4 Staging Tips That Don’t Cost Any Money

There isn’t enough that can be said about the term ‘Presentation is everything.’ The reality is, no matter how good something is if it doesn’t present well it will be grossly undervalued. If you’re selling your old bike on craigslist, losing out on an extra 10 bucks due to poor presentation may not be the biggest deal, but when you’re selling a house, poor presentation (staging) can result in losing out on tens of thousands of dollars. Who can afford to lose out on that kind of money?

This is why any knowledgeable real estate agent will push you to focus on staging so that your house presents well. In fact, there’s an entire staging industry where expert stagers doll up your house to ensure you get top dollar. However, between the stagers fee, furniture rentals, and touch-ups, it can cost more money than is in your marketing budget. This leads many to undertake frugal projects on their home to maximize their homes’ presentation value. 

Before frugal projects are executed, however,  the best path is to first execute staging strategies that don’t cost any money and then assess with your real estate agent what the next steps are in prepping your home for live showings.

1. Reassess Your Furniture 

We’re not suggesting taking money out of your pocket to buy or rent new furniture, that wouldn’t be free. Rather, we are referring to eliminating certain items and adjusting furniture layouts. To make our homes comfortable and livable, we often hang on to comfortable furniture that may not look nice and have more pieces than necessary. In staging, less is more, the first step is to assess which are your nicest pieces and storing the rest elsewhere. Next, you should arrange your furniture in a way that flows rather than what’s most comfortable or convenient.

Happy couple placing sofa in living room of new home.

2. Declutter

Clutter not only makes rooms look less appealing, but it’s also distracting. Selling your home is a great time to rid yourself of all the clutter you don’t need. As for the rest, find somewhere to stow it away so that it’s not visible. As mentioned before, less is more, you want to use a minimalist approach when staging your home and keep the look as clean and fresh as possible.

Desperate helpless woman sitting on sofa in messy living room. Young girl surrounded by many stack of clothes. Disorder and mess at home.

3. Remove All Personal Items

For a buyer to consider a home, they have to visualize themselves in it. Family portraits and items on the fridge or corkboard all make it very difficult to achieve that endeavor. This doesn’t mean leave your walls bare, tasteful art is ok. However, any item that traces directly to you (mainly family photos) should be taken down and stowed out of sight so that prospective buyers can fully visualize themselves there and fall in love with your house.

Happy Family photo on white bookshelf at home.

4. Remove Extra Storage

There’s a little hoarder inside all of us. As we accumulate more items we implore creative storage solutions. These include hanging shoe racks on your closet door, plastic storage bins, and a whole host of other solutions. If prospective buyers see these eyesores, it will subconsciously tell them that the house doesn’t have sufficient storage to meet their needs. Eliminate all storage solutions that aren’t built into the fabric of the house.

8 Ways to Deodorize Your House With Baking Soda

Does your house have an old lingering smell?

Buyers won’t be interested in a house that doesn’t pass the smell test. They don’t know what that smell is, or where it’s coming from. Worst of all, they don’t know if it’s a permanent smell they will have to live with for years. The slightest odd smell will have your potential buyers dash out the door before they even get a chance to see the entire place. 

If you’ve tried opening the window, mopping, and using sprays, but the smell still won’t go away, you might want to try baking soda. It is non-toxic, works with removing most odor, and you might even already have some lying somewhere in your house. 

Kitchen

Unlike other air fresheners, baking soda doesn’t just mask odors, it absorbs them. It is especially good at neutralizing smelly compounds in foods like sour milk and rotten meat. 

Refrigerator

If you don’t want buyers to get a face full of leftover smells when they open the fridge, put an open box of baking soda in the fridge and one in the freezer too. 

Baking soda placed in refrigerator to deodorize bad odor

If the smell is really bad, opening a corner of a baking soda box isn’t going to cut it. Instead, pour the baking soda onto a plate to increase the surface area and stick that in the fridge. 

Trash Can

While you are taking out the trash, make sure to check the trash can itself. Sprinkle some baking soda into the bottom of the trash can and into the trash bag to get it smelling like new.

Garbage Disposal

If you have a general smell in your kitchen, it might be coming from the open drains. Just pour ¼ cup of baking soda down the drain along with ¼ cup of vinegar and some kosher salt to neutralize the smell. 

After you see bubbles rise from the drain, wait 5-10 minutes and wash it down with some boiling water. Then run the disposal with cool water. 

