Once you have children, it becomes much more difficult to move house because we enter into routine based on our locality. Many couples choose to move house before starting a family so that they are in a home suitable to raise a family. If you are in that situation, then look out for features that make a new area 'family friendly'.
Many prospective parents check out schools in their area to ensure that they are in good catchments. Remember though that you are at least 5 years away from starting school and that catchments change frequently according to population changes. Be especially careful of school catchment areas that can shrink - local development may create new houses aimed at families nearer to schools, pulling the catchment boundary in. Buying a house that is just inside a known catchment today may fall outside in 5 years time.
Before school, you will be spending lots of time entertaining your little ones as they grow from babiest o toddlers. Make sure that you have good family facilities nearby, ideally within walking distance of your house. Amenities to look for include parks, soft play, a library and swimming pools. Other 'attractions' that you might want nearby but not necessarily on your doorstep might include farms, zoos or theme parks.
When you have your first baby, you will welcome support from local groups and networks. Look for active playgroups in an area, and approach the NCT for information about activities in an area that you are not familiar with.
From a practical level, a local shop within walking distance of your home can be a blessing. Small convenience stores often stock everything that you might need in an emergency, for you or your new family. Check out public transport links too, even if you have a car, as there might be times when you can't rely on a car and still being mobile will be important.
Although it is possible to move house once you have your family, it becomes more difficult once you become entrenched in the local community and settle into a routine that suits the family, not to mention the sheer cost of moving. Choose wisely now and hopefully you will find a lovely family home in a great location that will see you through for years to come!
With summer seeming almost a distant memory, it's easy to feel that there's nothing to do at weekends but to cuddle up at home and entertain the children with craft and games. There are, however, plenty of attractions and days out that remain open throughout the year, and visiting such places on a fine autumn or winter day can be very rewarding. Tourist numbers are undoubtedly down, so you can gain a richer experience visiting attractions that remain open. Smaller crowds also mean it's less frantic with your baby and young children. If you don't have children of a school age, then you'll find that the weekends outside of school holidays and half terms are quietest of all.
Attractions with animals invariably remain open all year round because even though the crowds may be small, the animals require just as much as care and attention as they do on a busy summer day! Animal attractions include zoos and farms, also animal sanctuaries and wildlife parks.
Whilst the majority of National Trust and English Heritage properties close over the winter months, many privately owned country houses, stately homes and castles remain open. These can offer a wonderful place just to 'get away' and enjoy lovely outdoor walks. Many such properties offer garden and grounds only tickets which often suit younger children who may not endure a traipse around a stuffy home!
Lots of towns and cities have local museums that also remain open throughout the year. If you are looking for something different to do in your area, try to discover a new museum that you perhaps didn't know existed before! Use the internet to search for attractions new to you nearby.
Wherever you live, you're never far away from some 'great outdoors', perhaps a National Park, a country estate, a local park, the coast, a wildlife sanctuary, reservoir or industrial space such as docks. All of these can make for a fun place to walk and explore no matter how young your children.
Exposing your children to interesting places from an early age will impart a curiosity for interesting places and learning in later life. Just because the traditional tourist season is over, don't write off the idea of great days out in the autumn and winter!