rural view, a quiet country road, or moving to town so that we can walk for all of our shopping and errands. Our needs and our priorities shift as life changes. Living close to everything so you are not your kids’ taxi service can be the most important thing. A few years later, you may want to “get out of Dodge” and build a sustainable home on a waterfront lot — or return to that hobby farm idea you abandoned to raise a family.

Although my job is to find you a new home or help you sell your home to move on … it is worth doing a deep dive to figure out what you and your family really needs. Think down the road a few years. How much space do you actually need? How important is privacy to you? I always take note of where the sun rises and sets when I am in a house. That is because I have a thing about morning sun and kitchens. But hey, that’s important to me and maybe not important to you. So think about what really matters and what would your happy place look like? That’s a good starting point.

It is easy to get caught up in the idea that you have to keep selling up — moving to a larger, more expensive home. But take the time to consider what you like about your present home. What could you change to make it work for you? Maybe you can stay where you are and design your way to the space you are looking for.

Then again, you might be moving for other reasons: for work, geography, for more or less land, or to be closer to family members. The best thing about the decision to make a move is that you will have lots of options. So before you become the owner of a new home, take ownership of your right to ask questions. Check out neighbourhoods, spend time in the small town you have always wanted to move to – and picture yourself in your new community to see if it feels right. Do your best ahead of time so that you are happy with your final decision!

Photo credit: Alice Higginson.