Whether you’re new to Houston or relocating within the city, being a parent means you have extra details to consider when you’re shopping for a new apartment. Yes, apartment. 1950s images of individual backyards and over-watered lawns aside, a well-chosen apartment can be a great place to raise a family. It’s just that families with kids have more details to keep in mind when searching for the perfect Houston apartment for their particular needs. You’ve surely already thought about the locations of Houston’s finest schools and day care centers, depending on your child’s age. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Look for a family-friendly neighborhood. Of course you’ll want to look for an apartment convenient to where you work. Also look for nearby grocery stores and playgrounds. You may prefer Houston neighborhoods that have more of a small-town, family-friendly feel. Look at the Woodlands, a suburb of Houston 25 miles north of downtown. It’s a master-planned community where each neighborhood is a self-contained village, boasting schools, homes, parks, shopping, and places of worship all in easy proximity. Within Houston, you can get a small-town feel from Pearland or the history-rich Houston Heights and Bellaire neighborhoods. And finally, if you love outdoor outings with your kids, you may enjoy the Memorial Park/Memorial Heights neighborhood. Houston’s Memorial Park is a great place for all kinds of outdoor activities, and it contains the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center—150 acres of educational fun for all ages.
- Know your rights. Federal law protects you from discrimination based on “family status”—meaning landlords cannot refuse to rent to you simply because you have children, or because of your children’s ages. This law also protects you from more subtle discrimination, such as your landlord imposing rules about who can and can’t share bedrooms inside your apartment, or making any rules that unfairly single out children. Keep in mind that reasonable rules for keeping kids safe (like requiring parental supervision in pools and play areas) and rules that apply to everyone (such as noise policies and rules against running in the halls) are legal. Find out what these rules are, and keep them in mind when you choose your apartment.
- Consider noise. For families, this is a two-way street. You’ll want your kids to be able to sleep well, but you’ll also want to be sure they can just be kids without bothering the neighbors or running afoul of noise policies. See our earlier post for advice on evaluating your potential landlord’s noise rules, and choosing a well-insulated building. No apartment is soundproof, but some carry sound more than others.
- Think about safety. Nearby traffic can be a safety issue. A swimming pool onsite may not be a perk for parents of small children. Likewise, steep staircases or balconies with open railings could be lovely for adults, but not so much for kids.