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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 127679  
Subject: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 3:37 AM
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My husband and I have been thinking about moving to a larger home. We live in the San Jose, California area. We are also fortunate enough to live in an area where they have the best school districts.

I have never looked for a home before. My husband bought his home 20 years ago before we were married. So I have never been through this process.

But as I go through what's available a few things strike me:

1. The difference between a 3BR home and a 4-5 BR home is orders of magnitude. It's not a simple increase in price due to the added value of one extra bedroom.

2. The difference in home prices between school districts is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. With similar homes in lesser school districts going for up to $400,000 less than what our current home is worth. And that even with that home having 1 more BR than ours.

It seems to me that with home prices so flexible this way that it doesn't make any sense at all to move into a home in a good school district. Why?

Because for the difference in price, we could:

1. Have little or no mortgage (we have a lot of equity in our current home);
2. Have enough saved up to send one child plus one more (if we have another) to a really good private school;
3. And I could quit my job and be a full time mom.

California spends between $6-7K/student per year. Multiply by 12 and that's between $72K and $84K actual value (yes, I know the dollars won't be constant - it's a snapshot). (Not that you necessarily get value when you send your children to a public school, but that's besides the point.) But the home prices in the good school districts are as much as $400K more.

Is there some reason I want to pay $300K more for a school district? I really think this is nuts.

Is there something I'm missing here?

CCSand
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Author: dougdoogle Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67465 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 10:06 AM
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>>>3. And I could quit my job and be a full time mom.<<<

There is a great deal to be said for being a stay-at-home parent. Living in an average school district would allow you to volunteer at the school enough to let your children and the teachers know that you consider their education important.

If you live in an excellent school district and your latchkey kids develope, even slightly, bad habits then all the extra AP courses the school offers won't make a twit of difference.

What our children see in the world depends on what we show them.

Doug


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Author: GADawg Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67469 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 11:34 AM
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1. The difference between a 3BR home and a 4-5 BR home is orders of magnitude. It's not a simple increase in price due to the added value of one extra bedroom.

Usually a 4 or 5 BR house has more and better amenities than a 3 BR house. Granite counters instead of laminate. Tile and wood floors rather than carpet and vinyl. More molding, higher ceilings, etc.

It seems to me that with home prices so flexible this way that it doesn't make any sense at all to move into a home in a good school district.

It may or may not. Remember that an inflated price at the front end also means an inflated price on the back end. If you buy a $200k house now, in 10 years it may be worth $300k. If you buy a $500k house now, in 10 years it may be worth $800k.

Also, aside from the education issue, I would rather have neighbors who paid $500k for their houses than $200k.

As to using a private school, you should investigate the schools available. Many people make the mistake of assuming that a private school is always superior to a public schools. Some are, some aren't. Ask the schools about state certifications, test scores, and college admissions. Some colleges won't accept diplomas from certain private schools as proof of schooling and your child may be viewed as the equivalent of a dropout.

Also ask the local public schools about the local private schools. I live in an area with good public schools and bad private schools. One private school in particular will lie to parents and state that children can come to the private school for a year or two, get their academic second wind, then transfer back to public school. The problem is that the public schools don't accept the private school transcripts. The students have to pass tests to prove their aptitude. Many can't.

Hopefully the private schools near you are first class.

California spends between $6-7K/student per year.

Those averages can be misleading. Special needs students inflate the cost per student. If your child doesn't need specialized education, he is probably much cheaper to educate than that average.

On the other hand, public schools usually offer extracirricular activities that private schools don't. Will your kid want to play sports or be in the band? These aren't options at some private schools.

You may or may not want to spend the extra money to be in a superior school district. These are just some things to consider.

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Author: xtn Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67470 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 12:02 PM
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Also, aside from the education issue, I would rather have neighbors who paid $500k for their houses than $200k.

I think that's the oddest thing I have ever heard!

xtn

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Author: brewer12345 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67475 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 12:24 PM
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Also, aside from the education issue, I would rather have neighbors who paid $500k for their houses than $200k.

I think that's the oddest thing I have ever heard!

xtn

****************************

I found this pretty perplexing myself, but I suppose that it takes all kinds. Frankly, if my neighborhood were hit with an influx of people paying in excess of half a million bucks for a 3BR home, I would be pretty eager to sell.

