As you may or may not know, I’m not only a real estate professional, but also a mom to two beautiful, boisterous girls. My number one priority is taking care of my family, and I feel that quality is very beneficial to me as I help other families to find their new homes. Recently, I was talking with a friend about how our parents would find out which neighborhood schools that we, as kids, were assigned to. There was no real selection process, no school choice program, no pushback. Before the advent of the internet and consumer rating sites (am I that old?), our parents didn’t really consider where our schools “ranked” before selecting them for our educations. My, how times have changed!
Like most people from Florida, I’m not originally from Florida. I grew up in southern California and finished school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I lived until five years ago. Shortly after my first daughter was born, I was offered a corporate relocation to Tampa. It was your typical Midwestern February, and since we hadn’t seen the sun in 4 months, it didn’t take long to make our decision! At the time we purchased our first Florida home, my daughter was still very young, and considering school zones wasn’t a huge priority. Fast forward three and a half years, and we discovered that our daughter was zoned to attend a “3” rated school (out of 10). Panic set in!
Like all parents, we want “the best” for our kids, so we stressed over our options. Private school? Not in this economy, and not with two kids starting in the next couple years! Sell an organ? I have a few, but may need them down the road. Move to a better school district? Brilliant! We set about packing, and sold a home we loved to put our girls into a better public school district. Problem solved! Unfortunately, moving was not the silver bullet we hoped it would be.
Home Sweet Zone
Through the move, we traded about 600 square feet of living space for a “10” rated neighborhood school, that brought with it a higher cost of living. At the time, we justified the decision because the monthly increase was still less than a private school education for two, but here’s what I didn’t consider:
School District Zones Can CHANGE
W.H.A.T.? My daughter started kindergarten last year, and by December, there were talks of overcrowding and possible rezoning to handle the demand. Parents were furious! At the meetings, I heard plenty of parents say they’d bought homes solely for the neighborhood schools, and many were concerned about losing property value if they were rezoned. Over the course of that kindergarten year, 4 additional kids were added to my daughter’s class and this is not uncommon. With new construction popping up everywhere and other neighborhoods being “revived,” many top rated schools are experiencing increased demand that they can’t meet, which means “your school” may not be “your school” for long.
When considering where to purchase your next home, don’t let school ratings be your only guide. Communities grow and change, and the school district will need to change as well to meet the demands of a growing neighborhood. We are very fortunate that we really love our neighborhood despite the current school rezoning discussion. As you decide on your next home don’t let a builder or real estate agent guarantee a certain school to make a sale and research any open discussions about a school you’re considering. As a mom first, I make it a priority as a real estate professional to share information honestly with other families, and hope to save them from making costly mistakes about their homes and futures. Have you experienced something similar? Please share your thoughts and comments below, and as always, thanks for reading!