Microwave

Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and a cup of water to a microwave-safe bowl and zap it for 3 minutes. The baking soda will eliminate the smell while the steam from the water will make it easy to clean the stains. 

Oven

If you haven’t turned on the oven in a while to avoid that burning smell, baking soda can help with that too. With half a cup of baking soda and 2 quarts of water, create a thick paste that you can scrub all over your oven. Then wait 24 hours before you wipe it off with water. 

This will not only clean the oven, but it will also make it smell better. Plus, this same method can be used on the range, the fridge, the backsplash, and most other surfaces in the kitchen. The paste is noncorrosive, so you don’t have to worry about damaging surfaces like other harsh cleaners. 

Person applying mixed baking soda onto surface of oven for effective and safe cleaning

Living Room

Baking soda also helps eliminate human odors like sweat or pet urine, which might be the culprit in your living room or bedroom.

Carpets & Rugs

Nothing takes a worse beating in a house than the carpets and rugs, that is especially true when it comes to smells. After years of walking on them, spilling things on them, and not cleaning them as often as you should, they probably need a little deodorizing. 

All you have to do is sprinkle a little baking soda across the carpet or rug and let it sit for a few hours. If the smell is still there, try leaving it overnight, then vacuuming it up. 

You can also use this technique on dog and cat beds or a couch or bed. Anything with fabric can be deodorized with a little baking soda. 

Bedroom Closets

If you keep your dirty socks in a hamper in your closet, your whole bedroom might smell that way. Keeping an open box of baking soda in your closet can help clear up the smell. But if you want to go straight to the source, you can sprinkle baking soda directly in your shoes. 

Air Freshener

Since baking soda only eliminates odors that it comes in contact with, making a spray will help it get around the room better. Just add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to a spray bottle with water and you have a deodorizer you can spray anywhere around the house. 

Baking soda and water solution spray

With such a healthy, eco-friendly, budget-friendly way to remove odors around the house, you might want to pick up a box of baking soda next time you’re in the store and try these tips out for yourself. Your nose will thank you. 

8 Tools Every New Homeowner Needs

The moment you buy your first home, it’s only a matter of time until something breaks and you have to fix it. Chances are, you used to call your landlord anytime something broke in the past, or maybe you have a handyman in the family that would help you.

But now you are on your own, and any repairs that need to be made suddenly need to be made by you. So, you’re going to want to head down to the local hardware store and pick up a few items to make sure you are always prepared. 

Here’s a quick list of 8 tools that you might not have had in your apartment but should definitely have when you move into your first home. 

A Toolbox

First thing’s first: you need a place to put all the tools you are about to buy. Sure, you can keep everything in some bag, but you’ll eventually lose so many tools, that buying a toolbox will be cheaper. 

Plus, many toolboxes make it easier to organize your stuff, which will cut down on the time you spend doing repairs. Some toolbox sets come with many of the items on this list already inside. However, you might not want to get one of these because it might have tools that you don’t use or there might not be room for other tools you use all the time. 

New square toolbox on wooden texture background. Top view

Screwdrivers

You’ll be screwed if you don’t have at least 2 kinds of screwdriver: a Phillips head and a slot head. Nearly every kind of screw will work with these two screwdrivers. 

While you might have had one of these before, you should get a set that has several different kinds of tips. If you get one that’s magnetic, it will also help you fish screws out of tight spaces. 

Set of heads for screwdriver (bits) Tools collection in orange plastic packaging isolated on white background.

A Power Drill

Every screw needs a hole, and that’s where drills come in handy. Plus, even if you have a screwdriver, it is pretty tough to get screws into your studs without a power drill. 

When buying a cordless power drill, make sure to get one that has a universal battery type. This way you can use the same battery for other power tools you end up buying in the future.

Close up of handyman holding a drill machine with a tool belt around the waist. Detail of artisan hand holding the electric drill with tools isolated over grey background. Closeup hand of bricklayer holding carpentry accessories.

An Adjustable Wrench

You’d be nuts not to get an adjustable wrench for your new house! Without one of these, there’s no way you could undo any nuts or bolts. 

You might also have to get more than one wrench or even a socket wrench set, depending on your needs. They are often necessary to work on different pipes around the house. 

Tools plumbing on floor and tors of a girl in blue overalls top view.

