How To Buy A House With A Family In Mind

couple watching their baby from the couch

Finding a family-friendly house is all about compromise.

For four years, our one-bedroom condo felt tight.

But it was all we could afford at the time and, well, it worked. After all, we were only two people (plus three totally-not-allowed cats). My desk was sandwiched between a litter box and a paper shredder, with the TV a mere three feet away. At times, I felt the clutter would swallow me whole. But we were still young. We wouldn't be here forever.

Now, with plans to start a family, we're finally planning that long-awaited upgrade. For years, I've been daydreaming about my own office. Wraparound bookshelves. Window seats. Kitchen islands. For years, my husband and I have been fighting about location in an effort to reconcile his preference for the familiar with my wanderlust, his location-dependent job with my desire to have a location-independent career.

But with plans to procreate, it's not just about us anymore. Is There A Perfect Time To Get Pregnant?

This past weekend, I generated a list of all of the cities within a 27-mile radius of Manhattan, color-coding it to differentiate areas with lower crime rates from those with higher ones, deleting towns that we were priced out of, that didn't have convenient public transportation, or that didn't seem "us." Then, we began driving around.

It's amazing what you notice when you have kids on the brain. For instance, we had to ask ourselves:

Is it on a busy street? It's amazing how quickly I've shifted to neurotic mother mode, especially considering that I'm not yet pregnant. Narrow, winding streets make me nervous as well, and I've crossed an entire, perfectly charming town off my list because of them.

Is there enough greenspace? While we've certainly longed for an outdoor seating area (with a hot tub) for quite some time, I've never considered the lack of lawn a bad thing. No need to mow! But now, I feel that a grassy, green backyard would be nice for a young child.