How to find your city’s most family-friendly suburbs

City parents looking for a new home to accommodate a growing family also have to try to ensure that the area they choose is child-friendly, and that can prove quite difficult in an age of rapid urbanisation and mixed-used developments which can very quickly change the character of a whole neighbourhood.

However it is not at all impossible, says Gerhard Kotzé, the new MD of the RealNet estate agency group, especially if you make use of the following guidelines during your home search:

*Once you’ve identified some areas you think might be suitable, make a point of visiting them at different times of the day – before you even view any homes there. It’s amazing how quickly an area that is quiet during the day can become nightclub central after dark.   

*During the day, you should also look out for any signs that there are other children living there, like swings and climbing frames, tricycles and bikes - and for children themselves, perhaps walking to or from school, playing in the park, or learning to skateboard. Try to gauge their ages too, to see if your children would be likely to find friends of their own age.

*Observe whether the area is generally clean and well-maintained. Cracked pavements, litter and overgrown parks are usually signs of a neighbourhood in decline and possibly not that great for children to live in. Numerous piles of bricks and building sand, however, could signal that you have found an area where lots of new families are moving in and renovating, and where your young family would feel right at home.      

*Chat to an experienced local agent about schools in the area and other amenities like parks and gardens, recreation centres and sports clubs, as well as shops and public transport. Then go and check out a few for yourself to see if they are family-friendly and would enhance your quality of life in this suburb.

*Do some further research and find out if the area has any active youth groups, after-school care centres, service clubs and neighbourhood watch groups. All of these are indicators of a neighbourly, caring community and a child-friendly area.

*Once you do start viewing properties, make a point of asking whether the neighbours are friendly and what community activities there are for children. Trust your instincts if you get answers that indicate this might not be quite the place you thought it was, and move on.      

“One of the major reasons for the rising popularity of lifestyle estates and other secure complexes is the peace-of-mind they offer parents as regards their children’s safety,” Kotzé notes.

“But fortunately there are still many other options for parents who can’t afford to buy homes in such developments - especially if they are prepared to do some careful homework and seek some help from a trained real estate professional before deciding where to settle their family for what could well be the next 10 or 20 years.”


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