Sep 19, 2007

What Grade to Give a House Near a School

The kids are back in school for the year--and that's an advantage if you're house hunting now. You don't have to imagine how the neighborhood will change when the students, their parents, their cars, and the buses all start coming through.

And change it will--trust me, I live within a few blocks of four, count 'em, four schools.

Living this close to a school can be both a plus and a minus. The pluses include:

  • Intense cuteness being visible from one's window, my personal favorite being the annual K-8 school's costumed Halloween parade.

  • If you've got kids yourself, they may be able to walk to school. And you'll be able to get there quickly for volunteering, sick-day pickups, and more.

  • Since few neighborhoods are perfectly quiet, you could do a lot worse than putting up with the sound of playing children.

  • If crime is a local issue, the added population that schools bring can make the streets feel safer.

But then there are the possible minuses, like:

  • Traffic congestion, including parents honking at each other because they're late dropping their kids off and are anxious to get to work, and kids trying out the maximum volume setting on their car stereo.

  • Finding pizza boxes, half-done homework pages, and other detritus in your shrubbery.

  • Depending on the ages and tendencies of the kids, more local crime (I didn't want to believe it either, but this info comes straight from our local beat cop).

  • Finding kids on your back porch looking for a quiet place to smooch or smoke.

Girl on school playground So, if you're looking at a house near a school, don't just visit during Sunday open house time. Walk around and observe the streets at the hours that school starts and lets out for the day.

Also, talk to neighbors and ask for their lists of pluses and minuses. The positive parts can be worth it, but so is knowing what you're getting into.

To learn more about the pluses and minuses of settling near a school (or four), try reading Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home (Nolo), by Ilona Bray, Alayna Schroder, and Marcia Stewart.

Ilona Bray