With interest rates are at an all time low, it’s a house-hunting I go! And from the real estate reports, it seems I’m in good company. In many areas, the cost of a mortgage is considerably less than paying rent, even after factoring in home-owner related expenses. Take the little bungalow I rented in West Asheville. The monthly rent was $1200, not including utilities. I’m now looking at comparable bungalows in the same neighborhood and expecting to pay less than $800 for monthly mortgage payments.
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Buying a home is a long-term investment. As a new mom, I’m thinking about what I need to think about when househunting this time around. What I thought made the perfect house before as a single professional isn’t necessarily what’s best for my little guy. I’ve tried to think about our needs now, as he enters his toddler years and later on when he gets ready to start kindergarten. Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess.
After conducting a very informal poll (read endless conversations with my mom and several close friends), here are the five considerations that top my list:
1. Neighborhood – In an ideal world, we would move into a neighborhood with toddler swings in the trees, BOB’s on the front porch, and toys strewn about the yard. The idea of being able to go on walks and having playdates with other moms and babes without getting in the car appeals to me. I’ve been driving up and down streets, marking the ones that seem to have more kids living on them and families who spend time outdoors. Moving onto a street where there is a lot of porch-sitting going on seems like it would make meeting the neighbors an easy task.
2. Good Schools – Good schools top my list of househunting criteria, both for Baby T’s elementary school days and for the potential resale value. When I was in elementary school, I envied the kids who walked or rode their bike. As a parent, I would love to start the day walking with my little guy to school each morning.
3. Commute – Burning up the limited awake time my little guy and I spend together commuting, really frustrates me. And I’m not the only one frustrated – Baby T makes his discontent known, and so far no amount of car snacks, bottles or toys can make car time more enjoyable for him. We currently spend 30 minutes commuting to work and daycare (conveniently they are located side-by-side). This adds up to one hour each and every day that I’m not outside playing with Baby T. Luckily, there are several neighborhoods within a few miles of work, so hopefully are next commute will be shorter.
4. Things To Do - Are there playgrounds, libraries, ice cream shops and parks within walking distance of the front yard? Having fun things nearby will only become more important as Baby T starts toddling. I also like the idea of being able to fit in an outing between his nap schedule.
5. Yard – In the mountain town I live in, lots of houses are perched on top of steep hills. When I think about my little guy learning how to walk, and later learning how to ride a bike, I imagine he’ll avoid some major scraps and bruises with a flatter learning terrain. I also want at least enough yard that he has place to play, we can garden, and a patio to eat outside during the warmer months.
What considerations would be most important in a househunting for you and your family?