The final way to pick the area you think will appreciate and continue to appreciate is schools. Now for a young family this is the most important aspect of buying a home. People will move great distances and live in areas away from family and Starbucks for the quality of the schools. One way of picking an area with good schools is look at the property tax rates. It is a fact that areas with higher tax rates usually have the best schools. Another way is the old fashion way and ask the Chamber of Commerce where the best schools are and what their ranks are. You can then buy a house you can afford, with the best schools for that price range.
Now you are ready to buy. You know where the areas are that get the best appreciation. You know about the Starbucks affect as strange as that sounds and you know how to find the best schools. Just remember with all this knowledge you still cannot predict the future. All you can do is look at the past trends in the housing market and make the best decision for you and your family. Good Luck.