How to Get Into a Good School District for Less
If you have children in public school, then you probably chose where you live based on the quality of the school district. Often the areas with the best school districts have the most expensive real estate prices. Here are some ways to get into the good school district without buying an extremely expensive house. (See also: Live Where It's Cheap)
Generally schools do not care if you are a renter or an owner. As long as you live in a school district, your children are eligible to attend. In many of the best school districts in the San Francisco Bay area, it is much cheaper to rent than own a house. It is possible to rent in a good school district for a while and then buy a house in a cheaper neighboring town. This is what my parents did, and the school district I was in allowed me to continue in the same school after we moved. My parents bought a house right on the boundary of the school district, so I was able to walk to school. Since the house wasn't located in the good school district, it was about $100,000 cheaper than the houses on the other side of the line.
Apply for an Out-of-District Permit
Most school districts in America have some slots for out-of-district students who want to enroll. However, these permits are often issued on a lottery system and enrollment in the school you desire isn't guaranteed. Usually the out-of-district students have to maintain a certain grade point average at the school accepting them. The requirements vary from district to district, so you should look up the rules in your area.
Some coveted public school districts actually allow out-of-district students to attend if they pay tuition. In most cases the tuition is less than what private schools charge and also less than what a family would pay if they had to pay for property tax on an average-priced house in the district. If this is an option near you, then you could consider living in a less expensive town and paying for the good public school out of pocket.
I'm not familiar with how public schools work in other countries, but here in America living in a good school district can really cost an arm and a leg. I completely understand why parents want to purchase a home in a good school district, but it is entirely possible to send your child to excellent schools while living in a cheaper town and saving hundreds of thousands in the process.
What do you think? Did you purchase your home based on the school district?
[Correction: Post was updated by Editor and some parts were removed.]