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djames March 13, 2013

My wife and I have a 5yo & a 1yo. Since our income is from an online job, we can live anywhere in the U.S. We're only limited by our income. We are looking for a school district where the elementary, middle and high school are rated "10" and average monthly rent is relatively low. Any suggestions of an "affordable" neighborhoods with high rated schools?

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MagnetMom March 14, 2013

Hi djames,

This is a fascinating question and points to what you probably have already noticed. Very often, housing in the boundaries of highly rated schools costs significantly more than housing with lower ratings even in the same zip code. Further, it's hard to know what's considered 'affordable' given that the lowest average rent in Monroe, Louisiana is $392 and the rent in San Francisco is nearly $2000.

One thing to consider, it's really a challenge to find all three school levels in the same area with 10s. I probably just spent 15-20 minutes thinking of all the areas I could think of that might have a 10, and while the elementary was a 10, the middle school might be an 8, and the high school a 9. They also all have homes approaching a million dollars.

Too, school ratings change over time. With a kindergartener and an infant, it's probably a better idea to focus on a community with a good elementary school and the amenities you need with young children--parks, shopping, etc. Since you're looking to rent, it will give you time to move to the area, live there a bit, and then narrow down where you eventually want to buy.

Good luck, and let us know where you decide to move.


djames March 14, 2013

Thanks, MagnetMom. Yes...I have noticed that the high rated schools are in predominately affluent areas.

But there must be exceptions out there too. For example, a town I grew up near is a small rural town (Coal City, IL) and there elementary school's rated "9, (middle & H.S. are rated "8").

I'm looking for a "10" elementary school (and highly rated middle & H.S.) in an area where I can find a 3BR home for $1200 or less. I've found some by googling "affordable towns/cities" or "best places to retire."

I'm just hoping someone will see this post and inform me of somewhere I have not looked.


MagnetMom March 16, 2013

Another issue to consider is that right now, there's no way to compare state to state results. School ratings in one state do not translate to other states. That might change in a few years with Common Core curriculum, but for now, each state's test and results are different based on their tests.


jaksbackpack March 19, 2013

Hi djames!

These two articles are from 2011, but they'd be worth using as you launch your search.

In our Top cities to live and learn 2011 package, the feature focuses a bit on your particular question:

Then, this particular slide show features 10 of the best education towns with the lowest median home prices across the country:

We hope this helps - and we'd love to know whether these features were helpful and, of course, where you choose and why.

GreatSchools editors


djames March 20, 2013

Thanks, MagnetMom...I didn't know about the school ratings. How is GreatSchools able to rate schools nationwide on a 1 - 10 scale if there's no standardized measure in common?

jakspackpack... Thanks for the articles. I'll read them and get back to you.


TeacherParent March 21, 2013

School ratings are 'iffy' things. One person's 10 is another person's 5. I'd suggest considering a move to a state and/or specific city that has many charter schools - charter schools give you the freedom of choice. There's No guarantee that a school that's running smoothly and well in 2013 will be doing the same in 2015 and you've moved to go to that school! A new principal can come in and not be good and that can change a school a lot.
Moving is expensive and unsettling having done it several times. On the whole better schools tend to be in the suburbs of larger cities. Look for statistics on teachers' strikes - my state has the second highest number of teacher strikes in the nation. You don't want that for your children.

If it were me, I'd pick a climate - and the kind of city you want to be near and then find your school district or charter school. Seattle and Portland are kind of 'hippie' in nature, Oklahoma City is not but it's got a better price of living that Seattle or Portland.


Calrocks March 23, 2013

I'd recommend Fayetteville-Manlius School District outside of Syracuse, New York. Excellent schools, affordable housing where the achievement levels are high and kids are very involved in all kinds of positive activities. The teachers are talented and dedicated and the administration is excellent. The curriculum is as rigorous as any private school and a good number of kids go to competitive colleges and nearly all the kids go to college. Last year the senior class of around 360 or so received 42 offers to Ivy League colleges (+Stanford and MIT) and to many other excellent schools.


kdavis0816 March 25, 2013

Take a look at Plymouth/Canton Community Schools in Michigan. Very affordable housing if you don't mind cold winters. zip code 48187 or 48188. I would stay away from living in the city/township of Plymouth, to expensive. You are better off and cheaper living in Canton.

3 high schools - all 10's; 5 middles schools - 3 of which are 10 (the other thwo are 8 and 9); 16 elementary - 4 are 10's, the rest high 7's 8's and 9's. Make sure you stay out of Van Buren schools. Some parts of Canton do not go to Canton schools. Gallimore - Pioneer - and any of the Highs Schools go together. All 3 high schools are on the same campus. I would suggest looking for homes within the boundaries of the elementary school. Gallimore Elem has been a 10 for at least the last 12 consecutive years. I know this because my oldest son started in Kindergarten there and is now in the 11th grade. Same with Pioneer and all 3 high schools.

Good Luck on your search.


ecoparent March 25, 2013

Totally understand where your coming from! We moved to Tampa, FL from Michigan for better weather and better schools. First when we moved out here our children were in 1st and 5th grade and they were enrolled in a 10 A school, however I did not like the public school AT ALL! I would have rated it a 2! I found a perfect charter school in the local area (Learning Gate Community) and we loved it! It fit all our needs at the time. Our family has grown from 2 children to 5 and I would like all my children to continue there as long as it fits them and they like it. They recently opened up high school which I was so excited about as my son is now in high school but the school just didn't go well with him and we are now in search of a better high school in the area that fits him as the one I had to enroll him in our distrist is horrible! The nice thing about charter schools is you can live anywhere and still have your child go there regardless of which side of the road you live on! Now on here Learning gate is rated 7 I see which last year it was 10. It's because of the high school starting off, but the other person is completely right as one person's 10 is another's 5! I suggest since they are young move to the state you'd like to live in and if you don't like it then you can always move! once they hit 4-5grade moving out of state is harder and harder to make new friends as we found out with our first one! But if you really like the snow, I hear North Carolina has great schools in Raliegh and Haslett Michigan also has great schools. There is always good affordable rent everywhere you go in good neighborhoods, it just requires a little searching and driving!


ecoparent March 25, 2013

Another thing I found out with my son in high school is one county may offer the vocal programing like vet medicine as opposed another county may not. But you have a long ways to go before you know what your kids really want to do in life to worry about that! We rented all these years just so we could move around for high school if need be and now it's paying off because the house we would have bought the high schools didn't offer that in that area! You also may want to move to an apartment first to get use to the area before renting a house depending on what kind of internet business you have as that way you can find the right area for your family. good luck

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