Is moving for a better school district worth it?

I’m sure you’ve heard friends or neighbors mention how they wanted to move because they wanted to be in a better school district for their kids or they didn’t have kids yet but they wanted to make sure they found a home that was in a school district they wanted.  It’s one of the top ten reasons people choose a certain house to buy.  But is it all just a bunch of baloney?

MSN has a new article about whether that is, in fact, something you want to focus on that it causes you to move.  A house can cost more if it’s in a highly desired school district.  So before you choose to go that route, you’ll want to ask yourself these questions:

  • How many children do I have/plan to have?
  • How secure is my job?
  • How long do I plan to stay in this area?
  • What are my social expectations for this community outside of the schools?
  • How diverse is the school?
  • Is the environment right for my child? Is it too high pressure?
  • Will I need two incomes to make a mortgage payment there? Will we want to keep up with the Joneses and blow our budget?
It’s important not just to go by what you hear.  A lot of people have strong biases toward or against certain school districts because of personal experience or problems they may have had with a teacher or employee.  It could have just been a personality conflict.  So it’s important that you do your own research first.
Find out the student/teacher ratio.  Visit the schools and speak to the staff and ask for a tour, especially of the ones you’re interested in.  You may find that it’s not as good of a fit for your child as you had originally thought.  And then you just gave up your home because you heard how great the schools were.  
It’s also possible that your community offers a charter or magnet school that have a more progressive teaching philosophy.  For instance, there’s a charter school in a suburb near mine that’s very focused on green living, growing your own food, and sustainable resources.  Now, you have to be located in that suburb to enroll.  However, if you are located within a different school district, you’re open to enroll as well, and it’s not for the community that’s right next door.  So, again, it’s important to do your research.
Also, it could even save you money to send your children to private school rather than put down extra money to purchase a new home.  You’ll want to look at tuition costs and figure out if it is a valuable investment.  You also want to make sure you’re not shelling out a ton of money in gas by driving your kids to a school further away and going back and forth for all their various activities.  So research is key in determining what is best for you and your family.
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