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Author: nmckay Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67478 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 12:30 PM
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Maybe that's what he meant.

nmckay

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Author: GADawg Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67479 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 12:32 PM
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Also, aside from the education issue, I would rather have neighbors who paid $500k for their houses than $200k.

I think that's the oddest thing I have ever heard!


Economic demographics are a major force in real estate values. The higher the property values, the better the schools, the lower the crime rate, the nicer the local businesses, etc. That is what I meant.

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Author: MunkeeNutz Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67490 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 2:53 PM
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The best strategy is to go for the best neighborhood you can afford.

If you don't need a 4-5 BRM house, don't buy one.

Go for the smaller house in the better neighborhood.


Now, if you can choose a neighborhood that's on the "upswing" (i.e. gentrifying, perhaps), you can have the best of both worlds.



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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67491 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 2:56 PM
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GADawg wrote:

Also, aside from the education issue, I would rather have neighbors who paid $500k for their houses than $200k.

Understood, although with the equity we have, we won't need to look at homes in that price range. Frankly, I don't think there ARE any homes in that price range in this area anyway.

As to using a private school, you should investigate the schools available. Many people make the mistake of assuming that a private school is always superior to a public schools. Some are, some aren't. Ask the schools about state certifications, test scores, and college admissions. Some colleges won't accept diplomas from certain private schools as proof of schooling and your child may be viewed as the equivalent of a dropout.

We have several excellent private schools in our area. This will not be a problem.

Thanks.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67493 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 3:05 PM
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MunkeeNutz wrote:

The best strategy is to go for the best neighborhood you can afford.
If you don't need a 4-5 BRM house, don't buy one.
Go for the smaller house in the better neighborhood.
I disagree that this is the best strategy.


Buying the best house in the best neighborhood means that I need to work for the next 20 years to pay off the mortgage to send my child to a public school that may or may not be a good school by the time he gets around to going to school - which will not be for several years yet.

OTOH, We could:

1. Buy a 5 BR/3BA home in a more rural area that is a bit farther away from work;
2. Our equity could mostly pay it off so that we would have little to no mortgage, and if there is a mortgage we could manage to have it paid off by the time Hubby is 70; and
3. I could quit work and be a full-time mom;
4. We could adopt another child; and
5. Send them both to private school and/or homeschool them.

I've got to work on the finances of this a bit more closely, but you get the general idea.

There's a lot more advantage for me being home for my kid(s) than there is in my working until 9pm at night.

CCSand

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Author: makasha Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67496 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 5:03 PM
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"There's a lot more advantage for me being home for my kid(s) than there is in my working until 9pm at night."
Amen to that!

Although in San Jose, "Buy a 5 BR/3BA home in a more rural area that is a bit farther away from work;" could mean anything from 15 to 75 extra minutes a day in the car (each way), as I'm sure you're aware. I took a pay cut when I transferred to a job in my own town, but it was like suddenly having a 26 hour day! "Wow, I have 2 extra hours!! Whatever shall I do with myself?" ;-)

Plus, the pay cut is now gone since I'm in outside sales. ;-)

Kasha<--who counts herself lucky to not need to sleep away those extra 2 hours a day, LOL!

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67498 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 6:43 PM
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makasha wrote:

Although in San Jose, "Buy a 5 BR/3BA home in a more rural area that is a bit farther away from work;" could mean anything from 15 to 75 extra minutes a day in the car (each way), as I'm sure you're aware.

Our radius is anything within 45 minute drive to/from Cupertino. Since the 101 corridor was widened in between South San Jose and Morgan Hill, our chances may be better at finding something down there.

Frankly, my family is all in the North Bay and I would prefer to move North, but I don't know if there's anywhere we can go in that direction that would really be in the right price range.

CCSand

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Author: sailrmac Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67505 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 8:43 PM
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<<We have several excellent private schools in our area. This will not be a problem.>>

If your talking Harker, Bellarmine, et al you may wany to do further research. I heard (nothing official just gossip) that Bellarmine has real drug problems. Additionally, the values that lead to catered $5k+ birthday parties for 8 year olds are not the values I want my kids to grow up with.


