Author Topic: Rent in area with better school districts or Buy a home in bad school district?  (Read 5983 times)

all4kc

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Location:  Bay Area (East Bay; Between San Leandro-Fremont)

My wife and I have a 2 month old daughter and are currently looking to buy a home by the end of the year.  The problem is,  all that we can afford are in neighborhoods with bad school districts.  If we were to buy a home, we'd most likely put our daughter in a private school.  Would like to know what your thoughts were on this?

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8713
Location:  Bay Area (East Bay; Between San Leandro-Fremont)

My wife and I have a 2 month old daughter and are currently looking to buy a home by the end of the year.  The problem is,  all that we can afford are in neighborhoods with bad school districts.  If we were to buy a home, we'd most likely put our daughter in a private school.  Would like to know what your thoughts were on this?
A lot can happen in 5 years.

I have friends who bought in a "not great" school district.  5 years later, the district is winning awards.  Of course, it can go the other way too.

I bought in a bad school district.  The worst, in fact, for elementary.  Our district has open transfers.  So, we transferred to a mediocre district.  Some families stayed at the home school for a year or two before transferring.

It all depends on your comfort level, and what you consider to be "bad".  In our area, "bad" means "poor" and "English learners".  The school itself isn't bad, but the test scores aren't great, and it may be more difficult to have your child be challenged if he or she doesn't have peers.

Where do you want to live?  How far is it from work?  What is the neighborhood like?

Another Reader

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5218
Bad school districts up there correlate with high crime rates.  When values drop, those areas drop the fastest.  I would rent in a better area and see if the market drops to the point you can afford to buy there.  I would not buy or live in Hayward.

Rylito

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 94
I'm with Another Reader on this.  I would look to buy a rental property outside the Bay Area if you want to build up equity rather than put my kid in school in Hayward or San Lorenzo.  Go for a public school in a good district, since the money you'd be spending on private schools could easily equal a mortgage somewhere else.

Or you could wait to buy until this insane bubble bursts....

big_slacker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1350
As a kid who grew up in a bad school district, which was also in a high crime area I would never gamble with my kids. You've got landmines like uncaring teachers, lack of materials, high percentage of kids not advancing as quickly holding yours back, lower standards (for real learning, not just test score), more exposure to kids with behavioral issues. Later on possible problems with violence, but also just the culture of low expectations for life by peers. You might not hit all of these together, but you'll almost certainly hit some of them. Even good kids from caring families will have some of this rub off on them.

Personally I chose to rent in an area with nicer schools. My kid's elementary school isn't even the best ranked in the area, all the yuppies jockey to get in the one the same distance but in the other direction. Even so, I'm blown away by the level of care and love of learning by the staff there. My wife volunteers in the class and I've sat in as well. I know my kids are in good hands.

Shiernian

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 38
  • Location: Neither here nor there
Buy what you can afford, and either pay for private or rent in a good public district.
My vote would be rent unless your child gets into a top notch private school and you really think it's worth it.

Note though: some districts are mixed with low rated schools and top rated schools.
In a Bay Area district I know of, only the district is required to accommodate the students, not the actual school the houses are zoned to. One year the more highly ranked school was overburdened and the overflow students were sent to a school in another part of the district even though their house rental/purchase should have zoned them to the better school. Make sure the district you get into is not
overburdened. You can talk to other parents in the area or call the school.

It's also common for the top public schools to ask for large donations per child and publish the names of parents and the amount of the donation.

albijaji

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 48
we used to live in the bay area (all the bad parts)  salinas, ca and two other towns in bay area that were , well, not desirable when you have kids.
it was horrible to the point where i had to take my kid out of school and homeschool him(bullying, fighting, gangs, teachers not caring at all, police every other day there for some reason, weekly emails about bombthreats, kids being jumped in front of the school,kids smoking/selling weed on schoolgrounds,- 7th grade? hello? kids being threatened, money stolen and i could go on and on )

the schools would not allow a transfer out of the school district/ the other schools did not want a transfer in etc..
at that time we had no money for private schools.

what broke the camels back for me was, he was attacked (he looked scrawny, but he was already working out like crazy at that time , i did not know that stuff was going on for a while) by 2 other kids in school, and got in trouble for
= wait for it= defending himself, knocking one of the kids teeth out, mind you those two are always in the office, sherrif called on them, gangrelated, always harrasing kids etc
other kids where texting my child afterwards saying how awesome someone stood up to them...
so the school has a no tolerance motto or some such nonsense(that alone is laughable) and told me that he is expelled for 3 days, whereto i say you punish him for defending himself against two known thugs? yes, its our policy, and are you calling someone on those other two kids? well they will be expelled too? thats the punishment .. to which is said and my no tolerance policy is that i am not putting up with this any longer and take my kid out of school/ i had no idea what i was doing, no plan whatsoever...