A Tape Measure

Once you have a tape measure, you’ll be surprised by how many things you want to measure. Having one will make it easy to find out how big the couch is before you decide to move it into the other room, or how tall your window is before you buy new curtains. 

Construction tape measure on a wooden floor.

Putty Knives

You probably didn’t need to have a putty knife in your apartment because you weren’t supposed to damage the drywall. Now that you have your own place, you want to make sure to plug up any unsightly holes that you are allowed to cause now. 

Putty knives can also be used to scrape dry glue or paint from surfaces like glass and ceramic. It is also best to buy two of them so you can use one to scrape any junk off the other. 

Kit of putty knives over wooden table

A Stud Finder

Now that you can make holes in your walls, you’re going to want to put them in the right place. You might not know this, but you can’t just nail a picture anywhere, especially if a heavy one. You’ll end up creating a big hole in your drywall and the picture will fall down. 

Your studs are there to support the stuff you want to hang on the wall, make sure you know where they are. Pro tip: studs are usually spaced 16 inches apart in most homes.

Photo of female hands holding using stud finder and pencil against interior home white wall

A Snake

You don’t want to have to call a plumber every time a drain gets clogged. You can easily unclog your tub, toilet, and sink with this simple tool. There are many kinds of drain snakes that you can buy, but most of them will pay for themselves after a single-use. 

Plumber unclogging a tub drain with an electric auger.

4 Pet-Friendly House Hunting Tips

All pet owners know that a pet isn’t just a fixture, they’re a part of the family. And just like any other member of the family, they require a lot of care. When we say ‘pets’ we’re not referring to goldfish, but dogs and cats. Like humans, in order to have a healthy existence, pets require attention and affection. The lengths pet owners often go to ensure their pets have everything they need and more is astounding, but oftentimes they neglect to account for them when house hunting.

When house hunting, especially in competitive markets, finding an ideal house can be very challenging. Finding a layout you like on a nice property in an ideal neighborhood that’s in a good school district, in addition to many other factors, is not easy. Buyers tend to pounce on the first opportunity they get, often neglecting the needs of their pets.

A pet-friendly environment is an essential aspect of a successful home purchase. The last thing you want is a stressed pet when acclimating to your new stomping ground. A home or neighborhood that is not conducive to your pet’s contentment will compromise your contentment.

1. Community Pet Standards

Not all communities are pet friendly, in fact, some even have by-laws regarding pets. Before purchasing a home, ensure that you meet all the criteria and aren’t stuck in a situation where you’re in a community that doesn’t allow pets or places a restriction on how many you can have. Certain communities also have breed restrictions on dogs that are perceived as more aggressive.

No dogs allowed sign with red letters on a white background smeared where graffiti has been removed and attached to a black metal fence in a park with orange games equipment in the background.

2. Backyard & Neighbourhood Parks

If you have medium to large breed dogs or outdoor cats, they’re going to need plenty of room to roam. It’s suggested that larger dogs be walked for 1 hour a day. Having a yard large enough for them to stretch out is a start, but proximity to parks is essential. Also, take a look at the type of park, some parks are more pet friendly than others with designated off-leash areas and other pet-friendly perks.

Pair of Jack Russell Terriers at evening spring park.

3. Flooring

The ideal flooring for your pets is resistant to scratching, allows your pet some traction, is comfortable, and easy to clean. Make sure the flooring on a prospective home is suitable or contemplate if you are willing to upgrade it. If upgrading, speak to a flooring expert about the best options to meet those criteria and from there it depends on what your preferred style is. Carpeting, for example, is great for comfort and traction but is difficult to clean and will get torn up. Hardwood is easy to clean, but your pet will be slipping all over the place and scratching up your floor.

Cute puppy sitting near wet spot

4. Stairs

Stairs can be a hazard to pets, a slip can result in a devastating injury to your fur baby. No matter what type of flooring you have, if your stairs aren’t carpeted, consider installing a stair runner so that your pet can get proper traction when ascending or descending the stairs. 

Stairs in a modern luxury apartment

How to Stop Wasting Energy on Stuff You Already Turned Off

Whether you want to save the environment, or you just want to save money on your electrical bill, you probably turn off certain appliances and electrical products before you leave for work or go to bed. But you might not actually be saving as much as you think. 

In fact, 10% of residential electricity in the US is used by various products that have been turned off, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL). Their study showed that certain electronics like your TV, microwave, and air conditioner don’t actually stop using energy when you turn them off. Instead, many products and appliances go into what is known as “standby mode,” which means they cannot be completely switched off unless they are unplugged. 

