Author Topic: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...  (Read 9863 times)

gnomemom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« on: October 02, 2014, 02:43:05 PM »
Hello,

I've been a long term reader here, but I'm a new poster.  I'm newly 40, and my DH is 44.  He is not interested in retiring early - but we live fairly frugally and on one income (I "retired" 11 years ago when my son was born ;)). 

We're looking at a possible move to Atlanta from Chicago.  I want this very much, because the cost of living and taxes here are oppressive (IMO)  ;)  We could save so much more if our housing/tax burden were less.  That said, I currently home school one child, and two attend public school.  When we bought our current home, our priorities were a short commute (two miles) and excellent public schools. 

We've lived here for 8 years, and my mindset has slowly started to change.  I'm looking at homes in Atlanta - and wondering if maybe instead of spending so much on a home in a "highly ranked" school district, maybe it would be a better financial decision to buy a cheaper home in a not so good school district, home school all the kids - and use the $200,000 difference in home prices to pay for their college.

How do other Mustachian families view this?  I was always taught to live in the best school district you can afford - but I'm not sure that's the best plan anymore. 

Thoughts?  Opinions?  Three kids, ages 11, 10 and 10. 
Thanks

GizmoTX

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1322
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2014, 03:07:35 PM »
We located our present home in a good neighborhood, but the school district didn't matter, because we were committed to private school for DS. (Believe it or not, no one in our neighborhood uses public schools.) You have the same scenario if you plan to homeschool.

Vanessa

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 7
  • Age: 47
  • Location: Chicago
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2014, 03:35:42 PM »
I just wanted to chime in that I also live in Chicago and find the cost of living extremely oppressive.  I also have an 11 year old! 

If the homeschooling scenerio works out well for you, I say buy in a cheaper area and do that.

ADK_Junkie

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2014, 03:47:49 PM »
The quality of a school district is probably the single most important factor for home values.  Here in upstate NY, that singular factor can easily swing home values by 50%.  It's also a great predictor of future home value. 

It sounds like you have it all right now... great school district and a short commute.  The grass may appear greener, but... Atlanta is actually known for its long commutes and everyone I know there sends their kids to private schools (although they are affluent families).  I don't know... Chicago is one of the great cities in the U.S.   I'd only move from Chicago to Atlanta if I was absolutely sick of the weather.

Second, paying for college is not solely your responsibility.  Plus, you could always "move" once the kids leave for college, cashing in on your home's equity as you move to cheaper locales.  The MMM thinking is to take care of yourself (i.e., FIRE) first before thinking about funding your children's education.

Third, while I believe kids can usually get good educations anywhere, a great peer group can do wonders and generate a great education.  I think you are more likely to find the great peer set in better school districts (in part, because people may value education more highly there).  <--- Better to be pulled up by peers than pulled down.

And, ....this is more of a comment than a criticism... I personally don't agree with homeschooling.  I think the MMM philosophy would be for your home-schooled child to go to public school and for you to work, contributing directly to the FIRE goal.

bonjourliz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2014, 04:53:50 PM »
I live in Atlanta.  Well, a suburb - Smyrna.

The schools here ... Its a big deal.  Public schools have been underfunded for years, and the legislature has passed numerous laws making it easier for families to opt for private schools (vouchers, tax credits, etc).  Plus, a couple metro districts have had troubles with the accrediting groups -- Clayton Co and DeKalb Co come to mind.  If you are loiking at homes in those areas, be sure to research that issue. 

Folks that want top-rated public elem, middle, and high schools...all three... will be very limited in their locations.  Especially if you want to have a reasonable commute to Atlanta city. More options are available for people who are only concerned with elem, and plan to go private for MS/HS no matter what.

I am a big proponent of public school, and i think they get an undeservedly bad rap. However, there are serious flaws in our system and there are certainly schools -- in areas I would like to live -- that I would not be comfortable sending my children to. Especially if they need some kind of special attention -- my son's elem school (most coveted in the area) has 26+ kids in its classes for grades 1-5.  With one teacher.

A good resource for evaluating a school's numbers is gaeducation.org.  Numbers are only part of the story, but it's a place to start.  Best is to talk to people who are actually familiar with the school.

