Before you get pregnant, it’s easy to look on the bright side when it comes to NYC real estate. An apartment the size of a closet? Charming! A five-floor walk-up? Daily exercise! But when baby’s on the way, your perception of “perfect” suddenly changes. Space, access and neighborhood are quintessential, and they all look really different when seen through a “family-friendly” lens. Thus starts the great baby apartment hunt.

Since there’s no better time to search for a new apartment then when you’re pregnant (right?!), we asked real estate expert (and NYC mom) Katherine Salyi of The Serhant Team / Nest Seekers International to give us the lay of NYC’s family-friendly land. So here’s how to find your dream apartment for your growing family AND the best NYC neighborhoods for living with kids.

When's the best point in your pregnancy (or before or after) to look for a new home?

The earlier the better! I love it when people plan ahead. There are a lot of changes during pregnancy, and it can be hard to focus. A lot of pregnant women like to nest, and it’s great to have your space ready! If you are thinking about having a baby, start thinking about your current living space and if it’s a good fit to expand in. If not, there’s no time like the present to start looking for a new place to call home!

What are some of the best family-friendly neighborhoods in the city?

I think the city in general is becoming more family-friendly. The UWS, UES, Battery Park City and neighborhoods in Brooklyn like Park Slope, Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights have long been popular neighborhoods for families. Now we see a lot more families moving into Williamsburg, the Financial District, West Chelsea and the East End area of the UES.

How can you determine if buying or renting is right for you?

If you can afford to buy, you should! Real estate is a great investment. Even if you think a move to the suburbs is in the cards down the line, there are certain purchases I recommend that allow you the flexibility to either rent it out, or sell it quickly--and usually for a higher price than you paid for it!

What are some of the most important characteristics you expectant parents to consider when searching for a new home?

1. Building Type & Community. A lot of families prefer a full service building; a doorman can help with deliveries, provide extra security, and an extra hand. The building entrance is also key – often my buyers view apartments with their stroller to see how easy, or hard, it will be. Community space is often a top priority--playrooms and resident lounges are a great place to meet other families and come in handy during the winter months.

2. Green Spaces. Everyone likes to be outside during the warmer months, and access to a park and fresh air is key to city living. Parks that offer playgrounds, picnic areas, or even a path or promenade nearby are at the top of most families’ searches.

3. Apartment Features. You know your family best, and everyone has a different set of ‘deal breaker’ characteristics. Do you like lots of light? Need a lot of storage? Prefer split bedrooms? Need outdoor space? Location on a busy street and often closer to transportation versus something on a quieter block? Knowing what’s most important, and what you’re willing to compromise on if everything else falls into place is important!

4. Schools. I get asked about schools all the time. There are so many variables involved in choosing the right school and district for your child. I have a few key resources I provide my clients to help them make the best decision.

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