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Tips For Renting With Kids

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy

Photography by Photo and artwork by James Casebere

Finding the right apartment, condo, or house to rent can be a difficult task on its own, but throw kids into the mix and it’s a whole new ballgame. Why? Well, one, there’s a lot of extra points and safety hazards to consider when you have children; Are there stairs? Do you need extra bedrooms and bathrooms? Is there a fenced-in yard? And two, believe it or not, some landlords fear renting to families with young children for potential damages and noise. Crazy (and kinda rude), right? So, when you’re on the hunt for the perfect new pad for you and your kiddos, you’ll want to first take some notes. Write out a list of necessities before starting your search, so you know exactly what you’re looking for and don’t get sidetracked settling on a new home that isn’t ideal. Below are a few helpful tips to help you through the process.

Location, Location, Location. Yes, living near a park or in walking-distance of a great grocery store is nice, but there are more things to consider about your possible new ‘hood. First and foremost, you want to make sure there are no red-flags in terms of safety and security for your kids. Child-friendly areas usually have yellow street signs and speed bumps warning cars to drive slow and be wary. You’ll also want to look into the surrounding school-zones and consider proximity, your children’s ages, and education preferences when house-hunting. Nearby playgrounds and libraries are always a bonus, but make sure to research and visit each one to make sure they’re both a secure and family-friendly environment. If you truly want to get a good idea of what it’s like to live in a specific area, apartment building, or neighborhood, strike up a conversation with people who live there and ask questions.

Potential Safety Hazards. Let’s face it—not all rentals are equipped for kids. Check for any steep or slick staircases, loose or wide railings, low windows or broken locks, and low visibility of doors, sidewalks, and streets. Have the space checked for mold or other contaminants before renting and always make sure the rental comes with working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Watch out for homes that have surrounding busy streets or highways and if the neighborhood or complex has a pool, hot tub, or other body of water, make sure they are fenced in and not easily accessible to children.

Amenities Checklist. This is where you need to decide what is a “must” and what is a “plus”. Kids require a lot of space to play both inside and outdoors, so keep that in mind when comparing new homes. Ideally, you’ll want a place with a decent amount of storage space for toys, clothes, and necessities,too. Remember, kids are messy, so skip the carpet, if possible, as this will save you from carpet stains and potential cleaning fees. With apartments and condos, note the number of stairs leading up to it, as a lot of renters tend to overlook this in the beginning and end up regretting it with kids, strollers, and pets. And try to find a place with an on-site washer and dryer. Hitting up the laundromat each week with the kiddies in-tow can be exhausting.

Know The Risks. You may already be dreaming of how you’re going to decorate your new place, but know that your search for the perfect home may be a little more extensive you think. Many property owners fear kids coloring on walls, scuffing up floors and countertops, causing permanent stains, and so on. It’s best to go with a complex or landlord that’s completely open to renting to a family, so there is no tension or problems down the road. And be a good tenant. Make sure to take care of your new home and notify the landlord as soon as something needs fixing. This will ensure that you get your deposit back once it’s time to move on.

Decision-Making. After you’ve found and reviewed a few places that you like, you’ll want to sit down and make a pro and con list for each one, listing out what you loved and what you didn’t love. This greatly helps the decision process, so you can be in your new place in next-to-no time.

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