Having children changes your perspective on quite a few things in life, often leading to many young families seeking out a new home. Whether it’s the need for additional space or the desire for a more family-friendly location, there are plenty of things to consider when buying a new place.
But beyond what you need and want, there are several other key elements for house hunters with kids to take into account. Moving home requires a lot of planning, and when children are involved, it’s essential to cover all the bases.
With that in mind, here are six things to consider if you’re buying a house with kids.
1. Location Is More Important Than Ever
Finding a home in a good location is always desirable. But, when it comes to relocating a young family, there’s much more to think about than simply finding a nice neighborhood. Some things to consider include the geographical location — for example, do you want to raise your family in the suburbs, the heart of the city, or in a peaceful rural location? There are pros and cons to each option, so be sure to think about what would work best for you and your family.
Access to local What are amenities? Amenities are characteristics that increase the real or perceived value of a... More is another common factor that can influence the location of your family’s new home enormously. For most, it’s essential to be close to good schools, but beyond that, consider what else you need nearby. For example, childcare options may be important if both parents plan to work. Alternatively, proximity to parks, playgrounds and other green spaces may be essential. Be sure to think about those amenities you’d rather not be close to as well, such as power plants or busy roads.
It’s a good idea to spend a lot of time researching several locations that would work for you. Go over the neighborhood statistics, such as crime rates and walkability, and once you’ve created a short list, it’s time to zoom in on specific streets. Think about whether you’d value the peaceful, safer nature of a cul-de-sac or the convenience of living closer to the amenities of the main road more. Once you’ve narrowed things down, pay a visit to the locations you have in mind to get a feel for the place.
2. Researching Local Schools is Essential
As we’ve mentioned above, the majority of families’ house hunts revolve around being close to a good school. So, you can use this to narrow down your search when choosing the right location for your family. If you have any specific neighborhoods in mind, check out the caliber of the local schools in the catchment area. It can also help to arrange a visit to any schools you’re considering if possible, to chat with teachers and maybe even other parents.
Once you’ve found several schools you’re happy with, figure out the boundaries of the relevant school districts and limit your search to houses within them. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the future, so be sure to check out middle and high schools, too.
3. Think Ahead in Terms of Home Size and Layout
When you’re house-hunting as a family, it’s essential to think beyond the here and now. Newborns soon become toddlers who shoot up into teens, and siblings may well arrive on the scene. So, make sure any home that you’re prospecting can accommodate this kind of growth. Remember, it’s much easier to relocate with a young family compared to moving with teens who have become established in their friendship groups and the local area.
With that in mind, when you’re thinking about how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need, try to cover all bases. Will your kids realistically be happy to share a room as teens, or is it worth getting a home with an extra bedroom, or at least an area, such as an attic or basement, that could be converted? When it comes to bathrooms, will you be happy to share with the kids as they grow, or would you prefer your own space?
In terms of layout, think about whether an open layout will give you enough privacy or if it’s better to separate the rooms more. Alternatively, having an open-plan kitchen/lounge can be a great way to keep an eye on the kids while preparing meals. Speaking of the kitchen, bear in mind that it’s the hub of many family homes, so choose a place that’s well-equipped and spacious enough for your needs.
Essentially, think ahead and make sure that the home you choose ticks as many of the right boxes for every family member today and tomorrow.
4. Safety is Paramount
When it comes to kids, especially young ones, safety is a prime concern. The home you choose should reflect this, so while house hunting be on the lookout for anything that could be dangerous to children. For example, small children can struggle with a steep staircase or inadequate handrails. Likewise, an abundance of sharp corners at toddler head height, or wobbly surfaces, are both a definite no-no. Be extra alert for these things you might not otherwise consider if you were house hunting just as a couple or on your own.
Looking outside, check that the yard is properly fenced off to ensure your kids won’t wander off by themselves. And, while ponds and water features might make a nice addition, be sure they’re also secured to prevent accidents.
5. Think Outside the Box, Too
Talking about the yard, take as much time to seek out homes with adequate outdoor space as possible. For kids, a yard is a veritable haven on those warm summer days or fun snowy seasons, and you can be sure that many hours will be spent there playing with siblings or friends.
In an ideal world, it should be large enough to learn to ride a bike in, though not so huge that it becomes unmanageable. A sheltered patio area or deck is also a nice addition, creating a pleasant spot for reading or getting creative with artwork.
6. Let Your Children Join You When House Hunting
This may not sound like the best advice, especially if you have young, restless kids, but house hunting with your children can be an invaluable experience. There’s no need to bring them to every single viewing. Indeed, leave them home while you’re searching initially, and once you’ve narrowed things down to one or two places that you like, bring them along for a second visit.
This allows you to see things from their perspective, as well as letting them feel like a part of the house hunt. And, they might just pick up on things you hadn’t noticed — for example, stiff doors that they’d struggle with or a nasty odor that could point to larger problems.
Don’t plan too many visits at once so as not to overwhelm them. But, perhaps turn the viewing into a fun day out, with a walk around the neighborhood, playing in a nearby park, and lunch at a local restaurant. In this way, they’re more likely to form positive associations with their new home from the get-go.
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