I have a bunch if acquaintances who homeschool; it seems to be popular here.  They have co-ops and things where they share lessons and meet up. 

mozar

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2871
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2014, 05:27:48 PM »
Can you husband find a job with same pay and commute in Atlanta?

gnomemom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2014, 05:45:07 PM »
Mozar, Yes, it would be a lateral move with his current company.  So he would keep his pay and benefits.  That's why we are considering Atlanta. 

gnomemom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2014, 05:49:20 PM »
Thank you Bonjourliz!  It's nice to hear from someone that lives in Atlanta.  The job would be near Fulton Industrial Blvd.  I've read the best schools are east Cobb?  I was thinking east Cobb would be a brutal commute - so we were considering west Cobb (Harrison High school).

Just trying to figure out what I want to do.

bonjourliz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2014, 08:00:48 PM »
Oh, i am near there -- i live in south cobb county.  My daughter's preschool is off Fulton Industrial.

I have little inside knowledge on schools o/s my own neighborhood.  But Cobb is one of the strongest districts -- no accreditation worries, no embezzling admins, and across the district, schools offer a relatively wide array of curriculum and extras. 

The east Cobb schools are the best in the state, yes.  (Plus some in north fulton county, which would be a longer commute for your DH).  Though some of the HSs are a bit over the top.  I have heard that at Walton HS there were so many nationally ranked tennis players, some didn't make it onto the school's team. Lassiter & Pope are the other best known "top" schools and they arent as crazy as Walton. 

Depending on where exactly your DH would work, east Cobb could be doable.  Though probably not bikeable.   

I think you could find fine schools in west Cobb.  The area/schools are not as prestigious as east cobb, but lower home prices and less traffic. 

If you have questions about specific schools or neighborhoods, let me know and I will ask around.  I have some acquaintances that live out that way.

Frugalicious

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 75
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2014, 06:01:58 AM »
I have lived in 3 of the 4 corners of Metro Atlanta, so I'm willing to answer questions too (currently East Cobb).  I commute to midtown and it's not that bad, but I'm an early riser.

frugaliknowit

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1629
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2014, 07:25:33 AM »
Thoughts:

1.  Unless you really hate the weather here, I would really hesitate to move to Atlanta for a lateral move.  Have you and your family spent much time there?

2.  I believe there is a definite deficiency in children's social development when they are home schooled versus being schooled in a reasonable academic environment (not including nasty bottom of the barrel Chicago schools).

Dee18

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1593
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2014, 07:43:10 AM »
I lived in Atlanta for years and my best friend is still there, with one child in college now and one in high school.  She has, over the years, moved for schools and used private schools.  She almost got divorced after moving to the suburbs to be in a "great" school district.  She could not stand the commute (45 minutes on a perfect day, but frequently 90 minutes due to wrecks) or the extremely conservative politics mixed with rampant consumerism.  She and her family are now living back in a "in town" community.  When their child graduates this year, they are moving back to a house they have been renting out, one they love but turned out to have disappointing schools.  My advice: think hard about moving to Atlanta.  The air quality is also terrible much of the year.  If you do go, rent initially while you figure out where you would like to live.  On the plus side, the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech are great universities, but you already have those in Illinois.

MayDay

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3907
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2014, 09:13:54 AM »
Just because your kids are happy being homeschooled now, doesn't mean that will continue.  High school curriculums vary wildly, from crappy and easily improved upon at home, to science labs weekly that absolutely couldn't be reproduced at home, etc. 

I think it is an awfully big gamble to take at the age your kids are. 

gnomemom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2014, 10:12:52 AM »
Thanks everyone for your thoughts!

What I hate about Chicagoland is A) the cost of living B) the weather

What is appealing about Atlanta is A) the cost of living and B) the weather

We can afford to buy a home in a good school district in Atlanta - but balancing a reasonable commute with the good schools is trickier. 






darkadams00

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 381
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2014, 10:32:02 AM »
Personally, I think some of these decisions are better addressed philosophically first (your goals) and financially second (your means).

1) Homeschool - I personally know more than 20 families with children of ages and families of varying sizes that homeschool. Without exception, the ones who I am confident are doing well for their kids are the ones who were committed to homeschooling solely on the education/family benefits associated with homeschooling. And the results have been very positive--several successful college entries, some into very selective programs, and a few of the older ones now in their mid-20's moving on to really good careers. Homeschooling for financial reasons, e.g. less expensive than buying into a good public school district or paying private school tuition, has mixed results--not always bad, but less than stellar for several families. Homeschooling because you think it's the best method for your children will still work when a child begins to have issues. You'll work through it and succeed. Homeschooling for financial reasons will be reassessed every time there is a crisis-- financial (should you go back to work), educational (child struggles academically), or behavioral (child becomes challenging and develops an attitude). Once you put this question to rest, it becomes second nature, rarely questioned--like you don't ask the question of whether you should stay married for another year or not. Of course, the options and methods to create the best homeschooling education for your children is best left to a thread of its own, and those options might not be the same in Chicago as in Atlanta.

