Sometimes longtime apartment dwellers become first-time homebuyers when their family expands. And sometimes a couple with a young child has been content living in the perfect starter home and realizes they need more space as they add kids to the mix. Or maybe a third child comes along and the family just has to have another bedroom.
Regardless of your current situation, adding a child to your family often means that you have to rethink how you utilize your current space. And sometimes, you’ll decide that you need more space or that you want to live in a different neighborhood or school district. Here are some things to consider as you decide what kind of house best suits your changing family.
A four-bedroom house might sound like the perfect fit—until you realize that two of the bedrooms are in the basement and are unusable for your family of small children. Carefully consider how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need and where they need to be located to suit your needs. Do you need a nursery adjacent to the master bedroom? Do you have pre-teen children that you want to put in their own rooms soon? And it’s not all about bedrooms. Consider whether you need a mudroom for boots and coats or if you want to have space for your kids to help you in the kitchen. And would an open floor plan make it easier to keep an eye on your children or just make it harder to childproof? Also consider whether or not the home you are interested in could be easily expanded in the future. An expansion is generally far less costly than moving into a new home when you need more space.
What is the makeup of the people in the neighborhood you’re looking at? Are the residents families with young children? Are they retirees? Stop by the neighborhood at different times of the day to get a really good understanding of what it’s like. Also consider how close you are to key locations. Consider where your kids will be going to school and how far away that school is. Think about other daily activities you will be doing with your children and how far you are willing to drive to get there. Also think about recreation, like the location of parks and walking or biking trails.
It’s important to consider the safety of a home you’re interested in, particularly if you have babies and toddlers. Make sure that you have childproofing solutions for any potential problems before you commit to the house. Pay close attention to stairs, and also look at the built-in closets and cupboards to make sure children could not get trapped inside. Look at counters, tables, and shelves for sharp corners. And don’t forget to consider the safety of the yard, and if it has one, the pool. Last, consider more than just your property—there are many websites that will give you detailed crime data for the neighborhood you’re interested in. Also look at the traffic patterns in the neighborhood and at how safe it will be for your children to cross the streets. And last, consider any relevant sources of pollution that may affect your children’s health.