Submitted by Shirley Cress Dudley
Discuss with your future spouse the ideal budget for a new home. Make sure you choose a range that you can afford. Try to keep your house payments to 25% of your income (33% at the very most.) You may have two houses that need selling. Make sure at least one of your houses is sold before you purchase a new home for your blended family.
Agree on the area of town
Are you trying to stay in a certain school district?
Will the new house be relatively (but not too close) to your ex-spouse’s house? This makes dropping off and picking up children easier.
Involve the kids in the house hunting process
Ask each child in your blended family what’s most important to have in their new home. You may be surprised at how helpful their answers will be. Allow your kids, both biological and step, to come on selected trips with the realtor. The best times to involve the kids are in the beginning, when you are only driving around looking, and in the end (when you have found a house you believe will work, and want them to tour it with you.)
It’s important to have separate bathrooms, if possible, for the boys and the girls. Adequate bathrooms are actually more important than the number of bedrooms. Moving into a home together is tough for kids in a blended family; sharing a bathroom is even harder.
Make sure you and your spouse have your own bathroom, separate from the kids.
It’s not as important for each child to have his own bedroom. Children that visit, but don’t live in the house full time, can share a bedroom (if they are the same gender).
If you use a pullout couch or basement room for the visiting child, make sure they have enough privacy and that they can keep personal items in this area.
Give children the opportunity to make decisions about their rooms, such as paint color, curtains and comforters. You want them to feel that this home is for everyone in your blended family.
If your kids are varied in ages, it’s helpful to have several places “to be” in the house for entertaining, watching T.V., and just “hanging out.” Consider a house with a basement or with several floors so that your kids can spread out and find their own space to relax.
Look for privacy in the master bedroom. It’s helpful to find a house that has the master bedroom sectioned off from the other bedrooms, if possible. You and your new spouse need your own space, too.
Remember, you and your spouse are the center of the family, the core of the relationship. Input from all of your blended family is helpful, but ultimately you and your spouse make the final decisions on what house you purchase. This carefully selected house will become the home for your new blended family.
Good luck house hunting!
Shirley Cress Dudley is a licensed professional counselor with a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, and a master’s degree in Education. She has a passion for helping blended families grow strong and be successful, and her book, Blended Family Advice, has been touted as the ultimate must-read for couples contemplating or undergoing such change.