i had no clue (before i came to the states) that you have to buy a house in a good school district so your
kids can get a good education/and can actually go to school without fear/distraction!!!
That alone is ridiculous to me.
now we live in an award winning school district ,  not in california anymore, we got a joboffer in another state and took it.
kids are doing exceptionally well (second one was just ready to start school when we moved)...

 i put my finger on the map (well greatschols.net map) and figured where the good schools are and thats where we bought.
 
please learn from my mistakes, and dont send your kids to a bad school..if i can only prevent one child to go through that
it is worth something.
we were young, stupid and did not have money then, i was fresh off the mayflower , so i really had no clue what the deal was.
I would never ever buy in a bad district again, NEVER (as long as i have kids going to school, after that all is fair game)
i do not like living in the city either (thats where all the good schools are here) but i suck it up
for another 10 years , cause i know what the alternative is.

i do miss the weather terribly though, i have to give california that at least.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2017, 01:04:13 AM by albijaji »

chasesfish

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3569
  • Age: 38
  • Location: South Carolina
A lot can happen in 5-6 years.

I chose to live 2.5 miles from my house, its a "nice" area but almost everyone with means private school's their kids after elementary school.   I figured i have either 5 or 10 years until then.

jac941

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 123
  • Location: SF Bay Area
I wouldn't buy a place in the Bay Area at all right now because I think the market is due for another correction in the next few years. Also the rent vs buy comparison is terrible for buying -- much cheaper to rent. But, if you're committed to buying for the non financial reasons anyway, I definitely wouldn't buy in a bad school district here. Mediocre is fine, but bad can mean violent here. And that's just not worth it.

If you rent for now, you can stay in the cheap area with the bad district while your kid is little. Save your money now. Then move to the better district when you need it. Chances are good that your rent premium in the good district is far less than private school for 1 kid ($25k / yr). If you have a second kid, it's definitely cheaper to live in the good district then pay for private.


GU

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 214
we used to live in the bay area (all the bad parts)  salinas, ca and two other towns in bay area that were , well, not desirable when you have kids.
it was horrible to the point where i had to take my kid out of school and homeschool him(bullying, fighting, gangs, teachers not caring at all, police every other day there for some reason, weekly emails about bombthreats, kids being jumped in front of the school,kids smoking/selling weed on schoolgrounds,- 7th grade? hello? kids being threatened, money stolen and i could go on and on )

the schools would not allow a transfer out of the school district/ the other schools did not want a transfer in etc..
at that time we had no money for private schools.

what broke the camels back for me was, he was attacked (he looked scrawny, but he was already working out like crazy at that time , i did not know that stuff was going on for a while) by 2 other kids in school, and got in trouble for
= wait for it= defending himself, knocking one of the kids teeth out, mind you those two are always in the office, sherrif called on them, gangrelated, always harrasing kids etc
other kids where texting my child afterwards saying how awesome someone stood up to them...
so the school has a no tolerance motto or some such nonsense(that alone is laughable) and told me that he is expelled for 3 days, whereto i say you punish him for defending himself against two known thugs? yes, its our policy, and are you calling someone on those other two kids? well they will be expelled too? thats the punishment .. to which is said and my no tolerance policy is that i am not putting up with this any longer and take my kid out of school/ i had no idea what i was doing, no plan whatsoever...

i had no clue (before i came to the states) that you have to buy a house in a good school district so your
kids can get a good education/and can actually go to school without fear/distraction!!!
That alone is ridiculous to me.
now we live in an award winning school district ,  not in california anymore, we got a joboffer in another state and took it.
kids are doing exceptionally well (second one was just ready to start school when we moved)...

 i put my finger on the map (well greatschols.net map) and figured where the good schools are and thats where we bought.
 
please learn from my mistakes, and dont send your kids to a bad school..if i can only prevent one child to go through that
it is worth something.
we were young, stupid and did not have money then, i was fresh off the mayflower , so i really had no clue what the deal was.
I would never ever buy in a bad district again, NEVER (as long as i have kids going to school, after that all is fair game)
i do not like living in the city either (thats where all the good schools are here) but i suck it up
for another 10 years , cause i know what the alternative is.

i do miss the weather terribly though, i have to give california that at least.

Yeah, the "zero tolerance, you get in trouble for defending yourself" policy at most public schools these days is a real steaming pile.  I remember back in my school days, at least 95% of the time, it was quite easy to determine who was the aggressor and who was the "victim" of the fight (the "victim" may end up beating the crap out of the aggressor, but in self defense).  These policies are all about CYA for the school administration and "I don't want to deal with it" for the teachers. As usual, what's best for the students is not a consideration.

