One of the wonderful things about searching for a new home in the DMV is that you have an abundance of options. Charming brownstones in Adams Morgan, colonial charm in Alexandria, Virginia, easy coastal access with a larger lot in Bowie, Maryland—the list goes on.
Options are a great thing, as long as you know how to weed out the ones that aren’t for you. But how do you know what’s right for you, and how can you know what you need and what you don’t?
When you have a growing family, there are a few factors that will likely make it easier for you to narrow your options right away.
It should go without saying (but doesn’t) that once you buy, the one thing you cannot change is your home’s location. It might be tempting to push your search a bit further out to get that extra square footage or yard but before you commit, figure out what’s truly realistic for your family.
Traffic is a consideration at any life stage, but when you have a growing family, it becomes even more important—particularly if you’ll need to be reliably on time for daycare pickups or to meet the school bus.
Think of not only what constitutes a feasible daily commute but also in terms of reliability.
Your priorities are likely to be a bit different once kids join the mix than say when you were early in your career. That downtown condo may still be the dream—or an unattached single-family home may be a must-have.
There are beautiful housing options in the D.C. metro, which include condos, townhomes, and single-family homes. Each comes with its own price range, and location undoubtedly factors in as well. Consider if a certain type is a must-have at this stage in life and check yourself against those little things—like noise come bar close or shared walls with neighbors—that may not have previously been an issue, to confirm whether they fit into your future with kids.
Schools and childcare
When you have children, one of the key factors in your home search is likely area schools and childcare. You can find a wealth of information online about individual school ratings and performance, and while certain areas like D.C. proper have some unique processes, most areas will determine your child’s school based on your residence’s location. Do your research and determine if there are specific housing areas you’d like to pursue based on access to certain schools or districts.
Childcare, while an individual choice and not as lengthy of a decision as a K-12 school zone, still factors in. Consider what format you prefer and if there is a must-have curriculum and then ensure any home that you explore would have access.
Proximity to amenities
What are the base amenities you need convenient access to—and what constitutes “convenient” to you? While much of the DMV is within a quick walk or a few-minute drive to major amenities like shopping, groceries, and entertainment, there are outskirt areas that are generally more affordable but less conveniently located. Is instant access a must-have for you or are these kinds of amenities something you don’t mind driving a bit to find?
When you consider buying a home, it’s easy to get swept away by certain features. However, with a growing family, your needs list may look a bit different. Remember that while a home’s structure will remain mostly the same, most of the interior aesthetics can change over time.
Consider that with a growing family, you will likely need additional bedrooms. If a home doesn’t have them, look at potential space, such as an unfinished basement, where you could easily add them.
While that updated all-white kitchen may be beautiful, if a home is less updated but has the extra square footage you need, you may put the square footage on your needs list and do the updated kitchen yourself later.
Bathrooms are always a top consideration, and with a growing family, chances are you’ll want more than one. Consider also how those bathrooms are configured. For example, is a master on-suite a must-have for you, or do you not mind sharing a family bathroom with children?
As you look for your next home for your growing family, there are countless decisions to make. Firm up your must-have list before you begin searching and remember that anything you can easily change (like crown molding or wood floors) is likely something you don’t truly need, whereas things you cannot change—like location or that on-suite—fall into the needs column.