School District & Housing Shuffle

In July, Marketplace ran a story on rural states making a push for skilled workers to return to their hometowns (The governor's on the phone, he wants you to move back). Some of our home towns may be the perfect next stop, and others could hold us back.

Opportunity and affordability will be your easy guide to the where question. A quick affordability check always includes housing. A quick opportunity check: jobs & schools. Today, we take a look at school districts vs. homeownership affordability.

Note: there are plenty of good reasons to rent as a family at any stage. I will cover those numbers in a future post.

Beginning with K12 Niche: Best Overall School Districts, ranged against three bedroom and four bedroom (distinct) listings from the Zillow API (via Quandl):

Note: Average vs. Median. Those with statistics training will be quick to realize that median is a better measure for this sample. Averages are overly influenced by their outliers.

3 Bedroom Range: $79,550.00 - $1,864,000.00
4 Bedroom Range: $88,950.00 - $1,558,550.00

Athough the 4 bedrooms do not go as high in price, this is not because they were more reasonably priced. Instead, there were no 4 bedrooms in Aspen.

What can we learn from the data?

It's a useful check on preconceived notions regarding the cost of a good school district. Many of my colleagues from New Jersey are quick to declare that they could never leave the state due to the high quality of schools. Cutting your housing cost in half is like giving yourself a huge, tax-free raise. Feeling comfortable with your children in a thriving public-school district puts your tax dollars to work and keeps private school tuition from raiding your investments. While the other options (charter schools, home, private) may be worth your effort. Clearly, quality public education is alive and well in more than a few US towns.

For real estate investors, keep an eye on the top 20 towns in each category (3BR, 4BR) for A Class properties. Families on the hunt for a good school district are the kind of tenants I could go for.

I'll be posting a few screencasts about the collection and curation of this data in the next few days.

Some Disclaimers:
  • Narrowing down home prices to the exact borders of each school district is very difficult. Most of the stats represent the nearby zip codes, and vary a bit from the district's actual median.
  • Data is based on the Zillow and K12Niche at the time of publication. Home prices vary quickly, and school indices are changed on a bi-yearly - yearly basis.

Schools have a huge effect on home prices, but the range is broad. From New Castle Town to Aspen, there are a full range of home prices to accompany the nation's best school districts.