How Kids Drive Long-Term Property Plans - March 2021
March 13, 2021 / Written by Rich Harvey
To say that having children changes your life in virtually every single way imaginable is a massive understatement.
Starting a family is one of the biggest decisions you and your partner can make, and it comes with a whole host of joyous outcomes, as well as some life-altering consequences.
How you think, socialise, prioritise, entertain, spend, travel, love and live is turned on its head.
The impact on your property choices is profound. But they’re impacts that often aren’t appreciated by would-be buyers until well after the fact. That lack of foresight can be costly and painful to rectify – even for those couples who don’t have kids now and won’t for some time.
Whether you already have kids, you want to have them in the near future, or you’re sure it’s a long, long way down the track for you, there are a number of things you should consider.
For one, the location where you’re searching for property becomes very different – and absolutely crucial – when children are part of the equation.
What kind of school do you want to send them to? Is that school within the local catchment? If not, are the alternatives up to scratch? I’ve met people over the years who didn’t factor this in and eventually found themselves in a suburb with a dearth of options, requiring the family to uproot their lives and move.
Keeping this in mind now can save you time, exhausting effort and money.
Will your child attend a different high school? This is common in Sydney, where the cost of private schooling can be prohibitive. Many parents send their kids to a local primary school and then shift them across for their senior years.
If this is your intention, or could be down the track, you need to make sure where you live is conveniently located to the high school of your choice. For the first little while, it could be that you need good road links to be able to drive your son or daughter to and from school, while convenient and safe public transport links for when they can commute themselves are also worth considering.
Another thing that’s overlooked is your child’s future social networks. Being in proximity to their schoolmates and their families is important, so if you live a million miles from their school, you might also be a significant distance from their friends. This might either limit their access to crucial development opportunities… or see you spend half of your life in the car playing taxi driver.
For all stages of your child’s life, being in a quiet and safe area is important. Well-lit streets, peaceful neighbourhoods and kid-friendly facilities like parks, sports oval, a local swimming pool and bike tracks are a must.
The last thing you want is a young child who wants to ride their bike or play with their friends, but you find yourself living in a busy and dangerous area.
If you’ve got kids now, think about the kinds of extracurricular activities they take part in. Do you have multiple places to be on a Saturday and Sunday for their sports, dance, gym or academia pursuits? Is the area you want to search in within easy drive of these locations?
As with many parts of life when you’re a parent, you might find that many of the location choices in your real estate hunt are dictated by your little ones. Not factoring these in could make your life much busier and more inconvenient than it needs to be!
It’s crucial to consider the type of dwelling you’re looking for when you have children or if they’re part of your long-term life plan.
I’ve met many young couples who’ve started a family and quickly realised that their current home isn’t fit for purpose. It might be a chic but small inner-city apartment or ageing and dangerous terrace house. Often, it’s a case of a couple and their child rapidly outgrowing their home.
In either case, having to pack up and move with young kids can be stressful. Moving is an enormous enough task without ankle-biters in tow.
Considering the type of home for your family now, as well as into the future, can avoid expensive headaches down the track.
Think about the floorplan of a home you’re looking at. Will your kids be able to have their own room? Is there space for their toys, musical equipment, sports gear and other bits and pieces that children typically accumulate?
Is there flexibility to change and adapt your floorplan over time as your children grow up and their needs shift? And what about access to outdoor space?
As with anything involving kids – and real estate, obviously – your budgetary considerations are different when little ones are part of the equation.
Firstly, if you’re planning on having kids sooner rather than later, think about how this might impact your household finances. The costs of raising a child, including biggies like childcare and education, could see that budget you’ve drafted to buy a home become dramatically outdated very soon.
Get an idea of what your cash flow is likely to be when bub arrives, and for the following years, to make sure you’re not biting off more than you can chew.
Secondly, if you plan to upgrade your family home down the track, think about whether that’ll be something that’s financially possible. Many people will count on the fact that their current home, or the one they’re buying now, will appreciate enough in value to be able to fund the next place.
That might be the case, but it’s not a guarantee.
If your intention is to buy now and add value, or target suburbs with good medium- to long-term value growth prospects, choose your target areas very carefully. Even in an up market, not all Sydney suburbs will see an adequate uptick in prices. Some might even slide backwards.
No matter your current or future situation, or what you intend your family home now and down the track, do your homework and get good advice.
A qualified, independent and experienced buyers' agent with exceptional contacts and a broad professional network can help you to consider your current and long-term circumstances, your needs and want, and your budget to seek our areas that fit the bill.
They can then search within those suburbs for a property that’s suitable now and into the distant future. Best of all, they can negotiate with the agent directly, on your behalf, to get the deal done.
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