This post has been guest written and sponsored by Suburban Jungle to provide families with helpful tips for moving around in DFW.
Moving anywhere is a big decision. But making the leap from the city to the suburbs is huge, especially if you’ve got kids in tow. The key? Learning to suss out suburbia like a total pro.
By getting below the surface — beyond the open houses and the “drive-throughs” and the online research — you’ll be able to really get to know a town, its personality and the people who call it home. And when you can do that — when you can scout the suburbs like a local — you’ll be able to make a smart decision about where your family belongs and, even, ease your transition into suburban living once you get there.
If that’s where you are, start here. These five key details and characteristics help define a town in a big way. From schools to childcare to weekend happenings, digging into these buckets will help you get to know a community and decide if it’s where you and your crew truly belong.
#1. It Starts with SCHOOLS
Everyone wants a “good” school for their kids. But, hands down, every parent’s definition of a “good” school is different — very different.
As you’re exploring suburbs, don’t only focus on test scores — they don’t always tell the real story of a school or district. Call schools and schedule tours or meet with the principal, and look for kids who are eager to learn and teachers. Look at other factors like school size, class size and extracurriculars. Maybe your family wants a big school with tons of AP classes and competitive sports teams. Maybe you prefer a smaller school with lots of individualized attention. Or maybe language immersion, IB, charter or private schools make the grade, in your mind. No matter what, this is the time to scope out schools and see what’s going on beyond standardized test scores.
#2. Scope Out the Childcare Scene
Every town has a personality — and every town has a childcare personality. As you start exploring communities you’ll discover that some are overwhelmingly SAHM towns, some lean more towards working moms, while others are jam-packed with nannies or au pairs. The best way to crack the code? Pop by preschool or elementary school pick ups or drop offs and see who’s hustling kids in or out. Is it nannies with double-wide strollers? Teenage au pairs? Dads? Grandparents? Moms rushing to catch the train to the city — or moms rushing to catch their next barre class?
Take it all in before deciding on next steps. Many families like to sync with the childcare culture since it can make the transition smoother for everyone. And even if you don’t, it’s good to go in eyes wide open so you can plan accordingly.
#3. Understand Hobbies & Interests
Like childcare personalities, most suburbs have pervasive hobbies or interests which, typically, center around their location — beach towns, green towns and towns packed with outdoor adventurers, let’s say — or around some other extracurricular interest like sports, art, culture, music or dance. Peruse local community resources like newspapers, blogs and Facebook groups and you’ll likely spot a few trends pop to the top. Pair that with a few weekend visits and you’ll likely start to see how and where families spend their time — and you can decide if that aligns with your wants, needs and interests.
#4. Check Out SUMMERS & WEEKENDS
From there, take things a step further and see how families spend weekends and summers. Remember, you’re going to live in this town for awhile if not forever. Do you really want to spend summers flying solo because everyone’s dashing off to their summer homes the second school lets out? Or will you be bummed if everyone’s hanging out at a local pool club — a club that has a huge waitlist?
By understanding how families spend their free time, you’ll be able to plan accordingly. Maybe that means looking for a house with a pool or finding a great summer camp for your kids — or maybe that means getting your name on that waitlist ASAP so you can build your suburban social circle. The more you know, the better you can determine what next — and the better you can help your families adjust to suburban living.
#5. Understand the REAL Commute
There are the times Google Maps spits back and then there’s the real commute — and that’s what’s most important when you’re thinking about your day-to-day in suburbia. Don’t just pop a destination into your iPhone and decide yes or no on a town. Try the commute, whether that means hopping in the car or checking out public transportation options. Does it take more time than you thought? Less? Are there issues parking? Expensive tolls? Can you get a seat on the train or the bus? Is it a comfortable and reliable commute? Because, sure, minutes spent in-motion matter, but so does the entire commute experience. Don’t let that surprise you on day one.
Suburban Jungle is an award-winning firm that specializes in moving families from urban to suburban. The company’s innovative “town first” approach helps buyers find the right suburb for their family based on personality and lifestyle, not just the house. Services are FREE and fully customized to each family and their unique journey.