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Community Advocacy Organization

5 Keys to House-Hunting with a Family

Updated: Jan 31, 2023




Having moved 5 times in the last decade, we have learned a lot about what to look for in a home. Here are some of the keys we keep in mind when we hunt for the next place we will call "home":

Location

Location is so important when searching for a home. Most people value a neighborhood that is relatively safe, friendly, diverse with green space or a nearby park for children to play outside. Now, it can be difficult to find a location that checks every single box so it is important to rank your values as a family before diving into the house-hunting process.


Price

While it may be enticing to stretch your budget or opt for something on the upper end of what you can afford, we encourage you not to. The price needs to be right for your family so you can also budget in the some of the other things you enjoy each month. As a good rule of thumb, it is recommended that families are making 3x as much as their mortgage or rent each month. Also, think about spending the amount on mortgage that will allow you to start a savings account solely for repairs and maintenance when they come up because, they surely will!



The street

The street matters. Even in the best area, a busy street can be a deal breaker. Busy, main roads bring noise, sirens, and safety concerns for those with little children or even school-aged children loading and unloading from the bus. Pro-tip from my husband: when you see a home you love online, put the address into Google and tap "street view". This usually gives a good idea about the busyness of the street. Crossroads to main roads are usually extremely hard to pull out of in the mornings, as well. Of course, it is also a great idea to drive by the home. We try to find houses on cal-de-sacs and courts when possible so our children are safer when they play in the front yard. If the circumstances are right and you must buy on a busy street, it is good to have a yard of some sort, preferably with a fence where you can find some peace.


School District

Even if your child or children are not yet in school, it happens quick! Unless you plan to homeschool or move in just a couple of years, take an honest look at the district you will be living in. It says a lot about a community by how people take care of, resource and support the local schools. Normally, locations with more young, working families will have better choices for schools because there is a collective interest in education. Although, it may be more expensive in areas with thriving school districts, we encourage you to calculate how much a private school may cost if you find you're not satisfied with the public system in your area; through this exercise, you may find that it would be more cost effective to drop a little more on a house in a well-renowned district than to pay for tuition (perhaps, for multiple kids) through elementary, middle and high school.


Personal Space

The most common home size on the market is 2-3 bedrooms and 2-2.5 bathrooms. Now, you can obviously find housing that has 5-6 rooms but the price jumps up significantly. You will have to talk about what you value as far as personal space in your home. Will your children room share or will everyone have their own space to retreat into? Is it more important to have a home office or to have a guest room? Before house-hunting, you will want a great idea of what is important to include in your space. Also, looking at square footage along with the number of bedrooms will tell you a lot about how big the common areas or lofted areas are and what space they will offer. How a house is divided (if it has multiple living ares or dens, open floor plan or a separated kitchen) is as important as the number of bedrooms it has.

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