What should you consider when choosing your family home?

Written by
Stuart Robinson
March 16, 2019

Whether you’ve got a large family, expecting your first child, or simply planning for children in the near future – when it comes to moving house there are a few vital things to consider.

If you’re looking to move, then you’re probably wondering how you can find the perfect home for your growing brood, and one thing’s for sure – you’re going to need some more space!

Here is Zoom995’s guide to finding your new family home.

1. The neighbourhood

  • Schools
  • Amenities
  • GP services
  • Safety

While you may have previously enjoyed being close to the city or town centre so you could enjoy evenings out in pubs and clubs, and be closer to amenities, your priorities may change with a baby or child.

Finding a quiet area with good schools nearby is very important and could be your main focus. Your children will be able to play outside more safely in a cul-de-sac or a quiet road and generally, the more rural you go, the more outdoor areas your children will have to enjoy. Visit any potential properties during rush hour and at night to see how quiet they are and always keep safety in mind.

The most important thing is to research the area, as location is the one thing you can’t change. Check out the local parks, schools and other amenities such as shops, supermarkets, leisure centres, cinemas and children’s groups.

Visit the local schools and ask them lots of questions, and read their last few OFSTED reports. Look at where the schools are and how your children would get to and from school.

When they get a bit older, is it safe and possible for them to walk on their own? Find out how many crimes have been reported in a neighbourhood by going to www.police.uk. If crimes seem high in the area, but you’re keen to live there anyway, consider the cost of security equipment such as CCTV or alarms.

Knock on your potential new neighbours’ doors and say hi to see if there are other families nearby. Not only will it be nice to befriend neighbours with children, but you’ll also be able to ask about how they find the area for children.

Go to social media to find local groups. You’re likely to find a local parents’ Facebook group where you’ll be able to post questions to other parents who are already living in the area.

You will want to think about the GP surgeries or health centres and hospitals in the area as well, to ensure there is a good one nearby that is taking on new patients..

2. Size, layout and design

  • Consider how your family will use the space
  • How many children will you have?
  • Storage and outdoor spaces
  • Safety

If you’re planning a family or extending your family, consider the size of the home, as well as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. You’ll need at least two bedrooms and while only one bathroom is necessary, it could be incredibly useful to have at least an extra loo or even an ensuite, if your budget allows.

Getting as much space for your money as possible is wise, children not only need their own space to sleep and play, but plenty of room and storage is needed for all their toys, clothes and accessories. Children also have furniture, may eat a lot and you may need room for a cot in the main bedroom or even space for a big bed to co-sleep.

Before buying a property, consider that children get older and their requirements will change. The baby stage is fleeting, but once you have a child running around you may wish you’d thought about it sooner. By the time you’re working full time and have to look after a child, you may not be able to move home again as easily. Consider if the property you like will be a home your children can grow up in. This can include whether or not it has a decent sized garden and driveway; your life will be much easier if you can get your children into the car safely and easily by being able to park your car right by your front door.

Homes more suited to children have fewer stairs, as well as big open plan areas so you can watch your children playing while you cook or watch television. A spare room that can be used as a playroom is always useful (that way you don’t have to look at children’s toys when you’re trying to relax in the evening!)

However, don’t go for something bigger than you can afford. If you have the wiggle room financially and you’re planning on having more children in the future, it may be worth buying a bigger house than your current needs. The extra space can always be used for a games room, office or for extra storage until then.

3. View plenty of properties

  • Give yourself lots of choice
  • Keep a note of safety and layout features
  • Consider how properties fit into your plans

Make sure to view lots of properties to buy. The more you view, the better idea you will have of what you like, and more importantly, what you don’t like.

If you’re a new parent, there will be things to consider in a home that you wouldn’t have before. Make a list of these things and keep a mental note when viewing properties of which are more suited to your growing family.

For instance, lots of stairs, a kitchen and living room on different floors, a potentially dangerous pond or swimming pool in the garden, or a home with no storage will probably be appealing to your needs. You’ll discover on your search that certain things are deal breakers, while a property you may have never considered before becomes the one you fall in love with. Keep an open mind.

