This post is also available in: French
You want to do what’s best for you and your family, but you’re not sure where to start. Maybe you’re unhappy with the house you live in. If you’ve recently added children or pets to the family, it’s not uncommon to feel like you’ve outgrown your home. If so, it’s time to find a new home – and this guide will help you.
Common Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Home
Firstly, the house seems smaller than it used to be. Maybe that’s because the kids are older. Or you have rooms for hobbies that you didn’t have when you first moved in. Another scenereo is that one or both of your parents moved in with you.
It might also be that the house is falling apart, and you and your partner don’t feel like shelling out the money necessary to repair everything. Alternatively, the neighbors could be getting on your last nerve and you need to move somewhere with nicer people.
Perhaps your neighborhood is changing. Schools are declining, neighbors are no longer friendly, and your children have no friends to play with. Or, you don’t have any children (or they’re all grown and moved) and are surrounded by families with kids.
Whatever the reason for moving, finding a new neighborhood and home where your family can thrive can be just what you need to change your lives for the better. It can also be challenging, so let’s go over the best ways for you and your family to find a new home.
How to Find the Right Neighborhood or Community
Now that you feel you’ve outgrown your home, ask:
What Do You and Your Family Need?
Before you begin your search, consider what needs your family has and what it needs. That involves asking more detailed questions, such as:
- Do you have children or are you planning to have children?
- Are there any parks or recreation centers nearby? Stores, restaurants, etc.?
- What is your current neighborhood or community missing?
- What features do you want to avoid?
- Which schools are nearby, and how are they?
- Do you need somewhere quiet, or is a busy neighborhood okay?
- Do you want something with new homes available? Or would you prefer older homes
- How close do you want to be to your neighbors: best friends or distant cousins?
By identifying what your family needs in a new neighborhood, you’ll have a better idea of what to look for when you begin your search. Be sure to include everyone’s needs, not just your own; then no one feels left out of the process.
Keep in mind too that no matter what neighborhood your family eventually decides on, not everyone will likely get everything they want, unfortunately. However, as long as everyone is on the same page and can compromise, you’ll be able to find a new home for the whole family to enjoy.
How to Search for Neighborhoods
Search Online after Outgrown Your Home
These days you can find information about anything you want, including neighborhoods. Pull up your search engine of choice and search for neighborhoods in the prospective city. There are even specific online sources designed to help you find information about cities and neighborhoods.
Check Crime Rates
One very important thing to look into is the crime rate for the city or community you plan to move to. If the crime rate is high there, that neighborhood might not be the safest choice for you and family. Especially if you have kids.
So, make sure you search online for info about crime and safety in the community now that you’ve outgrown your home. Additionally, you can call the local sheriff’s office. They’ll be happy to talk to you about the community and let you know if it’s safe for your family.
Research Schools Nearby
If you have kids, giving them a great education is a priority. Therefore, that’s the next thing to focus on when searching for a new neighborhood. Look at the schools nearby and figure out which ones are zoned for the area you’re looking to move to. If you plan on homeschooling, also look for any homeschool groups in the area and decide if they work well with your style of schooling.
Take a Drive and Visit the Neighborhood
Once you’ve done your online search and made a list of prospective neighborhoods, the next step is to visit each one in person. Visit at different times a day and drive around to get a feel for the community at any given time.
As you visit neighborhoods on your list, also consider each community’s personality. Walk the streets and meet with residents. Depending on what you’re looking for, decide whether or not this area be a good fit for your family.
Outgrown Your Home? Finding the Right New House
As you’re researching neighborhoods, you’ll want to keep in mind the kind of home that will suit your family. Do you need a two- or three-story property with extra rooms and a big backyard? Or, something smaller? If anyone in your family has physical or mental challenges, you’ll want to consider finding a home that can accommodate them well too.
Next, check listings in the areas of interest and talk to real estate agents for those areas. The right agent will take your needs to heart knowing you’ve outgrown your home. Based on what they hear, they’ll suggest and show you suitable homes.
What about Homeowners Associations?
Here’s something that many people don’t think about when searching for a new home or community: the homeowners association (HOA). The last thing you want is to find the right home but have to live according to a homeowners association with unrealistic rules and expensive fees.
The reality is that about 1 in 5 Americans move into a neighborhood with an HOA. And you could be one of them now that you’ve outgrown your home and are looking for a new one.
What to Know about Homeowners Associations
So, here are a few suggestions for what to look for when investigating homeowners associations:
- Rules and Regulations – Get a copy of the HOA rules and read it to find out what is and isn’t allowed. After all, these rules can impact your family’s lifestyle. For instance, some HOAs won’t allow fences around the property. If you have kids or pets that could be a deal breaker for you. Have your heart set on raising chickens in the backyard? Find out before you move if the HOA allows it.
- Amenities (pool, playground, etc.) – Find out what amenities are available to the community, and how well they’re managed. If you have children, you might want a community pool and playground. For dogs, you’ll probably want a park where you can take them for a walk or playtime. If you work remotely and need a quiet spot, a business centre is handy. Lastly, keep in mind that whether or not you use the available amenities, you’ll still pay for them in your HOA dues (yearly or monthly) now that you’ve outgrown your home.
- Financial Management – Lastly, take a look at how the HOA manages the dues they receive from those who live in the community, and if your family would be able to keep up with the required amount. Review any available financial statements too.
Outgrown Your Home: How to Choose the Right Realtor
In a previous section, I briefly discussed talking with a realtor about available listings and how the right agent will help you find what you need. But, what do you look for in a realtor? And, how do you decide if they’re the right one to help you find a great single family home?
Look at Their Reviews
The best way to find an excellent real estate agent when you’ve outgrown your home is by reading reviews left for them by previous clients. Did they keep clients interests and needs in mind? Were they honest and approachable? Did they communicate well? Answers to all of these questions can become clear when reading a realtor’s reviews.
Make Sure the Agent is Licensed
Along with reading reviews and talking with previous clients, make sure that the real estate agent you’re looking into is licensed, has the right credentials (CRS, ABR, or SRES), and doesn’t have any disciplinary actions on their record. You can check all of these things by checking with the state’s regulatory body.
What is Their Experience?
You want to find someone who is actively in the area of interest too. Why? They’ll know best what homes to show you that meet your needs and are in your price range. Someone who has been out of the business for many years, on the other hand, will re-learn on you and, unless you’re willing to take that chance, it may not be ideal for you.
Conclusions on Having Outgrown Your Home
Looking for a new property after your family has outgrown your home doesn’t have to be stressful. Figure out what you need in a neighborhood and home, then take the time to do the necessary research. Consider everything, from the homeowners association to available schools, crime rate and safety, the people who live there, and available realtors.
Lastly, decide as a family what you’re willing to compromise on and what are must-haves. Then you’ll be well on your way to finding a home where everyone can be happy, healthy, and safe.
Do you have a homeowners association where you live? What did you learn the last time you moved that you would keep in mind if you move again?
This post is also available in: French