The market is ripe with low interest rates and abundance of homes on the market, an opportunity that has us seriously considering buying our first family home.
I find myself dreaming of things that would make our new place ideal.
1. Safe neighborhood. This has to be the first priority. The ability to wander freely at all hours without worrying about looking over your shoulder; a front door that doesn't need 4 different locks; windows without bars on them.
These crime databases will search for details by location, giving a pretty good idea of overall safety:
2. Highly walkable. With actual sidewalks, not just a stripe beside the road. I want us to be able to step outside and walk/bike to the park, to the store, or to a restaurant. Benefits include getting great exercise, getting to know your neighbors, exploring your town on foot, stopping to smell the roses, avoiding sitting in traffic, sunshine and vitamin D.
3. Awesome school district. Public education is free (aka paid for by our taxes), and we plan to take full advantage of this for our children. Sadly, not all schools are made equal, which means we have to actually live next to the ones we like the best.
These sites offer free rankings, summary descriptions, and even parent/student reviews of schools.
4. Easy freeway access. This will save time on our commute to work, visiting friends and family, and taking adventurous weekend trips. Spending hours in the car just to get through the day is a set up for exhaustion and stress.
6. South facing windows that get lots of sun. Lots of sun equals much happiness, warmth and energy. It can save on your winter heating bill, though cost a bit in the summer.
Using the "satellite view" function, you can literally see the beams of sunlight either hitting or missing the windows of your house. Lots of tall trees may be pretty, but they can be a nuisance if they're blocking your view of blue skies and sunshine.
7. Plenty of space to play, garden, BBQ. A deck or patio would be fun for this as well. Not only for us, but for our kids who need to stretch their limbs, get dirty, and discover the micro world of bugs.
8. View of to enjoy: from atop a hill, sunset scape, or mountain view. Privacy would be great, and may be achieved by either location of house or strategic placement of landscaping. Certainly no tall shadowy buildings, unfinished construction projects, poorly maintained properties, or busy roads in front of the house.
9. Spacious, open, with central island. We love to cook, and want our kitchen to keep inspiring us to do so.
10. Gas stove. Gotta have that quick heat with visual cue to know how hot the pan is.
11. Counter for stools. Great for entertaining guests or keeping an eye on the kids while you cook.
12. Easy to clean. Since we'll be doing this on a daily basis, it needs to not be complicated.
13. Modern appliances. Take advantage of kitchen technology and energy efficiency to save on both time and money.
14. Comfortable enough for all to have our own space to sleep, play, work, and entertain guests.
When it comes down to price and what's affordable, I'm sure there will be lots of prioritizing and negotiating which niceties are truly necessary and which will have to go. I'm betting if we focus on those things that will keep us happy on a daily basis, those practical matters that affect the mood, energy, and flow of our daily lives, we will be much more satisfied in the long run than if choose the place with the fancier trimmings.