Smart Reasons to Save, Use and Invest Money

Picking The Perfect Location to Raise Your Family

It took us months to decided where we wanted to buy our first house. 

It’s a decision that’s not to be taken lightly, especially if you have kids or are planning on doing so soon.

After walking through countless houses is various counties, we decided to build in a small community that is a lot like the one I grew up in as a kid, except a little better.

Our decision for our house location was based on the free demographic information, with which I payed especially close attention to the following criteria:

  • School System Rating (our is excellent)
  • Average income (we wanted to fit in, not too rich and not too poor)
  • Average house size and appreciation in value from previous years (nobody wants to be in a declining community)
  • Crime Rate (obvious…)
  • Amenities (Parks, Rec Centers, etc)
  • Taxes

After a lot of searching, we found the location where we now live at.  It had the perfect amount of families with children in the neighborhood, a small park that was a street over, it’s very close to junior high and high school, and we were able to walk to the Recreation Center to swim outdoors in the summer… 

It was a great pick, and we were both very proud of our decision.

Now some of you may be wondering why I was concerned about average income and average house price.  Well, this was because I didn’t want to be one of the poorest family in an expensive community.  Plus, such a community tends to have high taxes anyway…  Nor did I want to be the other extreme (crime might be higher in a such a location)…  I was going for the goldilocks position (just perfect)! 

What was your location criteria when you were house shopping? 

If you are shopping now, I hope this post can give you something to think about other than just looking for a pretty house!


14 Responses to Picking The Perfect Location to Raise Your Family

  1. I’m single at present, but I’m certain my priorities would change entirely if I had a family, as your post suggests.

    In particular, countryside and low crime would be a priority, and a nearby bar full of fun-loving singletons would move down the list. Let’s face it, to the bottom! ;0

    One thing I’ve noticed before when reading US writers’ post on this subject is the relative difference the huge size of the US versus a small European country makes.

    I feel like I live further than I’d like from my aging parents, at about 3 hours away on the train or by car. Yet in US terms, I’d live pretty much nearby!

    Like money, distance is relative…

  2. @Monevator
    If I were single, I would be in a different state and most of the above wouldn’t matter to me, although the crime being lower would be nice, but not horrible important…

    The bar scene has dropped off of my radar, but if I were single, it would be much higher!

    Most likely, I’d live on the West coast (initially, I wanted to live in either Seattle or Portland. But now I’d shoot for Cali)…

    Family is very important to my wife so we live less than an hour from both of our parents. But really 3 hours isn’t bad…

  3. I think you were wise in a respect that many don’t think about – moderation. Real estate agents typically advise to look for the smaller house in a richer neighborhood for better resale value. But there’s more to life than resale value.

    If you get in a neighborhood of people who tend to be wealthier than you, then you and your kids perceive whether they are the haves or the have nots by what they are compared with their neighbors. So your kids get a car for their 17th birthday, but all the other kids in the neighborhood get better cars. You go to a nice, affordable beach for vacation and the neighbors go to Switzerland. You give $100 worth of Christmas gifts to your child and the neighbors give $500.

    Some research found people generally happier when they had a bigger house in a smaller house neighborhood.

    I live in a larger house in what many would call a nice “starter” neighborhood. Not a crack neighborhood by any means. Makes us feel privileged in comparison. A few “nice” cars, but plenty of clunkers as well. I like the variety. It’s been a great place to raise our children.

    J. Steve Miller
    President, Legacy Educational Resources
    Author of Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It
    “The money book for people who hate money books.”

  4. Well, we had to stay in our geographical location (Metro Detroit) because of ailing family members. Other than family, our priority was school district (we have 3 kids) and crime rate. We wanted a nice house, but not the nicest house on the block.

    Besides what is mentioned above, this is what we wanted and got:
    -open area behind the house
    -cul de sac
    -finished basement for teenagers to roam
    -four bedrooms
    -reasonable commute

    What we wanted and didn’t get
    -3 car garage (in our area, 3 cars garage usually come with much larger homes than we wanted to buy)
    -walk in closet

    We could have found a house that met all our criteria and more if we purchased based on the mortgage we were approved for. However, I felt that number was not realistic and I did not want to live to support my house.

  5. @Steve Miller
    You described exactly why I chose to live where I live! You also guessed the gifts and car plans I have for my kids too!

    Great insight on your part 🙂

  6. @Kris
    To me is sounds like you made a wise choice!!! We could have afforded a larger mortgage too, but since my wife wanted to be a stay-at-home money, we went with a cheaper option.

    That said, I’ve pretty happy with were we are, except I’d like a larger yard, and maybe have the rooms a smidgen bigger…

    Sounds like you followed @Steve Miller’s advice and chose the moderate route! Great move, especially in this market!!! 🙂

  7. It sounds like you found a very nice place to live. I didn’t think it about it nearly so much when we bought our house. I’ll put more consideration into it next time.

    We are about 8 feet from our neighbor’s house and have a tiny backyard. We’d like more land to maybe plant a garden and have some room to roam.

    We got a three car garage and use one bay just for storage. What happened to all the storage areas in new houses??? Next time, we’ll probably get a basement with a big storage room down there.

    Probably what sealed it for us is it is a very nice home inside (just a box on the outside) and was a good $40K less than going across town.

  8. @BeDebtFreeAmerica
    Sounds like a good way to go to me! 🙂

    We bought a house that we could pay off in 10 years. I hate having too much debt. And I only say “too much debt” because I’m thinking about investing in real estate someday…

  9. This is what our criteria was for the place we ended up purchasing:

    * Close to public transport: I work downtown and we both travel downtown fairly often; and plus the girlfriend doesn’t like to drive, so this was an important consideration. We live next to a metro station; however, it is in a decent area so not too concerned about crime and such.

    * Close to amenities: There are a few within walking distance so that is good.

    * Good relative position: I’d rather have a good unit in a decent building rather than a bad unit in a good building…

    * High rental demand: Since this is a condo, we wanted an area where we can command high rents, since real estate prices are still so high relatively speaking up here. If we want to later on, we can rent the condo out at just a little bit more than the rent we’re paying for a nearby apartment now, and this will cover most of the expenses.

    No kids yet, so schools and such are not yet part of the consideration, though they may be at some point in the near future! 🙂

  10. Our criteria is very similar. We don’t want to be in a neighborhood where we’ll feel the need to keep up with the Joneses. As much as my wife and I might be able to resist, the kids will feel like they want to keep up.

  11. @Craig/FFB
    That’s my exact line of thinking too! To me, my kids development of their confidence is very important.

    Being in a neighborhood where the Joneses are very rich, would make our kids feel inferior because we couldn’t keep up. On the other hand, living in a neighborhood that is too poor could be dangerous because of bad living conditions. So we went the Goldilocks route, and picked the perfect locaton for use given our financial situation.