Finding the right home for you and your family
Above all, your new home should make your family feel happy, safe and secure. Here’s a quick guide to what to look for in a home that fits your family’s lifestyle and will suit your current and future needs.
Know your must-haves
Once you start to think about what’s important to you and your family, you’ll know what you can’t live without. Keep a list of features you’d like your new home to have, and decide whether they’re non-negotiable or nice-to-have.
Depending on your family’s needs and what you’ve factored into your affordability, your must-haves may be very different to other buyers.
Large outdoor spaces – Is a big backyard for the kids and pets to play a must-have? Or, could you settle for a smaller area in a more affordable location that still suits your outdoor needs?
Thoughtful layout – Would you still like to be able to entertain guests, even if you have young children in your home? Do you need to keep a watchful eye on your young bub at all times? These kind of questions can determine if you need two living areas, or if you should prioritise an open plan space.
Secure car parking – Getting bub safely in and out of the car can require quite a bit of space. Think about the size and security of your parking space and whether it’s suited to your needs.
Storage – Having a family means accumulating a lot of stuff – think decorations, toys, furniture, books and extra clothes. If the homes you’re looking at don’t currently have ample storage, investigate ways you can install your own.
Kitchen – Like every room in your new home, it needs to be able to cope with a growing family. The kitchen is no exception. If you and your family are avid cooks, the size and capability of your kitchen should match this.
Bathroom – Bathtime is an important part of raising healthy, happy kids. If one of your must-haves is a bathroom with ample space, you’ll need to factor that into your purchase or renovation plans.
Stairs – For young children, stairs can present a safety risk. Similarly, if you’re looking to hold on to the property into your later years, or you envision elderly relatives staying with you, stairs could present significant mobility issues.
Limited room to expand – Even if your potential home isn’t quite right yet, it should have the potential to be transformed into your ideal family paradise. If renovations are a no-go for your prospective property, keep in mind the property you buy will be the one you’re stuck with.
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Spend time getting to know the area and location
Test 1: Look closely at affordability
Affordability isn’t the only test of whether a property is right for you. However, affordability will often dictate the areas where you can buy and your proximity to local amenities.
Before you get your heart set on an area, do your research. Learn more about the suburb, what it has to offer and, perhaps most tellingly, what properties are selling for locally. Knowing what to expect will also help you stay in control of the buying and negotiating process.
Test 2: Try out the location
If you’re moving from one area of a familiar city to another, you may need to adjust your commute and regular habits. Trying out a location can help you work out any drawbacks or adjustments you’ll have to make.
- Road test the commute – Your new location may require you to change your regular commute. Trying it out before you make the move will help ensure you’re happy with your decision.
- Know your proximity to the things and people you love – Ideally, your perfect home will be in an area that is close to family, friends and favourite amenities.
Test 3: Become a local for the day
Walk around, grab a coffee and, if you can, chat with locals to find out more about the pros and cons of your chosen area.
- Check out the hot spots – Stop into shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. You’ll quickly know if the area has the vibe you’re looking for.
- Explore local amenities – If you’re a fitness junkie, check out the local parks, pools and gyms. Similarly, if community is close to your heart, visit nearby markets and cultural centres.
- Return at different times – It’s worth checking out the area at different times of day and days of the week to get a sense of the changing local scene.
Test 4: Future test your location
You’ve found the perfect home in the ideal location – hopefully you’ll want to stay there for years to come. Before you plant down permanent roots, it’s worth projecting forward and future testing your big purchase.
- Close to good schools – Whether you have kids now, or you’re thinking of having them down the track, proximity to quality schools may play into your location’s appeal.
- Potential area growth – Look out for local real estate market trends. Identifying and buying in areas experiencing higher price growth can help build your wealth when it’s time to sell.
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Get everyone’s input – it’s a home for all your family
- Browse home listings together – Involving your kids with house hunting early will ensure they feel included in the decision making right from the start.
- Be strategic – Avoid taking your young ones to every inspection. Select your top three choices and take them with you to your favourites.
- Make it fun – House hunting can be stressful, but it can also be a lot of fun. If your child is artistic, encourage them to draw what they think the house will look like, from the backyard to their potential new room. This will help them imagine for themselves what life may be like living there.
- Assign roles – To help create an atmosphere of calm during the process, give each child a job to do while house hunting. This could include simple things like counting the number of rooms to more specific tasks such as checking for creaky doors or uncovering hidden cracks or holes.
Use this handy checklist to help you find the perfect home
- Does the number of bedrooms and baths meet your family’s needs now and in the future?
- Is there adequate wardrobe and storage space?
- What’s required for upkeep?
- Is there room to renovate if need be?
- Do you prefer an open plan living area to multiple rooms?
- Is there a garage?
- Is there enough outdoor space for your family’s needs?
- What maintenance will the garden and lawn require?
- Is there adequate security lighting?
- Does the outdoor area meet the needs of your pet(s)?
- Is the neighbourhood family friendly?
- Is there easy access to basic amenities, like schools, transport and supermarkets?
- How far do you need to travel to work or to visit family and friends?
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