Buying a House in a School Catchment Area

We all want the best for our children and their choice of schooling continues to be one of the biggest decisions that parents face – to the extent that families are prepared to buy a new home just to get within a particular school catchment area. In some respects the options available have always been more or less the same, do you send your child to the nearest comprehensive school or to the rather more expensive option of a private school?

While many people will right-off private education as too expensive (£10,000 to £15,000+ a year) – the competition for getting into the best local school has got more intense. The government education regulatory body ‘Oftsed’ provides publically accessible reports and ratings for schools empowering parents more than ever before to select which school to send their child.

The only catch is that you need to live within the right catchment area or postcode to send your child to that school. Get some tips from Homebase Homemovers to help you plan your move.

Is It Worth Uprooting Yourself and Moving Home?

Moving house can be stressful, and it isn’t necessarily the actual moving itself bit that makes it difficult.

It is the entire moving and house buying process – because in choosing a new place for your home you and your partner need to evaluate your values and the things you might ideally want in life for your family. It is also a question of how much you can afford and where you find space to compromise.

As a rule of thumb properties are much more expensive that fall within the best primary and secondary school catchment areas, so anyone considering buying property in that area need to either be able to afford the higher prices, get lucky on a great deal or make a compromise on one of the ideals you might want for your home.

Is it worth moving to put your child into a better school? Well you need to do your research and think about:

  • The pros and cons of your choice of schools
  • Weigh up the benefits of each local community
  • Take a good look at local facilities from local shops, pubs to transport links and compare them with where you might move to.
  • How long is your commute to work, are there good transport links?
  • Will the upheaval pull you away from friends and family?
  • Finally compare the costs.

If you are thinking of moving then check out some moving house tips at Homebase Homemovers for advice on achieving a stress-free move.

The financing of a move to live within a school catchment area can ultimately determine whether you decide to move or not, but softer decision points that are less black and white are equally important and can affect your family’s culture, well-being and happiness. Knowing what is important to you and your family are critical in terms of lifestyle. What can you compromise on? And what do you need or can’t live without?

To help choose the right place to live you can use the ‘five P’s’ to see what local amenities there are that often contribute towards a thriving local community. These are: a pub, public transport, parish church, primary school and post office.

Alternatives to Buying a House in the School Catchment Area

Staying put can be a pretty good option, especially if you are confident in your decision having looked at all the options available to you. At least you would save on moving expenses.

But if you don’t want to sell your home, but still want to get your child into the best school – then a more controversial option which people have been known to do is to rent nearby instead.

House prices and rents are higher the closer they are to good schools, so there are expenses to consider for this option – but then there is the ethical question, is it right do this? Some local education authorities are wise to this approach and have cracked down on it.

Alternatively you can always pay for private schooling. You could take out a loan to pay for the fees – for example the repayments on a £100K loan for example would be significantly less than the £15K required for school fees per year – so you would be more able to spread the cost. If your child won a scholarship to the school, it is likely there would be financial benefits such as half or full fees paid for by the school. Certainly an attractive option for one child, but if you have more children then it could get very expensive to do the same for all. Is it worth it long term?

Buying a house in a school catchment area can be a very sensible decision, but it needs to be well planned, researched and you have to ask yourself some tough questions. Moving house is not just about relocation it is about establishing you and your family’s home somewhere else – so it is worth taking the time and effort to plan it well.

For more guidance on moving, buying or selling property have a look at the Homemovers guide to buying a house from Homebase.

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