Many first-time home buyers have one reason for buying that outweighs all others: they’re looking to start a family. From the obvious to the overlooked, here are some of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a family home.
This is always the first concern mentioned by parents seeking to purchase a home, yet can be a difficult one for real estate agents to answer effectively. Though you should take into account your realtor’s advice and any word of mouth or opinions received from locals regarding schools, you’ll want to do some independent research before making a final decision. In addition, you’ll likely want to consider not just the quality and reputation of nearby schools, but also their proximity to your home. Consider ahead of time whether you’ll be driving your kids to school, letting them walk, or having them take the bus, and whether that plan will be feasible in your new neighborhood.
2. What’s There to Do?
For once, this question isn’t just about your children (or future children). Yes, you’ll absolutely want to consider the quality and relative abundance of local parks, swimming pools, miniature golf courses, recreation centers, and all of the other amenities that make a neighborhood stimulating for developing children.
But you’ll make the best decision when you know what you’re looking for in a neighborhood, too. Is there accessible shopping? Are there intriguing local businesses nearby, or only corporate chains? If you love Thai food, for example, are you going to be able to survive in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a Thai restaurant? Consider your needs alongside those of your children, and you’ll be more content with your neighborhood in the long run.
Though you may not find diversity on every “must” list for family neighborhoods, it’s one of the elements that separates a great family neighborhood from one that’s merely good. The U.S. is already a melting pot, and it’s only getting more diverse as time goes by. Studies suggest that children who grow up in diverse neighborhoods may be more open-minded, while adults tend to notice the compassion and non-judgmental attitudes that their families and communities seem to develop in more diverse areas.
4. Your Personal Budget
Of course, none of the other criteria essential to finding the “perfect” family neighborhood means as much as whether or not you can afford to live there. Unfortunately, neighborhoods that make great places to raise kids are often some of the most expensive areas in which to buy homes.
Ultimately, your budget may be the biggest factor in choosing a location. But don’t think that not being able to afford a home in a wealthy suburb means you can’t track down a family-friendly community. Discuss your concerns with everyone you can—many home buyers discover excellent schools and amenities in areas that go overlooked by less savvy shoppers.