How to Find a Great Neighborhood with Great Schools

As you prepare to relocate to a new home in Washington D.C. or a surrounding community, you may be intently focused on getting your children into a quality school. Your housing selection directly affects the quality of education that your children will receive, their daily life experience, their access to extracurricular activities and more. You understandably need to consider numerous factors before finalizing your decision about which area of town to narrow your home search to. On the other hand, the schools that you prefer for your children to attend may limit your home search to undesirable housing options in some cases. Clearly, you must find a happy middle ground. As you prepare to find the ideal place to relocate your family to, allow these steps to guide you.

Conduct Ample Research

You can find an incredible amount of information about schools and neighborhoods online. For example, SchoolDigger.com is a searchable website that provides you with statistics about schools in your search area. This information includes school ranking, test scores, graduation rates, student-teacher ratios and more. Another website, GreatSchools.com, has similar information as well as personal reviews written by parents of actual students.

It may also be helpful to conduct research through first-hand sources. For example, speak with a few real estate agents who have children at different schools or who have experience working with customers trying to get into or out of specific local schools. You may also make inquiries with other people in the local area if you have acquaintances or family members who you can reach out to.

Look at the Big Picture

As important as it is for you to select a school that has excellent data and statistics for test scores, student-teacher ratios and more, remember that your children’s total experience must be taken into account. For example, your children may thrive in a school that engages them on social and academic levels. Consider finding schools that offer extracurricular activities that your children are interested in pursuing or that they may already be engaged in outside of school.

Outside of the school, you understandably want your children to live in a safe neighborhood. Perhaps you would like them to walk to and from school rather than to be shipped on a bus to a school located miles away each day. You may prefer that your children grow up in a quieter suburban area or to be immersed in urban culture. Remember that test scores and other statistics are only one of many factors that must be analyzed in order for you to make a smart, well-rounded decision.

Review Your Finances

Regardless of how amazing schools in specific areas are, you must find an area of town that is affordable for you to live. Reaching out to The Busch Team at First Savings Mortgage to get pre-qualified for a mortgage is a smart idea. We are a DC Open Doors lender, and we can help you to learn more about this affordable housing program. We also offer many other types of Georgetown mortgages that may be a good fit for you.

Keep in mind that a pre-qualification does not necessarily tell you what is affordable for your budget. Instead, it tells you the maximum loan amount that you may qualify for based on the lender’s criteria. Once you know the maximum monthly payment that you qualify for, you should take the additional step of reviewing your budget. As you analyze a comfortable mortgage payment amount for you to make, remember that there are other housing expenses to factor into your budget as well. Home maintenance and repair expenses, taxes, insurance, utilities and more. These factors may vary dramatically from one area to another. For example, a new home may be far more energy efficient than a decades-old home that has never been renovated, so you can reasonably expect to pay less in utilities in a newer home.

Explore Other Options

You also should consider alternatives. For example, private school is one idea. It enables you to live in any home that is within a reasonable driving distance to the school that you select. You may also move to an area that has open enrollment, which enables you to drive your child to a school outside of your area each day. If you choose one of these options, consider the impact that driving your child to and from school daily may have on your own quality of life and professional plans.

Some parents find an amazing elementary school, but they are not thrilled with the middle school or high school in that same area. Remember that you can always send a child to public school for a period of time, and you can later switch to private school as needed. If private school is your plan, remember to calculate tuition and fees into your budget. You also should review the application requirements. Some requirements are strict, and you may be dismayed to discover that a school that you prefer is not a feasible option after all.

Visit the Schools in Person

Regardless of whether you intend to send your children to public or private schools, always visit the schools personally before you finalize your home purchase plans. You can call ahead to request a tour. By doing so, you can observe student behavior, how the staff interacts with the children, how friendly and happy the environment is and more. These are aspects of a school that you cannot glean from a review of statistics. The last thing that you may want is to purchase a home only to find out later that you made a poor school decision.

The Busch Team at First Savings Mortgage is available to help you with the financing process for your upcoming purchase. Because finding a home that is affordable for your budget is a critical step to take, consider getting pre-qualified for Georgetown mortgages today. By doing so, you may be able to eliminate some communities from your search so that you can more thoroughly compare a smaller number of schools.

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