a family-friendly neighborhood
FIRST: Cameron and Betsy Watters, with sons Sean and
Caleb, sought convenience as well as a child-friendly
location. PHOTO BY DON CLARK
Stacee Sledge, for The Bellingham Herald
many couples, the last barrier to starting a family was buying
your first home. Many newlyweds spend the first two years of our
marriage erasing every last penny of student loans and other
debt, and then begin to save equally as aggressively for a down
it comes time to take the plunge into mortgage payments, a
child-friendly neighborhood is often at the top of the must-have
main attributes for any kid-friendly neighborhood are good
schools, lots of recreation options, and a safe location.
Cameron and Betsy Watters, finding a neighborhood that would
suit sons Sean, 4, and Caleb, 3, was key.
primarily looked in the Sunnyland neighborhood north of Alabama Street
James Street,” said Cameron. They also looked at parts of the
neighborhood north of Alabama Street between
Orleans and the Eldridge/Columbia district. "Other areas were
attractive to us, but we had a hard time finding houses in
Silver Beach and up the hill on Barkley.”
couple recently made an offer on a Roosevelt
neighborhood house that was built in 1999. It offers everything
they were looking for, including space, location and that
stresses that he and Betsy were looking for a neighborhood that
was more than just kid-friendly; they were striving for an area
that was a good fit for the entire family. “Also important,
especially when you take your kids everywhere with you, is
convenience,” he said. “We wanted to be close enough to the
grocery store and other amenities so that we could walk if we
were also happy to find their new home is within the
Northern Heights School District. “Because our boys will be starting school in the next few
years,” said Cameron, “we wanted to live in an area with
attractive quality to their new neighborhood is the lack of
traffic whizzing by. “Low-traffic streets are definitely a
plus when you have children,” he said.
biggest selling point for the Watters when they viewed the home
wasn’t just that they loved the house’s layout and it was in
one of the neighborhoods on their list. “It was also a big
plus that there were a number of kids playing in yards around
the neighborhood when we first looked at the house,” said
outside criteria forces a family to choose a neighborhood that
isn’t completely kid-friendly. Brian and Cambria Rollo found
themselves moving to Bellingham from Seattle on short notice as Brian unexpectedly changed job positions.
They needed to
quickly find a home and hoped for one similar to that they’d
left — and loved — in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood. Cambria
was only a few weeks away from giving birth to their second
daughter Maille, now 2, joining
Lydia, now 4. The family moved into an apartment temporarily, but
were anxious to find a home.
eventually bought a house in the York neighborhood that fit every other criterion, but
child-friendliness wasn’t high on their list of priorities.
definitely wouldn't have bought a house in an area that felt
unsafe,” said Brian. “And I don't think that Cambria
and I really felt that this house would be our long-term home,
but more of a place to start. I can really see us wanting to go
to more of a family-type neighborhood as the girls get a little
are a few other families with young children nearby, but I don't
know when I'd feel comfortable letting our girls walk there on
their own,” said Brian. “One family is about six houses
down, but you have to pass four or five rental houses to get
there. I don't have anything personal against renters, but you
just never know who has moved in.”
believes it wouldn’t take much to give make the area more
family-friendly. “We would feel better about the York neighborhood as a family neighborhood if there was a decent park
nearby. There is one tiny little park next to the freeway that
we never go to. "The nearest recreational area is Franklin Park, but the family would have to cross busy
Lakeway Drive to reach it.
knew this was a drawback to the neighborhood,” said Brian,
“but we felt like we couldn't pass on the house.”
a child-friendly neighborhood is high on your home buying wish
list, do a bit of homework to make sure the areas in which
you’re searching are suitable.
there a park with plenty of play equipment within walking
distance? Swings, sandboxes and slides will tickle toddlers,
while close proximity to shopping centers, movie theaters, and
coffee shops will satisfy teens.
look into the quality of schools in the district in which you
plan to move. Most schools have websites that list standardized
test scores. You can call any school and request information
about average class size and student/teacher ratio.
be sure you’ll feel safe in your new neighborhood by asking
friends and family about their experiences and checking crime
statistics at the Bellingham Police Department’s website at www.cob.org/police.