Having somewhere to call home is an important part of putting down roots for your family. Finding the right home for your family is an important decision requiring thoughtful consideration for needs and wants for today and years down the road. Not every family has the same needs, though, and the right home for your family will reflect on what you call family. A single person just getting started on their own will have a different set of requirements than a couple with a few little ones in tow, and even more so, a family of five with the oldest soon to be off to college, and elderly parents needing to downsize. The number of rooms, location, and available features like a spacious yard is wholly dependent on the plans you’re making today.

Five Tips for Buying your First Home

1.) Room to Grow… for both the family and the home itself – A small family today might be a big family tomorrow, so always consider the potential a home has for expansion. Whether you’ll need to convert a home office into a bedroom in the next year or so can make a big impact on the practicality of one home versus another. Building an expansion for another room can be costly, so think of alternative uses for existing space in a home- a large downstairs family room might be fun now, but could serve double-duty as an in-law suite. Consider not only square footage, but also the floorplan of the house. As children get older, they may want a little more privacy with bedrooms located further away from the master suite. A large living room can make hosting family get-togethers a breeze. A separate dining room can be a great opportunity to make sure everyone enjoys some time together for dinner- or become a second home office or additional homeschooling space should the need arise. A growing family can always use a little extra space, but don’t go overboard- too large a home can mean unnecessary expense and upkeep. Outdoor spaces can provide extra space, offering places to enjoy the outdoors and entertain in warmer weather.

2.) Find a Safe Environment – Both the home and the surrounding community should be safe and secure for you and your family. Check public crime rates and utilize sites like Neighborhood Scout to research the area. City settings mean more traffic- both cars and pedestrians, while rural areas can mean concerns of wildlife or expansive wooded areas, as well as offering larger outdoor spaces. A close proximity to hospitals, clinics, and fire stations can help ensure your family’s wellbeing should the need arise.

3.) Schools – If you have children, their education will be a top priority. Consider both public and private options while scouting a home. Long commutes to good schools can add a lot of stress to your weekly schedule. Two helpful sites to start your research are Great Schools and Niche.

4.) Family Lifestyle – Consider the lifestyle you and your family presently enjoy, and what you may require in the future. Gyms, shopping, parks, and restaurants all add value to an area. Close proximity to extended family or close friends can be an invaluable social benefit.

5.) Plan for the future – Seriously think about where you and your family may be 3-5 years down the road. Is your first home going to be a “forever home”, or is it only a stepping-stone for “the next step”? Consider the changes your family might undergo (more children, young adults flying the nest, elderly parents moving in) and try to examine each home through the lens of “what could be”. Is this home big enough should you find yourself in need of an extra bedroom? Is it too far away from a high school?

Buying your family’s first home is more than just buying a house- it’s preparing your family for their future. Consider the needs of all your family members, both today and in the future, and you will be on the right track to making the right decision for a property you’ll be happy to call home.