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Are we prepared to settle down in one area for at least 4 years?  

First, why 4 years? 
Basic rule of thumb in real estate is that you will not get your money back out of a house unless you live there for AT LEAST 4 years before selling.  This could be more or less depending on what region the house is in, but in our area I felt like 4 years was a fine estimate. 

But do you have to sell the house to move? 
No, no you don't.  We have the option to rent out the house, make some income off it, and move if we choose to.  However, if we wanted to sell it and be done with it, we need to hold on to it for 4 years.  The decision to rent the house out or sell it after 4 years is very complicated.  We probably will not decide until a year before moving what we are going to do with the house.

We both work in the area that we bought our house in and we like the neighborhood, but it is still important to consider school districts, taxes, crime, and access to roads, parks, and shopping when choosing a location. 

The better the school district, the higher the taxes (generally) but the easier the home will be to sell.  The more access to parks, shopping and roads, and the less crime, the easier it will be to sell as well, and the value will appreciate more quickly.  We considered all of these things, except we were not planning on having a baby, so we disregarded school districts....our bad:-(  The school district we ended up with is a middle-of-the-road school, but we are slightly nervous about it because crime moved closer to our neighborhood when the recession hit.  I believe (hope) that everything will improve over the next 4-5 years.

Regardless of whether the school district improves, we do not want our child in school in the city.  But, she won't be going to school until she is 5, so we're covered there :-)

Short post today.......

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