Public or private, good schools cost money

Trulia analyzes factors homebuyers should consider

Parents who think they’re coming out ahead by paying less for a home in a neighborhood with substandard schools and sending their kids to private school might want to run those numbers again, according to a recent analysis by Trulia.

A couple buying a $300,000 home will have effective monthly housing costs of $1,326. Tack on $912 a month more for private school tuition (the national average, for one kid), and now you’re paying $2,238 for housing and school costs every month — enough to buy a $520,000 home in the same neighborhood, Trulia found.

School bus image via Shutterstock.
School bus image via Shutterstock.

“That’s a lot of extra house — or a neighborhood with much higher-rated public schools — if you’re not paying for private school,” Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko noted in a blog post.

Of course, homes served by highly rated public schools sell for a premium — Trulia found a GreatSchools rating of 9 or 10 correlates with a 32 percent higher price per square foot.

Applying that premium to a 2,000-square-foot house valued at $300,000 would jack the price to $396,000. In high-cost housing markets, homes served by top-rated school districts are outside the reach of many residents.

Kolko said the math “needs to get personal” for anyone thinking about making such trade-offs, since it depends on factors including how many kids a household has and how pricey the local private schools are.

Many parents also weigh the quality of local public schools when deciding whether or not to send their kids to private school. Trulia’s data captures the influence of that consideration.

The listing portal found that private enrollment in the lowest-rated school districts is more than four times as high as private school enrollment in the highest-rated school districts, after adjusting for neighborhood demographic differences.

In ZIP codes in top-rated school districts (those with GreatSchools ratings of 9 or 10), only 4 percent of kids go to private school, after adjusting for neighborhood demographics. But in other districts with GreatSchool ratings of just 1 or 2, 18 percent of kids go to private schools.

Trulia_PrivateSchool_GSRating_Graph

The fundamental point, Kolko said, “is that either private schools or great public schools can drive the math of housing costs. And even if you’re not able to or interested in sending your child to private school, the level of private school enrollment among your neighbors might affect your kid’s public school experience.”


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