Author Topic: Considering a move within our city to access better public schools  (Read 2324 times)

Nick_Miller

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My wife and I are considering a possible move to a nicer part of our city. We're still in the feeling out phase of the process.

Reasons for doing this:

1) MAIN REASON - Better public schools. My kiddos would be guaranteed access to good (I'd say B+ to A-) public schools for middle and high school. The high school is one of the top 5 high schools in our city (of about 30). The new elementary and middle schools are in nice areas and would be 3 and 7 minutes from my office.  Our current trajectory in our current location would have our kids going to schools I'd grade as B- that are located in a very bad area of town about 20 minutes from our home and 20 minutes from my office.

2) Better quality of life. Our current neighborhood is "okay" but not great. Most owners are older people that we have very little in common with. People buying aren't really like us, i.e. of the last four, not a single one of them was a "family with a wife and husband who are college educated with kids in the 8-14 age range." Homes are about 50-60 years old, with small bedrooms/bathrooms. No sidewalks or common areas like playgrounds or pools or even common green space. Entertainment options are limited and all about 15-20 minutes away. Crime is also rising in nearby neighborhoods, although it's still pretty safe relatively speaking.

The numbers:

We're having a real estate agent come over to help us evaluate our home value. I'm guessing it will come back $140Kish. We owe $65K so we'll have about $75kish in equity.

We are looking for homes in a certain (large and nicer) neighborhood about 15 minutes from our current location with: 1) a larger master, 2) more closet space, 3) upgraded kitchen, and 4) a better lot (we're currently on a corner lot and I cut a lot of grass that we NEVER step foot on). A home like this in the new neighborhood we're targeting would likely be in the $180k-$200k price range. We would roll over our sale equity into a new 15-year mortgage.

If I had to put everything on a number spectrum, I'd say our current house is a 4 or 5, and we're looking for an upgrade to a 7.

Net Worth this month is $135K. We have almost $100K in investments and will max our 2017 IRAs in January/February. We're on pace to have $200k in investments in 3 years. I still owe huge student loans ($64K) but we are chopping them down and should have them paid off in 3 years. Only other debt is a car we'll have paid off in 2 years. Currently we're increasing our net worth by about $3K per month between debt payments and investments.

It might be more ideal to wait 3 years when all our non-mortgage debt is gone, but middle school years are important and we'd be buying a middle school upgrade for both our kids. That's the reason we're thinking about making the move this coming summer.

Anyone else been in this situation? How do you make the decision?Any advice? Care to share your experiences?

EDITED TO ADD

To be fair, I'll play devil's advocate:

1) Our current schools aren't bad. In fact they are pretty decent. It's not like they're getting a horrible education.
2) This will most likely set back FI. Perhaps not by a lot, but even if we keep the new mortgage at a 15, we'll be adding 6 years to mortgage payoff (we're currently set to be paid off in 9 years).
3) A slightly nicer home in a much nicer area will probably lead to some lifestyle creep, especially with furniture and stuff like that.
4) More entertainment options at the newer home might lead to us wanting to use those entertainment options ($)
5) It's okay to be one of a handful of professionals in a working class neighborhood. Just because you don't have much in common with your neighbors, it doesn't mean you can't be friendly and on "okay" terms with everyone.



« Last Edit: November 16, 2016, 06:36:13 AM by Nick_Miller »

Tiger Stache

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Re: Considering a move within our city to access better public schools
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2016, 03:21:04 PM »
It's okay to want to improve your life. It doesn't sound like what you're planning would break the bank or disrupt anything

ohsnap

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Re: Considering a move within our city to access better public schools
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2016, 04:34:53 PM »
You didn't explicitly say this, but it sounds like the new house/neighborhood would be closer to your work?  (you said the schools would be closer to your office).   If that's true, is it possible that your commuting costs could be reduced or eliminated?  For example, car-pool with your spouse, public transit, bike, or ???  If you could go from being a two-car family to a one-car family, that would go a long way to making up the housing cost difference.

Also, I know $180k-$200k seems like a fairly small price band, but how close can you get to the $180k house price vs $200k will make a 10% difference in your housing costs.  That's money that could go toward getting those debts paid off.

pbkmaine

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Re: Considering a move within our city to access better public schools
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2016, 05:31:47 PM »
Go for it.

Goldielocks

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Re: Considering a move within our city to access better public schools
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2016, 03:55:26 PM »
Sounds like a nice idea.

Also investigate just renting a nice home in the target neighborhood....  I am finding that we are thinking about downsizing once the kids are out of high school, or even a little before as the yard is not important to them anymore, but access to their friends and the recreation center is.   Lots of homes come available for rent in non-classic "rental" areas, too.

 If I had been smart, we would have planned to be here only 7 years.   7 years is the borderline plan between rent and buy in my books.

Now, if we stay, we might convert half the home to a suite to rent it out, as we won't need a large place, soon, but we are in a very suburban area where suite rents are not very much and I would prefer a library, grocery store or coffee shop closer.   ah.  decisions for another year.