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Author: sailrmac Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67506 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 8:49 PM
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How about this scenario:

Move out of San Jose. Use equity to buy a nice home, in a nice area, near things you like to do, with decent schools, for cash. Use remaining equity for investments: stocks, down payment on an apartment building in same area, etc. You stay home and raise the kids. Your hubby comes home at 5pm to play with them and retirees early if he wants to.


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Author: QuixoticFool Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67515 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/18/2004 11:43 PM
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I'm with you on this one, GADawg (go Georgia, go!)...

When I was looking for my apartment, one of the things I looked for was higher overall property values (not that I would be buying one of the more expensive properties, mind you!) and better schools (even though I have no kids).

I've read many, many articles in which the author emphatically states that neighborhood quality can generally be judged by the quality of its school system & local schools. Of course, there may be exceptions...but IME, that's been the case.

You'll notice that properties may seem more "affordable" in areas where the schools are "improving" (or so they say).... I remember looking for properties in Maine, during one of my "I want to telecommute and get away from all this NY stress" periods, and there seemed to be a plethora of properties in my price range available in a certain town (which I won't name, in case I happen to offend someone). Beautiful properties, old, gorgeous farmhouses with acres (and ACRES) of land...right on the water, in some cases! Since I was in the beginning of my house search, I thought it was *excellent*!!! I'd finally be able to afford the home of my dreams!

Alas, once I started asking questions (thank goodness I did), I came to discover that the local school system had a major drug problem & kids were ill-behaved, generally truants & the like. One Realtor said that, since I don't currently have kids, once I *did* have them, it would take awhile before they'd get into the high school, and I could chance that the schools would improve by then.

Unfortunately, property values in that area have not increased over time...in fact, they've stayed relatively the same. (I checked) The schools haven't gotten better, they've gotten worse. And if I had listened to that first Realtor, I might have ended up with a property in an area where I didn't feel safe (as a single woman) and couldn't turn it over in any reasonable amount of time. Luck was on my side.

My mantra since then has been the ever-popular, "Buy the worst house in the best neighborhood"...within reason, of course. I'm not going to buy a trailer on a street full of McMansions. But if there are a dozen homes, all selling for around $400k, and I can find something in reasonable shape for $325, then by all means I'm probably going for it!

Alyssa

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67518 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/19/2004 12:15 AM
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sailrmac wrote:

If your talking Harker, Bellarmine, et al you may wany to do further research. I heard (nothing official just gossip) that Bellarmine has real drug problems.

Is there anywhere that doesn't have real drug problems these days? I don't think it's any better in the public schools. And I certainly don't see paying an extra $400K just to get the right school district.

Actually, St. Andrews Episcopal, Menlo School, Sacred Heart and several others are all within the area. So is Harker.

Additionally, the values that lead to catered $5k+ birthday parties for 8 year olds are not the values I want my kids to grow up with.

I agree.

FWIW, I went to a boarding school although I was a day student for all but the last year (at which point I wanted to taste what it was like to live away from home). Everyone there was more wealthy than my family. I didn't have the clothes, or the parties, or the divorced parents or the drug problems that went with all of that. My mom and dad were smart and my extracurricular activities were limited accordingly. So I had no problems growing up (other than the usual ones) and I got a fantastic education.

The public school in my area was not really an option. We had friends whose daughter got mugged in the bathroom because she refused to smoke a joint. Similarly, I would have been toast.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67522 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/19/2004 1:29 AM
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sailrmac wrote:

Move out of San Jose. Use equity to buy a nice home, in a nice area, near things you like to do, with decent schools, for cash. Use remaining equity for investments: stocks, down payment on an apartment building in same area, etc. You stay home and raise the kids. Your hubby comes home at 5pm to play with them and retirees early if he wants to.

We're not in San Jose. We're actually already in one of the most expensive parts of the South Bay (hubby bought way before it became expensive). So it would be very easy for us to move somewhere else and have almost no mortgage. Even so, I don't think we'll have enough equity to be completely mortgage free, but it will be real close.

CCSand

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Author: batdoe Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67779 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/22/2004 6:59 PM
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Additionally, the values that lead to catered $5k+ birthday parties for 8 year olds are not the values I want my kids to grow up with.

Oh my!!

I just spent less than $200 on my son's 8th birthday party and thought it was way too much for a group of screaming cub scouts and assorted relatives. I caved to the peer pressure and did goodie bags for all my son's friends to take home. $5000 catered party - I think NOT! His Bar Mitzvah, sure, but not a birthday party.