2) College - If you truly have the means to pay for part or all of your children's college education, this is a personal question that is also best answered without leaning too heavily on the financial side. What is the best option for your children, and where is the line between what is best for your children and what is best for you? If you can't fully fund your retirement and pay for your children's education, then you should consider what that will mean for everyone now and in the future. If your retirement is covered, then the question really centers around what you think is best for your children. If all of your ducks are in the proverbial row and you feel it is important to fund their college costs, then you have to locate the money, which might mean a move elsewhere in Chicago or to another city like you are suggesting. But what will such a move mean to your family, i.e. stability, "lost" friends, etc. I think too many people with a college education and moderate income have defaulted into the "buy college" path without asking the right questions first.

livetogive

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 235
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2014, 10:45:04 AM »
Here's my completely anecdotal $0.02.  One of my best friends moved from eastern Europe to Atlanta in H.S. and attended a not very good school.  He avoided racially charged fights and similar from his accent and general foreign differences so that didn't affect him, but he certainly doesn't view that H.S. as a major source of his learning except for the social benefit of learning to be outgoing and assertive in a potentially rough environment.

My point is this:  if your kids can avoid the bullying/violence aspect of a "lesser" school district (if that even exists where you're looking) then I think you can just send them to the "lesser" school, tell them to take AP classes only, and home school anything they miss if you really feel the need.  If they can't avoid the social pitfalls then stay put.  I was bullied a lot in school and would've paid any amount of money to make that stop.

gnomemom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2014, 11:27:53 AM »
TurboLT - Well Said.  My son is being home schooled because he was being bullied, so I pulled him out.

Thanks for all of your thoughts, everyone.  I think we would likely pursue a home in a great school district if we move to Atlanta.  I like homeschooling my son, but I like the option to send them to public school if that is what they want (high school, especially, is a lot about socializing - and I think I'd like them to have that experience). 

retired?

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 661
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2014, 01:54:53 PM »
Interesting.  I lived in Atlanta for 6 years (1997-2003) and Chicago suburb (Elmhurst) for the past three years.  Chicago is nice, politics and taxes suck, but the COL, while a decent bit higher than ATL, is not too bad for such a well-developed city.  Very reasonable compared to Boston, DC, SF, LA.

That said, we were recently thinking of going back to Atlanta.  The only areas I would have considered were Cobb (Walton) or, due to location of work, Peachtree City (South).

The problem with ATL area schools is that it is very hit or miss.  An area can have a single very good school, but the rest are poor.  Overall, for a big city, the scarcity of good schools is surprising.

We always bought in good school districts a) to send the kids there and b) stable and appreciating home values.  Since we left ATL, the area we lived (no kids at the time), Mableton, has barely appreciated while Cobb has gone up nicely.

If my kid were bullied, I'd probably try to address the bullying for a good while before changing to home schooling.  Fortunately, I haven't had to deal with it.

USNews has a ranking, for what it is worth, of all High Schools in the country.

On the quality of life in the two cities, for the long-term, I would prefer ATL - due to weather and the diversity of landscape.  Chicago is dang flat.  ATL has hills, lakes, skiing not too far, nice beaches (Destin) not too far.  Good in-state colleges (Georgia Tech and UofGeorgia), fairly low prop tax, etc. etc. 

gnomemom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2014, 05:14:51 PM »
Wow, Retired?,

Your post is really helpful.  I'd really like to get my kids into colleges in the south, so we can stay in the south.  I'm afraid if we stay here, they will all go to UofI and Purdue, and marry (lovely) people from Illinois and Indiana, and have babies - and I'll be trapped in Illinois forever to be close to the grandkids ;)

I hate winters - so the weather in Atlanta is very appealing - and the mountains are so pretty (and different from here).  I've lived in Chicagoland for most of my life, and I think I'd like a change.  Yes, Chicago is a world class city - but because we've lived here for so long - I've crossed just about everything off of "the list".  We've done the aquarium, Field Museum, Science and Industry museum, Art Institute, Zoo, Arboretum, etc. etc.  It would be nice to have a whole new city to explore. 

