When my military husband and I bought our home in Colorado Springs three years ago, we were childless and spent lots of time outside the house. So, our requirements for our home were pretty simple—a modern look, an office space for me to work out of, and proximity to my husband’s job. We also ended up loving our home’s large basement (lots of party potential) and lack of a backyard (no landscaping to keep up).
But this summer, when looking for a home to rent in Los Angeles, we had two-year-old twins. So, we found ourselves looking at houses with a whole new set of eyes. Things we hadn’t even thought about when looking for our last home were suddenly super important to us, and things that had been important to us weren’t so necessary anymore. We also chose to live farther away from my husband’s new job—and further inland from the beach—than we would have if we didn’t have kids, just to be in a safer neighborhood and get more space for our money.
This got me thinking—while we all have different preferences and requirements in a home, there are certain things that all parents might want to think about while looking for a new home. Here are some of them:
1. Outdoor space: My twins love to be outdoors, but they also like to run in opposite directions. That makes taking them to the park difficult when I am alone with them. Therefore, I wanted a home with even a small enclosed backyard for the boys to play in. Here in the South Bay, that’s hard to come by. So, if a potential home didn’t have an enclosed yard, I immediately checked its proximity to parks and assessed how safe the parks looked. If you are looking for a home in an apartment building/complex or in a gated community, see if it has a playground—many of them do!
2. Bedroom locations: Many of the homes we looked at in this area had reverse floor plans, meaning that the second and third bedrooms were on the main level, while the living spaces and master bedroom were on the upper level. We would not have minded this if we didn’t have kids, but we just didn’t feel comfortable having our toddlers sleep on the first floor—right near the front door—while we were upstairs. And while both the boys’ bedroom and our bedroom were on the main level of our Colorado home, their room was all the way in the front of the house, near the entrance, while ours was in the back. That always scared us a little as well. So this time around, we looked for a house with all of the bedrooms on the second level, or one where the boys’ room was not right near the front door.
3. The neighborhood feel: Our Colorado home was in a community in which many retired people lived. That was fine for us at first, but when the boys got older we wished they had neighbor kids to play with. So this time, we looked for other families on the blocks of our potential homes. When we looked at the house we ultimately rented, there were kids riding their bikes up and down the street and a toddler playing in front of the house across the street. Score!
4. The kitchen: Before I had kids and I’d watch House Hunters on HGTV, I’d hear parent after parent say they wanted an “open kitchen.” I had no idea what an open kitchen even was. Now I know—it’s when you can see into the family room/living room from the kitchen so you can keep an eye on your kids while you cook. Neither my Colorado home nor this home has an open kitchen, but I sure do see the value in it. I’ve also had friends tell me how helpful it is to have a kitchen with a window overlooking the backyard so they could watch their kids play outside while they cooked.
5. The flooring: Before kids, we were all about hardwood floors and were bummed that our Colorado home had nearly wall-to-wall carpeting. (Even our master bathroom had carpeting!) But once the twins began walking and climbing—and thus falling constantly—we sure were thankful for the soft carpeting! Our new home has hardwood floors throughout much of the main level, and we ended up buying a large throw rug for the boys’ play area. Go figure!
So, those are just a few of the things we found ourselves considering when looking for our first home as parents.
What do you look for in a new home? Leave a comment and let us know!