It didn’t matter where you lived when you were single or when you were newlyweds, but now that you have children it matters significantly. How do you find a family friendly neighborhood? What factors determine family friendliness? Where is the best place to raise your kids?
As with many parenting issues, answers will vary depending on the values of the family. There are, however, certain things all parents seem to want for their children. Good public schools are one of those things. Low crime rates are another. Both can be researched online. State education departments and many school districts publicly report standardized test scores, graduation and drop-out rates, as well as average classroom sizes. Crime rates are also available online. Most families, understandably, want to avoid neighborhoods where registered sex offenders are living.
Other factors you might consider when looking for a family friendly place to live may be based on your own family values and preferences. In regards to your location, do you want to live near a commercial area or in a purely residential area? How will you commute to and from work? How long of a commute are you willing to make? Do you want your children living near major roadways or on a cul-de-sac? Would you like to have the ability to walk your children to a park or a neighborhood pool? Is it important to you that there be other families with children nearby? Would you prefer for your children to be able to walk to and from school? What kinds of activities for kids are available in the community? Are there kid-friendly museums or sports leagues for your kids to enjoy? Do you prefer the more secluded living of a house with a yard in the suburbs of Wichita or the community feel and fewer maintenance worries found with Austin condos?
The amount of research required to find answers to all these questions may seem overwhelming. There are three resources to turn to that will make your search for a family friendly neighborhood easier. The first resource is other people. Ask a realtor. Ask people you know in different neighborhoods. Ask other parents of small children. Post a question on an online forum. Networking is a valuable resource.
What if you’re moving to a new town and you don’t know who to ask? For example, you currently live in Orlando condos. Austin, TX is where the company home office is located and your boss wants to transfer you. You can visit www.City-Data.com to learn all about air quality, cost of living, employment rates, demographics, and crime rates for Austin or any other city your boss threatens to send you to. For details about more specific neighborhoods and schools, search www.neighborhoodscout.com to learn about top schools and crime rates by neighborhood. Some information requires a subscription, but the basics are available at no cost.
There are pros and cons to anywhere you live. Your job as a parent is to determine which cons you most want to avoid and which pros are non-negotiable for your family.