8 Things to Consider When Buying a Family Homeby Caroline Hughes
Getting a new family home is such an exciting time. Whether this is your first home together, or you’re thinking of moving to somewhere bigger, it’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll make. To help you work out exactly what you want, we’ve put together this list of top tips.
1. How much space do you really need?
There’s three types of space you want to think about. The first is living space. How many rooms do you need for everyone (particularly as your kids grow up and start to want their own space)? Consider how you use the rooms. Are you really sociable, so prefer to have large, open plan areas where everyone can be together? Or do you need some quiet spaces where you can shut out the world every now and then.
Next up is space for your stuff. There’s some crazy law of attraction that says as your family grows, the amount of stuff you magically accumulate grows by 6x every year! Toys and clothes and school supplies and bikes and paddling pools....So think about where all this stuff goes - in the loft, or the garage - how much storage space do you think you’ll need?
Thirdly, it’s outdoor space. It’s amazing how this becomes a priority once the kids are old enough to run around and you want to be able to chuck them outside to play! How important is it to you to have your own garden, or are you ok with being near a park or playground?
2. What’s in your location triangle?
For most of us, we’re trying to create that perfect triangle between being close enough to work, to our families and to good schools. Although sometimes it’s less of a triangle and more like a melted ice-cream shape.
There’s always compromise on location, so think about what’s important to you. With more people working from home, maybe you can be a little further from work and closer to your family (assuming that’s what you want!).
3. Speaking of schools...
Giving yourself options when it comes to childcare and schools will take a whole heap of stress out of the first 16 years of parenting! Pinning your location to a single school is a gamble, unless you’re confident that your child will get their first choice place. You’re ideally looking for an area where there are several good Ofsted rated primary schools with nurseries and remember to register your kids as early as possible to get them on the list!
4. Room to grow
Moving house, whilst exciting, is also a lot of hassle. So when looking at homes to buy, think about whether they give you enough space to grow. Could you extend into the loft, or into the garden? It’s often cheaper to stay put and extend than it is to move, particularly if you love where you live. It also adds value to your home if you eventually did want to move.
5. How much should you spend?
Whilst it can be really tempting to stretch yourselves on the biggest home you can afford, that normally comes with a pretty hefty mortgage attached. Plus, a bigger home also means bigger energy bills as you have to heat and light the thing! Your dream situation is to have enough space to be comfortable, but enough money left over after mortgage payments and bills that you can still enjoy life. Lifetise has a great calculator that works out how much you can afford and the best locations for your budget.
6. Is this “The One”?
Are you looking for a forever home, or just a stepping stone? Being clear on whether this is your family home for life, or just for the early years makes it much easier for you to narrow down your search. Plenty of families move a couple of times when the kids are younger - for money reasons, work reasons. If you know that this is a 3 year place for you, you’ll be more flexible on your criteria and find house-hunting much more enjoyable.
7. Ready to move in or a “doer-upper”?
Loads of us are drawn to the idea of buying a home that’s a bit faded and tired, or crumbling, where we can strip it back and remake it into something spectacular. It’s maybe the curse of Grand Designs! It’s a lovely dream, but ask yourself if it should stay a fantasy. If you’re choosing between one home that is in a ‘ready to move into’ state, and another that has amazing potential, but currently no working plumbing, ask yourself if this is really the time for such a big project. If you have a baby or a young family, can you cope with months of living in one room? How do you toddler-proof a building site? There’s a joy in being able to move into a home where you don’t have to immediately do any work to it. You’ve got enough on your plate as it is!
8. City, suburbs, or country
It used to be that you had to choose one. Either you lived in the hustle and bustle of the city, or you moved out to the ‘burbs, or even further out to the country. Now the boundaries have blurred a little and you can often get a little bit of everything that you want. If you’re a lifelong city dweller, used to having everything on your doorstep, then you might want to consider moving to a market town, which will give you the cafes and restaurants you crave, within a suburban setting. If you’re a suburban-ite thinking about going rural, maybe look at villages on the edges of larger towns, so you get the best of both worlds. Close enough to the shops if you need that fix, but with peace and open fields all around you.