Renting a Child-Friendly Home

Craig Brown

Finding a home that meets your needs is important. If you have kids, the place needs to meet their needs, too. Some of the qualities you are seeking, such as a safe area, will be important for the whole family. With adequate research, you can find a place that meets everyone’s needs, as well as your budget, and make a good transition to the new place.

Check out the neighborhood

Consider the big picture in the neighborhood. Are public schools and daycare facilities nearby? You can look up ratings for schools, general test score results, and individual reviews online. Do the libraries and community centers have programs for children? Are there community sports leagues or after-school activities for kids to participate in? Look for public parks, playgrounds, pools, picnic areas, ball courts, and green spaces. Consider the distance to your workplace–if you hope to spend time with your kids in the evening, a long commute can eat away at this valuable time spent together. Do a drive-through or walk around in late afternoons to see if children are playing in the area. The crime rate for the area is important, too.

Finding your rental home

Once you’ve selected some neighborhoods that are good possibilities it’s time to begin looking for your home. You might begin with online listings, which can offer you information on price, square footage, numbers of beds and bathrooms, flooring, and acreage. You may want to contact a local realtor for more information as well as to set up viewings. If you go to open house events, talk with the people you meet there. They may know more about the area than you do. When you find a place that appeals to you, take a walk through the neighborhood. If this isn’t possible, try taking a virtual walk using online software, and map out the distance to parks and schools.

Moving with children

Once you’ve found and claimed your new home, you can turn your attention to packing and moving. It’s important to prepare your kids before the packing even begins. Explain to them why you are moving. Allow them to express their fears, concerns, and sadness about the inevitable losses that come with any move. Making space for these feelings is important. You can also gently begin to present the beneficial aspects of the move. When possible, take them along on trips to scope out the new neighborhood and home. Offer them some choices when possible, such as what color they’d like to paint their new bedroom. Help them pack a “first night” box that they’ll open immediately in the new place. This might have a toothbrush, pajamas, a favorite toy, a pillow, and a treat. Encourage them to write their name on the box and decorate it if they want.

Be aware that settling in takes time

Feeling comfortable in a new place won’t happen overnight. The older your child is, the more likely they are to remember and miss friends, places, and situations. While it’s crucial to listen when they express their feelings, you can also involve them in setting up the new home and exploring the new neighborhood. As soon as possible, help them to get their new room set up. Arrange some fun activities that help everyone in your family get to know the new neighborhood. As much as possible, maintain usual routines for bedtime, meals, outings, and chores. Help your children stay in touch with friends from their previous neighborhood.

While moving inevitably brings a certain amount of stress, it can be an overall positive experience. Making an effort to see that things go as smoothly as possible for your children begins as soon as you make the decision to move. Involve your children in researching neighborhoods, viewing online listings for possible places to rent, packing, planning, unpacking, and exploring the new community. Be patient with the process of settling in the new home, both physically and emotionally, and encourage your kids to see the positives about the new area. In time, the new place will feel like home.

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