Shopping for a home isn’t easy. Every family has different requirements, from number of bedrooms to easy access to transit and parking.
Parents, however, have an added challenge. Although you’re doing the shopping, your children are going to live and grow in the home and experience it in ways you won’t. You have to be sure your children will be able to thrive in the home you choose, and anticipating their needs before even putting in an offer can be challenging.
Here are the most common factors parents should weigh when buying their next home.
The floor plan
The actual layout of your home should come first, since that’s where you interact with your kids the most. Consider stairs if you have small children, as they can be a hazard. A master bedroom on the same floor as your kids’ rooms is always nice, to combat 1 a.m. nightmares. Indoor play areas, like rec rooms, are a must-have if you live in a cold climate.
Essentially, as you’re walking through the home, envision how your children would move through the home. What obstacles could they encounter? If we stay here for 10, 15, 20 years, will they be able to grow and succeed here? If we have more children than expected, is there room for that growth as well?
If you’re buying a house, a nice yard is definitely ideal—you have room for the kids to use up all that energy, play sports, and play with friends. Think about the access from the deck to the grass, and vision from the house into the yard. On the flipside, remember that yards take time and money to maintain, and will add to the overall cost of a house, so weigh the need against the cost.
If you’re buying in a condo, assess the safety and size of the balcony. Look around the neighbourhood for nearby playgrounds, parks, and outdoor areas so your kids don’t go crazy running around on the 10th floor. Even if you’re buying a house, your needs might be filled by a play area nearby.
If you’re dead-set on a home, it’s important to wander the neighbourhood, both during the day and in the evening. Are there lots of families and resources for children? Is there lots of safe space to walk with a baby stroller? Is commuting as painless as possible? Look for businesses, daycares, anything that will make your life easier and is within close proximity to the house.
Also, if you think condo buildings are only for singles, you’d be wrong. Certain buildings attract families, so ask your agent and the building manager if this building is a kid-friendly building.
Schools and school zones
All parents want their kids to have the best education possible. School ratings are a good, preliminary way of assessing nearby schools—you can check those out on sites like Scholarhood.ca. It’s also a good idea to visit schools in person, to talk with administration about after-hours activities, programs for kids with special needs, and unique curriculum.
You should also think about distance and travel to school. Could your kids walk to school? Are they on a school bus route? If you have to drive them to and from school, do you have the time and capacity to do that every day?
You know that your kids’ needs are your needs. Although it’s not a great idea to take your children to a showing, they should be front and centre in your mind’s eye. If you don’t know if something will work, if a certain place is too far away, ask your agent—they’ve sold to countless families so they’re a good second opinion.
Flickr: Bridget Coila