Sometimes, a neighborhood appears awesome…but might be hiding some spooky, ghostly elements!
You can’t know, for instance, how welcoming some neighborhoods are to families with small children unless you see small children there.
If you’ve only visited the neighborhood during the workday, you won’t know if the streets fill with bicycles and skateboards at 3:00 PM when school lets out. If you’ve never been there on a Saturday, you don’t know if neighbors chat while doing outdoor chores, or if they hide indoors and hire landscapers to take care of their yard work. Your dream neighborhood might look like Mayberry RFD, but looks can be deceptive.
Before you say Boo!
Take the time to check out potential new neighborhoods at times when children might be visible before you buy that house!
In fact, Halloween is the perfect time to visit a potential new neighborhood!
Here’s what to look for in kid-friendly communities:
- Decorations: Drive through the streets of your potential new neighborhood and check out the number of homes sporting Halloween decorations. These can range from giant blow-up black cats to “spider-webs” covering hedges and fences. Note that straw and pumpkin decorations do not necessarily indicate a child-friendly area since these decorative elements also might be in honor of “harvest” and “fall” rather than just Halloween.
- Signage: Okay, some neighborhoods have signs all the time that indicate the presence of children. These include playground signs, slower speed limit signs, images of children crossing streets or playing, and even random speed bumps. Some neighborhoods, however, anticipate additional children in the area by posting temporary speed limits for Halloween. Others, knowing that their neighborhood might be inundated with extra children during Trick-or-Treating will post special parking rules during that time.
- Community Activities: Some child-friendly communities offer more protective activities in the common areas, especially for smaller children, during the afternoon and up through early evening. The goal with these programs is to keep smaller children off the street and out of danger while still enjoying trick-or-treating activities.
If the neighborhood is older and laid out in regular grid streets, you might not find a common area for holiday activities. That doesn’t mean that neighborhood is not kid-friendly, it just means you need to look for other clues. Of course, you’ll always be able to see decorations on individual homes and in private yards, but if these are just hit-or-miss, you’ll want to do more thorough investigating.
One way to do that is to drive through the neighborhood on Halloween. (Note: For investigative purposes, you probably don’t want your children along because they may be disappointed.) Look for homes with porch lights ON. The traditional indication of a home participating in Halloween trick-or-treating is to have the porch light on. Of course, some homes have automatic exterior lights, so also look for the presence of someone in the home … lights visible through window coverings, too.
Observe the number and age of children moving through the neighborhood from home to home.
If there are few lights, little-to-no decorations and only small numbers of children, that may not be the neighborhood for you if you’re wanting lots of family activity.
Also, check the community pages for fun-and-friendly neighborhoods. Many municipalities list the best neighborhoods for trick-or-treating with kids of various ages.
Your real estate professional can help you determine the suitability of a neighborhood for your family’s needs and help you find the home of your dreams.