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.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Sep 4, 2012 12:59PM

Digital Vision/Getty ImagesIf 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, 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?

May 29, 2013 6:34AM

.....let's all be real honest here...................


The school's performance is 90% based on the makeup of the student population for that particular school. If the locale surrounding the school has educated and financially successful parents, the students are recipients of higher IQ's and excellent attitudes toward acheiving good grades.Their ambitious and likely to emulate their succesful parents. With this demographic....the school will inherit high SAT scores and other high-level National testing scores.


On the other hand - the black and lower-class white demographic schools continue to be at the bottom of the barrel and will continue to do so as the parents are usually minimally motivated thus raising similar minded kids.

May 29, 2013 5:58AM

I'm so proud to live in a country where the schools are funded according to the perceived socio-economic value of the houses in the district (sometimes gerrymandered, as in my city, on my side of town) the Public School serves. Way to go, Nation! Equality?


And, yes, we are adding the expense of a commute to the budget so our child can go to a school which thanks to parent's past, that isn't serving a district gerrymandered according to skin color...I mean...perceived socio-economic value of the houses of the district racist parents were allowed to create in my city, on my side of town some 20-30 years ago when this was the 'bad' side of town.


I wasn't born and raised in this city, so, their schools won't serve my kid, either. I'm tired of hearing about the better school districts that one has to move to (or afford the house) in order to get a 'good' school. Absolute bull that every child is not given an equal chance regardless of how foolish their parents are. And then, some people of certain thoughtless political leanings think discouraging birth control is a good idea when they don't bother to follow up and provide a good education for those forced into the physical body all because baby mama and baby dada couldn't be bothered to slip on a condom?


We bought an affordable house with an affordable mortgage and the price we pay? A school serving a gerrymandered district that my kid cannot even walk to. A school that is always the first named to lose funding while its sister school, a little over a mile away, a city public school that serves as the private school for a certain super rich subdivision in the city, quietly gets all the funding and great playground equipment it wants. Rock on USA! Equality, forever.

May 29, 2013 4:13AM

Hmmm, no mention of student to teacher ratio, sports programs(yes sport programs) and music and arts. We aren't all techno geeks and everyone isn't born to be a rocket scientist  or a brain surgeon.

Hi Mom 

May 29, 2013 3:33AM
May 29, 2013 2:28AM

ALL school systems, regardless, are simply a good reflection of the quality of the student and, more importantly, the students parent(s). Period.

May 29, 2013 2:06AM


Good schools start thinking like a sailor living on a boat or land yacht and look in to UCLA or ASU for home schooling and avoid the loss of your crew.


Apr 23, 2013 5:11PM
Wow, this study draws some huge conclusions based on indirect data. Saying that some school districts are 'more attractive' based on this data is simply poor science. Guess the authors should have worked a little harder while in their parents' preferred school districts....
Apr 23, 2013 10:58AM
Schoos and education should be given top priority regardless of location so that families do not have to choose where to live solely on the quality of the school system.   An outstanding school system should prevail throughout the country!!!
Sep 15, 2012 8:16PM

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 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'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.   

Sep 15, 2012 5:27PM
Definetly NOT Williamsport Area School District, in williamsport, pa. Ever since the late 1980s it has gone down hill since they, (the city officials) thought it was a good idea to bring recovering drug addicts to town from Philly for rehab. All the drugs & violence followed the scum bags.
Sep 15, 2012 4:49PM
OMG,  You have to be kidding?? LA, San Fran 'Sicko' & Chicago???  They are striking now in The Windy City!  $80K/yr is not enough!!!  Who did your research......Rham Emanuel???
Sep 15, 2012 10:49AM
I went to one of the most poverty-stricken schools in the poorest county in the state of Arkansas.  We had nothing to work with except what came directly from a textbook.  I never saw a lab until I went to college in my 30's.  So what did I get from it?  The knowledge that I could learn anything that was presented to me if I really wanted to.  That was enough to make me realize I could use my mind to be whatever I chose.  I raised 4 kids and they all attended public schools and are successful as are my granddaughters.  It starts with the school and ends with you.
Sep 15, 2012 10:28AM
Dear groovygirl72,
Your sentences should read, "They're all inept.  Shut down public schools; they're inept at best."  

A Public School English Teacher
Sep 15, 2012 9:49AM
Public schools are OVERPAID babysitters.They lack basic, common sense.
Sep 15, 2012 9:41AM

Theyre all inept, shut down public schools,  there inept at best.

Sep 15, 2012 7:59AM
me lerned to reed relly goodd two in Pulick Scol. What I learned is that we spend way to much on public schools. If we gave a voucher to parents and let them choose the school they wanted to send their kids we would have a smarter American public. You know like most of our politicians who went to private School but won't send their kids to public School. But if that happened the Dumbocrats would lose their voting base. You useful idiots need to look at who always blocks your school choice.

Sep 14, 2012 11:26PM

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!

Sep 9, 2012 4:16PM
Alot of bull.You have to take a lot of things in your choice ,which none of which,i saw in this report.
Sep 9, 2012 9:44AM
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