Having children changes our priorities. It’s a normal adjustment all parents make as they welcome that first little bundle of joy into the world. Suddenly the things in life you once found so important pale in comparison to the task of raising a child and wanting what’s best for your new family.
That third-floor loft apartment right in the middle of all the downtown action and nightlife is much less appealing when you consider raising a child. Where will your little one play? Is the area quiet or will your child need headphones just to sleep at night? Is it safe? What are the schools like?
If you’re hunting for a new home for your young family — or are planning to start a family soon — here are some family-friendly features and amenities you’ll want to look for in your new neighborhood and next home.
High-ranking school districts — Where your children will attend school is one of the biggest decisions every parent makes. If you plan to send your children to public school, then you’ll want to do your research on local school districts. While school ratings are one factor to consider, don’t let the school’s ranking alone be the deciding factor. Take time to visit the area schools in person. What is your impression of the administration, facility and student-to-teacher ratio? What extracurricular activities are offered? What do other parents in the neighborhood have to say about the school? Sometimes getting into your preferred school district may mean moving to a home in a different neighborhood than your first pick.
Low crime rates — Every parent wants to know their child is safe. While you may have control over your child’s safety inside your home, what happens outside the home in the surrounding neighborhood is also something to consider. Various online tools — such as CrimeMapping.com or CommunityCrimeMap.com— offer the ability to search crime rates in any given location, but you can also turn to the local police department for information. No neighborhood is perfect, but every city has hot spots for crime, and as a parent, you’ll want to steer away from those areas if possible.
Parks or playgrounds — Parks provide a place for neighbors to get to know each other and children to socialize, play and burn off energy. Even if it’s small, a neighborhood park with a play structure is a definite plus when you’re shopping for your next neighborhood. Of course, some neighborhoods have more amenities for play than others, and if you’re considering moving into an HOA, you may find amenities such as a pool or splash pad, fitness center, walking paths, ball fields, a disc golf course and multiple playgrounds. Every neighborhood has something different to offer, so be sure to check out the options when you’re scoping out a potential spot for your new home.
Safe streets — Does the neighborhood get much outside traffic? What does the seemingly peaceful neighborhood look like during rush hour traffic? Neighborhoods with straight streets can serve as a cut-through aren’t ideal when you have children riding their bikes or playing in the front yard. Look for a home on a cul-de-sac where traffic is kept to a minimum, or horseshoe-shaped roads where traffic must slow down.
Walkability — It may be one of the last things you notice, but sidewalks are one marker of a family-friendly neighborhood. When a neighborhood has sidewalks, you’ll see more families taking an evening stroll together, children on their skateboards and bikes or drawing with sidewalk chalk. Sidewalks provide a safe alternative for outdoor activities and play — a definite bonus when you have children.
Access to medical care — While no parent wants to consider the worst happening with their child, being prepared for a medical emergency is always wise. Is an emergency room, urgent care facility or hospital within close distance of your potential new neighborhood? For anyone with children, this is an important factor to consider when deciding where to live.
Strong community — As a parent, it’s important to build relationships with other parents near you. You need those friendships and neighbors with children can become one of your greatest resources as a parent. Next time you’re out driving through neighborhoods looking at homes, make a mental note of a few things. Are there children playing outside? Families enjoying a walk together? Neighbors congregated in a driveway or on a front porch? These are signs of a great community. And, in today’s social media world, many neighborhoods take advantage of platforms like Facebook or Nextdoor to alert neighbors of any problems or dangers in the area, ask for help or advice and generally keep up with each other.
When you are looking to buy a new home, you aren’t just buying a piece of real estate, you will become a part of that neighborhood. Find a community that suits the needs of your growing family; one you can enjoy for years to come.
Have you found the neighborhood of your family’s dreams? Contact PrimeLending today to speak with a home loan expert in your area who can help you get started on the process to owning your new home.