Most and least attractive school districts
An analysis by Trulia finds that affordable homes in good school districts do exist — as long as you're willing to increase your commute.
If you have a school-age child, one of the most important factors in choosing where you will live is the quality of the local schools.
Homes in good school districts nearly always sell for more money, though bad schools have not cut the popularity of close-in urban neighborhoods among those who either don’t have children or can afford private schools.
Trulia did an analysis of moving patterns to determine which U.S. school districts are the most attractive to parents. The real-estate portal also looked at the districts that families with school-age children are most likely to leave.
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The conclusion: Moms and dads can't have it all — unless they're prepared to pay top dollar.
"To get an attractive school district and a short commute to downtown, be prepared to pay," wrote Trulia's chief economist, Jed Kolko. "If you can’t afford top dollar in your region, you might find yourself having to choose between a great school district for your kids or a manageable commute for yourself."
The analysis also looked at the top school districts in Los Angeles (no, 90210 does not lead the list), San Francisco and Boston, as well as in suburbs surrounding New York City.
The analysis, based on census data and rankings from GreatSchools.com, works better in some areas than in others. Because it looked at moving patterns, it doesn't factor in the quality of schools where the entire town or (as in Florida) the entire county is a single district. Large-city school districts also may not be reflected accurately, since the quality of schools within a district can vary.
If you're wondering how your school district ranked, you can download a full list by state.
The five most attractive schools districts, with the average home price per square foot:
- Saratoga Union Elementary School District (San Francisco Bay Area): $603
- Lovejoy Independent School District (Dallas): $92
- Cold Spring Harbor Central School District (suburban New York City): $322
- Glencoe School District (Chicago): $277
- San Marino Unified School District (Los Angeles): $536
The five least attractive school districts, with the home price per square foot:
- Hoboken (N.J.) City School District (suburban New York City): $478
- Orchard Elementary School District (San Francisco Bay Area): $299
- Edgewater (N.J.) Borough School District (suburban New York City): $396
- Alexandra (Va.) City Public Schools (suburban Washington, D.C.): $307
- Palisades Park (N.J.) Borough School District (suburban New York City): $226
"We can see it in the migration trends of what 30- to 39-year-olds are doing. You may see a fair number of these people in this age group in the centers of cities, but there’s a substantial outflow of these people when their kids reach school age," Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, told The Wall Street Journal. "Instead of going out and partying, they’ve got little kids to deal with."
How important was school quality to you when you bought your home? Does a longer commute seem a worthwhile trade-off for better schools?
The conclusion the "study" makes is kind of a stretch. There are many factors other than schools which cause people to move and keep people from moving. I read the original blog post from Trulia where the study was explained in more detail, and I was disappointed that the limitations weren't made more clear. For example, parents with older children are likely further along in their careers, presumably making more money, maybe having a second child...essentially looking to move out of that "starter" home into a more suburban, less dense, possibly more expensive area (factors that the study found correlated with these "more attractive school districts"). As another example, how can you really take any housing-related data from the last few years and try to make sense of it without considering the housing markets, especially in places like California? The study presents one potential explanation for an extremely complicated research question. I would have liked to see MSN pick up on these limitations in its article.
Here we go again...as a public school teacher, I will tell you that when I have to be a "babysitter," it's because you as parents aren't doing your jobs! Maybe if you didn't spend so much time bashing teachers - probably in front of your children - maybe, just maybe, your children would be respectful instead of oppositional, and then I could actually do my job - to teach - instead of crowd control.
Since I'm now teaching the spawns of one of the first "everyone gets a trophy, so they won't have poor self-esteem" generation, you won't let me hold your children accountable or make them responsible for anything...it's everybody else's fault!!! I wish you GOOD LUCK when they get their first DUI, or flunk out of college, or at 30 or older, are still living with you because you got them out of trouble instead of let them have logical consequences (I know it's too hard to parent but easier to just give in all the time) and now they have no idea how to deal with the real world. Just don't think that you can blame the public schools; you just need to look in the mirror.
Oh, and I make no where near $80,000 (about half that) - and most of us don't.
I went a pubic skule ware i larned how to spel and rite gude. The teachers tawt me spelin an engish real gude to.
I gradated with all "A"s at the top of my class. My teachers sed I was real smart to.
I wanted to go to colije but them folks sed I shud go back to graid skule cuz I ain't larned nuttin yet.
Eniwayz, I jist want to thank them teachers in Chik A Go fer teachin me so gude.
I sher hope they get what they want cuz they are the bestest teachers in the wurld!
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.