The heart of it all: things to consider when buying your first family home.
No doubt about it: a baby changes everything. Suddenly, you go from being a couple to being parents. Mommy, Daddy, and Baby make three. A family.
The arrival of the little one doesn’t just open your heart to a level of love you never thought possible. It’s also probably made you want to settle down. Put down roots. Build your nest.
In other words, now that you’re a parent, you’re probably thinking strongly about buying your first family home, if you haven’t already. But there are some things you should know before you make what may be the largest and most important purchase of your life.
Knowing when you are ready
Buying your first house isn’t a decision to be made lightly. It takes time, research, and planning. Because transitioning from renter to homeowner is almost as much of a commitment as marriage or motherhood itself.
You need to know what you’re getting into. When you buy a home, you’re not only buying into two or three decades of debt, but you’re also buying into the sole responsibility for upkeep, maintenance, and repairs. You’re taking on taxes and, potentially, HOA fees.
But what you are getting can be so very much more. You’ll be building equity, tapping into one of the greatest sources of wealth available today. But, even more than that, you’re providing stability for your family. You’re creating a space for your children to grow, flourish, and thrive. You’re making a space for your babies to call home.
Making the move
That moment when they put the keys to your new home into your hands, at last, is exhilarating. No question. But making the actual move is probably not going to be the fairytale you might have dreamed of.
Change is hard, even when it’s a happy one. If your little ones are still toddlers, they’re probably not going to understand the disruption to their expected routine. They’ll miss their familiar surroundings or the neighbors and friends they’re used to seeing every day.
The key is to be gentle and not rush the transition. Introduce your little one to the new house a bit at a time and make it fun. Set up playdates with moms and kids in your new neighborhood. Allow your child to be a part of the process, letting them help with the packing, for instance.
And let your child say goodbye to the old house. Perhaps have a little ceremony on the day you leave and allow your child to take something from the old house with them — a rock from the front yard, a few flowers from the garden.
Setting it up
When you buy your first home, it’s going to be on you to set your home up to meet your needs and ensure that it’s a warm and welcoming haven to your family for decades to come. So the first order of business is to do a sweep of the new digs and make sure it’s safe for your little one.
Baby-proofing the new house, though, won’t be the same as when you were pregnant and setting up your space for a newborn. If your child is walking and exploring, she’s going to need different protections than an infant who’s just starting to crawl.
After you’ve baby-proofed your house, you’re also going to want to start babying your house by treating it well. Protect your plumbing, for instance, by ensuring that you give it routine maintenance. Above all, take care that you don’t subject your sewage system to materials, like non-flushable baby wipes, that your pipes and drains simply aren’t designed to handle. If you do happen to drop a baby wipe in the toilet, do all you can to fish it back out of the toilet. Because of their durability, they can cause major sewage back-ups.
As you set up your nest, it’s also smart to invest in energy-efficient appliances, such as Energy-Star-certified refrigerators, dishwashers, and washer/dryers. These can save you hundreds of dollars every year in utility costs. And, when you’re a parent, you know well that every penny matters!
Buying your first family home is a momentous decision. But that home is your family’s future. For all the responsibility it entails, the gifts it brings are far greater. Your home will be your child’s sanctuary, her touchstone, the place where memories are made, the place where love and family reside.