If you are preparing to start a family, you probably have begun thinking about whether or not your home will be able to properly accommodate them. Your current living situation, possibly a one bedroom condo, may have been perfect for your early adult life, but probably will not be able to accommodate life with a family. According to a study conducted in 2017 by the National Association of Realtors, 29% of people who buy a home at age 36 or younger are moving because of major life changes, such as preparing to start a family. In addition, 37% of those who move and sell their old home do so because they have outgrown it.
Preparing to start a family and moving into a new home is an exciting time, but also a stressful one that includes many decisions that will impact the next chapter of your life. These decisions will impact your budget, the size of your home, and the type of childhood your kids will have. These decisions will depend on what kind of life you envision for you and your child, from the size of your neighborhood, backyard, kitchen, bedrooms, and whether or not you will have a family pet. All of these factors should be considered when preparing to start a family. Other factors to consider are location, legalities, and timing. Here are a few more tips on how to begin preparing to start a family.
When preparing to start a family and trying to find that perfect family home, it is important to know what you can and cannot afford. To set a price range, realistically evaluate the total cost of buying, your personal finances, and your borrowing options.
You also need to take your future into account. If you are purchasing a home before you have kids, will both parents be working or just one? Then, you can set your price range based on your amount of income. Moving into a new home will also likely alter your monthly budget. A larger home costs more to cool and heat, more to maintain, and may come with an increase in property tax. After seeing more use, if your air conditioning needs a tune-up, contact a local home air conditioner contractor.
To determine how much you may be able to afford for a new home, financial experts use the 28/36 rule, which is also used by banks and other mortgage lenders when screening potential candidates. The first number refers to your total housing expenses, which should not exceed 28% of your gross monthly income. The second number refers to your total debt payments, which should not exceed 36% of your gross monthly income.
If you are selling your current home to help pay for the purchase of your new family home, do not forget to factor that amount of equity in. This amount will be crucial to determining what you can afford. Also consider the unexpected costs of moving into a new home, such as the repairs that seemingly come out of nowhere, like a sewer line repair.
Once you have your budget set, you can begin preparing to start a family by looking for that perfect home. If this is your first time buying a home, this may be exciting, but also an overwhelming experience. To help you along the way, create a checklist of needs and wants for your family.
If you are preparing to start a family of three, a home with one or two bedrooms may be right for you. As a matter of fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics says to keep your infant’s crib in your own bedroom for the first six months. After that, they can move into their own room, which will make a second bedroom desirable, but albeit not required. If you are looking to upgrade your current home to accommodate more family members, bathroom remodeling contractors, general contractors, and building contractors are available to help.
If you are planning on a second or third kid, at least three bedrooms are recommended, if this fits your budget. If you are looking to renovate your current space, residential painters can help.
If you have teenagers, you will probably need a house with as many bedrooms as you have family members. This includes a room you, for each teen, as well as an additional room for hanging out with friends. Other than immediate family, think about some other situations your home might have to accommodate. If you regularly work from home, you may need a room with a door that is solely an at home office. If you need to host family from out of town, you will probably need a guest bedroom with an additional bathroom. If you are looking to add on an additional bathroom to your home, contact a plumbing company or local plumber.
A Child Friendly Home
Once you have determined what size home will be best for your family, the next step in preparing to start a family is making that home a child-friendly home. When looking at homes, keep referring back to that checklist of needs, and wants for your family. It is helpful to include a few kid-friendly features that you are looking for.
Backyard – Children love to play outside. A sizable fenced in yard is preferable for a family.
Storage – Children need room for their stuff. If you have a baby or a toddler, you will need a storage room for paraphernalia such as car seats and baby strollers. As your children get older, they will require more storage for various toys, sports equipment, and bikes. A garage with an overhead garage door works great as a storage space. Do not forget about having sufficient closet space for clothes and additional toys.
Stairs – If you are still in the baby or toddler stage, the stairs need to be able to be gated for safety. An open staircase may be visually appealing, but not the safest option for small children or toddlers. Make sure other surfaces are safe, too. Consider swapping out hard floors for carpet. For the best prices on carpet, check online or at a local carpet liquidator.
Laundry – A family produces a lot of dirty laundry. Consider the location of the washer and dryer. If they are located in the basement, making the trek up and down the stairs several times a day might become tiring. However, it is also best if the laundry room is not next to a child’s room because of the loud rumbling or buzzing sounds. That local plumber can come in handy here.