Here are the biggest “energy vampires” in your home, and how much energy they use when they are turned off, according to the LBNL’s research. 

Television

One reason your TV is always using a small amount of energy is to be able to receive a signal from a remote control. When a television with rear projection is turned on it uses around 186 Watts, but when it is off it uses an average of 7W to as much as 49W. 

Unplugged TV

That means a person who leaves their TV off (but plugged in) for 1 year, uses as much as 425kWh, which would have the same greenhouse gas emissions as driving a car for 735 miles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Cable Box

If you’ve ever turned off your cable box before a long trip to save power, you might have been wasting your energy. The average set-top cable box uses around 18W when it’s off, while a cable box with DVR uses an average of 44W when it’s turned off. 

If you have more than one TV that uses DVR, you can save energy by requesting a multi-room box that allows you to use the same DVR throughout the house. 

Computer

Turning a computer off saves a lot of energy. When they are on, the average desktop computer consumes 74W, while turning it off only uses 3W. But if you don’t like to shut your computer down too often, putting it in sleep only uses 21W. 

Computer monitors can also use a lot of energy when they are on (65W for CRT, 28W for LCD), but their consumption also goes way down they are in sleep mode (12W for CRT, 1W LCD) and it’s near-zero when they are off. That means you can save a lot simply by setting your computer to go to sleep after being inactive for a certain length of time. 

Note: Sleep mode is not the same as a screensaver, which does not save any more energy than having the computer on. 

Photo of a Young Teen sleeping in front of a laptop computer on a bed.

Game Consoles

The average game console uses 27W when someone is playing a game, and 23W when it’s off but ready. That might be why a Carnegie Mellon University study found that approximately 1 % of US residential electricity consumption comes from game consoles. 

According to the study, the most energy-efficient game system at the time was the Nintendo Wii, but the reason for that was because: “they are used one-third as much as the other consoles and have very low power consumption in active mode.”

Find Your Biggest Energy Hogs

There are many other devices, appliances, and products that the average person has plugged in and forgot about. You can find out which devices are energy hogs when they’re turned off with an electricity usage monitor. All you have to do is plug the monitor into the wall and then plug your device into the monitor. It will tell you how much power is being used by the device when it’s on or off, and some of them even tell you how much it costs to keep the device plugged in. 

Measuring energy cost.

Solutions

One way you can make things easier is by plugging several energy vampires into a power strip, which will allow you to turn several products off at once. However, you have to remember to turn the power strip off every time. Plus, when you turn this power strip on, all the devices will enter standby mode. To make things as easy as possible, you can get a smart power strip that will cut the power to an outlet when the device goes into standby mode. 

3 Tips on How to Hunt Down Real Estate Bargains

For Millenials, Gen z-ers, and beyond, the prospect of purchasing their first property is far scarier and seemingly unattainable than in previous generations. In the past, real estate was still a major purchase, but a typical household in which the father had a full-time job and the mother stayed at home had sufficient income to buy a home and raise a family.

In today’s reality, even with a dual income, couples are scraping by if able to buy a home at all. As a result, many of today’s young families are relegated to renting or squeezing into a condominium. The prospect of finding a real estate deal within their budget isn’t seriously entertained.

Unlike other industries, most people think there’s no such thing as a serious deal in real estate. But for those with good credit and solid employment that are just shy of affording a home, there is still hope!

Be diligent, follow these tips and if you’re patient, you will be able to finally make your dreams of homeownership come true.

1. For Sale By Owner

When homes are for sale by owner, you can get really lucky and find a listing that’s below market value because the seller accounts for savings on agents fees. Additionally, they are generally much more willing to negotiate, enabling you to explore terms with them to meet your budget. The trick is finding these real estate listings. The best way to be the first one with your foot in the door is by going to the big real estate websites, like Trulia and Zillow, and setting alerts for whenever a ‘for sale by owner’ property comes on the market in a desirable area.

Modern Suburban Home for Sale Real Estate Sign in front of modern home.

2. Rehab Loan

A lot of young buyers could swing purchasing a home, but often what they can afford is undesirable. Understandably, they’d often prefer biding their time in a non-committal rental unit than buying an old run-down home they can’t afford to front the cash to renovate. Luckily there’s a type of loan you can apply for that allows you to incorporate renovation costs. This gives you the opportunity to hunt down great real estate bargains without having to worry about the quality of your home in the short term.

