Congratulations, new parents! You’ve passed the every two hour feedings, some of you have dealt with colic, and all of you have made panicked runs to the ER or walk-in-clinic. Now that baby is starting to toddle, you might be looking around the apartment or townhouse and thinking that you might be getting a little squeezed, and maybe it would be a good idea to start looking for a house. You’ve probably looked at your finances, googled “how to buy a house” and maybe even spent a couple of Saturdays looking over the open houses. That’s good, as far as getting your toes wet, but there are things that parents have to think about before they ooh and ah over the kitchen and the new tile floors.
Finding a good school district, or a local private school, is going to be one of the biggest factors in picking your new home. Just like adults, kids suffer from long commute times. They experience stress and fatigue, grades fall, while participation in extracurricular activities and family life drops. Picking a home where school is a short walk or drive away means more meaningful time with family, friends, and activities, instead of staring out a bus window.
Just as parenthood has a lot of unexpected expenses, so does owning a home. You want to consider the cost of worst case scenarios and how much it costs to fix them or pay the insurance deductible. A pipe breaking in the middle of the night, a hailstorm that punches holes in the roof, or any other type of occurrence can put a big holes in the budget, and leave you stretched to the limit in terms of credit and cash. Feed that piggy bank and pinch those pennies.
Safety in a neighborhood means more than crime statistics, but property crimes can boost your homeowner’s insurance, and put your family in harm’s way. Home safety needs to take center stage in other ways, too. Here in Florida, any body of water – even a swimming pool or golf course water hazard – can look good to an alligator. Good fences, in this case, can make good neighbors, especially in the case of small children and dear pets. Safety can also be measured in mapping out your flood zone and how easily you and your family could evacuate in case of a major hurricane.
Stuff to Do:
As you child gets older, you want to have a selection of nearby activities and outdoor places where it’s easy for them – and you – to get there. Whether it’s scouting, taekwondo, or riding bikes in the park, you want to be able to do it without undertaking a major expedition. Get together and spend some weekends checking out neighborhoods and seeing what’s on offer in terms of child appealing activities.
Buying a house is a big commitment, so plan on staying for five to ten years. You’ll also want to get preapproved for a mortgage, so take the time as the little one is still crawling to beef up your cash cushion and buff your credit score. Happy house hunting!