Are you thinking about buying a new family home soon?
I’m going to guess you can list the shortcomings of your current house in detail. You know exactly what areas need more room, more organization, and more light. You know how many bathrooms you wish you had and where the laundry room should be. Perfect. You’re creating the list of what your new family home needs with every exasperating room in the current house.
I did the same thing. Our first home was a tiny starter house with no discernible floor plan. The washer and dryer were in the kitchen, there was no proper place to put boots and shoes, and the basement was terrifying.
Eventually we moved to a new family home, praise be the the Almighty, and I did not make the same mistakes when choosing the new place. But now that we’ve been here a few years, I’m still surprised by a few things. In some ways this new house suits us even better than I thought it would, but other things have developed that I didn’t anticipate.
Here’s what I learned. You might find it helpful for your own house search.
Kids’ stuff gets smaller.
When we lived in that teeny house, I swear to you– our daughter searched out every giant stuffed animal in Kalamazoo and then conned her grandparents into buying it for her. When we moved into this new house, I was grateful for the room for the stupid stuffed toys. But the child outgrew those toys in just a few years, and now all she needs is her phone and a few books. You might not need as much room as you think in a few years.
Kids’ interests change. Plan with flexibility in mind.
Don’t overspend on something that might not matter in two years. Sure, Dylan might play with his Thomas the Train table for hours today, but in two years he might be into drumming or Legos instead. You might not need an extra family room then. Pools, trampolines, and room for sports might become a huge asset with older kids. Plan for big kids, and plan for their eventual big friends. A house with many options will serve you well.
Pay extra for only what matters to your family.
If I see one more gourmet kitchen with a granite countertop, I will pluck my eyes from my head. Yes, of course some families love these rooms, and for them, it’s worth the extra expense. But I spend as little time in the kitchen as possible. For us, a library nook was worth the extra cost. Family rooms, extra garage storage, or acreage only makes sense if your family needs them.
Privacy is huge as kids get older.
Trust me, when your kids are thirteen and eleven, everyone is going to be okay with bedrooms far, far away from each other. We live in a bi-level, and our floor plan is great for bigger kids. It would be a nightmare if we still had little ones who were up several times a night. But at these ages, we want to be in one place and the children want to be in a completely different place. Trust me, if you can afford it, you will never regret a separate wing for your master suite.
Two toilets are a life saver. But two showers might just be a hassle.
Cleaning two showers is super dumb. I hate it. The kids are supposed to be in charge of cleaning the downstairs tub and shower, but something is going terribly, terribly wrong down there. No matter how many times I explain the concept of mold and hard water stains, they don’t believe they can clean them away. I don’t know what people do with more than two bathrooms– cleaning them must become an endless nightmare.
So that’s what I know so far.
I’m sure I’ll be surprised at all new things as the kids grow into high schoolers. Do you have any advice for me? I’d love to hear what you love and hate about your house, and what you’d like to see in your new family home. Comment over on Facebook! That’s where all the real action happens.