We are moving in 23 days. After a year of searching, we found a home that will work for my family. Every home considered for the past 12 months has had to pass a rigorous test to be considered, and the one we are buying comes the closest to meeting every requirement.
Safety. We must be able to completely contain the home and yard. therefore the yard must be 100% fenced, with gates that can be padlocked 24/7. I know a fenced yard is important to most families with small kids, and in our case, it is an absolute. It must be fenced now, before we move in, because even one day of worry and fear about Jacob escaping when my back is turned is too much. All exterior doors must lead to fenced yard, or be fitted with double-sided keyed locks. All widows permanently closed and locked.
Space. We hope to be in our next home for a good, long time. It needs to be able to fit us while our kids are growing and still be comfortable. Jacob is a big, big kid and our home must have a large bathroom where we can help him with potty and hygiene. It needs to have 4 bedrooms- Tyler and Madison really need to be able to have their own space for privacy and a place to keep their stuff safe from Jacob, who breaks or otherwise ruins nearly everything.
Location. Specifically in regards to busy streets and bodies of water. Jacob has no fear or understanding of danger, and running into the street is a constant concern. If he is able to get out of our home, despite all the locks and security we set up, he runs. Runs until he can't run anymore, and without regard to where he is going or what is happening around him. He also loves water. In the past when we have taken him to pools and to the ocean, he walks straight in, totally unaware of depth and at full speed. He'll walk right off the edge of a pool and into the water. And he can't swim, so he just sinks until somebody jumps in to save him. But he has no memory of this (I assume) and will do it again and again. So obviously we don't want to live on a lake. Or next door to someone who has a pool that is not secure, or near a creek or backyard pond. So Chris and I really have to survey the area around the home and know every detail about the neighborhood.
There are other things- what school will a move put Jacob and the other kids in, and do they have special programs there for Jacob? How far is the fire station and police? Can the little yellow bus make it in the driveway to pick Jacob up? Is there a pantry, so we can lock away all the foods that Jacob obsesses over and eliminate that fight? Is the master bedroom near the room we will put Jacob in, so that we can monitor him at night? Is the bathtub big enough for a child who might be 6'2" and possibly still taking baths? Is the backyard private so that we don't have to worry about Jacob running out to play naked or be afraid that some neighbor will see that he is nonverbal and try to take advantage of him. (A real fear for me.)
So the home we have picked out meets most of these criteria. It's not perfect, the yard is smaller than we would like, and it's only 3 bedroom so we need to figure out how to add a fourth. But it is in a great area, in super condition, and all the homes around it are well taken care of and it should increase in value. Jacob won't have to change schools, and Tyler and Maddie will actually be able to go to the same school as him for the first time. They are excited about that.
We are really praying that there are no bumps in the road and that everything works smoothly to close on the new house. So now comes the packing. I'm gonna write about that challenge in a whole other blog.