Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Buying a home & keeping the kids in mind

So I've been living with my sister and her family for just over 3 months now. My husband and I really want to buy a home, but working out the logistics has been tricky. First, we work in different states and second, do we want that responsibility? We've decided it's time to buy-to make a home for our family and for the investment. Now, we're trying to decide the all important location. Plus, having kids complicates the search for the perfect home. To give you an idea of why this decision has been so difficult for us, here's a list of our considerations when buying a home and keeping the kids in mind:

-LOCATION I want to be near family in case of emergencies or for a date night with the hubby. Living near my sister makes the most sense in terms of help, but also means a long commute to work. Does an instant babysitter out weigh the extra expense of gas and toll way charges?
We want to be close to good daycare and excellent public schools.
Is the area prone to flooding? In Houston, you have to worry about flooding during Hurrican Season.
We like being close to downtown Houston & being able to stroll down to cafes and museums, but the area has few sidewalks and lots of thru-traffic-is it a good, safe place for kids to play? The homes are twice the cost as the suburbs, smaller and few have garages. Do we choose the lifestyle we're used to and make it work with kids or assume a more kid-friendly community is best to raise children?
-SCHOOLS I don't want to pay for private schooling when Texas has such great public school districts. We pay more in property taxes here for those great schools-but you get what you're paying for. Which school district is the best for our kids and is consistent?
-SIZE Home size-lots of room for the family also means more to clean and more yard to mow. A 4 bedroom home sounds so appealing, but mowing the yard doesn't. How much is lawn service? Is it comparable to maintenance fees with a town home?
Community size-do we want a small, cozy community where everyone knows each other and there are few or no amenities (pools, etc) or a large, expanded community with lots of extras (fancy pools, parks, playgrounds, hiking trails) and more traffic. Can I live in the suburbs? Is it worth a community pool with a lazy river and a playground that includes a rock wall? And what is the difference in home owner association fees? Property taxes?
-INVESTMENT How's the market in the area we buy? Would the house sell or rent well?
-IMPROVEMENTS/REMODEL Do I have the time, money or inclination to upgrade or fix a house we a buy? If yes, how would the improvements/remodeling effect the kids' safety? My son gets into everything.
-LONG TERM Do we plan on living in the house for the duration of the kids' schooling or jump on a good investment and then find something else? I grew up in the same neighborhood for 14 years and went to elementary, middle and high school with the same kids. I really enjoyed the closeness I shared with my friends and the community. Would my kids want that?
-THE HOME One or two story? how many bedrooms? are the bedrooms the same size so the kids aren't fighting for the larger room? how many bathrooms? attached or detached garage? master bedroom up or downstairs? a large or small lot? square-footage? gas or electric? how old is the roof & AC? New or older home? are appliances included? what type of flooring? storm windows? The list goes on for days...

There are so many things to consider when buying a home especially when kids are in the picture. It's not an easy decision. I didn't even get into the financing aspects. Oh, the HORROR!
But, I look forward to making a HOME for our kids soon. It will all be worth it.

1 comment:

Fightin' Mad Mary said...

You know having bought and sold 4 homes in the last 6 years I have lots to say, but I'll start with this -

Don't over buy! When you are looking at homes that are 2500 sq ft and up (and I know they can be pretty cheap out there) you are going to have to AIR CONDITION all that sq footage too.