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Starting a Family? Neighborhood Features to Look For.


An area geared to young professionals differs greatly from a family-friendly neighborhood. Learn what to look for when you’re starting a family.

Here’s how to find the great perks for families in your next neighborhood.

1. School District Information

The school district you choose is one of the weightiest decisions for many parents. Of course, you want a school that offers a high-functioning environment for learning.  Once you spot an area you like, visit the neighborhoods that feed into that school. Ratings are based on test score and although a good starting point, test scores are not the only factor families use to determine the right school district for them. Once you spot an area you like, visit the neighborhoods that feed into that school.Visit the school in person as well if you can.

2. Crime Rates

From the moment you become a parent, your job is to keep your child safe. You baby-proof the home, maintain regular doctor visits, and keep your child out of harm’s way. Searching for a neighborhood with a low crime rate ranks right up there. You might assume that a rural area is safer than the suburbs, which is safer than the city. But that isn’t always the case.

You can check out the crime risk of any neighborhood by looking on line or calling your local police dept and asking for it. You want to feel safe in your neighborhood, especially when you have children.

3. Strong Community Network

When you’re just starting a family, of course you’ll keep your childless friends. But face it: your interests are suddenly quite a bit different. While all you want to do is talk about the best ways to get your baby to sleep through the night, all they want to do is stay out all night (and sleep in the next morning!). So you’ll need to build a new network for yourself and for your children.

If this tops your list of priorities, look for evidence of other families while you’re on the house hunt. Are children playing on the sidewalks? Bikes or wagons in the front yard? Families out together for a walk? All of these signs point to a thriving neighborhood for families — and lots of potential friends for you and your kids.

4. Streets Drivers Use As shortcuts

Pay attention to the kinds of streets in each neighborhood. If a neighborhood has lots of long streets that drivers can use as shortcuts during rush hour, your peaceful neighborhood could resemble a NASCAR track twice a day. To avoid that, look for streets that are horseshoe-shaped or are cul-de-sacs. Kids love to play outside in the street with other kids. They can’t do that if cars are barreling through the neighborhood at high speed. Finding a neighborhood that’s off a high-traffic route, especially one with curves that will slow cars down, is always going to be a better option for kids.

5. Sidewalks

Don’t discount the unassuming sidewalk, an important family-friendly neighborhood feature. The ability to stroll the baby around the neighborhood at a moment’s notice can’t be overstated. As the kids grow up you can use the sidewalk for learning how to ride a bike or showing off their artistic talents with sidewalk chalk.

6. Parks or Playgrounds

When you’re looking for a family-friendly neighborhood, you want to actually see families out and about. If there aren’t any neighborhood parks or playgrounds, that might be challenging. Parks provide the perfect place to get to know other families in the area. Park play dates need not be scheduled, as you’ll inevitably run into someone you know at the neighborhood park!