BY KAREN LIBIN, KL REALTY
Typically, when a couple (or individual) starts having children they want to buy a family home to live in for the next couple of decades. This is an exciting process as they imagine a swing set in the yard, birthday celebrations and holiday gatherings. When a couple is in “baby” or “toddler” mode, they are often so immersed in these phases that they are often short-sighted of their long-term home needs. Having sold homes to hundreds of families over the years, here’s what I advise new parents to think about:
• Start by picking the neighborhoods where you will have the lifestyle you want. Some neighborhoods have many young families starting off; others are at the other end and will be full of retirees. It’s definitely more fun and supportive to be around other families in your same situation. Nearby parks, rec centers and shopping will also contribute greatly to your family’s quality of life. A big consideration is education. What schools do you want your children to attend from elementary to high school? (Yes, it’s good to think THAT far ahead.)
• Walkability and transportation may seem unimportant when your children are small, but the older your kids get the more important they are. Can your elementary-age child walk with his or her friends to a nearby park to play? If so, that will save you a car trip. Can your high school-age child take a city bus home after soccer practice? If so, that will save you hundreds of trips.
• Lots of parents make the mistake of only considering homes for the toddler they currently have. They are wary of steps or other potential accident areas that a child will soon grow out of. New parents also think the kids’ bedrooms must be directly next to theirs. Usually small children are fine if bedrooms are somewhat close and there are a few night lights illuminating the way in between. Keep in mind by high school most children like to have bedrooms away from their parents, with the basement bedroom a very popular place to squirrel away from sight and sound.
• Along these lines, when the children are small, parents always want them close by. But as they age parents usually want them and their very noisy friends (and their potato chips bags and Izzie cans) somewhere away, like a bonus room or a basement. Ideally, this room will have a door that can be closed to mitigate noise and hide messes.
• Storage for children’s many things is important. A mud room (or area that acts as one) is wonderful for handling outer ware, school-related materials and sport gear. Imagine six teens with wet and muddy snow boots, backpacks and hockey sticks entering your home.
Your children may be babies or toddlers now, but they will grow quickly. Choose a home that will suite your family now when your children are little, as well as later when they are towering over you.