Material for repairs in an apartment is under construction, remodeling, rebuilding, and renovation. Making walls from gypsum plasterboard or drywall.

3. Foreclosures

Banks focus on money management, not property management. For this reason, in the unfortunate scenarios when people’s homes get foreclosed on, banks are willing to give significant discounts just to unload the property. However, with foreclosures, they’re a mixed bag, there are a lot of run-down properties with issues the previous owners probably couldn’t afford to fix. Work with an experienced agent and make sure you have a thorough inspection conducted so you know exactly where you stand. As mentioned in number 2, rehab loans are a great way to make a foreclosed property a viable option.

Leaning foreclosure sign in front of a modern single-family home on a cloudy cold day

How to Price Your Home to Sell

When a house has been sitting on the market for too long, the price begins to drop. Buyers will think there’s a reason that no one is buying it, and they won’t add it to their list of houses they want to see. In fact, web traffic to a listing slows down by 65% after the first three days, according to a study from Redfin. 

That’s why it’s so important to make a good first impression with your listing price. If a house is overpriced, buyers won’t give it a second thought. But you don’t want to set the price too low and lose money either. Here are a few tips to help you find the right price for your home. 

Don’t Drop The Price

A home that comes on the market at $249,000 looks a lot different than one that was on the market for $350,000 for a while before being reduced to $250,000. Buyers will question why the seller dropped the price so much. Were they trying to trick buyers into paying more than the property is really worth? Does the seller know what the actual price should be? Will the seller drop the price even lower if buyers wait? 

Lowering your price might attract some buyers, but not nearly as many as if you had just set that price, to begin with. In fact, houses that have price drops only get about half as many views online as new listings, according to Redfin.

“Even if it’s objectively a good home, if it’s been on the market for a while, many buyers will wonder if there’s something wrong with it. Once that stigma is there, it is going to be hard for a seller to get full asking price,” a Redfin agent said in the study. “If there’s already a price cut, savvy buyers start smelling blood in the water. It’s not a good situation for sellers to be in.”

Think of it this way: if you are willing to reduce the price after it’s been sitting on the market for a certain number of days, just make that reduced price the initial price. Buyers have a lot of tools available to them these days, and they can see when you are overinflating the price of a house. 

Start A Bidding War

On the other hand, if a home comes on the market at a low enough price, it can attract more buyers. Those buyers might grow attached to the property and start a bidding war. In the best-case scenario, buyers can actually increase the price of a home beyond what you ever thought you could get out of it. 

However, setting the price below what you are comfortable selling it at could come back to bite you if you end up losing money on the sale. So make sure you feel comfortable with the price you set. 

Leave Some Wiggle Room

Most buyers will want to negotiate the price even if they are already comfortable with where it is now. If you set the price $5,000 – $10,000 higher than you want to go, you can allow the buyer to “win one,” which goes a long way. 

Think of it this way: would you rather buy a house that was priced at $250,000 and you were able to haggle the price down to $240,000, or a house that was originally priced at $240,000? Even though both houses turned out to be the same price, most people would feel like they saved money by haggling, even if it’s only a small percentage of the final sale price. 

Price For Search Ranges

Many buyers shop for houses online or through apps that allow them to set a price range. So they won’t be able to see houses that are just out of their range, even if it’s only by one dollar. That’s why it’s important to set your price within common ranges. Most of the time these ranges are between big round numbers, like $100,000 – $200,000, or $250,000 – $299,999. You’ll only be shooting yourself in the foot by setting your price at $301,000 instead of $299,000. 

Setting your price below one of these big round numbers puts you in a buyer’s price range, plus it makes the price seem a lot lower than it actually is. There’s a reason songs on iTunes are only 99 cents, it’s easy to justify spending less than a dollar on a song (even if it’s only a penny less than a dollar). 

Talk To A Real Estate Agent

Happy financial advisor discussing with a couple their finances.

The best way to find the true market value of your house is by simply asking a real estate agent. They know the market conditions and how much buyers will be willing to spend on your house. Even if you’re not fully sure you want to sell yet, you can call up your local realtor and ask them how much your house would be worth if you did decide to put it on the market. You might be surprised how much they say your home is worth. 

How Much Homeowners Insurance Coverage Do You Need?