I'm loving life here in NH a bit more every time I read a California housing thread.

Lisa
a bit queasy now


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Author: jodynroy100 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67960 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/25/2004 11:22 AM
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We have the same issue in our n'hood. Can't afford to move and stay in the same school district, whereas just a school away, prices begin to drop, and in other areas, where it's not the HOTTEST school, they are even lower for good quality homes WITH very decent neighbors, families, and decent schools. W'er considering moving before #2 starts elemenatry, b/c many public schools are good, and the "BEST: means something diff. for each kid. I also believe that there is a point .. and right now could be it -- that our n'hood is as inflated as the school can make it, and proeperty values won't increase proporitaionately any more than in other areas that are well-chosen
As the post of the day say, the best investment is TIME -- for yourself, your family, your home.
If you would be satsifried with a different, less-expensive neighborhood that doesn't reuqurie you to totally move away from what's comfortable for you then GO FOR IT -- live below your means for a while and enjoy the gift of time you would give yoruself.
Use some of that free time and professional know-how to volunteer in your kids' schools and make it better. There are a LOT of good schools, and it seems San Jose has a pretty well-educated population of transplants. I'm sure the kids in many of the school districts you are considering are good students learning well.
It's not just the school, it's what you make of it and how you support your child. We are in a great school district, but the kids of uninvolved parents struggle as much as kids in lesser school districts.
Buy what you are comfortable with and consider this: a house onto which you can add another room/office/suite if you need it one day ... but a mortgage that doesn't stress you out.
good luck
jody

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Author: Daryll40 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67968 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/25/2004 1:44 PM
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An issue that I am just beginning to realize: The PRICE of the house is not as important as the RESALE value.

When I bot my $300,000 house in a swank suburb of Pittsburgh 12 years ago, I thought I was making an investment. I COULD have bot in a less pricey suburb for half. 12 years later and the house MIGHT be worth $350,000. And this is a GOOD suburb with GOOD schools. If I had bot in New Jersey, Boston, DC or California, I would have QUADRUPLED my money.

Bottom line is this: America is moving to the megapolises. Those areas mentioned above and perhaps 3-4 more. In those areas, houses probably will pan out as "investments". In the rest of America houses are "use assets" and you should by like you buy anything else...spend as little as possible for as much as possible because it's unlikely to grow more than the rate of inflation, at best.

Daryll40

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Author: russtms1 Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67976 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/25/2004 2:10 PM
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I live in the Los Angeles area, and have seen similar things. My area is slightly different, however.

>1. The difference between a 3BR home and a 4-5 BR home is orders of magnitude. It's not a simple increase in price due to the added value of one extra bedroom.

In our area, that's not the case. A 3BR home on a lot is worth a lot more than a 2BR, but there's not such a huge jump to 4BR. For example, *in the same housing area*, a 2BR house on 1/6 acre costs ~$250k, a 3BR on the same lot costs $350k, then it's about $50k per BR. OTOH, most 4-5BR houses are not in the same areas as 3BR, so they may cost more due to the area. I'm told that the three most important factors in pricing a house are location, location, and location.

>2. The difference in home prices between school districts is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. With similar homes in lesser school districts going for up to $400,000 less than what our current home is worth. And that even with that home having 1 more BR than ours.

This, unfortunately, is just supply and demand. In the LA Unified School District, it is virtually impossible to buy a house in the area that automatically qualifies your child to go to the very best elementary school. Most of the houses in that area have at least 5 bedrooms and go for >$1 million. Why? People with incomes of $1M/year want their kids to go to the best possible school, and are willing to pay the ridiculous housing price to do so. These schools rate higher on the State ratings than any of the private schools as well. Also, the areas with the best schools tend to be the safest areas to live and the safest schools to attend.

So what's the solution? For one, you can easily buy a house in a good area where the schools are not quite as good, especially if you're willing to buy a condo. You can make up the difference with private tutoring, less expensive than private schooling, or just send your kids to private school. (Actually, most of the LA area high schools are quite good anyway. There is some variation in the elementary schools, but not as much as you might think.) You could find a nearby area that has really good schools but requires a longer work commute; it would most likely have better housing prices. (This is what we did.)