We certainly won't find walkability like we have here - but I can get a much nicer house in Atlanta for the money - and the property taxes are like a dream come true.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2014, 06:04:34 PM by gnomemom »

electriceagle

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 460
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2014, 06:39:20 PM »
TurboLT - Well Said.  My son is being home schooled because he was being bullied, so I pulled him out.


It looks like this has become a thread about homeschooling.

I was bullied in public school, and it did me well. It forced me to become more assertive and to learn how to deal with shitty people.

There is great value in helping your kids avoid a peer group that is self destructive or has low academic values. You certainly don't want them to get sucked into a value system that will harm them in the long term. That said, they will have to deal with shitty people as adults; they might as well learn to handle it while the stakes are small.

Not every lesson shows up in the curriculum.

tracylayton

  • Guest
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2014, 07:45:07 PM »
As a retired real estate broker, I had to explain to my sister (who homeschools) that she still should buy her next home in a desirable school district for the best resale. Nobody ever thinks about the fact that they will probably not stay in their new home forever...but odds are, you will sell and resale value should be an important factor in your decision when you buy.

chasesfish

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2937
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Texas
    • Years in the making, I created a journal!
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #21 on: October 04, 2014, 06:39:46 AM »
Gnonmemom - I'm sending you a message.  I moved away from the specific area that you're looking.  Your husband is very lucky to have his office off Fulton Industrial Blvd, there are some very nice school districts and very, very affordable housing with less than a 20 minute commute.

I'm also not sure what he does, but he'll want to drive a "beater" car or have fenced parking in that area.  I had a number of clients and financed property in the corridor where his office is.

chasesfish

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2937
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Texas
    • Years in the making, I created a journal!
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2014, 06:57:31 AM »
PM sent.

You are very fortunante with where your husband's job location is.  You'll be able to get a very nice afforable home in some of the much better school districts.


For those who aren't familiar with the Atlanta school challenges, there are really two challenges:

1) Two counties are general disasters, Fulton and Dekalb.  They have very few public high schools that perform, most of this is an issue of leadership.
2) There are also areas in some of the well run counties that suffer from 80-90% of their enrollment coming from high density, transient housing.  Cobb and Gwinnett Counties run good school districts, but they can only do so much when a teacher has 20 students in a classroom but the classroom has 200% turnover in a school year. 

The area the OP is looking to move has nearby Cobb County schools that suffer from 200% turnover.  At that work location, there will be a 10-15 mile drive to the closest performing school.

chasesfish

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2937
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Texas
    • Years in the making, I created a journal!
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2014, 08:22:30 AM »
https://www.gacollege411.org/Financial_Aid_Planning/HOPE_Program/Georgia_s_HOPE_Scholarship_Program_Overview.aspx

That's the other thing I forgot to mention about a Georgia, very attractive college costs


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

retired?

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 661
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #24 on: October 04, 2014, 08:23:44 AM »
What is your husband's current commute?  Do you live in CHI burbs.....many quality school districts (ours were National Blue Ribbon in 2012), whereas Chicago schools are about like Fulton/Dekalb. 

I should clarify something.  We lived in Mableton, which is in Cobb.  We would not move back there, in fact when we were in Atlanta we looked towards East Cobb after first child was born...but ended up moving out of the area.  Mableton schools are relatively poor.

Another consideration - if you are completely new to the area, you might want to live near like-minded people.  As opposed to CHI burbs (which are really little townships with each having various housing options and a wide range of "wealth" and personality type.  i.e. you can choose to buy a cheap house in an expensive area with all sorts of people), ATL burbs seem fairly homogeneous within each burb. 

How to put this without getting a bunch of negative feedback......are you 200k house people or 400k house people?

