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Getting Family Members on the Same Page

Remember the last time you had a family discussion about what to have for dinner? Chances are, there were some disagreements! In fact, it might have been agonizing trying to get everyone to settle on the same dish. Now imagine getting everyone to agree on what type of home to buy!

Obviously, you want family members to be in harmony when looking for a new home. The more everyone is on the same page, the smoother the process will be.

Here are some tips worth trying:

  • Make a list. Have everyone list the top three features they want in a new home. You might find that family members are closer to agreement than you thought. Also, family members will likely not be disappointed if they get two out of the three features they want.
  • Have a family meeting. Set a goal to have a clear profile of the kind of home you want by the end of the meeting. Be prepared for some lively discussion, but also be firm that a decision needs to be made.
  • Be understanding. If a family member insists on a particular feature, ask why. It might be trivial, such as having a shopping mall within walking distance when driving or taking transit is relatively easy. On the other hand, the desired feature might be something truly important and worth considering.
  • Manage expectations. Explain that not everyone will get what they want and that you (or you and your significant other) will do your best to accommodate everyone’s wishes.

There’s no perfect solution. Depending on your family, it might be difficult to make sure everyone is happy with the home you end up buying. However, by using these tips you can ensure that everyone will at least feel they’ve been heard. Then, once you start building memories in your new place, everyone will start to feel like it’s home!

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How to Make a Smooth Transition to a New School

One of most significant challenges of moving when you have kids is transitioning part of a new school. In Ontario, schools are tied to addresses that requires a change in schools. And while it is stressful, the transition process should not keep you back from buying a home in new neighbourhood or a new district. As a matter of fact, you and your kids may end up liking their new school better- just like my kids did when we made the big move from Toronto to Kitchener back in 2014.

Here are some tips on how to choose a new school, get your children ready for the transition and create a smooth experience for the whole family.

CHOOSING YOUR NEW SCHOOL

For most parents, researching schools is a big part of the home buying process. You can search school catchment area on the WRDSB website (http://www.bpwe.stswr.ca) where you will find school information, which school your child will attend and transportation eligibility.

While it is true that in the Waterloo Region, your home school is tied to your address, it doesn’t necessarily make that school your only choice. You can choose to place your kids in the Waterloo Region District School Board, Waterloo Catholic School Board, Montessori or Private School.

When you have your new address, take some time to visit both main school boards and if you are considering private school, research the options available nearby. When it comes to private schools and Montessori options, prices vary wildly, so it’s worth looking at various schools to see which ones best fit your needs and budget.

NEW SCHOOL ROUTINES

VISIT THE SCHOOL IN ADVANCE

If possible, arrange to have your kids visit the school well in advance of the move day. Having a sense of what to expect can help relieve some anxiety and can give you the opportunity to talk through the things that are making them most nervous.

PRACTICE THE ROUTE TO SCHOOL

Will your kids be walking with you or someone else? Riding their bike? Taking transit? Being dropped off by car? No matter how they get there, you all need to know all the little details.

BUSSING

If your child qualifies for bussing, make sure the bus company has set up your route number and pick up/drop off times. Make sure you set up an e-mail notification with the bus company when they’ll be delays and cancellations.

PREPARING YOUR CHILD FOR THEIR FIRST DAY

When you are new to a neighbourhood, it can be tough to walk into a new school when you don’t know anyone. Luckily, many schools have Facebook pages or groups for their parent council. Join the group and introduce yourself.

You may be able to find a family that lives nearby whose child would be willing to show your kids around over the first few days.

PREPARING YOURSELF FOR THEIR FIRST DAY

FIND OUT HOW THE SCHOOL COMMUNICATES WITH THE PARENTS

Some schools use email newsletters, Twitter or Facebook or other apps. Others just have announcements in the school and rely on kids and word of mouth at the schoolyard. Find out how your teacher, your school and your parent council gets the word out to parents. Getting it all sorted out right away helps you get used to new routines more quickly.

GET THE SCHOOL CALENDAR

Try to find the weekly, monthly and annual calendar for your child. The weekly calendar will help you figure out when to send gym clothes, instruments etc., and also if any tests or quizzes happen regularly.

The monthly calendar will let you know of upcoming spirit days, pizza lunches and evening events like movie nights and concerts.

The yearly calendar will give you a birds-eye view of important days, the big events like winter and spring concerts and any other mainstay school traditions.

ROLL WITH IT

A transition to a new school can be tough. There will be good days and bad days and meltdowns will come out of nowhere. Just hang in there and things will get easier in time.

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Should You Buy the “Less Than Perfect” Home?

When you’re shopping for a new home, you want to find a property that has all the features and characteristics you want. Perhaps you’re looking for a large deck surrounded by picturesque landscaping, a beautiful kitchen with gleaming marble countertops, or a cozy living room with a fireplace.

You should be looking for the ideal home. You deserve it! But some home buyers become fixated on finding the “perfect” property, and pass too quickly on those homes that don’t quite measure up.

That can be a mistake, because some of those less-than-perfect properties have the potential to become your next dream home.

First, a home that is lacking some desirable features will probably cost less. Those savings may be more than enough to cover any needed upgrades or renovations.

Secondly, if you look at a home in terms of its potential, rather than the features it happens to have now, there will be more properties available on the market for you to consider.

If you’re determined to have a large wrap-around deck for entertaining, for example, don’t cross homes off your list that don’t have this feature. At least not yet. Instead, view these properties with an eye on potential. Is the backyard big enough to accommodate a large deck? How would that deck look if it were added to this particular property? How much would such a renovation cost?

There’s no doubt about it. You want to find a home that has the features and characteristics you want. If you work with me, there is a good chance you’ll find a property that has most, if not all of them.

But, keep an open mind. Sometimes a “diamond in the rough” can – with an upgrade or renovation – become a home you’ll treasure for years.