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House shopping; more than just about the house

For awhile now my husband and I have been looking at houses. Our current home is the house we bought together almost 12 years ago, right before we got married. At that time, my husband’s main criteria for a home was a detached garage and a pool for the dog. Seriously. I mostly wanted a guest room because I had been living by myself in a one bedroom apartment and craved more space. While those items are still important to us (even though we no longer have the dog who loved to swim), as happens when you have kids, our list has grown and our priorities have changed.

So when I say looking at houses, I really mean looking at neighborhoods and schools in an entirely new city (although still in Orange County). Community and education become so important when you have kids.

So why haven’t we moved yet and what will it take for us to pick up and move? A few things. One big one stumbling block is how volatile the housing market is. We’ve found that many of the houses we look at and could see ourselves making our home, end up coming down in price (considerably) a month later so we are wary of making an offer and then paying more then we should have. But another is that we really, really want the neighborhood and school district to be the right fit for us.
I still remember the day we moved into our home. It was just him and I and it was a Sunday. A family that lived kitty-corner came over with their son, who at the time was about 10, to welcome us to the neighborhood. The first question out of the boys mouth was “Do you have any kids my age?”

That question meant nothing to me at the time, but means everything to me now. Although I have so many friends with kids my children’s ages, we don’t live super close to each other so advanced planning is always involved for play-dates. And we just don’t have that many kids in our neighborhood now. But with a four year old who would love a kid his age to play superheros with or hockey in the streets on the spur of the moment and me being a mommy who would appreciate another mommy to share kid watching duties, it is glaringly obvious that we need a more family-friendly neighborhood. 

I hate to admit this for fear of sounding nutty but sometimes, in the middle of the night, I wake up in a panic stressed out about something random and then stay up all night trying to come up with answers. Dubbed “the things that keep me up at night” the most recent of these semi-manic moments have been related to who is going to pick up Fussypants from kindergarten on a half-day.

Ok, sure he isn’t starting Kindergarten until Fall of 2012 but as working parents, we may, at some point, need a neighbor/parent to pick our child up from school until one of us can get home. (See why I fear I sound nuts worrying about this now)? Clearly finding a family-friendly neighborhood is at the top of my list.

I long ago made my peace with one day moving away from our first house together, the place we brought our children home to after they were born because I plan to take all the memories with us when we do move. 
So what will it take for us to pick up and move? I consider home to be wherever my family is, so now it’s just a matter of finding the right house, the right neighborhood and the right schools. Hefty criteria and easier said then done, but it’s a starting point.
So far, so good.
 This was written for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop, prompt #2 What would it take for you to pick up and move?

gingerbreadmama

gingerbreadmama

Comments

  1. Hello, I am hopping over from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop!
    I chose the same title, so it is very interesting to read your post.
    How we change as life changes – which is good, in my humble opinion, because change causes growth!
    Hope you find your new real home soon :)
    Fenny

  2. It can be really hard to find the right place to live when you have a family because there are so many things to take into account like you said. The neighborhood, the neighbors, the school, daycare, activities, so many things to look it can be overwhelming. I wish you luck in finding the right location.

  3. YOu're not crazy, I think about the same things at night. I would love to have someone on the street that could pick up a kid, or babysit. I would love for my daughter to have a kid her age to play with. These things are important!

  4. Thanks all, for understanding! And I am happy to know I am not the only one who wakes up in the middle of the night with random worries.

  5. "Random worries" is my middle name… you are definitely NOT alone! When shopping for our new house (which we are only renting because the thought of buying a house was too much for us to consider) we had a short list and a long list of certain criteria. Luckily, most of what we wanted we found… great neighbor, huge backyard and single level, but it's so hard, especially if you've lived somewhere for any length of time. Good luck with the hunt!

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