My overall rec would be East Cobb, deal with the commute and downsize once the kids are gone.  They'll love the south, the sun in winter-time (biggest neg for me for CHI was the grayness for 3+ months), occasionally wearing shorts in December, many places within driving distance.  Send them to the ACC or SEC.  East Cobb is not a tough place, so if bullying exists it is at the individual level.  Schools appear pretty proactive about it these days, educating kids early on, having awareness days, etc.  and more likely to do something to help you if there is a problem.

soccerluvof4

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4765
  • Location: Artic Midwest
  • Retired at 50
    • My Journal
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #25 on: October 04, 2014, 09:39:34 AM »
Find an area that is very close to a good school system to save money on the real estate costs and open enroll if allowable in GA.  In some cases you might have to pay 500$ a year +/- for busing but that to me out weighs the value of going to a good school. In our area taxes for example can be half as much a block into another school district.  But I too wouldn't move from Chicago to Atlanta.  Too me there both out of favor inho but thats just me. Good luck

gnomemom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #26 on: October 04, 2014, 10:05:21 AM »
Thanks, Retired :)

His current commute is two miles.  We live in Elmhurst, so, we have excellent schools, but we also have Illinois taxes and weather.  I'd really like to get out of Illinois.  I'm totally familiar with what you are saying as far as neighborhoods go.  I feel like there isn't much of a "middle" here.
 
In Atlanta - we can get a nice home (not huge, but much nicer than what we currently have) for much less than we paid for our current home - the taxes are 1/3, and I can park inside ;)  Atlanta has more of a middle (at least, more of a middle in my price range).  To answer your other question, we are $400,000 house people here, but we'd rather spend $300,000.  Atlanta suburbs offer a nice range of 4 bedroom/2.5 bath/2 car garage homes in the $300,000 price range, and that simply doesn't exist here.

At that price point - we'd be able to save for college a lot more easily.

« Last Edit: October 04, 2014, 10:28:55 AM by gnomemom »

gnomemom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #27 on: October 04, 2014, 10:24:17 AM »
https://www.gacollege411.org/Financial_Aid_Planning/HOPE_Program/Georgia_s_HOPE_Scholarship_Program_Overview.aspx

That's the other thing I forgot to mention about a Georgia, very attractive college costs


Thanks, Chasesfish!  I added this to my Georgia file!

retired?

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 661
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #28 on: October 06, 2014, 09:19:08 AM »
Wow.  Small world.  We lived in Elmhurst.  Kids went to Lincoln.  Just moved in Aug 2013.  So, you are used to very good schools.  And, you understand what I mean about Chicago suburb townships, and many levels of wealth within each. 

As mentioned ATL is really spotty.  If I recall, York HS is ranked in the top 300 in the U.S.  That said, you can find a home for $300k within a good HS's boundaries which is equivalent or better than a 400k home in Elmhurst.  Won't nec be new like ones you could find in lesser school districts for <300, but......

btw - you can use redfin.com and enter an actual school as your "search area", i.e. if you have a school in mind, it makes it easy to find homes for sale, whereas if you enter "Cobb Co", you'll get poor to great schools.

If you home schooled, you could live in West/South Cobb and have a very nice new home and a shorter commute.  The "problem" I have is that it would be in an area where people are trading off better home for lesser education (since most will not home school) and your kids will have friends whose parents don't care as much about education.  That's really what I meant by "are you 200k people or 400k people".

Perhaps your hubby works there for a while before you come down and he can scout out the neighborhoods in the evening or weekends he doesn't fly back.

I'd move.....as I did.

Anyway, that is probably 5 cents more than the 2 cents you wanted.

gnomemom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #29 on: October 06, 2014, 11:54:03 AM »
No, this is great!  I appreciate your input!  I think we'd try to rent for a year to scope out all the neighborhoods and make sure we were getting into the right school and situation.

Redfin is my favorite real estate search engine because of the ability to search by schools and because it shows the aerial view of the yard right on the front page. 

I think I just needed to have this discussion to remember that it really is important to live in the best district you can afford for all the reasons people listed here:  higher quality peers, housing retains value better, etc. 

Thanks!


bonjourliz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #30 on: October 06, 2014, 12:26:42 PM »
Find an area that is very close to a good school system to save money on the real estate costs and open enroll if allowable in GA.  In some cases you might have to pay 500$ a year +/- for busing but that to me out weighs the value of going to a good school. In our area taxes for example can be half as much a block into another school district.  But I too wouldn't move from Chicago to Atlanta.  Too me there both out of favor inho but thats just me. Good luck
^ this probably will not work in the area OP is considering.  Cobb Co does allow for school choice, but the school you are choosing has to have room for add'l kids.  The schools with the most room, are the less desirable.

