You’re in the market for a new home and comparing finds to the wishlist you made after you got your first real job. Hardwood floors? Check. Concrete countertops? Check. Floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook your fave little bistro/bar? Check. But now that you’re about to become a mom , home buying takes on a whole new meaning. Instead of checking off a list of aesthetic awesomeness, you need to seek an intersection of form and function. This doesn’t have to mean trading in the home of your dreams for something that might as well say, “Welcome to Grandma’s!” You can still have the architectural fantasy that you’ve been pinning on your vision boards since you were 12 — just consider adding a few extras to your must-haves.
1. The Right Number of Rooms: You need a bedroom, and so does your soon-to-be baby, so a 2BR should do fine… Right? Down the road your family may expand by one, two, or more. You can’t completely predict how many kiddos you’ll have 10 years from now, but that doesn’t mean you should shortchange yourself when it comes to space. Adding one extra bedroom to your list gives you the square footage you’ll need if you have another child (or two). And in the meantime, you’ll have a spacious guest room for when family and friends visit.
2. Baby-Friendly Flooring. Flooring isn’t exactly an unchangeable aspect of your future home. But you may not want to spend money redoing the carpets or adding ridiculously fluffy rugs to your hardwoods down the road. In mere months your baby will be crawling around, so unless your budget includes flooring, look down and ask yourself, “Would I put my baby on that floor?” If the answer is no, keep on looking.
3. A Yard (or a Nearby Park): Whether you want your baby to feel the grass beneath their feet or you’ll anticipating a tot who’s all about slides and climbers, you need an outdoor playspace. Not all homes have their own yards, and that’s okay. If you’re looking for a home in the city or there’s just a serious lack of green, ask your real estate agent where the nearest parks are. A walk of a few blocks to a public playspace is a decent substitute for a yard of your own.
4. Easily Navigable Stairs: Those clear acrylic stairs have a fresh, contemporary look, but they’re also easy to slip on. Look for a home that has sturdy stairs that your slightly off-balance pregnant self won’t tumble down. This must-have will also come in handy when you have a toddling tot.
5. Gate-Ability of Spaces: When your baby is in that precious carrying stage, it really doesn’t matter what spaces are where. But when your kiddo starts crawling or walking, you won’t want them wandering into the kitchen, bathroom, or just about anywhere else you aren’t, which means using doors and baby gates. If there’s no reasonable way to keep baby from strolling down the stairs or into another potentially dangerous place, you need to take a pass.
6. A School You Like: In five years, when your kiddo is a kindergartner, you may have outgrown this home and moved on, in which case it doesn’t really matter whether you pick the best school district in the area. But then again, you might looooove your home so much that you stay, which means you’ll either need to send your child to whatever public school is there or pay for a private education. Along with planning for the future, you may also need to consider a home that’s near your daycare of choice.
7. Ease of Entry: Imagine what it would be like to come home with a trunk packed with grocery bags, a baby, and no one to help you. Walking up a few dozen outdoor stairs or having to park down the street just won’t do. You need a home that has an easy entry point that doesn’t require a half-hour of cardio to get to.
8. Quietly Nice Neighbors: Picture Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne in Neighbors: You don’t want a frat house abutting your new family home. Right now you need quiet time to rest your pregnant body, and in a few months you’ll be encouraging your baby to fall into a normal sleep schedule. And noisy neighbors won’t let that happen.
9. Safety, Safety Everywhere: Don’t turn baby-proofing into the worst job ever. You want a home that lends itself to safety — and this means more than just what you can see. Hire a home inspector to make sure that the electrical system is up to code, the heater isn’t about to have a meltdown, and everything is as safe as it can be.
Tweet us your suggestions for what’s non-negotiable when buying a family home @BritandCo .
(Photos via Getty)