Making the decision to move house when you work from home

When your home is also your office, moving is twice as complicated

In the old days, people were reported to move once in seven years and the event was said to be as stressful as a death in the family or getting divorced.

In today’s hot property climate, the roof over your head seems far more than simply shelter – it is probably the largest investment most people ever make and can also be the most rewarding.

Recently, a homeworking friend saw her property increase in value by £10,000 in less than a month – and we are talking terrace, not palace, here.

But what does all this mean for homeworkers? Our home is our castle – in every sense – it is not merely a shelter but the place from which we earn our living. So any decision to make a change has to be thought through twice as carefully.

For many of us there is the luxury of choice. We belong to the one sector of the community who can live almost where we please. We can choose between the hubbub of inner city life or go for the rural dream – in fact the Teleworking Association believes that teleworkers and the self-employed are helping in rural regeneration.

But as well as the stress of selling the property and packing up the family home, there is the added burden of sorting out the business.

A question of timing

The first challenge is to try and time everything correctly. You may have a convenient gap in the calendar in which to move but does it suit your buyers?

If you deliberately wind down work to make room for moving, what will happen to your cashflow? And what will happen if the plans go awry and the move is cancelled or delayed?

Will your clients be happy with a slight disruption to services or do they need to be consulted? If you are a distance worker rather than self-employed, are there are repercussions for you or for your employers?

Have you a home to go to? Or can you operate from a temporary base? Will you be staying in the same geographical area or making a major change – if so, will it impact on the business?

This may not necessarily be in terms of upsetting clients but in the little nitty-gritty details like, how good the postal service is? What time of day the post arrives? How long does the train journey into town take? And where are all those people that you used to rely on, such as printers or secretaries, couriers or taxi drivers?

If you have children, child-care can become the number one priority – will you have access to a good nursery or school? Is there a school bus that the children can walk to or do you need to factor the school-run into your working day?

Selling the house can be time consuming. Choosing the right estate agent, or method to sell is critical. When visitors come round, the house has to be tidy, including the office, and what do you do when your top client telephones just as prospective purchasers start to look interested. Different areas demand different methods but it will all be stressful.

The next hurdle is finding a new home – often twice as stressful. In this market, it can be a game of sealed bids, open auctions or just a matter of always being beaten to the door by someone with more money than you.

Finding a mortgage can be complicated. For some reason, mortgage companies seem reluctant to deal with the self-employed. Many of the major names have separate departments to deal with you and they cannot offer the best deal available to others.

You may need to produce three years of accounts from your accountant – not without cost, of course – and it may take so long that the house you were after has been snapped up by someone else.

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