As everyone has said, east Cobb does have the best schools. But even so, it might not be the best place for your family.  Or - you may find that some of the schools in east Cobb are better fits than others. 

galliver

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1888
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #31 on: October 06, 2014, 01:15:00 PM »
When my family moved when I was in high school, my mom gave me my dad's work address and told me to pick a school within 20 miles, and said she'd find us an apartment in the area. I gave her a choice of 4 after examining online course catalogs. She told me I had chosen correctly (the rents shot up in the two districts containing these 4 schools). Now, for myself and my sisters the choice of these stellar schools over the surrounding perfectly decent ones was worth it; we took full advantage of the G&T programs, the honors and AP courses. But if we were not so academically inclined, if we were more interested in sports or music, or if "college-prep" level courses were adequate to challenge us, then I would now retrospectively say that we should have lived in a neighboring cheaper district, with perfectly good schools without extra frills. Or with different frills. Basically I think "good school" isn't a universal label. It's all about what you're looking for, in terms of your particular situation.

Another thing...I feel like there is an unnecessary dichotomy between traditional schooling and homeschooling. It's always possible to enrich children's school experiences with the sorts of experiences that tend to be flaunted by homeschoolers. Build a terrarium. Go to a museum. Play outside. Research things online. Talk about particle physics over dinner. My parents assigned us math problems because they didn't like how we were taught it in K-8, and reading/writing exercises in our native language for obvious reasons. We could pursue our favorite interests at home. School, on the other hand, did a better job of motivating me to read classic literature than my parents ever could. It also exposed me to a more diverse group of people and values than I would have been at home. And while I think this is something the homeschooling/unschooling movement generally disapproves of: it also taught me to "work the system," and do what's necessary but maybe not as engaging/preferred, a useful skill in adult life.

Ryan started the FIRE

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 7
  • Location: Georgia
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #32 on: October 06, 2014, 02:09:30 PM »
Gnomemom, I have spent my whole life within 10 minutes of Harrison High School and the area you are talking about. You really can't go wrong with any of the high schools in that area. Harrison, Allatoona, and Kennesaw Mountain are all great schools. The commute to Fulton Industrial is not ideal from there but you won't find many good schools in that area.

West Cobb and East Cobb are both great areas and any of the schools will be good. If you have  any questions let me know.

red7

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #33 on: October 06, 2014, 03:27:26 PM »
As someone who has worked as a private tutor at the high school level for the last 5 years, with most of my students coming from Cobb and North Fulton counties, I have to disagree with the idea that it is a foregone conclusion that "East Cobb schools are the best." I have worked with many students from Walton, Lassiter, Wheeler, etc. I have LOTS of thoughts about the quality of education going on at these schools, too many to put here. So I will stick to the basics and you can let me know if you want more here or maybe through a PM. Also, please note that these are generalizations based on my experiences. YMMV.

Whether a school is best or not depends very highly on the type of student, their motivation/ambition, and their ability level. I have seen many students transfer to private schools after 1 semester at high school, because they couldn't handle the intense pressure/conformity of the school. Sadly, I have also seen a number of students who attend a school that doesn't serve them well at all, and they're stuck, despite being utterly miserable and highly vocal about it. But the students can't leave because their parents stretched the budget a bit too far to buy a house in the Walton district "because it's the best!", and it's just socially unacceptable to admit that little Johnny isn't getting a better education there than he would anywhere else, because he's not in every AP class known to man. On the flip side, I have seen students who thrive in their multiple AP classes every year along with a veritable laundry list of leadership activities. (Of course, I often also wonder just how much sleep these students are getting....and just how much caffeine -- or other stimulant -- they are consuming every day....Typically, the answers I get to those questions are not what I would consider healthy.)

There is a lot of pressure to conform in East Cobb, and the lifestyle, from my perspective, is an exercise in increasingly competitive consumerism. (Hence why I work there...you wouldn't believe how many parents will pay good money for a tutor because that's just what you do here. I mostly view my work as a way to help the student see that there is more out there than the academic and hedonistic treadmills, while they are still young enough to make choices to help them navigate off/around those blasted things. Students really want to talk a surprising amount about life stuff while getting pointers on test-taking.)

I went to a "poor/bad" high school in Gwinnett county 10 years ago, but I often feel that I received an education far superior to that of the senior at Walton with 9+ AP classes under his belt. I'm not sure if it's a change in curriculum or just varies among schools, but there are definitely some schools that produce students with better critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills than others.

There just seems to be too little diversity (of thought/ideas, socioeconomic status, etc.) and too much competition to "get the right answer" for those skills to be naturally developed in East Cobb schools. Of course, you can supplement that fairly easily, but it's something to keep in mind, especially if you value that sort of thing.

