Is It Time for Your Family to Move to a New Home, Town, or Neighborhood?

Is It Time for Your Family to Move to a New Home, Town, or Neighborhood?

Real-estate experts (and real parents!) share the factors that make families relocate.

The signs might be right in front of you: Maybe you and your family are feeling totally squished into a too-small apartment or perhaps your children are getting ready to start school and you aren’t sure your local school district is right for your kids. These are just two scenarios in which it feels like you might be ready to consider switching neighborhoods or spending your hard-earned savings on upgrading to your first home.

“Many moves are dictated by lifecycles in the family, whether it is a marriage, a new child, or the start of school,” says Alison Bernstein, founder of Suburban Jungle, a real estate firm exclusively focused on buyers leaving the city for the suburbs. “If thinking down the road about your kids’ school experience causes you to break into a cold sweat, it may be time to go. Ultimately, whether you move or stay in your neighborhood comes down to the level of happiness you have day to day, and whether there is a need for change.”

The following, experts say, are all signs it may be time to start reading the real estate ads:
   

Your home is less kid-friendly than you thought.

For Becky Margel, mom of Remy (3) and Reese (6 months), it was a staircase that prompted her and her husband, Jesse, to move from Manhattan to Glen Rock, NJ in February 2018.

“We lived in a duplex and when our three-year-old began walking up and down the very steep spiral staircase on her own, it started to make us nervous,” says Margel, who lived in NYC for a decade before the move to the suburbs.

RELATED: 10 Tips for an Easy Move with Kids
  

Your family is growing—but your space isn’t.

Another nudge for the Margels was the fact that Becky was pregnant again. “With baby two on the way and additional baby gear entering our apartment, we knew it was time to get out of the city and move to the suburbs,” she says. “With no space to put all the toys that was another sign that it was time to live somewhere with way more space.”

Bernstein sees families in similar situations all the time: “Often the addition of a child into an already at-capacity apartment is enough to signal that it’s time for a change,” she says. “Baby girls and boys and all their gear and toys demand space.” Ultimately, it may no longer be fun to stow toilet paper under the bed and extra diapers in your clothing closet.
   

You’re longing for a lawn.

Outdoor space may be one of the biggest reasons families opt to relocate, says Greg McHale, a real estate agent at Compass.

“While we have seen city folks adapt to living with kids in living quarters your cousin in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, would deem postage stamp-sized, for many parents, not being able to essentially kick your kids outside when they are rowdy ultimately becomes a major sticking point,” he says.

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Of course, you don’t always have to leave the city to get a yard. “Whether the family can afford an apartment or a house with private outdoor space in their favorite neighborhood or school district can sometimes be the ‘make or break’ decision between hanging around or heading to Hastings-on-Hudson,” McHale says.
   

Your local parks suddenly seem puny. 

Another way to gauge your need for greenery is by doing this exercise, which McHale recommends to all his clients: “As a litmus test, if you’re okay with spending the day in Central or Prospect park for your weekend expeditions, then stick with the city,” he says. “There are deals to be had on the Upper East Side and Windsor Terrace right now. But, not for long.”

However, if those two fabulous parks aren’t enough nature for you and your crew, it may be time to make a move.
   

City life is starting to feel overwhelming.

Cramped conditions and a lack of green space can prompt an exodus, but so can other realities of an urban existence. Add in the strain of school applications, the sleep issues if you’re in a noisy apartment, the expense, and other annoyances, and you’ve got a family ready to make a move.

That’s exactly the scenario Amy Hill, who moved from Brooklyn to Tarrytown with her husband and two sons, faced last year. 

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“We were getting kicked out of our apartment (the owners wanted to sell it), so we didn’t have much of a choice,” Hill says. But the decision to leave Brooklyn—where Hill’s entire family still lives—was one they made on their own, due not only to a desire for more space, but also a list of irritants that included the dirt and grime of urban living. “Our other triggers included the broken glass on the sidewalks, the worry over the kids running into the street, and navigating the narrow [store] aisles with our double stroller,” she says. “Oh, and someone almost hit us throwing a urine-filled bottle out their car window!”
   

You haven’t found your parent tribe.

Loneliness is another reason many parents find it’s time to move.

“When you are a new parent living in New York City and you find yourself feeling isolated or without any baby playmates for your little one, it may be time to consider a move,” says Amy Owens, a real estate broker at Keller Williams in New York City. The same thing can happen in the suburbs if you’re living in a neighborhood populated by mostly older families.

You feel like you’ve aged out of your ’hood, as in you’re the only one with a baby and everyone else is crowding into your favorite local bar for happy hour. While this neighborhood once felt familiar it can suddenly feel strange to be in a different life stage from pretty much everyone else around you. 

“When you start feeling like you’re the only one on your block with a stroller it may be time to move,” Bernstein says.
   

Your bustling neighborhood is starting to be annoying.

When your busy morning schedule clashes with the neighborhood’s late-night vibe, it can also feel like a big disconnect. For example, if your favorite café is empty during the day but packed at night you might feel left out and exceedingly out of place.

“It’s extremely taxing as well when people are out partying in the streets until all hours of the night keeping you and/or your whole family awake,” Bernstein adds.
  

You already know people in the town you’re considering.

Having pals already in place always eases the transition. They can show you where to buy groceries, what the schools are like, and which pediatrician to choose, as well as clue you in to favorite traditions in town where neighbors gather, such as Fourth of July parades, tree-lighting ceremonies, or Halloween events, Margel advises. “The transition was seamless since we knew a few people in town,” she says. “This made it very easy to adjust.”

And you just might find other urbanites living in your new town, too. “The good news is that a new home doesn’t always mean moving away from your friends,” Owens says. “Many New York City suburbs are loaded with residents who just a few short years ago were your Brooklyn and Manhattan neighbors.”
   

You’ve always dreamed of owning a home.

For many families, saving for a home of their own is an important goal.

“A lot of long-time city dwellers find themselves itching to cross the Hudson once their family grows in number,” Owens says. “A home in the suburbs also comes with the added bonus of a backyard, good public schools, and a community of your contemporaries.”

RELATED: 10 Improvements to Make in Your First Year of Homeownership

For Margel and Hill, leaving the city for the suburbs turned out to be one of the best things they ever did and they mostly have zero regrets about the decision.

“We love the shopping,” Margel says. “We have every store imaginable within 15 minutes. Well, I love it, my husband not so much!”

And if you end up missing a lot of things about your former neighborhood, you can vent about this, too, with your new neighbors who are likely going to be easily able to relate to how you feel.

“No matter how much we love our new town, we do miss my family, the pizza, and the bagels,” Hill says.

An easy fix: Just take the train, bus, or ferry back to your once-favorite neighborhood for the day. You might just come to realize that you miss fewer and fewer things about your neighborhood the longer you’ve put down roots in a new—and exciting—place.