An open floor plan – Many consider an open floor plan to be the most family-friendly. An open floor plan allows parents to cook dinner in the kitchen while keeping an eye on the kids who are playing in the family room. This could also apply to any home with a kitchen that overlooks the living room. A home with open spaces provides a roomier feel that also helps your family feel closer to one another.
Safety hazards – Any home can be childproofed with cabinet stops and outlet covers, so be on the lookout for other features that could be a safety hazard for kids. For instance, a swimming pool might legally need to be equipped with an alarm of fencing. An outdated electoral system could also be a safety hazard for small children. Fire alarms are another safety feature you should ensure are functioning properly.
If your objective is to find a perfect home for your family, location will play a huge role. Ideally, you want a safe neighborhood with good schools. However, this may be tough to determine while preparing to start a family. Due to the Fair Housing Act, real estate agents are not allowed to reveal information regarding crime, public school ratings, or neighborhood demographics. Therefore you will have to find this information out yourself.
If you are planning on sending your kids to public school, there are many databases online for school ratings, or you can simply check the website for the school district you are considering. Low student to teacher ratio and high standardized test scores are usually the hallmarks of a good school district. Other factors you may want to consider are the condition and age of the school district’s buildings.
An easy way to find out if the neighborhood you are considering is family-friendly is to drive around and look for other families with children. Clues might be children playing outdoors on swing sets or a roll off dumpster rental.
If you are not currently married to your partner and wish to buy a house together, you may want to start thinking about how you will legally structure ownership.
There are usually three options, although these options may vary based on your state of residence. They are sole ownership, joint tenancy, and tenants in common.
Sole ownership – In this arrangement, only one name is recorded on the deed. This is a common option for couples where only one person has good credit. However, one major downside to his arrangement is that only one partner has full legal ownership of the house.
Joint tenancy arrangement – This option is very similar to how a married couple would purchase a home together. This arrangement gives each person half ownership of the home. Therefore, both people must agree to sign and sell the house, or one party could buy the other out. In the event of a separation, only 44% of parents receive full child support.
Tenants in common – This last option allows for a couple to unequally own a home. This means one party can own 25% while the other owns the other 75%. This is a good option if the financial contributions are uneven or if one person has a higher credit score. This option assigns equity to each party equal to their financial contributions, such as a down payment or mortgage payment.
Timing is largely subjective when it comes to preparing to start a family. Many couples move into a family ready home before they have children, while they are pregnant, while some wait until they have multiple children. There is not one single right way to go about this. It is about deciding what timing is right for you and your family.
Moving Before Having Kids
Purchasing a home before having kids allows you to take care of moving without having to simultaneously worry about being a first-time parent, or having to worry about how your children will handle the move. Buying a home before you have kids also allows you to take your time when selling your current house and wait for the best offer.
One downside to purchasing a family ready home before having kids is you might not yet know what parenting decisions you will make, such as what your family needs in a home and what your parenting philosophy will be. Other factors include whether you plan to send your kids to public school, private, or homeschool. These decisions will greatly impact your purchasing of a home. Sometimes, it is hard to plan in this respect until you are actively making these decisions.
Moving While You Are Pregnant
If you wait until you are pregnant to purchase a family ready home, you may have a better understanding of what your family needs out of a house. According to a study conducted by McMaster University, waiting until you are pregnant will be especially beneficial to you if you wait until the nesting instinct kicks in.
During the third trimester of pregnancy, parents get an intense urge to get the home ready for their new baby. You can take advantage of this as you get the home settled for the baby to arrive. However, one downside to this approach is that moving can be physically difficult and taxing for a pregnant person. Moving is also very stressful, which may just add to the stress that expecting parents are already feeling.
Moving After You Have Kids
The last option is to wait until after you have kids to move into that family ready home. This allows you to take some time to settle in with your new baby, understand what your families’ needs will be, and develop a routine. You might discover that you want your bedrooms to be adjacent or adjoined to better hear your kids at night, rather than a master suite on an entirely different floor.
However, looking for a home and moving can also be stressful once you have young kids who tire very easily. Showings may also interfere with your children’s nap routine if you are selling your current home. In this situation, you may spend your entire maternity leave on moving, which ideally should be used for bonding. Moving into your perfect family home might be extra challenging with young children, so you should take this into account when making your decision.