I definitely agree that you should rent for a while first, to get a good feel for how a school's culture fits with your students' personalities and educational goals. It is SO IMPORTANT. Don't pay attention to the rankings or  give too much weight to what people tell you (including me!), because every student's experience is different. Go with the school that will work for your kids. Please don't be afraid to change schools if it turns out the one you thought was great, is actually a bad fit.

Edited for typos, clarity, and to remove some of the snark I decided was not so nice/necessary.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2014, 10:01:39 PM by red7 »

zolotiyeruki

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3045
  • Location: State: Denial
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #34 on: October 07, 2014, 08:39:08 AM »
I may have missed this in skimming the thread, but is there a specific reason to choose Atlanta?  If you're looking for low taxes and good schools, you might want to consider Texas instead.  We lived in the suburbs of Houston, where housing is cheap and schools quite good.  Property taxes are higher in Texas, but there's no income tax.

acroy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1702
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Dallas TX
    • SWAMI
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #35 on: October 07, 2014, 08:54:42 AM »
Great thread!

Homeschool:
Itís awesome, almost free. Socialization: send them the heck outside to make friends & play. Enroll in flag football etc. Itíll take care of itself. Our 8yr old has bullied, been bullied, and gets along fine with all ages & races. Screw public school; even the Ďbest ratedí waste so much time; glorified daycare. Okay itís anecdotal, but several close friends intentionally moved to the Ďbestí districts, and have ended up homeschooling anyway. The poor kid is in there what, 8+hrs a day? With a class held back by the dumbest kid in the room? forget it. We whip through homeschool in 3-4hrs max. Generally done by lunch!

Leaving Chicago:
Do it! Iím with zolotiyeruki (zolo did you let your pet monkey randomly type in a screen name?) Consider TX if possible. Weíre in Dallas area. Canít go wrong. Atlanta has gotten fancy-pants for some reason, prices are too high for what the city/state offers

Best of luck to you & the family!

gnomemom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #36 on: October 07, 2014, 08:26:54 PM »
Thanks, Everyone.

I wish Texas were an option!  It's one of my top choices!  But DH might have an opportunity in Atlanta - and in my mind (for cost of living and weather) - Atlanta is superior to Chicago.


Jack

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4734
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #37 on: October 08, 2014, 10:59:36 AM »
Thank you Bonjourliz!  It's nice to hear from someone that lives in Atlanta.  The job would be near Fulton Industrial Blvd.  I've read the best schools are east Cobb?  I was thinking east Cobb would be a brutal commute - so we were considering west Cobb (Harrison High school).

FYI, I'm a metro Atlanta native.

First of all, when you say Fulton Industrial Blvd do you mean the North end of it, near I-20 or I-285, or the South end of it, near Campbellton Road (GA Highway 166)?

I don't think West Cobb is the right place for a Mustachian. The schools aren't good -- Cobb's good schools are all in East Cobb -- and the "suburban wasteland"-style development isn't appropriate either.

The best combination of schools and commute to (the north end of) FIB might be Vinings or the part of Smyrna very close or inside I-285. Commuting southbound on I-285 in the morning / northbound in the evening is a "reverse commute," so it's not that bad.

However, that part of town is both expensive and suburban, and thus not mustachian either. You're not going to be doing a lot of bike riding and such there because you'll need to be on 6-lane arterials to get anywhere. (Oh yeah: it's also relatively hilly.)

I have some better (and perhaps, "less conventional") suggestions:

The first suggestion would be to live in the City of Atlanta proper, in particular, in the Ormewood Park / East Atlanta / Kirkwood / East Lake neighborhoods (which is the part of town I currently live in, by the way). Although most City of Atlanta schools are pretty bad, this part of town has some decent charter schools (in particular, Drew Charter School and Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School). They're also relatively affordable: although a fancy Victorian might be half a mil, a 3 bed / 2 bath / no "character" house like mine could be found for maybe $150k. Perhaps most importantly, they're just urban enough to be walkable / bikeable. The commute to FIB would be straight across downtown on I-20: about 3 miles of congestion, then clear sailing once you got west of the Downtown Connector (I-75/I-85).

The second suggestion would be to live in the City of Decatur. It's just northeast of the area I just mentioned above and has many of the same characteristics. It has its own school system, and Decatur city schools are actually good (in contrast to Dekalb County's). Downtown Decatur is a great walkable town, and it's right on a MARTA line. The main disadvantage of it compared to the previous suggestion is that it's somewhat more expensive.

