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Finding a Child-Friendly Neighborhood

If you have children, plan to have children or have grandchildren that visit often, think about the importance of building your new home in a child-friendly neighborhood or community. If you want your children to have a safe place to live, grow and play, you should definitely spend some time looking for communities and neighborhoods that are safe for children. Below is a list of questions and tips to consider as you look for potential neighborhoods. These items contribute to the overall child-friendliness of the area.

Does the area allow or require fenced yards? Some neighborhoods do not allow fenced yards, while fences are mandatory in other areas. If you have children (or outdoor pets), you will most likely want to have a fenced yard. A fenced backyard provides a safe place for children to play and grow with out having to worry about them wandering into the street. It also deters others from cutting through your yard and helps keep out those that do not belong. Besides having a fenced yard, there are other types of fences to consider. Drive around the neighborhood and check to see if existing homes in the neighborhood have fences around pools. Pools are often attractive to a small child and can potentially be very dangerous. It is necessary that pools are fenced for everyone's safety. Are there fences along boundary lines that adjoin with common ground? These fences keep unwanted guests and strangers from wandering into yards, another possible danger for children.

Are children important in the community? Find out how important children are in the area where you are considering building. Go to the local library. How large is the children's section of books? If children are important, the library will have a great selection of children's books that are in good condition. Review the local newspaper. How many children's events and activities are listed in the paper? Are there playgrounds, parks and ball fields within walking distance or a short drive from your potential home site? Children need space to roam. The backyard is great for small children, but as they get older, they will need more space and variety than the backyard can provide. Also, visit the local community center. What programs are offered for children? The availability of scheduled children's activities is usually a good indication of the importance of children in the area.

Is there a presence of law enforcement in the area? Pay attention to the potential neighborhoods you are considering. Have you passed an occasional police car on the streets or noticed an officer at the playground or baseball field? When police officers and other law enforcement personnel take an interest in the daily activities of children, it is clear that they are concerned about the wellbeing of children in the community and safety for all members of the neighborhood is a top priority.

Is the area safe for a child to travel? Face it. As children grow up, they like independence. Even if it means they have graduated from riding a tricycle on the driveway and patio to riding a "big kid bike" on the sidewalk. Check out the area as if your children are old enough to move around the neighborhood on their own. Are the sidewalks safe and in good condition? Are crosswalks clearly marked? Are there streetlights along dark sections of the roads? Check for road signs indicating children are present. Consider the speed limits along neighborhood streets. Are they too high, or are they low enough that automobiles will be able to notice children along roadsides and sidewalks? Does it appear the drivers obey the speed limits? Does the area offer routes for children to travel by foot, bike or skateboard?

How important is a child's education? Drive around the neighborhood and pay attention to indicators of the importance of education. Look for students waiting at the bus stops. Are the bus stops on safe corners? Do the bus drivers appear to do a good job? Visit the schools your children will attend in the neighborhood. Ask to take a tour of each building and talk to some of the staff. Do you get a sense that education is of high importance? Is every child an important member of the school? Your earlier evaluation of the local library as mentioned above will give you some idea of the importance of education in the area. Again, a well stocked library means the children and their educations are of high importance.

Are there other children in the area? Finally, if you are checking out neighborhoods that are partially developed with new homes still being built, drive along the streets and take notice of how many children are in the neighborhood. If you see plenty of kids playing in backyards or at the neighborhood playground and riding bikes on sidewalks and driveways, chances are this neighborhood is a pretty good choice because other families found good qualities for their children in this neighborhood as well.

There are plenty of other things to consider when choosing a neighborhood, but children are important members of our families and deserve the best possible place to live and grow. Hopefully, these tips will aid in choosing a great neighborhood for your family.

For additional information, please read Is This the Right Neighborhood and Community for You?

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