There’s no way around it. When you have children, the home buying process changes.
Of course, you have your needs, but they have theirs, and finding a balance can be a complicated extra variable in an already stressful process.
Luckily, with a little strategy and a few tips, finding a home that brings you the best of both worlds is much less of a burden. And with that, we’re here to help.
Size and Floor Plan
Here are the two things to consider at the start of your search: how much home do you need, and how should it be laid out?
Often, the answer will largely depend on the size of your family – both now and in the future. Why? Because as you can imagine, a home that works perfectly for a family of three might not be enough for a family of five. So as best as you’re able, think about what the next ten or so years have in store.
The rest of the answer to “how much home” comes in thinking about the ages of your children and roughly how long you plan on staying in your new home. As you may already know, the needs of a four year old can be night and day from those of a fifteen year old.
Let’s look at a quick example to help you understand why we’re thinking about it this way. Say a family, with a three and five year old, are looking for a new home. While they can’t be certain, they plan on staying in the home for at least ten years. This means their new home needs to function well for a family of four, with two children, eventually as old as fifteen.
How many rooms should they be looking for? Would a big backyard be a top priority? How would the layout of the home be conducive to both young children and teenagers? And of course, what about the needs of the parents?
When looking for the right size home, and the right layout, these are the kind of questions to ask yourself. Then, you’ll at least have an ideal goal in mind.
Quality of Schools
Setting up for a future of high quality – and ideally, convenient – education is likely already one of your concerns.
If so, a good strategy is to research viable school districts prior to searching for a home. Chances are, you’ll end up with a short list of locations (i.e. districts) that offer excellent education options, and a long list of locations that simply don’t.
Don’t worry that this will limit your options – education is a priority for a reason. And on the positive side, having a narrow target during a home search will save a lot of time searching. For a helpful place to start, take a look at greatschools.org.
Location is about more than access to great schools. Location is something to consider with a view as wide as an entire part of town and as narrow as the street your new home is on. Let’s start small, and move out to the neighborhood from there.
It might seem obvious, but a home’s specific location can make an impact on your family’s day-to-day. The most common example is homes on busy streets. With traffic running right by, you may sacrifice some peace of mind in letting your kids roam free in the front yard. You might not even allow it in the first place.
On the other hand, homes located off the beaten path usually bring the big upside of fewer cars buzzing by. Now, as with most aspects of homebuying, this is a matter of trade-offs. Busier streets could offer more convenience and come at a lower price, while secluded homes may be less convenient and more expensive. Our goal here is to simply remind you of this trade-off, and get you thinking about the smaller details in a home’s location.
Every neighborhood has a unique essence. A feeling. Even with a lot of research, which we recommend, nothing will beat going there and asking yourself a few questions. How does it feel to walk around? Are there parks and trails to safely enjoy? Are there other families here? Things to do?
The truth is, living in a neighborhood with a built-in sense of community adds a sweetness to life that we could all use more of. And for children, it’s a wonderful thing to grow up around. So sure, look at neighborhoods in terms of accessibility and amenities – but don’t forget to look below the surface to find the essence that your potential new neighborhood offers. You, and your family, will be glad to live in a place where – even the community – feels like home.
We love helping families find the right home. Come visit us at True Homes to learn how we do it.