I will tell my kids that they have carte blanche to defend themselves at school, and that they will never get in trouble at home for it.  On the flipside, I won't tolerate my kids bullying others either—they will get in trouble at home for that.

But to the OP's point, don't send your kid to an urban hellhole school. Rent, save up, and probably leave the Bay Area entirely—the price of living there is not conducive to FIRE for most people unless you're making serious bank or are already wealthy.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14781
  • Age: 62
  • Location: NorCal
Another Bay Area homeowner chiming in to say rent in a good school district, but not before you need to. (Hint: it's too soon.) Make sure to save and invest the difference. That way you could still become a homeowner some day, should you choose to.

sith02

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
I wouldn't risk it in very bad district unless it has potential to get better. Wouldn't worth all the worries from those crooks.

cchrissyy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 862
  • Location: SF Bay Area
East bay resident here agreeing with Dicey - rent in bad school districts for the next years since you don't need it yet. Save all you can and rent in a better place later. Or maybe buy later, depending on how your situation or the market has changed.

cacaoheart

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 147
  • Location: Raleigh, NC
By renting, if a good district goes bad you can readily move to another good district.

singh02

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 26
I first moved with Hayward with my parents and we rented an apt.  After 4 years of saving up, they bought a house in Fremont as it had better school system (they bought in the number 2 rated(waashington) high school district at the time. Fast forward 20 years and my patenrs rent our old (unremodeled) house in Fremont in rhe Washington high school district for 2500/ month.  The zillow price is about 800k for the 3bdrm/2bath 1400 Sq feet.  Renting is a great deal there.

To answer your question, I would rent in the better school district. 

Once my parents moved in the bay area in 1989 there has been 3 housing crashes since.  They bought in 2 of those crashes.  It's worked out really well for them.  Don't panic at these valuations.  It's a cycle.  You can wait to buy in a better school district then if you wish.

Brokefuturedoctor

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 78
  • Age: 26
  • Location: Southwestern Virginia
I agree with the others who are advocating renting in the better school district once you actually need it. You could always start investing in some rental properties in more affordable areas in order to build equity or receive some passive income depending on your personal goals.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14781
  • Age: 62
  • Location: NorCal
I agree with the others who are advocating renting in the better school district once you actually need it. You could always start investing in some rental properties in more affordable areas in order to build equity or receive some passive income depending on your personal goals.
That's exactly how I started in real estate.  Here's my story in case it's helpful.

Bought a 3+2, 1612 sf SFH in Riverside (where I did not live, but I grew up there, so knew the market) for $101k, which I rehabbed on a dime and rented out. I continued to live in a rent-controlled apartment elsewhere. Eight years later I sold it for $115k.

Bought a 2+1 882 sf apartment conversion condo in Orinda for $120k on a short sale. I rehabbed and moved into it. Four years later, in 2001, sold it for $260k.

Bought a 4+2.5 1701 sf townhouse in Walnut Creek for 390k. I rehabbed and moved in. I sold it in twelve years later for $600k, 'cause I got married and we discovered MIL had ALZ and we decided to move her in with us.

Bought a 4+3.5 2627 sf custom home in Walnut Creek for $938k on a short sale. Spendy, but the layout was right for four adults and it needed little fixing, plus DH walks to work. Zillow says it's worth $1.3M. Based on recent comps, and current market insanity, I expect it would go for $1.4M, but we're not selling yet, so who knows what will happen?

In the olden days when CD's were paying decent returns, it was typical to keep EF's and DP money in CD Ladders. I used that model as an inspiration to create a Real Estate Ladder of sorts.

Hope a real-life example helps.

Fish Sweet

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 265
As someone who grew up in the Bay Area, who is familiar with a lot of the fancier schools, also keep in mind-- by The Bay standards, there are Bad Schools and "bad schools."  While everyone is scrambling and fighting to get into Gunn or Palo Alto or Monte Vista etc., there are a number of schools that are good-to-great, but always in the shadow of the others.  When you do your research, keep that in mind.  Your options are not just Top Tier Direct Funnel to Ivy vs. knife-fights in the quad.

Another thing to keep in mind when you're scoping out your school options is that a lot of the top tier schools have a very... high achieving, pressure cooker sort of academic culture that kids can drown in.  Keep your children in mind too when you're looking at schools-- what kind of personalities do they have, and will they take to this?

That said, the price of homes in the "good "parts of the Bay are abso-fuckin-lutely bonkers bananas.  Rent briefly and then flee.  I say this as someone who loves the Bay.