>Is there some reason I want to pay $300K more for a school district? I really think this is nuts.

It may be nuts, but this is how pricing markets work. It's supply and demand. The supply of houses in the area is limited, but the demand is artificially high because of the few rich people who want to send their kids to the best schools.

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Author: UpstateMale Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 67978 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/25/2004 2:14 PM
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Home schooling was mentioned above and I would like to support this idea. Since you mentioned it, I am supposing that you have looked into it. We live in a good school district in South Carolina and were active in our sons' schools. However, for a number of reasons, we decided to home school. Wonderful decision! As we went around the two schools telling teachers and principals of our decision (we did this in mid-year), everyone was supportive (some very!) except the principal of the elementary school---and that was only because he knew he was losing some very involved parents. Some teachers even jokingly (but wishfully) said, "can you home school my own children?"

We have a very good private school here, but it still has many of the problems of the public schools.

It's not for everyone, but it was the correct decision for us and one which we now wish we'd made sooner. Both boys were active in outside activities and had many friends, but they were friends which were which were more selectively chosen. Some public schools allow home schoolers to participate in extra-curricular activities. As to colleges, more and more of them are eager to get home schoolers because, by and large, they are more mature, have less social problems, and overall make better students in general. Our older one was a Merit Scholar.

Although my wife was an active (at the national level) and successful professional beforehand, she does not regret for a minute the decision to be a stay-at-home mom. Neither do the three males in the house!

I can tell that you'll research all this carefully. Best wishes with whatever your decision.


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Author: HedonistiX Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 68004 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/25/2004 4:26 PM
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Is there some reason I want to pay $300K more for a school district? I really think this is nuts.

Frankly, my family is all in the North Bay and I would prefer to move North, but I don't know if there's anywhere we can go in that direction that would really be in the right price range.

CCSand
------

Also, aside from the education issue, I would rather have neighbors who paid $500k for their houses than $200k.

Economic demographics are a major force in real estate values. The higher the property values, the better the schools, the lower the crime rate, the nicer the local businesses, etc. That is what I meant.

GADawq
------

CC:

Read these posts of yours from the Fool's mailing.

I agree with GADawq's comments, it does sound "snobbish" or "elitist" on the surface, but GADawq followed up with reasonable explanations which I also agree with.

Like people said in "real estate": it's location, location, location ........ and in the case of California/Bay Area, I've found public school district has become a very important issue and huge factor in house price premiums, i.e.: identical 3 bdrm. houses in the borderline of Concord and Walnut Creek can differ in prices by 200K just because of their zipcode and school zoning.

Despite placing a high ranking on public school system, if the day comes we have to finalize our decision on buying our place, I'd shoot for a place that we can comfortably afford with an acceptable/medium-ranked public school system.

I don't believe in paying for private school (some co-workers pay $1,500/month for kid's elementary school, I thought that is ridiculous!) neither do I believe in having to put our future kid(s) into the top ranked public school as I place higher values in educating kids at home first before at school. What I meant is, if we can educate our kids according to the values we want them to have at home, more likely they'll turn out OK even if they don't go to fav. schools and OTOH if they are not educated properly at home, they can still do drugs at fav. schools.

Anyway, on areas suggestions you can probably get decent places with good public school systems in Walnut Creek, Moraga/Orinda/Lafayette or Foster City from where you are now without having to pay much premiums for upgrading.


--H


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Author: mas15 Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 68071 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/26/2004 11:14 AM
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I'm not from the west coast but it sounds like you're already in an ideal neighborhood. What are your reasons for moving other than size? Have you considered an extreme home makeover? Our 150,000 home improvement investment has valued our 400,000 purchase into a 900,000+ potential sale in under three years. Those exponential increases typically work in 'location – location – location' neighborhoods only.

If home improvement is something to entertain, post another question; it's an entirely different discussion. There are short term headaches, but if managed correctly, a less expensive route for the same result. With the Equity in your current home combined the current interest rates you could probably turn your home into a mini estate.

mas15

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 68148 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/27/2004 1:00 AM
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H wrote:

Read these posts of yours from the Fool's mailing.

How about that! It made Post of the Day! Who knew!?

