When you have a young family or are planning to start one soon, the things that once were considered priorities when seeking out a home likely will have shifted. For example, proximity to bars, restaurants, and nightlife has become less important than school districts, crime rates and a sense of community. Here, Trulia tells you six things to seek out if you want great family-friendly amenities in your next neighborhood.
1. School districts
One of the biggest decisions for many parents when making a move is where their kids will attend school. Once you spot an area you like, visit the neighborhoods that feed into that school. School ratings are a good starting point, but they aren’t the only factor families use to determine the right district for them. Also visit the school in person if you can. In some areas, the most popular and high-performing schools are oversubscribed and overcrowded. Don’t just ask if the schools are good; ask if they usually have room for all the students who want to attend.
2. Crime rates
Searching for a neighborhood with a low crime rate ranks right up there with baby-proofing your home, maintaining regular doctor visits and keeping your child out of harm’s way. You might assume that a rural area is safer than the suburbs, which is safer than the city. But that isn’t always the case. Check the crime risk of any neighborhood by using the crime layer in Trulia Maps. Here, you can explore the safety of an area, down to the street level.
3. Strong community network
You’ll likely want to build a network for yourself and for your children. If this tops your list of priorities, look for evidence of other families while you’re on the house hunt. Are children playing on the sidewalks? Bikes or wagons in the front yard? Families out together for a walk? All of these signs point to a thriving neighborhood for families—and lots of potential friends for you and your kids.
4. Streets drivers use as shortcuts
Pay attention to the kinds of streets in each neighborhood. If an area has lots of long streets that drivers can use as shortcuts during rush hour, your peaceful neighborhood could resemble a NASCAR track twice a day. To avoid that, look for streets that are horseshoe-shaped or are cul-de-sacs. Finding a neighborhood that’s off a high-traffic route, especially one with curves that will slow cars down, always will be a better option for kids.
Sidewalks are an important family-friendly neighborhood feature. The ability to stroll the baby around the neighborhood at a moment’s notice can’t be overstated, and as kids grow up, the sidewalk can be used for learning how to ride a bike or showing off artistic talents with sidewalk chalk.
6. Parks or playgrounds
When you’re looking for a family-friendly neighborhood, you want to actually see families out and about. If there aren’t any neighborhood parks or playgrounds, that might be challenging. When you are starting a family, parks provide the perfect place to get to know other families in the area, and when the kids get older they’re the perfect venue for recreation and socializing.