Many of us rent our first homes before taking the plunge into homeownership. Renting offers unique benefits over purchasing a home, especially when you are first getting starting on your own. Some of the benefits include not having to worry about intimidating mortgage payments or issues with maintenance and repairs.
However, some people choose to continue renting throughout their lives for a variety of reasons. Many people think they must buy a house once they marry and/or start a family. Homeownership may not be realistic for you though, due to financial or other reasons. A rental home can be a perfect solution for you either temporarily or permanently.
Of course, your rental goals will be considerably different when you have children, or if you’re planning to start (or increase) a family. You’ll want to make sure your rental home meets everyone’s needs.
Here are some helpful tips to consider for finding the best rental home for your family
Access to School and Community Amenities
For parents, a location near schools is desirable. You can research the school district online, ask about schools in forums and groups, and even arrange to visit schools to assess how they meet your family’s needs. If you’re close enough for your children to walk to school, make sure there are sidewalks and safe street crossings. This applies to local amenities, too. Being within walking distance to the store or parks, for example, can be a nice perk.
Location, Location, Location
Be honest about your priorities for location, both in the area in which you’d like to live and in the community you choose. If a community has a playground, it might be nice to be close enough to keep an eye on the kiddos while they play. Also consider whether you would like easy access to community amenities such as a swimming pool, in-unit storage and laundry, and covered parking.
Safety and Security
Some older communities may have been built before occupant safety was a big consideration. If the home you’re interested in looks like it was built before the 1970s, ask the landlord or management about lead inspections and lead-free certification. Also, consider factors such as climbing stairs, how windows are situated in common areas, and what type of building security is provided. With very young children, you may want to check with your landlord before undertaking any child-proofing which requires drilling holes to ensure such modifications are okay.
Many young families have pets. If you have or want to include 4-legged family members in your rental decision, make sure you choose a community with a liberal pet policy and with pet-friendly features like nearby dog parks. Consider meeting the pets of any nearby neighbors, too. Fido or Kitty may (or may not) like their new neighbors!
One thing at a premium in any home is space, and even more so in a rental situation. While there are many creative ways to create storage space, the overall size of your rental must meet your needs. For small families, a small bedroom or den works for the kid(s), but as the family grows, you’re going to want more space. Kid’s stuff is forever multiplying! Some communities will allow you to move to a larger apartment if you need it.
The Hassle of Looking (and Finding)
For many of us, finding a rental home may not be our most preferred way to spend a day. Remember, this is your families’ home you’re looking for! Although it’s not like buying, it’s still a serious process involving many considerations. Be wary of shortcuts and online “deals.” Always work directly with a property owner or a reputable management company and never sign any papers or make any payments without seeing a home for yourself.
Keeping these considerations in mind while you search for a family rental will assure your safety, comfort, and happiness in your new rental home!