ids change everything. From the day-to-day things to the big-picture, they have an impact on everything you do - and this includes buying a house. And while the kids are obviously not the ones calling the shots on a financial decision this important, you do have to account for their needs.
6 Tips for Finding a Kid-Friendly Home
Not every house is a good house for kids. What would have worked for you prior to having children may no longer be practical. Here are several considerations:
1. Wait to Involve Your Kids
It's a bad idea to involve kids in the home search process from the beginning. As the saying goes, you'll end up with too many cooks in the kitchen. Instead, we recommend creating your own criteria, touring houses by yourself (or with your partner), and narrowing it down to a couple of options. You don't need a child's permission to do this, nor should you feel any burden to solicit their opinion. Unless their name is on the mortgage, they don't have a say.
"While leaving your kids at home during the first tour helps prevent distractions, you don't want to leave them out of the process entirely," OpenDoor.com mentions. "In fact, involving your kids in the house-hunting process is key to making moving more exciting. With a little advanced planning, taking your kids to revisit houses you're interested in can be a pleasant experience."
When you're down to a couple options that are otherwise equal in your book, letting the kids provide input or participate in the process can be fun. It can also make the transition to a new home a little smoother when they have some idea of what to expect.
2. Evaluate the Schools
Schools are obviously important when choosing a home. If you're unfamiliar with the area, you can use a site like GreatSchools.org to check ratings, test scores, and other important information. This will help you find school zones that are most likely to set your child up for success.
3. Zero in on Neighborhoods
The best way to search for a family-friendly house is to narrow it down based on neighborhoods. Find three or four neighborhoods that you really like in the area - ideally with swimming pools, sidewalks, and other amenities - and then keep an eye on new listings that pop up. (Better yet, have your real estate agent set up something to send you automated emails with new listings as they hit the market.)
4. Think About the Floor Plan
When it comes to the house itself, it's not just about square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms, and cosmetic upgrades. You also have to consider the floor plan and layout.
If you have young toddlers, you'll probably want some sort of flex space on the main level that allows you to keep an eye on them while cooking and doing household chores. But if you have teenagers, it's better to have a bonus room that's somewhat set apart from the rest of the house.
5. Consider the Yard
The yard is a big consideration. Obviously, you want a yard that's large enough for your kids to enjoy, but you also have to consider other factors. For example, how much yard do you want to maintain? Do you really want to spend every weekend pulling weeds, trimming shrubs, and mowing the lawn? Make sure you work through these details.
6. Stay Within Your Budget
It's easy for your budget to balloon once you start looking for properties. You see things you like and suddenly the things that would have been nice to have quickly become must-haves. The tricky part is tempering these escalating standards.
You might be able to afford a little more than you were originally planning, but think about the ancillary costs. A bigger home usually means higher property taxes, higher insurance, more maintenance, etc. And if all of your money is going to the house, your family won't have as much margin to enjoy things like vacations and other life experiences.
Find Your Family's Dream Home
You'll have to decide what's important to your familiy. Is it being in the perfect downtown location so that you can live a particular lifestyle? Or are you more focused on privacy, safety, and having a big yard that your kids can enjoy? There are no right or wrong answers - only what feels right to you. And if you apply the criteria discussed above, you'll eventually find the ideal option for your family.