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Neighborhoods that Change with Families

Neighborhoods that Change with Families

Imagine the most panoramic of cameras, one that could somehow capture the entirety of your life. And what if it did it every day for five years? What do you think you’d see? Would life be that much different?

I bet we could guess each other’s answer.

Life moves fast, we all know that. Kids grow up quickly. We age, whether it’s losing hair, putting on a couple pounds, feeling aches and pains. Not to mention all the career changes.

But how does it all affect your housing?

Around the turn of the century—yes, the most recent one—home builders, especially here in Richmond, started to notice something new. People were starting to turn the third stories of their homes into livable spaces. A playroom, an office, a new bedroom. It wasn’t easy, especially for the guys hoisting drywall or new flooring up those narrow stairs. The rooms weren’t perfect. Climate control may not have been in play. But they became good rooms usable for much of the year.

So builders adjusted. They changed the location of the entry point, so often in the back of a closet, to hallways for easier access. HVAC units often were capable of dealing with this space. You could even have drywall stored up there for the future finishing.

Builders saw the demand for added flexibility to accommodate the changes a family goes through. We have succeeded at doing this on the home level, but where we’re still coming up short is the neighborhoods, because they undergo changes, too.

Too many suburban neighborhoods are simply a piece of land diced up into lots sized to accommodate homes that are about the same size, mostly the same design, and falling into a narrow price range. It’s too bad, because this process doesn’t allow the neighborhood to transform as its occupants do.


Wyndham is an exception. It’s located in northwest Henrico County, and the developers there clearly understood something. When Wyndham debuted, it was somewhat radical in that it offered a whole range of homes across a variety of categories. Different sizes, different styles, different price ranges. You could rent an entry-level apartment to start and wind up in a home costing seven figures without ever leaving the subdivision.

It gave families a chance to grow and change with their kids, their careers. Families could make lifelong friends and know their kids would stay in the same school system all the way through.

Too often, families decide they need to make a change to their home and realize that it requires a wholesale move to a different neighborhood, upsetting their daily rhythms and everything that goes along with it. Not at Wyndham. A family could move a handful of times and still be in the same general vicinity. No culture shock of a different neighborhood or school system just because you want an extra bathroom and more outdoor space. That is a huge consideration.

It was a smart move by builders, and I hope others continue to take notice. Making it easy on families to keep certain aspects of their lives consistent is a huge consideration for buyers—something they’re certain to appreciate.

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