Leaders Of The New School: Parents Will Shell Out 49 Percent More For a Top School District

Leaders Of The New School: Parents Will Shell Out 49 Percent More For a Top School District

By Jeff Vasishta August 30, 2016

You’d think it was the difference between being a gang member or a Nobel Prize Winner. For many paranoid parents it seems that way. There is now a specific number they are willing to pay live in a top performing school district – 49 percent more than the cost of a national median house. That, according to a recent survey by is the value of insuring a quality public education and locking in the coordinates towards a good university. It also means that houses in those areas sell faster. Flippers take note.

Related: In The Age of Gentrification, What Constitutes A “Good School”? How To Make Education Colorblind

“The first question I get asked when I meet new clients from out of town are, ‘where are the good schools?’” says Michael Schwenter a Financial Advisor in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. “You’re seeing a new construction boom around here in those specific areas,” he says “and clients will happily pay more for that factor alone. It still works out a lot cheaper than paying for a private school. You’re certainly getting a lot of people from New York now moving out here, dealing with a 90-minute commute because of quality of schools. The price point of real estate here in a top performing school isn’t a factor when you compare it to the surrounding markets around us – New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.”

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Faisal A. Al-Alim, fits the profile Schwenter discussed. An orthopedic doctor and father of four in Bethlehem, PA, he recently purchased a new home in a quickly sold out community located in the coveted Southern Lehigh School district in the Lehigh Valley, where a five-bedroom newly constructed home can cost over $600,000 and taxes will run to around $11,000 per year. In other parts of the Lehigh Valley, prices can be a third to a half less.

“We researched online for a while,” he says. “I suppose considering the fact that we were building a large house, taxes were an issue, but ultimately the quality of the school was the most important factor. Obviously, the more children you have the more cost effective it works out, particularly when you compare to a private school.”

Nowhere is the competition to get into a top school district more competitive than in New York. In Brooklyn, paying $2 million for a brownstone doesn’t guarantee you a good school district. Many parents have been known to rent an apartment in Park Slope and in turn lease their former home to guarantee their children being zoned for PS 321. Alternatively, as Schwenter stated, many choose to move out of the city and deal with the commute for top-quality public schools.

For those who cannot afford to lease out their brownstone, or spend big bucks to live in a big five-bedroom home in a gated suburban community, there are still ways to ensure your children get into your dream school.

•    Plan early. We’re talking positive pregnancy test early. Don’t leave it until your child is four years old and then get into a mad scramble. Save up a down payment for a modest home in a great school district while you’re still buying diapers and formula. You can always rent it out. There’s a good chance that your 2-bedroom ranch would have appreciated considerably by the time school time comes around. You may have enough equity to trade up into something better. You may be earning more money too.

•    Commit to after school teaching or private tutoring to try and get your child into a gifted and talented program if a move isn’t practical

•    Consider renting, even if it means a studio apartment in a great school district. A least you’ll have your foot in the door and a will have the utility bills and a lease to prove you live there. It doesn’t mean you have to live there the whole time. But you didn’t hear it from me!

•    Buy a fixer-upper at a lower price. It doesn’t have to be a show home to prove you live there. If you have a mortgage statement or a deed and receive your mail there and that is the address on your State ID, you’re good to go.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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