Making the right decisions for your family is a daunting task. Choices such as where to live and where to send your child to school have ripple effects that can create unforeseen consequences. You can’t remain paralyzed by uncertainty forever, but nor do you want to rush into anything hastily and live to regret it.
How do you make big life decisions for your family? There isn’t a cut and dried answer, but some guidelines can help you get started. Here are five scenarios you might encounter and the factors to weigh for each.
1. Choosing a Home
Apartment or single-family home? City or country? If it’s suburbia, which neighborhood? Deciding where to raise your family means considering multiple factors.
City life makes it less burdensome to find a new job without factoring in a crushing commute. Depending on your field, you might find tons of opportunities in a single block. Plus, you enjoy access to amenities like museums, theaters, restaurants and other points of cultural and educational interest. If you’re a sports fan, you can be in the thick of the celebration the next time your team wins a pennant.
However, city life often means dealing with crowds, pollution and noise. If you’re a light sleeper, you might find it impossible to rest among constantly rolling traffic and flashing neons. The lack of shuteye can degrade your health over the long term. You won’t necessarily pay more for a one-bedroom apartment, but room to go comes with a hefty price tag. If you won’t feel happy until you hear the pitter-patter of multiple tiny feet, you might consider country living.
Living in the country gives you room to grow your family along with relative quiet and ample fresh air. However, you may need to travel considerable distances to do back-to-school shopping or see a play. If you have medical needs, seeing specialists may entail lengthy, even overnight travel. Depending on how remote your home is, you might occasionally catch a whiff of nearby farms, which isn’t always pleasant.
2. Selecting Your Child’s School
Has any pending school year created a sense of unease like the approaching 2020-21 one? You have an additional consideration when choosing between public, private and homeschool options — your child’s health and safety during a pandemic.
Many parents elected the homeschool route before COVID-19 due to the multiple advantages. Your child will remain free from peer pressure and bullying, and you can customize the curriculum to meet their needs. However, this option does require you to put in additional work.
Private schools offer another option for parents who follow religious ideologies or merely dislike the sometimes-chaotic environment in public schools. Many such institutions feature smaller class sizes and individualized instructions. This one-on-one attention does come with a hefty sticker price. However, if you are a member of a faith community, inquire about potential scholarships or special collections to fund your family’s needs.
Public schools offer convenience and the opportunity to immerse your child in a multicultural environment. That perk isn’t mere fluff — research indicates that diverse teams produce more and make fewer factual errors than more homogeneous groups. Your child will learn to get along with others who might have radically different belief systems, which prepares them for future encounters in the workplace.
3. Buying a New Car
Should you go with the utility of a pickup truck or minivan, or do you feel a need for speed? A vehicle is one of the priciest purchases many people make outside of their homes and education. You need to do your research to ensure you don’t get stuck with a lemon.
You might think that you’ll save the most money by going used, and new vehicles depreciate rapidly. However, keep your level of automotive know-how and other resources in mind when deciding. It’s one thing to break down if you have covered roadside assistance or the expertise to swap out a sprung radiator. It’s quite another to be stranded miles from anywhere with a dying cell phone.
4. Accepting a New Job
You spend at least a third of your life working. Shouldn’t you enjoy the your time there? While you might think you can navigate through each shift like an automaton, eventually feeling unsatisfied in your career will start to poison other areas of your life.
Before accepting a new position, do your due diligence in investigating the company culture. Talk to potential colleagues, if possible, to discern what they like most and least about their employer. 75% of people who eventually quit do so because of their bosses, not dissatisfaction with their field.
5. Furthering Your Education
Should you go back to school? If you hope to become a doctor or professor, you may have few options — but you must weigh the price tag. The average cost of graduate school rings in as $71,000, and that’s if you don’t select Ivy League options.
You also need to consider your children’s futures. It’s always wise to save for their education — working their way through college isn’t an option many young people have, given the costs. However, avoid pressuring them to enter a field about which they don’t feel passionate. If they graduate and hate their job, they’ll still have to pay back student loan debt. There is always a demand for trade workers, and most technical academies cost much less than a 4-year degree.
Make Life’s Big Decisions Less Stressful
Life’s big decisions can create considerable anxiety. However, if you weigh the pros and cons of each option, you can reach a resolution that suits you and your family.