It may seem like an understatement, but life completely changes when you have kids. They’re so tiny, yet so powerful that they impact our lives more than anything that came before.
Years ago, you may have lived in an apartment, never thinking about buying a house. With kids, that changes, doesn’t it? They need room to grow, to play and to build memories.
So, Mom and Dad, today we take a look at what constitutes a “kid-friendly” neighborhood.
Safety is at the top of the list
Parents’ concerns about their child’s safety are reflected in the popularity of the cul-de-sac.
“From the beginning, builders noted that . . . they prevented strange cars from speeding by on their way to somewhere else. Ads for cul-de-sacs often pictured children riding bikes and tricycles in the street,” claims NPR’s John Nielsen.
He goes on to state the irony in those statements because “cul-de-sac communities turn out to have some of the highest rates of traffic accidents involving young children.”
Rather than a home on a cul-de-sac, consider a home on a street located away from a major thoroughfare and one that lacks an exit that allows drivers to use the area as a shortcut.
But safety from vehicles isn’t the only concern when we have kids; there are human predators to consider as well. We aren’t allowed to address that concern directly, but we can point you to the local police station for crime rates.
And, the FBI’s Sex Offender Registry is online, so you can learn if there is a dangerous predator living in a neighborhood you have your eye on. The U.S. Department of Justice also offers an online database.
Are there opportunities to socialize?
Are there other children living in the neighborhood? Kids need to socialize and use their imagination in play with their peers.
If there are few or no other children in a neighborhood, your child’s opportunities for this critical developmental milestone are curtailed.
Sure, they can socialize and play at school, but, let’s face it, a neighborhood without other kids to play with just isn’t kid-friendly.
You’ll know there are other children in a neighborhood by checking out the other homes. Look for basketball hoops, bikes and other toys that children sometimes leave outdoors.
The best time to tour a neighborhood is on weekends or just when school lets out on a weekday.
Kid-friendly amenities nearby
A neighborhood within walking distance to a park is ideal for children, and their parents.
Parks are handy places for socializing, whether it’s parent-on-parent or kid-on-kid. Barbecues, birthday parties and other get-togethers at the local park are signs of a kid-friendly neighborhood.
What recreation you enjoy as a family? Bike rides? Look for bike paths. Swimming? A community pool nearby will be handy.
Does a kid-friendly neighborhood have to be in the suburbs?
You’ll find fabulous, vibrant neighborhoods in urban centers, many with a surprisingly suburban vibe. In fact, many parents prefer city life for their children.
“I grew up in a small apartment sharing a room with my sister so it never fazed me to live in a small space and not have a backyard—the city is our backyard,” mom of three Amy tells Michelle Cohen at 6sqft.com.
If many of your family’s favorite activities are located downtown, by all means, search for a kid-friendly neighborhood nearby.
No neighborhood offers everything a family wants but when considering whether the one you have your eye on is kid-friendly you can’t go wrong if it’s safe, walkable and has lots of playmates for your children.