We are thrilled to have partnered with our advertising sponsor and local Realtor® Lorena Pena, who works with a number of families to ensure they have the best experience when buying or selling a home. We recently asked her to share her expertise with us about finding a family-friendly neighborhood in San Antonio.[HR]
Finding a home for your family is such an exciting time. It’s the place where you might draw height charts on a wall, celebrate first birthdays, and eventually even hang a posed prom picture above the stairs. The dictionary defines a family as “a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not,” but in today’s world a family can be very different for everyone. From single-parent families to the ever more popular multi-generational housing, the needs and wants of each family can be very different. The same goes for “family-friendly” neighborhoods.
A Realtor® can be a great resource of information on different neighborhoods, so make sure to pick someone who is knowledgeable in that area. However, you will need to do a little research yourself. I normally ask clients about their priorities outside of the actual home when trying to find an area they would enjoy—important things like churches, parks, hospitals, schools, proximity to grocery stores, commutes to work, and activities they enjoy. If you know you like being five minutes from a grocery store, downtown living might be more challenging for you. (With all of the development and infrastructure changes for downtown in the next 10 years, I hope that won’t be the case in the near future!) Do you have a child with special needs and have to be a near a certain doctor or hospital? Remember that even within schools/school districts, some offer certain programs that assist with special needs differently than others. Also, consider sports—not all schools offer the same sports programs. If this is important to you, I would recommend calling the schools and seeing if they offer the programs your child needs.
Once you have the area narrowed down by your price point, schools, commute, etc., there are some universal items you should be looking for as you drive around neighborhoods to see if the neighborhood is family-friendly! Here are the Top 10, in no particular order:
- Basketball hoops are usually your first indicator of families. There is a catch, though, as some HOAs may not allow them. However, in older neighborhoods that might not have HOAs, this helps you see that children are in the neighborhood.
- Make sure to visit the neighborhood after everyone is home from work. Are kids riding their bikes or walking their dogs? Is there a cul-de-sac crew watching the kids play? Is it a ghost town?
- Neighborhoods with a community pool, community center, and even mini-water park are huge draws for families. These are also great places to meet other families in the neighborhood.
- If the neighborhood does have a pool, are swim teams an option? Some neighborhoods, such as Deerfield, for example, have neighborhood swim teams that will compete against other neighborhoods.
- Are there trikes or strollers on the porches?
- Get out and walk the neighborhood! San Antonio boasts some of the friendliest people in the country, so if you are comfortable with striking up a conversation, do so. People are normally happy to talk about their neighborhood…but keep in mind to talk to more than one person, just in case you happen to come across the one unhappy person on the street.
- While you are walking around, note the types of cars (e.g., minivans, SUVs, etc.) and whether there are car seats in cars, swing sets, etc. Those are all potential play dates!
- Call the Neighborhood President (if available). Ask if the neighborhood has baby playgroups, toddler classes, or a Moms Night Out Group. A lot of popular neighborhoods now have websites, so don’t be afraid to use Google!
- Remember to visit the City of San Antonio’s website for crime stats and sex offender registry here.
- Go to the nearby park to see if they have posters for activities or playgroups. You can also visit the city’s website for events.
Most importantly, try not to stress. This is such a rewarding part in life, so enjoy it! Happy house hunting!
Lorena Pena, ABR, NHS is a San Antonio Realtor with The Osburn Pena Group and a RE/MAX Preferred Realtor. She is a Platinum Top 50 Realtor in San Antonio and was voted top 3 Real Estate Agents in San Antonio by Current Magazine. Licensed since 2002, Lorena is a graduate of Texas State. She has served as Chairman of the Young Professionals Network, currently serves on the Board of Directors for the San Antonio Board of Realtors and is the President-Elect of the Junior League of San Antonio.