Looking forward to becoming a family soon? It might be the right time to think about getting a home that will be the best possible nest for your little ones—the one they’ll remember as the place where they grew up and learned how to ride their bikes on the sidewalk. Let’s take a look at some of the most important things to consider when thinking about purchasing a new house for you and your kids.
Choosing a home is always a tough job for expecting parents, as it’s often the very first time you have to make a huge decision that affect your children as well as yourselves. Use our tips to help you make the right purchase.
Owning a home with a yard is a blessing for most families with kids. Think about all the barbecues you might organize or just imagine how your children would play outside with a hose. A yard is also a great idea if you have or plan to have a dog — nothing will make the children happier than running around the backyard with their best animal friend.
One thing to consider when looking for a nice yard is how safe it is for your little ones. Ask yourself whether the terrain isn’t too rocky or whether the fence is reliable enough to prevent children from wandering to the street. (Even though you might think this can’t happen to you, just wait until they learn how to walk and run!)
Different families have different needs. Some people insist they want to sleep next to their kids’ bedroom to feel more comfortable, while others don’t mind having their bedroom on the other floor. Similarly, it’s a good idea to appreciate that for some time, even children who can walk won’t be able to take the stairs all by themselves, so it might be nice to have alternative floor plan solutions for different stages in your family life.
Another issue is whether you want to have a separate playroom. Many people use the basement for this purpose, while others are okay with their living rooms turning into a huge toy room for a couple years.
Kids need space. And besides space for play, you should also plan space for storing their stuff, such as old toys that they don’t want to give up and piles of artwork you won’t want to give up. It doesn’t matter how many yard sales you’ll organize — there will still be loads of things to store. Think about some smart storage options. Is there some room under the stairs that you could use? Is there a spacious basement or attic?
Your neighbourhood really matters when it comes to purchasing a family house. You might be used to living in a condo in an area full of bars and restaurants, but for most parents, expecting a child is the time to think about finding a calmer spot in the city. Let’s take a look at some of the most important things to check.
Take long walks in the neighbourhood to get the feel of the area and determine whether it’s the place you wish to settle down with your family. Is there any community life? Are neighbours talking to each other? What kinds of residents mostly live in the area? Pay special attention to amenities such as sports facilities, children’s playgrounds, community clubs, and stores. Check whether there are sidewalks and how the traffic and noise on the streets are. And if you want to be really thorough, find some statistics about air pollution in the area.
Schools and daycares
Take your time and do some thorough research of the schools and daycares in the area — after all, that’s where your kids will soon spend much of their time. Find out what the test scores at the schools are like or whether there are any specialized curriculums or programs you might be interested in, and talk to some parents already living in the area to get to know their experiences. You might even try to speak to the school administrators to get an idea about the spirit of the institution.
Check out our list of best Toronto kindergartens here.
Talk to your future neighbours and find out whether there are any kids living in the area or whether any of them have small kids. Nothing is more fun than a friendly family just around a corner that you can hang out with — and on the contrary, who would like their kids to grow up as lone wolfs, playing all by themselves most of the time? Having other families with kids will also make your life a bit easier, as you can sometimes send the kids over for a sleepover or let them play at other houses and earn some time to yourself (if you’re ready to return the favour to the other parents!).
With kids in the house, you definitely want your family to feel as safe as possible, both within the house and on the street. Check the police statistics for Toronto to find out where the areas with the highest and lowest crime rates lie. A general idea is that central areas with bars and bustling night life are more prone to assaults and drug crimes. On the other hand, robberies, stolen cars, and thefts over $5,000 are often just as common in “good neighbourhoods” as less privileged areas. This is because offenders know they might have a better chance of stealing something valuable in upscale areas. Check the police statistics or the Toronto crime maps and list of areas to avoid in Toronto to find more information.
Of course, you might just buy your family’s ideal home now and move on later in your life, but the truth is that young families tend to move much less than the rest of the population due to all the difficulties associated with moving (such as kids’ schools, friends, and the heaps of toys that are hard to leave behind). Let’s consider some of the future challenges that you should keep in mind right now.
As cynical as it sounds, raising kids is no cheap business. Especially if you wish to have more kids in the future, you should always keep in mind that as your children grow, so do your expenses. Don’t push your monthly mortgage payments to the limit when you don’t have extra money you can set aside every month. Remember that even when the state of the economy changes, your mortgage will still be there as the very first payment you must count on. Nothing is worse than coming close to not meeting your obligations and possibly even losing the house when you’re taking care of the whole family.
Do you really fancy the idea of raising your kids in the suburbs? As great as it sounds now, remember that your children will grow up in the blink of an eye and won’t be able to drive for quite some time. How much time are you willing to spend working as their personal chauffeur, driving them from guitar to tennis classes? This is just one of the many examples to think about, but make sure to imagine what your family will look like and what they’ll need in ten years before choosing a house.
Are there any other things you find important when it comes to choosing the right home for your family? Let us know in the comments.