Imagine saving for a home downpayment for years, then working to pay off a mortgage, only to have the home burned down in a fire. How would you be able to get your life back to normal? 

The most common type of homeowner’s insurance (HO-3) protects you in case your home or belongings are damaged, stolen, or destroyed by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning, and all other disasters that are not specifically excluded in the policy.

Most mortgage companies require borrowers to have insurance coverage for the value of their house when they buy a home. While an insurer may recommend a coverage limit for your home, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with what homeowner insurance covers, and how much coverage you should have. 

Dwelling Coverage

In the event that your home is totally destroyed by a fire, you want to make sure your dwelling coverage is enough to pay for all the costs associated with rebuilding your house from the ground up (this is not the same as the price that you paid for the property). 

To calculate how much it would take to rebuild your house, multiply the square footage of your home with the local construction costs. You can find this information on the websites of most construction companies or by asking your real estate agent. You would also have to include any attached structures, such as a deck, built-in appliances, like a water heater, and any improvements you make to the house, such as new floors or marble countertops. 

Keep in mind, the cost of rebuilding your home will be higher if you are rebuilding at a time when construction costs are high. If your whole neighborhood was hit by a massive fire, and all your neighbors are all rebuilding at the same time, it could drive construction costs up a lot. 

House burnt down interior.

Personal Property Coverage

Most homeowner insurance policies also cover personal belongings both inside and outside the home, such as furniture, computers, appliances, clothing, and other belongings that have been stolen or destroyed (except your car). You want enough personal property coverage to replace all of your belongings in case they are stolen or destroyed. 

Generally, insurance companies will set the default personal property coverage limit at 50-75% of your dwelling coverage, but the amount of coverage you need depends on how much stuff you have and how valuable it is. The best way to accurately assess the value of your property is to take a home inventory. There are many apps that allow you to take a detailed inventory of your things, along with notes about their value. Having a regularly-updated inventory will make it much easier when you submit a claim to the insurance company. 

TIP: It is easy to take an inventory of your things while you are packing them up before you move. 

Beautiful woman writing in a notebook while moving in a new home.

Liability Coverage 

Personal liability coverage will pay for any legal and medical bills that occur if someone gets hurt on your property. So if your dog bites the neighbor, your insurer will pay any of their medical expenses. Also, most insurance companies will pay your medical expenses if your neighbor’s dog bites you, so make sure to ask your insurer what they cover. 

While most insurance companies will provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability coverage, experts at the Insurance Information Institute recommends that homeowners purchase at least $300,00 – $500,000 worth of liability coverage. 

A male German shepherd bites a man by the hand.

Additional Living Expenses Coverage

If your house burns down, you are going to need a place to live while you are rebuilding it, that’s where additional living expense insurance (ALE) comes in.  ALE covers hotel bills, restaurant meals, and other living expenses you may incur while you are not able to move back into your house. 

Man pulling a suitcase and entering a hotel room.

Supplemental Insurance

A standard insurance policy will not pay for damages caused by a flood, earthquake, or routine wear and tear. In order to get coverage to protect against these and other damages, you may have to get supplemental insurance. 

If you are unsure of how much homeowners insurance to buy, talk with insurance companies, mortgage lenders, and real estate agents. They can help you get the proper coverage to protect you, your belongings, and your house from whatever life throws at you. 

4 Kid-Friendly House Hunting Tips

When house hunting, there are a lot of factors to consider: Are you close to work? Do you like the neighbourhood? Are our friends and family nearby? However, the most important factor is probably the reason you are moving in the first place, a growing family.

When it’s just you and your spouse, a two-bedroom apartment suffices. In fact, you can get away with having your first kid there, however, you quickly realize your spatial limitations when you discover how much baggage comes with baby, you’ll soon be scrambling for storage. Once they’re a little older or you’re planning another addition to the family, you’ll likely be looking to relocate somewhere larger, but are you factoring a kid-friendly environment when engaging in your house hunt?

Most of us only factor the extra space without considering other kid-friendly factors. Since you’re likely making this move to improve your growing family’s quality of life, go the full mile and ensure you incorporate as many kid-friendly features as possible.

1. Neighbourhood Demographics

When selecting a neighbourhood to target, we often take the demographics into account. When doing this, ensure the demographics are kid-friendly. If 90% of the neighbourhood is retirement age or childless, it will not be the best environment to raise your kids. It’s vital that your kids have plenty of other kids to connect with on the block so that they can be out socializing instead of hibernating with their smartphones or tablets.