Like people said in "real estate": it's location, location, location ........ and in the case of California/Bay Area, I've found public school district has become a very important issue and huge factor in house price premiums, i.e.: identical 3 bdrm. houses in the borderline of Concord and Walnut Creek can differ in prices by 200K just because of their zipcode and school zoning.

This is true. Down in the South Bay it can differ by as much as $400K just going from Sunnyvale to Saratoga. For the same size house. So it's just about all school district.

Despite placing a high ranking on public school system, if the day comes we have to finalize our decision on buying our place, I'd shoot for a place that we can comfortably afford with an acceptable/medium-ranked public school system.

Given the amount of money we'll save on the purchase price, we could comfortably send two children to some very good schools for that kind of money. So the question becomes whether we want to be mortgage slaves and send our children to the local public school - which may or may not teach them the values that we want taught and which may or may not be good at the time our son is ready to attend - or have a lesser mortgage and save the money up for our child's education.

I think you have more choices with the latter option.

The more I run the numbers, the more I become convinced that this is a better way to go. The trick will be to find the right neighborhood in a growing area. So I think it is doable.

I don't believe in paying for private school (some co-workers pay $1,500/month for kid's elementary school, I thought that is ridiculous!) neither do I believe in having to put our future kid(s) into the top ranked public school as I place higher values in educating kids at home first before at school. What I meant is, if we can educate our kids according to the values we want them to have at home, more likely they'll turn out OK even if they don't go to fav. schools and OTOH if they are not educated properly at home, they can still do drugs at fav. schools.

I agree that it is ridiculous. I don't think education is a commodity that you can just buy. I went to private school when I was a child and it was the right thing for me. Our public schools were really bad - full of drugs. So I had a choice of that or go somewhere else. It wasn't a difficult choice. I got a really great education and when I finally got into college, I was way ahead of my class. Incidentally, there were drugs at that school too, just a lot less of them. Particularly after I caught the school drug dealer. <big grin>

I think it is possible to find a nice neighborhood even if the school district isn't that great. And I don't believe in paying for a home AND a school district, when all that I really want is a home. That whole area down there is expanding, so I don't think it will be too long before there is an improvement in educational options. The two good private schools that I looked at are both expanding.

Anyway, on areas suggestions you can probably get decent places with good public school systems in Walnut Creek, Moraga/Orinda/Lafayette or Foster City from where you are now without having to pay much premiums for upgrading.

Neither of us want to live in the East Bay and Hubby's job is in the South Bay. He's death on commuting, so we'll be looking in the Morgan Hill/Gilroy area. There are some very nice neighborhoods down there. Some of the public elementary schools there are quite good, but there is a dearth of good public high schools. There are a few private high schools down there, however, which appear to be quite good. So it's doable.

Now I just have to figure out if we can afford two children or just one.

But that's a whole 'nother spreadsheet! :)

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 68149 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/27/2004 1:06 AM
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mas15 wrote:

I'm not from the west coast but it sounds like you're already in an ideal neighborhood. What are your reasons for moving other than size?

We currently have a 3 bedroom home with 1 child, a dog and a cat. And, of course, the two of us. One of those bedrooms is being used as an office. So if we want to adopt another child, we have to move. So size is really the issue. We have no family room in this house and no breakfast area. The driveway is a killer - literally - for a little boy on a bicycle. And we have a tiny backyard.

Have you considered an extreme home makeover?

We've done that over the last 5 years, but we can't add any rooms because there's no where to build. Our home is built on quite a slope and it's mostly unbuildable.

If home improvement is something to entertain, post another question; it's an entirely different discussion. There are short term headaches, but if managed correctly, a less expensive route for the same result. With the Equity in your current home combined the current interest rates you could probably turn your home into a mini estate.

If we had more flat land, that's exactly what I'd look into... :) That was the first thing I thought of, but having already been through the permit process just to rebuild our decks, we discovered that our home wouldn't be allowed to be built today without a variance - which in itself is an expensive process with no guarantee of success. The slope is too steep.

CCSand

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 68162 of 127679
Subject: Re: Homes & School Districts Date: 3/27/2004 12:17 PM
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I wrote:

How about that! It made Post of the Day! Who knew!?

Correction. It wasn't Post of the Day. It was in Hot Topics.

http://www.fool.com/community/hottopics/2004/ht040325.htm

Congrats to everyone who has contributed to the thread.

CCSand

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