Movin’ On Up: How Much More Will a Larger Home Cost per Month?

Growing families and households looking for more space this home-shopping season probably already anticipate paying more each month for that larger home. But just how much their monthly mortgage payments rise depends largely on where they’re looking to live and how much more space they want.

Nationwide, families with small children typically spend seven years in their home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And because many move-up buyers are just those kinds of people — households looking to expand — we defined “move-up buyers” as households that have spent seven years in their home. This means that the family purchased a home in 2009 and was looking to expand and purchase another home in 2016.

The average American family moving from a typical two-bedroom U.S. home to the median three-bedroom home in the same ZIP code last year could expect to pay $447 more on their monthly mortgage payment, or about $5,364 per year. The premium on an additional bedroom also increases with the size of the house. For example, upgrading from a one-bedroom home to a two-bedroom home would equate, on average, to an additional $192 per month on the mortgage payment. Move-up buyers nationwide moving from the median three-bedroom to the typical four-bedroom home could expect an even steeper increase in monthly costs — $614 more per month.

In addition to the size of the home being considered, where a household lives or is looking to move to also matters when it comes to the cost of moving up. In 24 of the 35 largest U.S. metro markets analyzed, move-up buyers looking to upgrade from a two-bedroom to a three-bedroom home last year could expect to pay a mortgage premium that was actually less than the national average for the same upgrade. Many of these markets are located in the Midwest, South and Southwest, which means that families looking for more space in these areas can expect to stretch their dollars further. For example, move-up buyers in Chicago, Cincinnati and St. Louis looking to move from a two-bedroom home into a three-bedroom home could anticipate an increase of around $150 per month.

But those in hot, coastal markets could expect to spend upwards of $500 more per month. In the notoriously expensive California markets of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose, high and rapidly growing home values likely weighed heavily on the cost of moving up. Moving to a 3-bedroom home from a 2-bedroom home in these areas added between $1,033 and $2,224 to the average monthly mortgage payment — an additional $12,396 to $26,688 per year on mortgage payments.


Zillow analyzed the cost of upgrading by comparing the mortgage payments of single-family homes. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, the typical household with small children owns their home for seven years. To determine the additional monthly costs associated with upgrading, we compared the mortgage payment of a median-valued home purchased in 2009 with that of a median-valued home with one extra bedroom purchased in 2016. We performed the analysis on the ZIP-code level, then aggregated up to the metropolitan level to control for differences in home values based on location.

Calculate the average premium on extra space in your metro area compared to others.

Originally published by Zillow Research and written by Zillow Economist Sarah Mikhitarian.