Three pre-teen girls playing in street on scooters and bike.

2. Bedroom Placement

If your kids are very young, you’re likely going to want all the bedrooms to be close together and on the same floor. It just doesn’t seem right to be asleep upstairs while your nursery is isolated on the main floor forcing you to constantly go up and down the stairs to tend to your babies’ needs. 

On the flip side, if you have noisy teens, you may want the bedroom placement to be more spread out so they don’t disturb you when you’re trying to unwind.

House plan.

3. Unobstructed View of the Backyard

When you have kids you’re on supervision 24/7; whether you are literally at work or at home cleaning up after them and prepping them meals, you’re constantly working. Despite this reality, you still want your kids to be outdoors getting fresh air, not cooped up in the house, but it’s not always possible to take them out and maintain a good environment in the house. Ensuring you buy a house with an unobstructed view to the backyard (preferably from the kitchen), allows you to complete choirs while your children are playing in the backyard in full view.

Living room overlooking the garden with a small pool.

4. Amenities Within Walking Distance

Restaurants, cafes, and parks are desirable amenities to have in any situation but are especially valuable with kids. When they’re in the baby or toddler phase, packing and unpacking the car is a huge hassle, you want to be able to just walk out of the house with your stroller and access amenities. 

When they’re in the pre-teen to teen stage, you likewise want your kids to have access to amenities without them having to nag you for a ride all the time. It allows them to be more independent and you to maintain your sanity.

Family taking a walk down the street.

3 Tips on How to Transition From the City to the Suburbs

When you’re a kid and venturing out of your parent’s home for the first time, the city is generally regarded as the preferred area to live in. When you’re young, you want to be close to other young people and be where the action is. Cafes, bars, clubs, and the trendiest restaurants are all high on the priority list.

Eventually, if you haven’t already, you’ll find the person you envision settling down with and move in together. At this point, city life is still ideal. That is, of course, until marriage and children enter the picture.

Once you have your first child every city noise seems louder, choosing the car over walking in the crowded streets becomes the norm, and getting all the groceries and supplies you need turns into a huge hassle. This is the point where most city dwellers opt to transition to the suburbs where it’s quieter, there’s ample parking and you can get anything you need relatively easily.

If you’re in a scenario that compels you to make this transition, it’s more complicated than just picking out a spacious home in any suburb. Follow these tips to eliminate as much stress as possible during this difficult transition.

1. The Right School District

When surrendering to suburban living, you at least want to ensure you get the most out of it and that starts with sourcing the best school for your children. While this is a reasonable endeavor, it’s important to define “best.” People tend to go for the district that has the highest-ranking schools, but does that mean the school is right for your children? Whether you value big or small class sizes, specialized education, or other important factors, it’s important to research and tour prospective schools before deciding on a district that is right for your family.

A Mother taking her daughter to school, saying her goodbye for the day.

2. The Right Neighbourhood

People transitioning from the city to the suburbs often prioritize the house over the neighborhood. The suburbs are mistakenly viewed as all the same and after being constrained to a one-bedroom apartment or studio all that time in the city, it’s natural to want to stretch out and get comfortable in your ideal abode. 

The truth, however, is that suburban neighborhoods vary greatly in terms of their communities. Is it a religious community or secular? Is it dominated by young families or families on the brink of retirement? It’s important to vet each prospective neighborhood and ensure your comfortable with the demographics.

Round Rock, Texas, USA aerial drone view high above Suburb Neighborhood with Vast amount of Homes – Summertime in the best place to live in America.

3. Commute Time

One of the most frustrating things about moving to the suburbs is the likelihood of long commute times to work, often back to the city. The goal is to minimize the time as much as possible if you spend 2 hours a day commuting plus 8 to 9 hours at work, that leaves very little quality time, if any, to spend with your children (the primary reason for this sacrifice). When mapping out commute times, don’t be deceived by google maps and focus on distance alone. While some places maybe a little farther, there may be less traffic. You should test out various areas at rush hour and strongly consider your options when selecting a neighborhood.

Traffic is seen slowly moving on the Montrose Ave overpass at the 1-90 Kennedy Expressway and the I-94 Edens Split the day before Thanksgiving on November 22, 2017, in Chicago, Illinois