Nick_Miller

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Re: Considering a move within our city to access better public schools
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2016, 07:30:34 AM »
@ehallison, the new house would be about the same distance to my work - about 20 minutes. Picture a circle with my office in the middle - our move would include us basically moving along the perimeter of the circle, from southwest to southeast. Does that make sense? And sadly I will still need my car for meeting clients (I meet someone out of the office almost every day). But my car is paid off, so that helps.

@goldielocks, if we made this move, we'd be there for at LEAST 10 years, because my youngest daughter is just a 2nd grader. And my oldest may be in a local university by that time and possibly staying at home (I want her to have as close to a no debt experience as possible during college), so we'll still have 3-4 bodies in the house for probably at 15 years.


SKL-HOU

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Re: Considering a move within our city to access better public schools
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2016, 08:23:36 AM »
I'd say go for it. The increase in your home price is not outrageous. $50-60k increase on a low mortgage to begin with. (As long as you can afford this)
A better school in a better neighborhood is good for peace of mind. You will be setting your kids up for a better future.

Sibley

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Re: Considering a move within our city to access better public schools
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2016, 08:32:16 AM »
Well, for the record, the current neighborhood sounds like what I want.

Also for the record, according to my friends who are teachers, once the schools gets to a certain level of quality, anything beyond that is the parents' attitudes and effort.

Also remember that your kids are established in the current neighborhood - they have friends, etc. They would be starting over in their social life. You wouldn't be. Make sure a move is worth it for them.

robartsd

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Re: Considering a move within our city to access better public schools
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2016, 08:46:15 AM »
Better schools won't really make a difference in your kid's educational outcomes; but your time might. Your proposed move could save time 1) commuting kids to schools and 2) maintaining your yard - pretty much everything else about it sounds like lifestyle creep to me.

Nick_Miller

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Re: Considering a move within our city to access better public schools
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2016, 10:57:02 AM »
I support public schools (these are all public schools we're talking about) but it's a basic truth that some public schools are just much better than others, mostly because of the students, but also because schools with top students tend to attract experienced educators, and more involved parents tend to steer their kids to these schools, to the extent that they can. These schools also have an "exit" process where kids who are not a good fit can be sent to other schools...most public schools do not have this luxury.

I think a move from a B- to a B+/A- school (yes, these are my ratings) is pretty substantial, but yes as I stated, I don't really feel guilty about the current schooling. It's good. I just want the best we can afford.

I'd never send my kiddos to a religious school, and the few secular middle and high schools in this area run $12,000 to $20,000 per year, so that's obviously not even an option. So we're leaning towards investing in a nicer home, which will at least add to our NW, whereas private school tuition would not.

And yes, as was said, it will save us some time, but we'd still have a 20 minute distance between school and home. But for the in-between stuff, like open houses, festivals, and such, it will be easier. And driving them to school once in a while, or picking them up early, especially the younger one, will be a heck of a lot easier.

And yes $200K is our absolute cap. I will refuse to go higher. A $130K or so mortgage over 15 years is still pretty reasonable.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2016, 11:00:16 AM by Nick_Miller »

catccc

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Re: Considering a move within our city to access better public schools
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2016, 01:04:08 PM »
I think you are being reasonable from a numbers standpoint.  Just be sure that the subjective parts of this decision make sense for your family.  If the home is any larger, consider accepting a more minimalist approach to furnishings/stuff.  I personally think there is something lovely about a sparsely furnished room.  If you are looking for more space, don't muck that extra space you get up by filling it with stuff, or worse, filling it with stuff that needs to be filled.

Dicey

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Re: Considering a move within our city to access better public schools
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2016, 01:17:18 PM »
"They" say it's smarter to buy a home in a better school district than to stay in a lesser district and end up putting your kids in private schools, which always made sense to me. Also, typically better schools = higher resale value.

I'd do it, with one exception. Get a 30 year mortgage and start/stuff 529's for your kids while continuing to max out all retirement options and pay down your SL's. You can always pay off the mortgage early, but paying for college with compound interest makes much more economic sense.

mm1970

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Re: Considering a move within our city to access better public schools
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2016, 01:30:40 PM »
"They" say it's smarter to buy a home in a better school district than to stay in a lesser district and end up putting your kids in private schools, which always made sense to me. Also, typically better schools = higher resale value.

I'd do it, with one exception. Get a 30 year mortgage and start/stuff 529's for your kids while continuing to max out all retirement options and pay down your SL's. You can always pay off the mortgage early, but paying for college with compound interest makes much more economic sense.

This will depend on # of kids.  Our house is in the worst school district in the area, for elementary.  (We transfer our kid to a slightly better school district.  So, from a 2/10 to a 5/10).

With 1 kid, it absolutely would have been cheaper to pay for private school and live in our current house.  The equivalent house in a better school district was $150k to $500k more.  (I'd say $300k to get from our current district to the school we transferred into).

With 2 kids, it's probably better to buy a home in the better district.  It was a stretch to get this house, so an additional $150k just wasn't going to happen.