Once upon a time, shopping for a house meant finding the most space I could afford with the most charming exterior possible in a generally safe area of town. It was simple, really. And I would no sooner have looked at a rancher than I would have a mini-van.
Well, times have changed. How did we turn down larger houses with charming exteriors in safe areas of town in order to buy... a rancher?
1) We restricted our search to a 5-minute radius of Tom's work. With young children at home, every second in the commute is felt. By me, anyway.
2) We didn't want obstacles in getting to know our neighbors. So we nixed anything with a privacy fence-- or anything next to houses with privacy fences.
3) We wanted to be near families with young children. Were there tricycles across the street? Swing sets?
4) We wanted a house that made life with babies just a little bit easier. Stairs were a turn-off, as were master bedrooms located in a separate part of the house.
So it is that when we saw a one-story house in a cul-de-sac filled with toys, with a waist-high fence in the backyard, all the bedrooms compactly in the back, and a very happening playground 50 yards away, we knew it was The One. The house to take us through the toddlerdom of our current and future children. That's a good six years or so.
But when you throw in the elementary school 200 yards from our backyard, well... I think we may be ranching it for even longer.
At least we have hardwood floors. Some principles never change.