If you have kids, we don’t need to tell you how important it is to find the right school when you’re looking to buy a house. These steps will help you choose a school that fits your kids’ needs and your family’s lifestyle.
1. Identify your needs.
There are a lot of schools out there, each with their own qualities—which is great, since different kids thrive in different environments. But you need to know your family’s wants and needs to find the school that will be the perfect fit. Just like you have a list of what to look for when buying a house, a checklist of school-related necessities can be a big help when starting your search. Here are the questions you should be asking yourself to build this list.
- What are some places where my child has thrived in the past? What do those experiences have in common?
- Do I value a traditional or alternative education experience?
- How important are extracurricular activities?
- How involved do I want to be (time-wise and financially) at this school?
- How do I prefer my kids get to school? Walk? Drive? Bus?
- Does my child require any programming like gifted learning, language, tutoring, mentoring, or special needs?
- What is the ideal class size for my child?
- Do I plan to be involved in a PTA?
- Does this school offer the academic options I’m looking for? (AP classes, foreign language studies, etc)
- What is my preferred behavior policy?
Use your answers as a baseline for narrowing down your school choices.
2. Use your network.
Social media is great for getting recommendations from people you trust. When looking for a new school in a new neighborhood, take advantage of it. Social media can also be a great way to assess the neighborhood, meet your new neighbors, and connect with families before you even start making your moving checklist.
3. Scout out schools’ websites.
Armed with recommendations and priorities, you can start researching. Go online and look at the school’s and the school districts’ websites, many of which you can find on Trulia. You’ll want to look at everything from the school’s mission statement to the photos they post online and on social media. Also, check out the school newsletter, comb through PTA notes, and view the school calendar.
4. Read reviews.
Next, you’ll want to look at data and read parent reviews online that compare schools in the area where you’re planning to move. Parents reviews offer fresh perspectives on the school and neighborhood, and you can compare their responses to the responses of the school faculty from your previous research. You find reviews from parents, as well as school information from Good Schools on Trulia’s What Locals Say section in every home listing.
5. Call schools directly.
After narrowing your school search, you can use Trulia’s school directory to find contact information and call the schools. Ask to speak with teachers and principals to hear about what kind of experience your child would expect there. Talking to a real person allows you to get a more nuanced understanding of the school. Ask the school to mail you any printed material they have so you can learn more, too.
6. Visit in person, if possible.
If you can, try to visit schools in person, especially if you’re seriously considering closing on a house nearby. To make it easier, you can ask your agent to coordinate house viewings with your appointments to visit nearby schools. Some schools have restrictions on visiting during school hours, but often you can walk through the school after hours. Check out the school layout and design, and chat with teachers, the crossing guard, and, if possible, the principal.
If you get a chance to talk to the principal, here are some questions you could ask:
- How does the school approach discipline and homework?
- How involved are the parents?
- How much information does the school share with parents?
- What is the turnover rate among teachers?
- How does the school support diverse students with special needs?
7. Find a home on Trulia with our school search feature.
Found the perfect school for your kids? It’s time to buy or rent a home that allows them to attend. Check out Trulia’s school district search feature—it allows you to narrow your housing search by school or school district. Just enter the name of the school in the “search for homes” field to start your journey toward a home in the best location for your family.
Ready to start searching? Find a place you’ll love to live on Trulia.