If your house hunting budget is prompting you to move your family into a new neighbourhood, it’s time to get serious with home buying and about finding the right new community. It’s always stressful when you’re unfamiliar with a community but with a little due diligence, you can find a location that’s right for your budget and allows you and your family to live and grow for years to come. Finding the perfect family neighbourhood can be challenging but worth it in the long run, especially when buying a house!
To help you find the perfect family neighbourhood, consider this list of seven must-have community attributes and tips on how to find the perfect family neighbourhood.
1. Schools with good reputations
Every parent wants their child to have a decent education, so house hunting in a district with access to good schools will be a high priority.
Check ratings and reviews for schools in your chosen neighbourhood. A school’s ranking isn’t everything but it is important that the school has a good reputation.
Once you narrow down a few neighbourhoods, go and visit each school in person. This is essential. It’s only through an in-person visit you can ask about the facilities the school offers as well as observe how large the school and classroom is and whether or not the surroundings and philosophy is right for your child.
2. Areas with low crime rates
From the day your child enters the world, it’s your job as a parent to keep them safe. That job is a lot easier if you live in a neighbourhood with a low crime rate. Not only can you relax a little as your child explores and wanders the outside world but you don’t have to wonder if a random criminal activity will change your family’s life forever.
To find a safe neighbourhood consider doing research, including:
- Visit the neighbourhood at different times of the day and on different days of the week.
- Observing how well the surrounding homes’ yards and exteriors are kept.
- Finding out if there a neighbourhood watch program.
- Talking with the neighbours.
3. Look for strong community networks
Having community support in the form of other families is a great way to build community and feel quickly at home, plus it offers the potential of playdates for your kids, gives you a chance to socialize with other parents and may even offer access to free childminding (as parents swap out taking care of the little ones).
A good indication of a child-friendly neighbourhood is to look for evidence of other families, such as children playing on the sidewalks, families at the park or play sets and skateboards or bikes in the front yard.
Another option is to go online or to the local library or community centre. Look for information on after-school programs and summer camps. A neighbourhood that’s child-friendly will have activities on offer all the time throughout the year.
4. Search for quiet streets
Busy streets aren’t ideal for children, so keep this in mind when you’re house hunting. Look for homes in quiet streets that aren’t high traffic routes during rush hour. A cul-de-sac is always a good option so if your kids are playing outside in the street with other kids they will be safe.
If houses on the quietest streets are out of your price range, investigate homes on busier streets. For instance, do these homes have access to a public laneway that is open, family-friendly and provides safe play areas away from high-traffic areas? Or do the homes have large, fenced-in yards that would allow kids to play safely in high-traffic areas? Are there patrolled crosswalks (or light-controlled crosswalks) that allow for safe passage across streets. All these will help you buy into a great family neighbourhood even if your budget feels a bit pinched.
5. Look for well-maintained sidewalks and crossings
If you’re expecting or have a young baby, a neighbourhood with wide, well-maintained sidewalks can be a lifesaver for pushing a stroller around easily. As your kids grow, the sidewalk can be instrumental in bike riding lessons, hopscotch and other games.
Street safety is also important when you have children, are there clear pedestrian signals to cross the street? Is the home near a busy road or a hazardous intersection? Consider how you and your family will use the community’s streets and roads and then investigate whether or not the neighbourhood you like is set-up in a safe manner.
6. Check-out access to green spaces
If you’re house hunting in the city, then you may not get a sizeable backyard for your kids to let off steam. To counter this, make sure that the neighbourhood has access to green spaces so your children can run, jump and play. Look for other families out and about in the local park, and check for kid-friendly amenities, like a playground, pool, tennis or basketball courts and picnic tables.
In the suburbs, access to green space is also important when finding the perfect family neighbourhood. While your backyard might be far bigger than urban homes, access to large fields, local community centres and amenities, such as pools, are ideal for those summer-break days and nights.
7. Pay attention to local advertising
Spend some time independently walking around the neighbourhood and paying attention to the local advertising. Is the cinema showing the latest kid flicks? Are there children’s clothing stores? Do the restaurants have children’s menus?
Some cities offer neighbourhood profile pages so you can check out events and activities offered throughout the year and determine if it is kid-friendly or not.
In summary, if you do your research and find a neighbourhood that has most of the family-friendly indicators on your list, then there’s no need to stress about moving there. Now you can concentrate your energy on securing the right house for the best price!