Big design statements you love the look of may not be practical for a child, so try not to give in to your emotions when viewing houses. For instance huge cupboards in the kitchen may be unreachable for your child who may need to get a plate, or glass doors the width of the house may result in a dangerous accident with your energetic little one.

Don’t forget it’s perfectly ok to go back and view the property again and again. It’s better to be safe than sorry! Consider bringing the kids on the second viewing and get their opinion, especially if you like more than one property. Remember, they have to live there too and you need the whole family to enjoy living there.

4. Renovations

If you’ve found your dream home but it needs fixing up, consider how long renovations and decorating will take. Would the renovations become invasive and problematic for your young family?

If the bathroom or kitchen are unusable for days or weeks, it can make family life very difficult and seriously disrupt your child’s routine. Consider if it’s worth it before going in with an offer.

5. Budget

  • Plan for future expenses
  • Consider houses within your budget
  • Keep a spreadsheet of costs

Work out your budget and stick to it. A property you can afford now might become unaffordable once children come onto the scene. Factor in the growing cost of children as they get older, vs your mortgage as time goes on. A bit of planning will go a long way.

Make a spreadsheet and work out how much of a deposit you could raise. If you’re selling another property don’t overestimate any profit you may get until you’ve got a firm offer in place.

Don’t get distracted by properties outside of your budget. The worst thing for you and your family is to bite off more than you can chew. You don’t want to live so close to the margin that one financial hiccup could mean you default on your mortgage payment. If you’re rushing to buy a property because you’re expecting, but can’t really afford a larger property yet, remember that babies don’t actually take up much room and consider that you can always hold off on moving for a little while to save up.

Consider budgeting for changes you’ll need to make in the house once you move in or extras that you may find you need once you move in. It’s also worth thinking about costs associated with a bigger property, as it may cost more to heat than before, and your electricity and gas bill may be higher.

6. Ask questions

A house is the largest purchase you’ll ever have to make in your life. Make sure you ask the estate agent or owners lots of questions and don’t feel shy about asking them.

Ask about:

  • Previous owners
  • Whether any renovations have been done
  • Whether they have brought up children in the area and what they think of the neighbourhood
  • Whether anything needs fixing or replacing
  • Why the current owners are moving

The more you know, the more confident you’ll be with your decision.

7. Other considerations

Finer details

Issues such as whether the property has a bath or a shower, or whether there is carpet throughout or hard flooring will need to come into consideration before you move in when you have children.

Visiting family

If you have need for a spare room for family who regularly visit, consider how many rooms the property has, or whether there is space for a sofa bed or a private area elsewhere for guests.

Career opportunities

If you aren’t working currently because you’re at home with your children, consider what the job market is like in the area should you want to go back to work. If you’ll have to commute for too long a distance to the nearest city, it may become problematic for getting home to your children in the evenings or not being able to pick them up from school quickly should there be an emergency.

8. When to move and getting organised

When it comes to moving with children, you’ll need to consider when to start looking for a property to work around the school year. Spring is the best time so you can aim to be ready to move in September ready for the new school year if they’re starting at a different school. You can find out more about when to move here. (link to long form content about when to move).

Make sure you have all your documentation ready to go and organised ahead of time. Talk to your solicitor and mortgage advisor to find out what you need as soon as you can. The last thing you need is a paperwork holdup causing you to miss out on your perfect family home.

9. Getting a mortgage

Buying your first home is a massive step, and if this is your first home you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a mortgage agreement in principle before looking for your perfect home. This will help to give you a sense of how much you can safely spend on a home. It also shows sellers that you’re a serious buyer.

Find a mortgage advisor who is aligned with you and your needs and can find you the best deal. Did you know at Zoom995 we provide mortgages? Head to our financial services page and get in touch, we’d be happy to provide you with any help and advice you could need. It also helps to have a mortgage advisor who works with your estate agent to make sure the move flows as seamlessly as possible.

We’re always happy to speak to our clients about family life in the South East and provide any advice you might need to ensure the move for you and your family is a smooth one. Get in touch with us today on 0333 358 3095.

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