Third -- I hesitate to call it a "suggestion" -- if you're "adventurous" you could consider the Riverside neighborhood in extreme northwest [City of] Atlanta. It would have an easy commute and cheap houses, but there aren't any grocery stores or other services in biking distance. I'm not sure which schools it's zoned to; if it's in the North Atlanta High School cluster that might be decent; otherwise they'd be really bad.

Fourth, if you're even more "adventurous," a neighborhood in Southwest Atlanta along the Beltline, such as Adair Park, might fit the bill. It's got cheap houses, a very easy commute (since you're already west of downtown), and walkability/bikeability, but the schools would be terrible (unless you got into one of the Southeast Atlanta charter schools) and the crime rate might not be so great either.

If your job is on the south end of FIB (near Campbellton Road), disregard everything I said. In that case, I don't know what to tell you since I probably wouldn't ever consider living anywhere near there. Being near Sweetwater Creek State Park would be nice, but that appears to be the only redeeming feature of the area.

Siobhan

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 113
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #38 on: October 08, 2014, 12:17:26 PM »
I lived in ATL for a good while.  One thing no one has mentioned in this post is the CRIME.  There are HUGE swings in crime rates in between the districts there, it's literally like a one side of the train tracks kind of thing.  If you choose to live in an area with lesser schools, realize you are probably going to be in an area with a higher crime rate.  I made that choice because of cheaper rent.  After having my car broken into 3 times, having my tires slashed twice, and my apartment robbed 2 times, with the second of those times them hitting my neighbor too, who was home that day, and got sexually assaulted. I moved into East Cobb and had no more issues.  check out spotcrime or the Atlanta PDs interactive Crime GIS before you make any decisions.  I'd take ATL over Chicago, but someone would honestly have to pay me dang good money to ever move back there.

zolotiyeruki

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3045
  • Location: State: Denial
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #39 on: October 08, 2014, 06:59:20 PM »
Homeschool:
Itís awesome, almost free. Socialization: send them the heck outside to make friends & play. Enroll in flag football etc. Itíll take care of itself. Our 8yr old has bullied, been bullied, and gets along fine with all ages & races. Screw public school; even the Ďbest ratedí waste so much time; glorified daycare. Okay itís anecdotal, but several close friends intentionally moved to the Ďbestí districts, and have ended up homeschooling anyway. The poor kid is in there what, 8+hrs a day? With a class held back by the dumbest kid in the room? forget it. We whip through homeschool in 3-4hrs max. Generally done by lunch!

...(zolo did you let your pet monkey randomly type in a screen name?) ...

We live in a pretty decent school district as well, but my wife homeschools our kids.  Our experience has been much the same--they're done in 3-4 hours (including the whole range of academic subjects, plus religion, practicing the piano, etc), have no homework, and get the whole afternoon to be kids.

I don't need no stinkin' monkey--I got six kids for that! :P  My screen name is actually a nickname I acquired when I was a missionary in Russia.

galliver

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1888
Re: Buying a home - Schools - I'd love your thoughts on this...
« Reply #40 on: October 09, 2014, 10:54:04 AM »
Homeschool:
Itís awesome, almost free. Socialization: send them the heck outside to make friends & play. Enroll in flag football etc. Itíll take care of itself. Our 8yr old has bullied, been bullied, and gets along fine with all ages & races. Screw public school; even the Ďbest ratedí waste so much time; glorified daycare. Okay itís anecdotal, but several close friends intentionally moved to the Ďbestí districts, and have ended up homeschooling anyway. The poor kid is in there what, 8+hrs a day? With a class held back by the dumbest kid in the room? forget it. We whip through homeschool in 3-4hrs max. Generally done by lunch!

...(zolo did you let your pet monkey randomly type in a screen name?) ...

We live in a pretty decent school district as well, but my wife homeschools our kids.  Our experience has been much the same--they're done in 3-4 hours (including the whole range of academic subjects, plus religion, practicing the piano, etc), have no homework, and get the whole afternoon to be kids.

I don't need no stinkin' monkey--I got six kids for that! :P  My screen name is actually a nickname I acquired when I was a missionary in Russia.

Golden hands, hmm? I didn't realize missionaries went to Russia. Learn something every day, I guess.

acroy, my bf says I'm "talking in squiggles" whenever I talk to my parents (in Russian). So your guess about the monkey wasn't far off.